Speaking at BAU 2017 in Munich, Germany, Elisabeth Endres from Ingenieurbüro Hausladen considered how architects and engineers can balance the effective use of technology while seeking to overcome our own technophobia. How much technology do we need? How do we maintain the right amount of diversity? Is high tech taking us back to low tech?
Speaking in a forum at the event Elisabeth Endres said: “I think we can build anything today and we have come along way in the field of active systems for buildings, but sometimes we lack the right attitude to handling all this abundance of information which can lead to technophobia emerging on some projects.
“Let me start with a house that has very little technology, a farmhouse in Engadine, Germany for example. It’s nice to imagine we could build like that again, however houses like that have disadvantages too. But technology can solve so many problems and make older buildings more energy efficient and easier to maintain.
“Another example is trying to reduce the amount of visible ducts and shafts in a building. The ceilings need to be lowered and insane amounts of technology and electronics are required to make everything compatible. It’s not surprising that a certain amount of technophobia exists. But building without active heating and cooling technologies also has consequences with regard to comfort and control technology.
“Education and training is also an issue. I’m very concerned about what is happening in our vocational courses, including training in architecture. Today we have some 70 degree courses in Germany for what used to be one single study path in civil engineering. I’m not sure if students used to feel overwhelmed or if today’s system tries to cover too many areas with individual courses.
“We may have overshot the mark somewhere either with our legislation or with the amount of technology we stuff into a single house in order to achieve a specific design.
“At the end of the day you always need a shake up. Perhaps we had to go all the way to high tech to land back in the world of low tech. We process an incredible amount of knowledge these days. The options, techniques and technologies are there. It takes cooperation and the right integral processes to implement them.”