As infants we learn through play, becoming familiar with the rules of physics by fumbling with wooden blocks, stacking, arranging, climbing and falling. Adults have an unfortunate tendency to lose this capacity for experimentation and child-like engagement as they become satisfied that they know enough to be getting on with, progressing from the fundamental joys of ignorant enquiry to the heady intellectual pursuits of mathematics, literature and science. And yet the two are so closely intertwined as to be inseparable: trial, error and the expansion of one’s cerebral horizons.
The same thing can be observed in architecture. There is a theoretical approach that is inhabited through books, theories and rules, established and accepted. Useful as a single thread of the creative process but taken in isolation the result is a serious-minded sort of building, respectable but somehow detached from our physical environment. Delight is the missing component: elation at the unexpected and the accidental. New ways of solving old problems.
Engage, think, create; repeat.
‘Just do stuff and learn’ is the hymn to creative construction; the search for something real, that already exists in our subconscious and only dare reveal itself through the abandonment of conceit. Architecture is the act of making, an elemental pursuit, distanced by the industry that has grown up around it – specialism, mechanisation, digitisation, mass production – unless we see these processes as the wooden blocks of our craft, to be stacked, ordered and manipulated for our own end.
The result of this playful prospecting? A self-build house on Tiree, a Kettle in Oban and The Shieling at Monachyle Mhor . The physical act of making, thoughtfully guided from suggestion to substance, rewards the perpetual hunt for possibility.
Integral to this approach is the creative confederacy; a community of friends, family and colleagues. A vital network that develops over time, the result of social and environmental factors unique to our own slice of history. This union of ideas, knowledge and support forms the essential foundation for new thinking. Generation alpha, poised within a universe of ancestors; a free-thinking, free-willed future that understands what has gone before without taking it for granted.