Saturday, April 25, 2009

Art or Craft?

One of the great questions in architecture is whether architecture is an art or a craft. It is often posed to prospective architects in school as a way to make them question what they are looking for in the profession and how they perceive the role of their work in society. The common assumption being that by calling it "craft" it identifies a technical aspect to the creation of it requiring education and training in the engineering aspects that are needed to construct a building; whereas calling it "art" gives it an intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual significance that mere engineering does not possess.

To answer this question however is simple once a distinguishment is made between the two.

Art is defined as: the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects

Craft is defined as: an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill

When taking these definitions into account, architecture does use skill and creativity, but the objects that are created are not purely aesthetic. However, architecture does involve both artistic skill and manual dexterity (in the form of construction knowledge, drawing, and specifying) to create. This is not to say that by being a craft, that great architecture is not also capable of transcending to also be 'art', appreciated for aesthetics regardless of function. With that said though, great architecture is still a craft as well.

Much in the same way that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares; architecture is a craft, but on occasion is capable of being art as well.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Successful Environmental Inititiative

In Architecture, the push in the last decade towards sustainable design has been tremendous. However in the course of producing more efficient buildings, most firms still fall victim to an age old method of communication.

Printed Drawings:

Soon after it's inception, CONima adopted an electronic drawing delivery system. This may seem insignificant, but consider in the amount of drawing it takes for a small to mid-size project. Most drawing set are comprised of at least 50 sheets of large format paper, each sheet is close to 9sf in size. Each set is printed 5-10 times for each issuance, and is issued 4 or 5 times at various stages of a project. That can total over 20,000sf of drawings for one project.

Using the figure that 1 tree can make 16 reams of paper, which is just over 5,000sf, this means we are capable of saving an average of 4 trees for every project we do.