20 August 2010

My future book about facades

The first reason for this blog was not to create a blog.

I saw this tool - and still see it - as a way to write and keep track of issues that can be part of a future book about facades design. Writing a book takes a lot of effort and of structured work; to scribble a quick post and develop it later will supposedly be much easier.

What this book should not be:
  • A list of building examples with nice pictures and an introduction. With all respect, this is the Christian Schittich method (see his Detail facade books), and he seems to have too many followers. Enough!
  • A manual for absolute beginners. This book already exists. See Facades: principles of construction. Maybe later...
  • A technical manual. The topic is too wide to add something new. But there must be a technical approach to every issue in the book! Otherwise there would not be good conclussions.
  • A purely 'design oriented' facade book, helping architects find ideas for their projects. Of course there should be ideas, but it won't be the facades Vogue.
  • Another greenminded eco book about how important facades are for saving our planet. Again, sustainability matters, but with sense and sensibility.
  • A collection of innovative facade materials. There are thousands of these as books, webpages and blogs. I plan to do a list of the best ones. It would be great to provide some examples of improper use of materials in innovative facades: being innovative does not exempt a material from being feasible.

This is the list of don'ts. What about the characteristics this future book should have?
  • Engaging, well written, with an interesting story to tell. This means that the selection and order of topics will be crucial.
  • Funny. The less you know about something, the more 'professoral' you become. Have you read anything of Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Dawkins, Ian Stewart, P.W. Atkins, Richard Feynman, Oliver Sacks or H.D.F. Kitto? None of these chaps is or was an architect or a builder. They are or were great professionals in their specialties, and they have or had the wit to engage readers, even outsiders to their field. Not many architecture or building technology books are written like that. Mario Salvadori, Eduardo Torroja or Peter Rice did it. Nobody in facades that I have met.
  • Well illustrated. To me, this means two things: a) each image or picture must be the adequate to illustrate the matter, and b) hand sketches and diagrams are better than colour prints. Images should provide light as in an anatomy treaty, not to conceal or effect as the curtains in a theather stage.
  • Interdisciplinar. Mixing the conflicting points of view that architects, engineers, facade contractors, materials and system suppliers, code writers, owners, facilities managers and end users have about facades. Conflict is good, it sheds light or at least paves the way to a solution.
  • Balanced. In the book there have to be bits of theory, history, practice, details, failure investigation, testing, materials science, building physics, mock up definition, acoustics, daylighting, structures, fire safety, resilience, means of access, procuring, building systems, construction methods and so on. The goal is to put these viewpoints against each other, not to prevail one over the others. This is the way good buildings behave. 
  • With a view. The reader will be initially asked to believe that facades design is a discipline where architecture, engineering and building specialist must work hand in hand, with a method, if a proper outcome shall be found once the building is in use. The book will demonstrate that such a holistic approach is not just a myth, but a doable and convenient way of design.
Well, nothing less than that!

1 comment:

Jaime Cavazos said...

How is your book coming along? Your teaser about what it should and should not be is very interesting. If you would like a beta reader and some feedback from a fellow colleague and fan of your blog let me know.