the life cycle costs of buildings some fifteen or so years ago seemed in the best interest of all architects to engage but today energy has become a mere understanding of recycling waste, cutting back on unnecessary mechanical ventilation and more importantly staying green by way of embracing quality design as manifest by invariable number of institutions such as LEED and the many GBI councils set up in various countries promoting wildly the configuration to deliver low energy buildings. Our stance however is one pertaining use of materials and construction techniques which are efficient not in terms of capital costs and so forth but rather of relying in the most back to basics kind of way, something that looks like what we did before air conditioning become a necessity or before LED became fashionable or indeed before raised floor and double glazing or precast concrete came into becoming something to be adopted to safe time and costs. What if we looked further back, much further back until the time of ancient civilisation. How cities were no more than mere gardens and riverine estates with ample fruits and greenery to sustain any civilised life. What if we went so far back as when housing was no more than just sheds. It needs to be stressed the real evil came about perhaps at the time when population explosions and high density became a norm for cities. The motorway and the multi storey car park and shopping malls were the latest inventions and everyone followed suit. The disappearance of the public realms came next. The railway lines airport terminals next. Wherein the bicycle (and before this the horse drawn carriages) disappeared alongside the cobble streets and wet markets and the village grocer and the bakery and the street bazaars. Somewhere along the way, something gave in, and together with it architectural theory, an urban theory and the beginning of mass development and the collapse of many economies. We produce so much too quickly and there would then be a shortage of resources to sustain the developments, rapidly growing cites failed in their infrastructure and framework to work efficiently and productively. We could do with less energy and survive a lower form of life, more delightful, and more meaningful if we looked further back into the beginning of our early civilisations. We all need to do with less, just less roads, less buildings, less technology, cut down on consumerism, less everything. Naive? Or perhaps not so naive. Yet what is obvious is that we are faced and forced to be confronted with the ugly truth, which is that we have indeed lost a great deal, the sublime great city life, something we could have had and felt more deeply, and experienced more fully, with so much less energy and resources. My observation shows we toiled more and we laboured more, taking the bicycle to to school, walking miles to the shops, and walking up four storey buildings or farming or quite simply even gardening was commonplace. We never had any need for chauffeurs nor taxis nor did we ever think to take the car through four hours of traffic to go to work or send the kids to school neither did we have to take a lift to go up one flight of stairs instead. Technology has taken it’s toll upon us indeed, no one would tender the garden without the assurance of four gardeners, we hire maids and cleaners to wash three pairs of underwear and we call for taxis to send our kids to a school not fifteen minutes walk from home. Untrue? Next comes the question of our humanistic connection to nature. How is this connection today any better than say fifty years ago when dad used to go fishing with the boys in a boat, or when one walks along the beach to pick up nearby lunch or help send someone to the bus station. How little we go out is really the concern, and when was the last time we get to watch an airplane take off from the Tarmac or see it zoom past the neighbour’s garden shed. Did we put too many towers before us to obstruct these views or experiences. When was the last time we saw a slow train chugging along from 8 km away, chugging along even past the little country house. Are we really able to stand outside the farmhouse long enough to feel the wind, or hear the dogs barking, or let alone hear cock crow. Do we take in the fresh air in the morning soon after breakfast, or have we not looked too long into our iPads all day and have we not noticed the cold rain or the noisy storm outside.



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