Architecture and the 7 'C's

Friday 24 Feb 2012

Bryan Avery, from Avery Associates Architects explains his seven steps of design

Vitruvius, a Roman writer, architect and engineer, evolved his work through the filter of six design criteria; Order, arrangement, eurythmy, symmetry, propriety and economy. Bryan Avery, from Avery Associates Architects finds that he need at least seven and calls them the seven Cs

The first of his seven design criteria is arguably the most complex; the constraints. These include not just the myriad technical, legislative and statutory constraints that impact profoundly upon the form of the project, but the pragmatic requirements of the client-and beyond that, his/her ‘ambition'.

The second of his design criteria is the contiguity-the context in both time and place, closer in meaning to the Genius Loci in its widest sense as interpreted by Norberg Schultz. This gives the form its ‘rootedness'.

The third of his criteria is the content-that the building should be evidence, both its purpose and its character and be empathetic with its content and the particularities of the culture in which it is situated.

The fourth is the climate-all the ecological, macro and micro environmental issues that impact upon mankind's being in the natural world.

The fifth is the construction-in essence all the materials and structure that go together to make a building but as these all have their own formal languages they carry powerful meanings that will echo down through the ages.

The sixth he calls the choreography -the work of the person (the conductor/architect) who brings all these criteria together and, by giving them a balance unique to each project, makes of them a singular work of significance.

The seventh of the criteria is a fraught issue with few proponents and yet it is for him, as it was for Vitruvius, crucially important. It is that buildings should look good; in fact more than just good, they should as far as is possible attain to beauty. Bryan Avery readily admits that beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but there is a universal acceptance that across time and cultures some buildings are transcendentally beautiful. He calls this last criteria therefore concinnity. concinnity is the harmony of the parts-the relationship of the things that together make up the whole.

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