I think I am more attracted to old buildings and even decrepit structures then I ever will be to shiny new ones. This is slightly ironic because we definitely design a lot of new buildings.
The reason that I like buildings that have wear, modifications, and character is that they tell a story. An older building has seen more, experienced more, and the evidence of those events adds a richness and depth that is difficult to achieve on a new structure. I call this the “patina of time.”
That said, if I am designing a new structure I do like to create a story for it. I like to imagine the past it might have had, or if there is a way to physically manifest the values of the proposed user. Creating this fictional story gives a structure to the design and an explanation for the design decisions. Even if the users of the building don’t know the story, I believe they can sense that extra layer of depth and interest as they experience the space.
Existing buildings are not perfect. They have filled in windows, mismatched flooring, cracks in the stucco. They may have sagged in places. I wonder, does anyone purposely build imperfectly to create the aura of age and establishment? I am not talking about doing things shoddily. I am talking about having a bit of whimsy, and perhaps creating intentional “accidents”. I did that on my own house. For example, I spaced the floor joists to ensure that the wood floor creaks. When people come to my house they admire my “antique floors.” It does not occur to them that someone would do that on purpose.
I totally understand that building to tight standards and specifications is a way to get a comfort level that things were done well. But for me personally, it feels very sterile. I am attracted to old buildings and I embrace the “patina of age.”
More to come soon. If you want to get in touch please let me know! Thanks for reading!