“In the future, this house will probably have fewer inhabitants, and the current number of bedrooms will be unnecessary.” Arch. C. Fraga
6 agosto, 2015 / By Kraftwelt
Architecture and time
Within the field of architecture, houses in our country are always the focus of many interesting theoretical debates related not only to the profession but with social, political and economic aspects of the governments.
It is interesting to recall how universities experienced the beginning of the democratic period in 1983 in our country, where new design professorships found inspiration in social housing, thus fusing the discussion of the moment, not only in the architecture sphere but also in the political and social fields: self-build houses and cooperatives for development.
We also witnessed another period, where housing was designed based on a partnership between the most powerful economic groups and the State, who worked together to develop certain areas of the city. In this case, the theoretical discussion revolved around the need for new developments not to affect the urban quality of large cities.
Needless to mention, the case of Europe stands out, where during the post-war period the need to provide housing had to be deal with new systems and theoretical positions seeking to respond to the new social organization. Modern architecture played a fundamental role, and its effects and defects can still be seen in today.
This synthetic review attempts to demonstrate the importance of housing for people in countries like ours, where the social, economic political changes are a constant.
Designing with an eye on the watch.
With reference to our context, people consider the act of having a house a turning point in life, determining welfare and growth projected in time.
Given this reality, architects should consider the variable of “time” as a fundamental factor, evaluating different modules and cycles aiming to meet the original needs raised by the individuals or the family unit who will inhabit the architectural space designed.
Time is not always taken into account. In general, functional, aesthetic, spatial and even the building systems related to the material aspects prevail over other factors, such as the economic situation, deadlines, emergency cases and specific needs of the moment.
The different stages in the life of a family, combined with their varying compositions over time, as well as today’s conditions of daily life, make it necessary to consider flexibility as a key element, enabling the proper assessment of changing functional objectives.
Housing should be effective for different cycles in the lives of its members, and we should consider them so that with simple changes and economic investment, spaces and functional areas can adapt to the different realities that their users will go through over time.
An old Design university professor told his students when correcting their housing projects, “You’re designing a house for young people. How can an older person live in the same house?” . More often than not, this question had no answer, or maybe, the answer was that they should move to another house to solve the problem, where that decision entailed a profound change in their bonds.
As an example of the above, we should analyze the works of the great masters of architecture and how buildings withstood the test of time with dignity, evolving in response to new functional programs, incorporating technological infrastructure, reactivating the living spaces and adapting to the urban environment.
From theory to practice
This theoretical introduction will be exemplified in a house designed by our studio in the San Carlos Country Club, located in Malvinas Argentinas, Buenos Aires.
The initial functional needs posed a great challenge because we had to design a house for permanent use for a couple with a family structure of 6 children between 3 and 12 years old, and we could not exceed 200 m2.
Under these conditions, we opted for a one-level house, allowing a good flow among the different internal functional areas, and between them and the exterior. A partition into two levels was avoided as it would have entailed the duplication of the circulatory areas, thus preventing the optimization of the reduced square meters in relation to the number of users.
Based on this analysis, a scheme was proposed which was organized into functional blocks whose disposition would allow the joint use of different spaces:
1- Intimate Block: Designed in line, comprising four bedrooms and three bathrooms, this block essentially synthesized and optimized all the areas of circulatory link between the rooms, joining the generalized concept of storage areas and techniques.
2- Service Block: Composed of kitchen, laundry and service bedroom, receiving the same treatment as the intimate block.
3- Equipment and technical Block: Composed of a central bar harmonically separating the intimate area from the social area, it contains all areas of technical support and supply necessary for the different functional areas of the house.
4- Living-room/dining-room Block: Determined by a big roof “hovering” between blocks 2 and 3, resolved with large glass panels connecting this area with the exterior, this big roof incorporates the decking area, which was designed with a height of 4m in order to enable a full view of the surrounding vegetation.
In the future, this house will surely have fewer inhabitants, with its current number of bedrooms becoming unnecessary.
The project contemplates the possibility of linking the living-room/dining-room area with the two central bedrooms, with small changes (resorting to plaster paneling), thus creating a third reception space to welcome the “full” family, comprising sons, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren, keeping a guest bedroom and the current master bedroom for the parents at both ends of the house.
To this end, a continuous foundation pit was used, which allows adapting any type of structural transformation. Also, a single continuous coating floor was added, including all the covered and semi-covered areas, bath, kitchen and services.
This example demonstrates what was previously expressed in theory: housing should be projected in time, allowing constructions to be expanded and adapted according to the needs of the family. These ideas must be mastered from the start, in order to be conceptually included in proposals. The necessary amendments should not lose the spirit of allowing a harmonious projected growth in all variables from the functional design to the formal and spatial aspects.
Incorporating time in the conception of the design project is necessary not only to cover the aesthetic-functional aspects but also to meet the construction-technical standards. KWA