“How Buildings Learn” by Stewart Brand

August 28, 2006 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment


How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built (Paperback)
by Stewart Brand

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
All buildings are forced to adapt over time because of physical deterioration, changing surroundings and the life within–yet very few buildings adapt gracefully, according to Brand. Houses, he notes, respond to families’ tastes, ideas, annoyance and growth; and institutional buildings change with expensive reluctance and delay; while commercial structures have to adapt quickly because of intense competitive pressures. Creator of The Whole Earth Catalog and founder of CoEvolution Quarterly (now Whole Earth Review ), Brand splices a conversational text with hundreds of extensively captioned photographs and drawings juxtaposing buildings that age well with those that age poorly. He buttresses his critique with insights gleaned from facilities managers, planners, preservationists, building historians and futurists. This informative, innovative handbook sets forth a strategy for constructing adaptive buildings that incorporates a conservationist approach to design, use of traditional materials, attention to local vernacular styles and budgeting to allow for continuous adjustment and maintenance.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews
Brand founder of The Whole Earth Catalog and CoEvolution Quarterly, launches a populist attack on rarefied architectural conventions. A hippy elder statesman (once one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters), Brand argues that a building can “grow” and should be treated as a “Darwinian mechanism,” something that adapts over time to meet certain changing needs. His humanistic insights grew out of a university seminar he taught in 1988. Catchy anti- establishment phrases abound: “Function reforms form, perpetually,” or “Form follows funding.” Thomas Jefferson, a “high road” builder, is shown to have tinkered his Monticello into a masterpiece over a lifetime. Commercial structures, Brand says, are “forever metamorphic,” as a garage-turned-boutique demonstrates. Photo spreads with smart and chatty captions trace the evolutions of buildings as they adopt new “skins.” Pointedly, architects Sir Richard Rogers (designer of the Pompidou Centre in Paris) and I.M. Pei (the Wiesner Building, aka the Media Lab at MIT) are taken to task for designing monumental flops that deny occupants’ needs. Later sections track the social meanings of preservationism and celebrate vernacular traditions worldwide (e.g., the Malay house of Malaysia; pueblo architecture; the 18th- century Cape Cod House). Brand also documents his own unique habitats. He lives with his wife in a converted tugboat and houses his library in a metal self-storage container. Here, as throughout, Brand’s self-reliant voice rings true–that of an engaging, intellectual crank. Brand makes a case for letting people shape their own environments. His crunchy-granola insights bristle with an undeniable pragmatism. — Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Entry filed under: adaptation, architecture, books, uncategorized.

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