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Inspirations for Performance-Beauty Architecture

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1) Vernacular architecture of many countries has the efficient and climate-aware use of local materials. Such buildings were never intended to be called architecture. Many people now find their simple honesty refreshing.

Performance-beauty architecture has a simple honesty.

2) Shanty towns on the edge of large cities such as Capetown, Rio de Janeiro, Manila or Mumbai are not thought of as architecture either. They use whatever materials are available to achieve the minimum acceptable levels of safety and shelter. There is no surplus for beauty.

Performance-beauty architecture makes good use of whatever there is.

3) The Lapatie House (1993) by Lacaton & Vassal shows that a house of double the area can be achieved when the principles of vernacular architecture and shanty towns are applied to general housing. Why use expensive triple glazing to climatically divide inside from outside when an inexpensive acrylic ‘greenhouse’ can provide a liveable transition zone that can be used according to the season?

Performance-beauty architecture will always have a place for ingenuity.

4) Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House (1929) attempted to re-think the construction of a house as if it were any other item of industrial production. The Dymaxion House house was designed for efficient spatial enclosure, ease of fabrication, and efficient use of resources.

Performance-beauty architecture has no pre-conceived ideas of visual beauty.

5) The architecture of Hannes Meyer has been largely ignored despite him being the Director of the Bauhaus between Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. Meyer believed that “the functional diagram and the economic programme are the determining principles of the building project.” In his projects, and particularly his Petersschule (1926), he chose materials on the basis of their performance, continually amending and adding to his list.

Performance-beauty architecture makes every element and every material significant.

6) Structures in extreme environments all feature performance-beauty. They have to. Polar research stations, alpine observatories such as Jungfraujoch and the Ensco- jack-up oil rig are designed to operate in extreme and often hostile environments. Survival is the concern, not beauty, yet these structures have integrity and purpose.

Performance-beauty architecture will protect us from the more extreme environments to come and can also benefit us in the meantime.