There are multiple ways to approach architecture and its relationship to local resources. One school of thought is to design new construction without regard to what the local area has to offer. The opposite school of thought is to embrace local resources in every aspect of design and construction. Good things happen when the latter strategy is chosen.
Over the last fifty years or so, there has been a concerted effort in the architecture and design world to fully embrace local resources. Doing so contributes to preserving what the local area has to offer. It can also make new construction more efficient and less expensive. In fact, there are lots of great reasons to utilize local resources.
Local Resources as Building Materials
One of the ways architects embrace local resources is by choosing building materials that are common to the area. For example, consider what is known as mountain modern architecture. It is pretty popular now in states like Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming.
Sparano + Mooney is a Park City, Utah architectural firm that specializes in mountain modern. They say that one of its distinctive features is the utilization of locally produced timber and landscaping elements. Utilizing locally sourced building materials results in new homes that look like they are part of the environment, rather than built into it as separate entities.
Utilizing local building materials also helps the local economy. It creates jobs and generates sales. And in the end, you wind up with a structure that looks like it truly belongs where it is.
Local Resources as Design Elements
Another benefit of embracing local resources is taking the opportunity to utilize them as design features. Let’s say Sparano + Mooney is designing a new vacation home based on passive design principles. Extensive tree cover is a local resource that architects can use to keep the house cooler during the summer months. The strategy fits perfectly with passive design.
The idea of embracing local resources is not limited only to residential construction. Even commercial developers do it. A case in point is a recently built city park in Shanghai, China. The park was built on the site of the old Longhua Airport, which was closed and decommissioned a decade ago.
Developers could have completely cleared the land and started over. But instead, they decided to leave a portion of the airport’s main runway intact. It now serves as both walking path and a quiet place to sit and soak up the surroundings.
Ultimately, the architects who designed the project saw no compelling need to dig up the entire runway from end to end. On the other hand, they noted the historic benefits of leaving part of the runway intact. It will serve as a permanent reminder of the once busy airport that fell out of use when the Chinese government decided Shanghai’s growth required something bigger.
Embracing What Local Means
Whether it is sourcing local building materials or utilizing local resources as design elements, it’s all about embracing what local means. Local environments are compellingly unique. Why? Because they are inhabited with unique individuals who all live and work together to create a community. Each of those communities is unique in its own way.
When architects and builders embrace local, they are showing respect for the communities in which they build. They are showing appreciation for the local environment, local history, community culture, and so forth. Many of today’s architects and designers believe that embracing local is important. What is more, their convictions are leading to good things as new projects are being designed and built.