One of the big How Buildings Learn lessons is about the importance of maintenance. Two asides on the matter spotted in the last two editions of The Guardian. First up, in a profile on the brilliant Japanese architect Shigeru Ban:
"The idea of building with paper seems riddled with problems - it is flammable, vulnerable to water, weak and temporary, but Ban turns all these arguments upside down: "How long do you think concrete lasts? It has many problems and it's very difficult to replace or fix. If a paper tube is damaged it can be replaced by a new one. The lifespan of a building has nothing to do with the materials. It depends on what people do with it. If a building is loved, then it becomes permanent. When it is not loved, even a concrete building can be temporary."
And in an important article on British workplace design, Jonathan Glancey notes:
"(F)ar too many new office buildings depend on complex heating, lighting and ventilation systems to cope with the fundamental inadequacies, or wrong-headedness, of their architecture. It does seem nuts in a country like ours, with a generally mild climate, to spend so much on air-conditioning and other bits of kit all but guaranteed not to be cleaned or otherwise maintained properly. Maintenance is deeply unfashionable in our neophiliac culture, where anything old is considered boring, best ignored, and preferably discarded altogether. Our new office buildings are reflections of who we are and what we want."
(More on this article later.)
Perhaps with innovative, inspirational architects like Shigeru Ban involved in building projects (albeit not in paper in his satellite Pompidou in Metz) we can find a sneaky way to creatively force a return to maintenance in front of the neophiliac culture Glancey describes ...