Exploring the World of Micro Architecture

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Katherine Benaim
Contemporary Craft
Year 2

Exploring the world of Micro Architecture

In this essay I will be exploring the ways in which other cultures and societies can influence our own in terms of Art and Architecture. I will also endeavour to understand the history and social desire for smaller buildings, and how it effects artists and designers and moreover, the earth.

Our childhood evokes many memories of the evolution into adulthood, and we try desperately to hold on to them. Impossible to relive those moments, we can only try to re-enact the places where we spent those innocent years. A common factor in most children is finding a refuge from adults and the real world. By devising spaces whether it is underneath a table, fabric between chairs, tree houses (those who are lucky enough), even a cardboard box, anywhere that would be an adult free sanctuary.

As time moves on and responsibilities greaten, we find ourselves desiring stability. Having a permanent home, perhaps starting a family, developing a routine that we may continue for the rest of out lives. However, conflicting with this need for stability, we also have a compulsion for change. Whether it is a job change, a sabbatical, or a new home. A dramatic change is needed sometimes to flee from the ‘normal’ life we live. Somewhat how we felt when we were children.

In first world countries, consumerism and the desire to have more, has formed a society where more is better and less is worse. However, in recent years it has become fashionable to be scaling down and regenerating the designs and influence of the past of our own and other cultures. Mixing the old with the new seems to be very popular in art and design at the moment, especially in the restoration of old buildings. Seeing an old building with a strikingly modern interior is an incredibly striking juxtaposition.

With national concern about the earth getting hotter and sea levels rising, a fear has struck many people in the need for change. Architects and designers are working on, “projects that are energy efficient… constructed using materials with low embodied energy or are recycled” ( Richardson, 2007: 11). This way of thinking is not only about creating a beautiful building, but also about being aware of the surroundings in which they exist. A perfect example of this is demonstrated but the winners of Channel Four’s Grand Designs Home of the Year, Christine and Pete’s Blacksheep House. [pic]

(Fig 1 Blacksheep House, 2008)
By the coast in the Hebrides, the houses turf roof and dry stone walls blend seamlessly with its dramatic surroundings. “What I love about this house is that it’s almost as if they went up the mountain, collected bits of the mountain, brought them back down and built their house out of them.” Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs, 2008). This green attitude and style of building is being noticed and implemented more and more, making people aware of the benefits, ecological and financial, of eco homes, “The buildings that look after people can also be the ones that look after the earth.” (Richardson, 2007: 11).

Looking at different styles of architecture and methods of building throughout the world especially indigenous groups, we can learn a huge deal about living with the surrounding terrain. Inuit’s built Igloos, Mud houses in Bangladesh, and my favourite, tree houses in New Guinea. Tree houses are most commonly found in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, discovered by Captain Cook in the late 1700s. Living in these seemingly strange locations, the dense jungle surroundings provided a generous amount of materials to construct settlements out of. The inhabitants also had the upper hand in defending themselves from intruders, “ If the attackers attempted to chop down the tree, they would be pelted with stones and spears from above.” (Nelson, 1994: 8) Another example of building with the environment in mind, are stilt houses on the Philippine island of Mindanao,...
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