I came across this article about how Prince Charles is coming out with a “green” movie (titled Harmony) similar to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. The article reveals Prince Charles’ willingness to advocate environmental strategies and mentions his commitment to organic farming. All of this is very commendable and I applaud him for using his influence to promote an obviously noble cause, but I had a very hardy chuckle with the last sentence of the article:
“The publishing house said they expect the book will draw on the prince’s commitment to organic farming, as well as his opposition to genetically modified crops and modern architecture.”
He really dislikes modern architecture. My previous post gets into that a little. I’m not too sure what his argument will be in proving how modern architecture lacks the ability to confront our environmental issues.
The truth (dare I say inconvenient truth) about architecture and the environment is that bad architecture is bad for the environment, and by bad I mean a stylized architecture that lacks any reference to the local climate and culture. I just wanted to share my belief that architecture, despite the style fused into the aesthetics, can easily be made “green” by effectively responding to its specific locale. Despite Prince Charles’ tastes, a historic architectural style reminiscent of a simpler and more optimistic time in history will not create a simpler and more optimistic contemporary society. Creating design solutions for our environmental issues will greatly improve our society, whether it’s done with a brick building or a glass and steel building.
One of the criticisms of Modern architecture was that it lacked an appropriate response to an area’s climate. Modern architecture requires complex HVAC systems and lighting, more often than not, and it often requires extra materials in order to combat things that vernacular architecture handles easily.
For example, a Modern house with a flat roof needs more structure to hold up the heavy snow loads that Vancouver, BC. Canada gets every year, but a highly-pitched roof on a house easily sloughs off that snow load. However, if that steep roof is on a 4,000sf McMansion while the Modern house has super-insulated walls and composting toilets, then suddenly that Modern building isn’t so bad. Though I’m sure it would still make Prince Chuck pout. I guess it would be An Inconvenient Roof.