Kyle Steinfeld for L&S 25, Fall 2019
In his 1994 book "How Buildings Learn" Stewart Brand asserts that the best buildings are made from low-cost, standard designs that people are familiar with, and easy to modify. In this way people can gradually change their buildings to meet their needs. This book inspired a BBC documentary that aired in July of 1997, clips of which are shown here.
Brand is highly critical of the entire modernist approach to architecture. He rejects the "center out" approach of design, where a single person or group designs a building for others to use, in favor of an evolutionary approach where owners can change a building over time to meet their needs.
He focuses specific criticisms on modernist innovators like Buckminster Fuller for making round buildings that do not allow any kind of additions or internal divisions, Frank Gehry for making buildings that were hard to maintain, and Le Corbusier for making buildings that did not take into consideration the needs of families.
Brand stresses the value an organic kind of building, based on four walls, which is easy to change and expand and grow.