How to understand buildings

Knowing how to build things it pretty important particularly for designers who are imagining the future and proposing changes to the world around us.

Buildings are made up of a mixture of materials that combine to create structure and form and contribute to atmosphere and mood. Understanding the ‘materiality’ of buildings is critical for designers to enable them to develop workable designs that are structurally feasible, perform practically as buildings and create the internal spaces that we can inhabit and enjoy.

You can’t beat good old fashioned site analysis as a way of learning rapidly about what works and how. Looking at existing buildings and investigating how they are built unlocks the often simple relationships of materials and components that make up the build environment.

Today I’m with a group of first year students from UWE’s Architecture courses visiting the Eco Home at the Create Centre in Bristol. The Ecohome, designed by architects Bruges Tozer, is a purpose-built show home full of practical ideas for greener living. It’s right next door to the Create Centre. Conceived as a showcase for green and sustainable building the Eco Home not only expresses it’s construction through it’s detailing but helpfully, for our students, has a great set of drawings and photos on display, which describe and demonstrate the construction in detail.

All in all a wonderful building to study.

ecohome1