Ageing Gracefully / by Michelle Linden

I've always felt very strongly that architecture should not just be studied and admired, but it should be used and loved. This belief is part of what draws me to residential design - it is very rewarding to create architecture for people who truly want to use, occupy, and love every aspect of the space. However, in wanting people to use a space, we must understand that spaces will in fact be used and abused.

As architects and designers, its our responsibility to create designs that will lend themselves to ageing gracefully. Architecture is not and should not, in my opinion, be a disposable art form. While I certainly appreciate new materials and technologies, I have a real problem with architecture that can not withstand the use it for which it is created. For example, Rem Koolhaas'
Seattle Public Library which was only completed in 2004, has already required restoration due the deterioration of materials in the main spaces. While I think that this is probably due to both budget constraints and that architect's disregard for reality in favor of the latest design craze... its really not acceptable to me that the building is already in need of repair.

The house shown above is mid-century architect and designer Finn Juhl's personal home. I'm not sure exactly when it was built, and I'm sure that some restoration work has occurred... However, its still really impressive how well the house has held up over time, particularly since its clear that it was well used and well loved. Its especially impressive when you think about buildings like the SPL that are already looking more forlorn and abused than this 50+ year old house. I can already hear the comments reminding me that its not fair to compare a public library to a private home, which is probably true. But, mostly I wanted to reiterate my admiration for a building that has managed to retain its elegance over time despite showing some obvious wear. We should all aspire to create such substantial architecture.

Of course, beyond appreciating the longevity of the structure, the building and all of the furniture inside is a spectacular example of mid-century modern Danish design. And I love it.