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Catherine Alexandra

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Question the conventional, the frivolous, the arbitrary, the ill-considered, and the unsustainable

A building is architecture when it exhibits firmitatis utilitatis venustatis, according to Vitruvius (c.15BC), or “firmness, commodity and delight” as Sir Henry Wotton translated it in 1624.

Today, instead of commodity we would say that the building must suit its use or function, that it must be fit for purpose; instead of firmness we would say that a building must be structurally sound, be constructed of appropriate materials, and be built well.  Those two describe a well engineered building.  To give delight, the designer must allow beauty to emerge from the necessities of structure, construction and the functional brief.

Beauty is about meaning.  Beauty has little to do with prettiness, although beautiful buildings can be pretty. Nor does it have much to do with style – there are beautiful buildings in most styles.  A beautiful building expresses its place, its time, its use, and its fabric.  Slavish copying of buildings from another place, another time, a different use, or built from different materials to a different structural system will not produce a delightful, beautiful building.

If in the design of things you question the conventional, the frivolous, the arbitrary, and the ill-considered, if you oppugn the unsustainable, then you think like me.

Sustainability is about maintaining our environmental, economic and social well-being long into the future.  Sustainable developments satisfy our current needs without compromising our ability to meet our future needs.

Buildings and urban spaces must be comfortable places to be in. Well designed developments achieve that comfort by using resources – space, materials, energy and water – more carefully, more efficiently, and so more sparingly.  Any detriment to the environment will be minimised.  Often a damaged environment can be improved by good, sustainable design and construction.  Sustainable urban development enhances our quality of life without causing environmental harm

If in architecture you believe in making buildings and urban spaces that advance our well-being then you, like me, are committed to sustainable design.

You can contact Catherine Alexandra on 020 7148 3450 or 01933 788 500 or by using the contact form.


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