A Viable Model of Durable Architecture

Many years ago while traveling through the Southwest United States I was truly inspired by the native dwellings of the area.  The Mesa Verde cliff dwelling constructed in the 12th century were a particular standout.  Preserved by the institution of Mesa Verde National Park; it seems as though they will stand forever.

Wonderfully sculptured and elegant; I found the site and the structures enchanting.  Log structural components for door and window headers, and for floor and roof joists seemed so familiar and natural.  What a spectacularly simple combination of wood and stone. Boden once told me that stone looks better as the eons pass.  This particular case is exemplary.  The stone native of this region is stunning and complex.  The light that washes this texture provides a bounty of woven colors; the structure visually breaths as the daily light-cycle tics from dawn to dusk.

Our design team is regularly discussing the nuances of durable architecture. Mesa Verde seems a particularly good site to study.  Was this a viable model of Durable Architecture?

In later travels I would climb the steps of Mayan ruins. Formidable and daunting structures that displayed the power of an empire.  Stone pyramid-type shapes rising above the lush jungle floor and anchored to the earth for over 2000 years.  Was this a viable model of Durable Architecture?

In my 30′s I would travel to China.  In Beijing, it is not hard to get lost in the Chinese Imperial Palace.  Monstrous battered walls surround the city and the grounds are vast.  However, this site is not an island in its surroundings like the ruins of the Southwest dessert or Central America.  This  structure is engulfed by the bustling metropolis of budding china.  Yet as I stroll through the ornate rooms, it is quite and desolate.  This building has survived for over 600 years.  Was this a Viable Model of Durable Architecture

During the same trip to China I traveled nearly 2000 miles southwest of Beijing to China’s Yunnan Provence.  There, at the foot of the Himalayan mountain region was a thriving community nearly 1000 years old.  This was not an abandoned or lonely site.  These were not grounds artificially preserved by government institutions or reduced to tourist attractions.  It was community of citizens, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse; living, playing and performing commerce.

This large neighborhood of people cared for and tended the city.  The ancient vehicle-free streets pulsed with energy.  Intricate canals slither through the city.  For me personally, It was on this trip that I realized architecture without human interaction is not architecture at all.  Without function or purpose, it can still be art, but not Architecture.  In the end I realized that the model of Durable Architecture that I was searching for was one in which the site and the people it served invested in each other naturally and continually.

Boden often refers to his signature home as an Heirloom piece of Architecture.  A piece that by design is planned to be inherited by future generations and is to have natural cycles of decline and reinvestment; and perhaps ultimately have an impact on the community of the future–but, certainly to be purposeful, functional, inspiring and utilized.