Scale is a term that has dominated the architectural profession for as long as built structures have existed. In the literal sense, scale defines the measurable standards that we have come to know and accept —the widths of door frames, a car turn radius, and of course, a means of producing measurable drawings. In a more abstract and figurative representation, scale describes a feeling of individual experiences when comparing themselves or a familiar object to something unfamiliar.
Data centers, automated assembly lines, telecommunications facilities, and warehouses represent a very utilitarian aspect of the built environment, and yet they compose a particular kind of infrastructure within contemporary society, one that is fundamental to the development of everyday life. Rarely discussed within the profession, these new typologies have more recently penetrated the architectural discourse, raising questions about the architectural significance and design potential of the spaces sustaining the mechanics of today's world.
Children's furniture is all furniture –fixed or mobile– that is designed according to the ergonomic guidelines and anatomical dimensions of children specifically. Following this definition, we can identify two types of furniture: (1) those that facilitate a relationship between the caregiver and the child, and (2) those that allow the child to use them independently.
The human scale can best be described as the relationship between a body and its surroundings and a body is nothing if not the undeniable connection between our sensorial experience within the material world and how we perceive it within our own minds.
During the latest Design Indaba Festival, we have the chance to interview Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, from Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, a Shanghai-based inter-disciplinary architectural design practice, about their work and way of thinking about architecture.
Understanding the relationship between body and space is fundamental to offer the many different experiences that architecture can provide. To reflect on the distinctive scales that encompass the work of an architect, from buildings to furniture, we interviewed Marcelo Ferraz, co-founder of Brasil Arquitetura and Marcenaria Baraúna. His outlook and experience illustrate how the body and its symbolism are crucial when designing a project regardless of its scale.
Going beyond human scale is not a novelty. For centuries, builders, engineers, and architects have been creating monumental edifices to mark spirituality or political power. Larger than life palaces, governmental buildings, or temples have always attracted people’s admiration and reverence, nourishing the still not fully comprehensible obsession with large scale builds.
The Avions Voisin C7 was manufactured between 1924 and 1928 and featured a groundbreaking design for the time. The extensive use of glass, aluminum bodywork, and sharp angles hinted at the shapes of an aircraft. This was the car that Le Corbusier liked to park in front of his buildings - the architect considered this car to be the ultimate translation of modern age and technology combined into a single object. He was convinced that architecture had much to learn from this machine.
As dwellers of big cities, we tend to be dragged into a very fast-paced lifestyle. Surrounded by monumental buildings and infrastructure, we can easily lose sight of key spaces that connect us with our neighborhood and provide us with rare moments of peace and enjoyment. Appropriation of the environment we inhabit becomes an uncommon circumstance.