Urban Designer - Vernacular Architect - Maritime Planner - Owner-Builder - Servant of Piglet - Educator - Author - Revolutionary - Peacenik - Tour Guide 

Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

Green Architecture Print E-mail

ImageGreen architecture is not an optional extra. If we fail to change the way we build there will be no tomorrow.




ImageIf you can, come by yacht or canoe. You will know all about tides and winds by the time you arrive. If you come by bicycle you will be able to listen to the birds and cicadas and learn about place. If you come by car you will however need to park and walk to the venue. As you do so you will have time to ponder that if every other Aucklander did the same we could immediately halve the number of roads in Auckland. Put another way we could "complete the roading network" by just reallocating our existing resources. We already have more roads than any other city in the world. We have just put them in the wrong places. If you come by 4WD ask yourself if suburbs like Remuera really need roads at all. It could be just a gigantic adventure playground with everyone plowing through mud and mangroves just like they do in the 4WD magazines.

We usually begin by building ourselves a venue for the weekend. This means that we need to work out where the sun will be by lunchtime, and how to keep the champagne cool for the end of the day. We will also be able to explore reversible decision-making, zero-waste, and a host of other useful ideas for taking the stress out of building.

The Book List - in 3D
If you prefer to just have a coffee and watch the others having fun that is fine, but remember that you do not necessarily learn by looking. We have done research in which one team of builders watched another team put up a building. When the second team erected the same structure they always took longer. In theory they should have learned how to do it. In practice they had not actually seen what was going on. Learning to observe is a good beginning for the course.

Long before you even think about building you need to observe geology, history, culture, traditions, flora and fauna, and a host of other topics.

With some building experience behind us we will be able to look at some theory. Embodied human energy, embodied love, solar design, vernacular design, response to place, culture and occasion. The big difference between process and product.

ImageWe will probably dwell on Maori ideas about Green Architecture at some length.
The Marae as land, not building.
The buildings do not occupy the land, but sit to one side.
The Wharenui and Wharekai. Tapu and Noa.
Hats and where to put them. There is a logic behind all these ideas.
Welcome. Gathering at the entrance, just as we will do. (This is in contrast to the pakeha idea of entrance as the point of exclusion, security and control.)
Rituals. Tangata Whenua and Manuhiri.
Belonging through burying your whenua in this place.
Kaitiakitanga. Feeling the pain of the heron being chased by the dog. Ruru.
Whakapapa. Development of whakapapa. The purpose of life.
Buildings sustaining and developing whakapapa.

We will then look at one possible solution to all these considerations so that we can begin to understand the pitfalls and the possibilities.
The emphasis will remain however on diversity of solutions.

ImageOn the second day everyone is invited to bring along their projects, problems and dreams. The whole group will then be able to help each person to move forward.
Strategies for problem solving are more useful than solving the problems.

We will then look at the wider context. The new Building Act.
Alternative ways of going about building. How to organise a revolution.
Politics. Power and power distribution. Democracy.
The Velvet Revolution. The little people.

ImageThere will be enough anecdotes and stories to keep you going for years.
Getting started. The picnic. Peter Walker's door.
High rewards and quick results. Getting the roof on in Rarotonga.
Reversibility. You can relax and take risks.
You do not need to worry about approvals if it can all be taken away.
The NZIA stopping the teaching of architecture in schools.
Building Arakainga.
Building Justin's shed.

Potted history of the environmental movement.
From Stockholm to Istanbul and Johanesburg, and on to Vancouver in 2006.
Sustainability. A history from 1976.  
Cultural sustainability in the new Local Government Act.

The bach as the archetypal sustainable building.
The computer and the 747 are also very much part of our culture and our vernacular.

Do you need to build at all? Why are you building?
Is your house really going to improve your life?


Larena Cameron


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