Evidence Based Design: The Latest Architecture and News
We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. In Chapter 12, Salingaros concludes his discussion of the physiological and psychological effects of architecture, demonstrating how ornament can lead to an enriching human environment. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.
Ornament and Human Intelligence
Ornament and function go together. There is no structure in nature that can be classified as pure ornament without function. In traditional architecture, which was more tied to nature, such a separation never existed. The breakdown of the human adaptation of architecture can be traced to the forced conceptual separation of ornament from function, a relatively recent occurrence in human history. It is only in 20th-century architectural discourse that people began to think of ornament as separate from function: see “How Modernism Got Square” (Mehaffy & Salingaros, 2013).
Biophilia: Our Evolved Kinship To Biological Forms
The organized complexity in artifacts and buildings, as I have described it, leads to a positive response from users. This is the perception of “life” which we sense in certain structures and places in the built environment. The physical structure of the world has a massive effect on human beings. A crucial task of architectural theory is to explain and predict the impact that living structure — or its absence — has on us.
We will be publishing Nikos Salingaros’ book, Unified Architectural Theory, in a series of installments, making it digitally, freely available for students and architects around the world. In the following chapter, Salingaros continues his discussion of Christopher Alexander's “Mirror of the Self” test introduced in Chapter 9A, and revealing how it can be used to provide all-important feedback to enable evidence-based design. If you missed them, make sure to read the previous installments here.
Evidence-based design is now fast becoming a standard tool used in school design. (See Peter C. Lippman: “Evidence-Based Design of Elementary and Secondary Schools”, 2010). And yet its current application, while laudable, is missing the other key components necessary for adaptive design: Biophilia, Intelligence in the environment (two topics discussed in this book), and Pattern Language. All of these have to work together to give optimal design results.
Evidence-based design permits an architect to evaluate a design, and variations of that design, to see if they contribute to human wellbeing. This makes possible informed choices that push and guide a design towards a more adaptive final form. We know the result is going to be more adaptive since we check each intermediate stage of an evolving design.
This article, written by Kim A. O'Connell, and first published on the AIA website as "Is there a Doctor in the Firm? (Or a Nurse in the Studio?)" discusses the growing overlap between architects and healthcare professionals, who collaborate or even learn both disciplines to design more effective healthcare architecture - relying on research more rigorously than ever before.
Since it opened last fall, a cardiac hospital in Bulgaria is already operating at full capacity and is among the most technologically advanced of its kind in Europe. Project delivery for the City Clinic in Sofia was remarkably fast—only a year from the time Dallas-based HKS Architects was hired until doctors began seeing patients. A former car dealership was renovated to create the 38,000-square-foot, 55-bed facility, helping to expedite matters.
The other major contributing factor may have been that, from its earliest beginnings, a physician played a leading role—from landing the project to identifying specific medical needs and seeing the design through to completion. It's a model that seems to be taking hold in architecture. More and more, architecture firms are bringing health professionals into their design studios to help them create the next generation of healthcare architecture.
Read on after the break to find out how this shift is producing better buildings for healthcare
In 2002, Magda Mostafa, a then-PhD student at Cairo University, was given an exciting project: to design Egypt's first educational centre for autism. The young architect set herself down to the task of researching into autism design, certain she'd soon find guidelines and accessibility codes to direct her through the process (after all, about one in every 88 children is estimated to fall into the autism spectrum).
But, as Mostafa told me, "I had a rude awakening; there was virtually nothing."
So she started setting up studies to gather the evidence she'd need to come up with her own guidelines. And she was breaking ground: a study she completed in 2008 was "among the first autism design studies to be prospective not retrospective, have a control group, and measure quantifiable factors in a systematic way."
Since those uncertain beginnings, Mostafa has positioned herself as one of the world's pre-eminent researchers in autism design. Her latest work, summarized in "An Architecture for Autism," the journal IJAR's most downloaded article in 2012, outlines Mostafa's latest accomplishment: the Autism ASPECTSS™ Design Index, both a matrix to help guide design as well as an assessment tool "to score the autism-appropriateness of a built environment" post-occupancy. In the following interview, we discuss the Index, the potential of evidence-based design for architecture, and what it's like to break ground (and try get funding) in a country where "black-outs, security threats, water shortages and unbelievable traffic" are everyday occurrences.