Using Materials to tell a Story (An Architectural Essay)

Meaningful architecture, for me, always relays a story. It’s fundamental that it conveys something about a place, a specific time, a person or a family. It must have an opinion, an attitude. Architecture doesn’t have to be an explicit rendering of that idea; rather it can be discovered over time while living in a structure or just by knowing a little more today than yesterday.

My personal design process always begins with my asking the question, “What is the story I’m trying to tell?” Architecture can convey historical ideas, ideas about craft, personal tastes, an attitude toward light (or dark), the forest canopy, a city skyline. This seed of an idea can become the design engine for the project, a reference point for decisions made along the way. Most architects refer to this as a parti, but the term is far less important than the actual concept. One of the most basic and accessible means of conveying this idea is through the use of material.
In this video I use three materials: stone, wood and concrete to illustrate how materials can imbue architecture with meaning, both implicit and explicit.

Featured Architects:
Peter Zumthor
Ensamble Studio
Tadao Ando
Zone 4 Architects, LLC
Michael Ryan Architects
Sage Modern
Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC
E. Cobb Architects
Cornerstone Architects
Mell Lawrence Architects
Renzo J. Nakata Architects
Bluetime Collaborative
Augustus Jones
AR Design Studio Ltd.
Kate Johns

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Please watch: “Inside My Sketchbook + An Architect’s Sketching Tools”

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