Barry Smith's House Barry Smith's Sink
During the 1970s there was a plethora of writings which celebrated the skills of the non-professional designer/builder. Bernard Rudofsky's Architecture Without Architects, and his equally engaging The Prodigious Builders werecompanioned by Art Boerike's The Craftsman Builder, and Handmade Houses. In 1978, I was approached by Architectural Design Magazine (AD) to write an article on the subject for a special edition. This is that article. Looking back now, it is interesting to see how, even then, I was interested in design as an instrument of cultural identity - an interest that has grown over the years to embrace many different cultural forms. Beyond that, this was a time befor globalisation, before the so-called "Free-Market ideology took hold, before the commodification of life itself. These houses represent the embodiment of Paulo Freire's dictum, "In creating our world we create ourselves". They are houses that bhave been lovingly conceived and constructed in the best meaning of the term "Vernacular" in that they respond to personality, idekntity, site context, climate and an inate deesire to eschew institutiopnalised forms of building, culture, behaviour and life itself. They are the antithesis of the bureaucratic requirements of building regulations, planning laws and social conventions. They express what is best about the unquentiable zest that lies at the centre of the human spirit.
To download the PDF click Handmade Houses.
Barry Smith was one of my heroes. He lived in the small rural community of Canyon in Contra Costa County,, just over the hills from Berkeley where I worked. Barry had moved in and built his house before the area was populaed - before the suburban sprawl started to push up real estate values for fifty miles around. The house had no external walls - just a soaring series of plywood hyperparabolic structures set on poles over an enormous sand-filled firepit. His chickens, dogs and goats wandered freely thoughout his home. I asked him once if he ever got cold in Winter? "No" he said, "If I start to feel cold I just put on another sweater!"
The bathtub was suspended in the trees over a brazier that he used to warm the bathwater. The building inspectors and planning moguls hated him. Three times they had "red-stickered" his house (posted a non-occupancy and demoltion notice. Each time Barry had taken them to court and won. But they wouldn't give up. He was standing int he way of vast development profits from the potential subdivision of virgin redwood forest development and he couldn't be allowed to prevent "progress" from its inexorable advance. On an impulse one beautiful Autumn day I drove over the hill to visit Barry. As I drove up I saw that he was shepherding his goats and his dog into his VW campervan and that the roofrack was piled high with equipment covered in a tarp. "Hi, Barry", I said, Where are you going? Taking a Vacation?"
"I'm gointg to Russia," he replied, "across the Bering Straight. It will be frozen over by the time I get there!" I was incredulous. "Are you leraving for good?" I asked. "Yup! he said. "But what about your house?" I asked. For yeasrs you've been fighting to stay here and winning. Are you giving up?"
"Tony," he responded. "I've decided that no matter how much they want me to leave, this time I'm actually going to do it!". He recognised that he had become addicted to the fight and that his life had otherwise been on hold for over ten years. Without a backward glance, he got into his van and disappeared down the road, leaving me to wander bemused through the silent citadel he had created.
Following on from my work with Christopherv Alexander and Barry Poyner in 1996 I taught part-time for a while at the Kingston Polytechnic School of Architecture under the headship of Dennis Berry. I taught Relational Theory (as it was then called) until, in 1967, I was offered a position at the Portsmouth Polytechic under Geoffrey Broadbent as a Research Fellow in Design Methods. There were three Research Fellowships. The other two were take up by Malcolm Carder (now the notable artist and illustrator Malcolm Godwin) and Laurie Fricker, a landscape architect and friend of Buckminster Fuller. Portsmouth was an exciting place to be. It was the 1960s, we were an hour away from London and the School of Architecture under Broadbent was out to make a name for uitself as a centre of excellence in design theorising - and design methods stood at the very heart of that vision. My main contribution was the organisation and presentation of the First International Symposium Design Methods in Architecture. The Symposium took place on the now defunct South Parade Pier in Southsea and attraqcted a cast of academics that reads lijke a Who's Who in design theorising. Geoffrey Broadbent himself, Amos Rapoport, Bruce Archer, Janet Daley, Chris Jones and Jane Abercrombie. The Symposium predated and foreshadowed the 1968 Design Methods Group Conference at MIT, which was co-hosted by Berkeley and Harvard, and at which the Environmental design research Association was established. So the Portsmouth Symposium played a major role in design theoirising throughout the 1970s and up to the present. The proceedings of the symposium, which I edited, were published in English by Wittenborne in London and New York, and in Spanish by Gili of Madrid. A synopsis of the Symposium was published in the Architects Journal by Geoffrey Broadbent. A PDF pf that paper can be downloaded here.
The molectual and spatial models
In 1965 I was one of a group of final year students at the Birmingham School of Architecture who embarked upon a remarkable final thesis project - the design of an Electrical Engineering Faculty for the University of Birmingham using a new and exciting design methodology that we had developed. It was early in the days of Design Methods and a large part of our project involved an extensive research into the field. In the process we evolved our own Method - far in advance, in some ways, of what was being developed elsewhere by academics and industrial designers on big government grants. We set ourselves the task of designing a complex building entirely by mathematical computations, seeking to eliminate arbitrary decisions and value judgements from the process of design. We were confronting directly the traditional myth of the designer as an inspired genius awaiting patiently a vision from which to craft his design. It was an exciting time. It led me on, eventually to work with Christopher Alexander and the late Barry Poyner in London, to a Research Fellowship in Design Methods at Portsmouth Polytechnic (where I convened the first Design Methods in Architecture Conference in 1967), and eventually to a position on the Faculty at the College of Environmental Design in Berkeley, California. This work projected me into a life of academicism which has been the consuming passion of my life. The work was the beginning of a series of public l;ectures - at the RIBA in London, and at Universities in Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham. It led to my involvement with the nascent Design Research Society, and eventually to being there at the inception of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) in the USA. This was the beginning....
To download PDF click here
A guest article by Brian Mckenna. It was originally published in Counterpunch Junbe 3rd, 2013.
This is a great critical analysis of the devaluation of Education through the introduction of on-line learning systems.
To download the PDF click here
Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Here, in its entirety is a copy of the UN Derclaration. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday 13 September 2007, by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States - all the beneficiaries of British colonial policies) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). New Zealand also signed the Derclaration on 20th April 2010.
To download the Declaration click here
Alma Flor Ada (1938- )
John Dewey (1859-1952)