(note: this post is part of a series regarding an imaginary project that Sarah is designing.)
While judging student projects this spring, I found myself wondering, how do the instructors get inspiration for their imaginary client requirements. I suppose ideas come from everywhere, as ideas will, but now I'm in a similar spot - I need to set up some client requirements for a project that will test me, as real projects do.
Let's go back to my Real World Issues (I'll discuss each of these at length as we go on, and I might find a couple more to add).
Density - Much of the world lives and works in an urban situation that's a few stories high - not the sky-high Futuristic utopias of the mid-20th century, but quite a bit denser than the standard one-story-because-elevators-are-too-expensive-but-cars-are-cheap American sprawl. As density is frequently controlled by local zoning, I'll have to make something up...or research a particular place, perhaps.
Reduction of energy consumption - a no-brainer, as we go forward. What's a good limit of energy consumption? What does Europe use?
Climate weirdness, particularly dealing with warm weather and water - As I've had most of my experience on a very warm coastline very close to sea level, dealing with existing buildings that were NOT taking their risks seriously...I'm sensitive to this. Also, I've made a little collection of vernacular buildings from hot+humid places: Queensland, India, North Florida cracker houses, Italy, Auburn's Rural Studio. I'd like to look at these as a group, and figure out how to spec what works, for a modern building delivery process. Okay, so the particular place will have some warm weather.
Durability in both the everyday and the exceptional stress - Everyday = maintenance. Exceptional = earthquake & hurricane. Let's say we need to withstand both...I'll choose a position on each building code scale relative to structural resistance. (Tornados and fire will just have to rely on insurance.)
Flexibility of use - I think buildings are too expensive, in consumed labor value and materials, to say permanently: "This is a commercial building, forever." Many cities are discovering the value of multi-use, so site-specific zoning needn't limit a building's use. What is involved in asking a building to be this flexible into the future? How much more money does it cost to maintain that flexibility?
Demonstrability of value, in financial terms - Frankly, I have the least experience here, but I'm very interested in some new tools that are coming out to support LEED, etc. that promise to tell you how much money you save by having a white roof, etc. I hope to at least construct some equations without too many variables about this project.
Materials sourcing (was resource maximization, but I think that term's too fuzzy) - As I'd like to use local materials, I'll need to choose a real location for the imaginary building.
Enchantment - I'm a lot happier when I'm in a pretty place, aren't you? Christopher Alexander's book A Pattern Language and Stewart Brand's How Buildings Learn are going to be helpful here - but honestly, any place that manages a tourist industry with a larger amount of non-tourist development will have lessons to share.