When the term “regionalism” is used for architecture, it typically denotes an architecture that is derived from its local setting. Unlike most universally designed post-World War II architecture (think glass office buildings, shopping centers, and tract homes), an architecture derived from a regionalism concept becomes inherently site specific, responding to the local climate and culture.
But because of our internationally based economy, construction materials can easily be from across an ocean as they could be from down the street, thus making regionalism architecture more of an aesthetic style emulating the local environment rather than an architecture constructed of regional materials.
The seaweed and wool bricks described in this article bring up an interesting point of creating building materials from abundantly available materials, but are these bricks an answer to an area of the world where mud is abundant and seaweed is something served only at the local Japanese restaurant?
It’s very cool that these bricks, constructed of materials not typically used in masonry, perform better than traditional bricks. But is it worth it (or maybe the proper term should be “appropriate”) to use a building material that may perform a little better than what is required, but needs to be shipped a considerable distance?
When it comes to building materials and sustainability (whether real sustainability or perceived) the “new fad” always seems to be presented as the universal piece of achieving green architecture. Universal – there’s that word again.