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An Architectural Philosophy That May Save Your Soul

June 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re tired of the facelessness of interior door styles used in the soulless architecture choking cities and suburbs today, you’re not alone. Many of these eyesores are of the “International” style, which was developed in response to globalization to be built almost anywhere without regard for surrounding culture, and it definitely shows. It may feel hopeless to try to escape this monolith, but hope for a brighter, less generic future may lie with an architectural movement called Critical Regionalism.

What is Critical Regionalism?

Critical Regionalism is about designing structures in response to their surroundings. In a literal sense, architects in this style consider climate and geography to design buildings which fit into and celebrate their surroundings. Critical Regionalists focus on choosing materials, textures, and full-body touch and interaction best suited to their surroundings, instead of visuals.

Responding to Context

People interact with buildings in many ways; for example, interior doors are a key way to change how users interact with and experience architecture. Sometimes a sliding door is the best choice; however, in standard American architecture sliding doors are mostly reserved for closets and patios. How can a designer ensure their unusual door can be operated without difficulty by a layperson? According to Critical Regionalism, familiar context clues like specially-shaped door handles and materials such as plate glass help communicate the mechanism of action clearly to the user.

Responding to Culture

“Surroundings” also refers to culture. Architects look to residents to better understand their needs and values. Following the above example, you may deduce that people who live in Japan are more used to shōji screens and will be more able to interact naturally with a sliding interior door than “Americans”. However, let us not forget what gave rise to the International style in the first place! This familiarity is no longer restricted to people living in Japan. Thanks to globalization, Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans construct their homes and neighborhoods in America to suit their cultural preferences.

Results

The International style fails by presuming the answer to globalization lies in one generic template. Cultural Regionalism thrives when it is taken beyond simple demographics and stereotypes to show the diverse needs of globalized culture. By attending to the real desires and demands of the population most likely to utilize their buildings, Critical Regionalists are able to build structures of great cultural and community value.

Bio: ETO Doors maintains a 300,000 square foot showroom in Los Angeles, where customers can speak with trained professional to assist in selecting the perfect door for the home.

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