“Some of our more arrogant and careless buildings are at war with time and change, and they always lose.”
“Buildings are the wealth of nations, our largest capital asset. They are the ornament of cultures and they are where we spend most of our lives. Some of our more arrogant and careless buildings are at war with time and change, and they always lose. Some buildings though seem to flow with time, they flow with us. I’ve been living and writing in and around San Francisco for forty years. I’ve seen the city change and grow. Architectural styles came and went, planning theories came and went. Real estate boomed and busted. Old buildings were refreshed, new buildings modified. Some got steadily better, some steadily worse. I began to wonder about that. What makes some buildings keep getting better, and others not? Since we create the buildings around us you think they’d be our servants. Instead, most of the buildings we have thwart us constantly. I got so interested in this problem I wound up spending six years studying it. The approach I took was to look at what happens with buildings after they’re built. That’s when the users take over and begin to reshape the building to suit their real needs. What kinds of buildings work well with that evolution, and why do so many buildings work so badly?”
Stewart Brand, most well known for his instrumental role in founding the Whole Earth Catalog, co-hosted the BBC TV series “How Buildings Learn” in 1997. The 6-part 3-hour series was based on Brand’s 1994 book, How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built. Music by Brian Eno.