Monday, April 26, 2010

How Buildings Learn By Stewart Brand

     In a post I did on 2/23/10, The Old Home Place In Ruins I mentioned the book by Stewart Brand called How Buildings Learn - What happens after they're built. There is a companion six part BBC tv series that goes with the book that is available on his web site.

     The sections are:

     Part One - Flow
     Part Two - The Low Road
     Part Three - Built For Change
     Part Four - Unreal Estate
     Part Five - The Romance Of Maintenance
     Part Six - Shearing Layers

     Stewart Brand, if you may remember, is the creator, publisher, and editor of the The Whole Earth Catalogue, which in my mind, gave us an inkling of what the internet could be before the internet was even created. It was all about access to information way back to the '60's. My that was so long ago. He has done much since then including this book and the companion tv series which were put out in 1987 and 1996- 97 respectively. Don't worry this material is not time sensitive, it is just as relevant today.

     Allison and I watched the BBC series over the weekend and I thought it was one of the best things I have ever seen on buildings. For designers, builders, planners, or those who are interested in the buildings they inhabit this is really a must. It is written and hosted by Brand, one of the smartest people I have ever been aware of. Let me know what you think. I can't wait to see it again.

     I spent many years doing historical renovation work and I worked at Colonial Williamsburg for a summer way back in 1980. I learned much about 18th century tools, techniques, and materials at Williamsburg but the renovation work showed me what went wrong with buildings, as part of our job was to correct the problems. But the whole point of renovating a building that was say 200 years old showed that that building had made the grade, that it was worth renovating as compared to its contemporaries which had not survived either because they fell down or were torn down. Why? What made the difference between the ones that made it compared to the ones that didn't? Stewart Brand has lot's of ideas about that.