Simple Forms of Construction

The requirement to build simply can come from a culturally aesthetic approach, to fulfil purpose and use or simply out of a sheer necessity to best use the material available. Particularly in light of the worldwide boom in deliberately spectacular architecture – often landmarks in themselves – simply constructed, clearly designed and intelligently carried out projects can offer something of a modern, refreshing contrast. The selection in DETAIL 6/2011 on the topic of ‘Simple Forms of Construction’ ranges from a Polish chapel to an oyster farm in Brittany, from a Swiss school and youth hostel to a holiday home in Sweden or even a visitors’ centre in Tibet.  How much inexpensive, pragmatic solutions can help achieve is shown in the piece from Hubert Klumpner and Alfredo Brillembourg, which looks at the work of their Urban-Think Tank in the slums of South America. Environmental friendliness is just one of the reasons why clay is being rediscovered as a construction material, even in the Western world. It has numerous positive characteristics including price, availability and the fact that it is almost completely recyclable as well as its benefits for indoor temperatures and acoustics, although it does require a very high amount of manual work. In the ‘Technology’ section, Martin Rauch analyses the role that clay can play in contemporary construction. Our celebratory section ‘Taking a Second Look’ examines the housing estate in Munich’s Genterstrasse, which was designed by Otto Steidle and Doris and Ralph Thut. Despite dating back to 1971, the construction boasts a flexible structure and an aesthetic quality that still impresses today.
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