Building into a context adds a degree of complexity to our role as architects. We are caught in two minds, firstly questioning the relevance of what history has bequeathed us, on the other, understanding what makes our communities is a sense of belonging and belonging depends on what is there.
I suppose we sit somewhere in between, accepting the desire to meet contemporary needs both for pragmatic reasons and as a mark and reflection of our society now, but also acting in respect and admiration for the marks of the past. To travel this tightrope strung between the past and present we need a blend of investigation grounded in our conservation team but with a creativity embedded in our psyche as aware designers.
What shapes our outputs. We have a number of principles of action. Firstly, it is to understand as closely as we can the intentions and aspirations of the original building clients and community as manifest through the architects designs and construction. Secondly to understand how the original intentions have been adapted through time to the present. Thirdly to document and investigate the extant fabric exhaustively. And then with that information and depth of knowledge to inject our contemporary needs.
To that end we have the BIM tool - the building or more specifically the project information model. We all know the amazing ability that Google maps allows us to fly around be the earth, then focus down and down to our towns and cities, our streets and squares, our buildings and courts. But in the future using our BIM models we will be able to explore even deeper, floor by floor, room by room, even door by door, maybe even deeper than that, beam by beam, nail by nail, timber species by timber species, metallurgical constituent by constituent. The digital model becomes transformed, the home of knowledge or what is now called in more techno – speak - the asset information model, our architectural MRI scanner.
Change will damage the old, the difference now is we can use techniques to measure the true impact, ameliorate its worst excesses and end wastefulness of resource or crudity of action. To this end the history of the present blends with the history of the past as a foundation for an intelligent informed future.