A few years ago when I was working in Berlin, my boss at the time showed me a picture of Adolf Loos’ seminal project Villa Müller. He spoke with such reverence and excitement that I’ve never forgotten it. Meanwhile, I looked on wondering what was so special about it – it just looked like a concrete stucco box with windows in funny places. But behind the simplicity and perceived ordinariness is an incredible story of experimentation combined with unadulterated function. Even now, nearly 90 years after it was completed, it still holds up as the forebear to modernism.
Of course, not every home is going to be canonised as a pillar of design and turned into a museum. But conversely to that sentiment, it would be ridiculous to think that a home should be knocked down and rebuilt every other year. So where is the middle ground? How can a home be perfect for the ‘now’ and be adaptable for future needs?
For this issue of MEZZANINE, we’re taking a step back to ponder the years to come. We’re tackling questions around what longevity in design is, what quality craftsmanship looks like and how investing in architecture and design can be valuable now and in the years ahead. To unpack these lofty thought-starters, we’re telling the stories behind a range of people and projects.
Taking the mantle for considerations on future-proofing in design is Robert Davidov (director of Davidov Partners Architects) in the recently added Advice section. In another new section, Tips, we will wade through practical topics and for this issue we wanted to know which sustainability investments provide the most value in the long run. To answer that, Sara Kirby speaks with architect and builder Oliver Steele (director at Steele Associates), who is an expert in the overwhelming world of sustainability. We also profile Iva Foschia of IF Architecture and discover how she aims to design beyond trends, while a renovation project in Orange, NSW by Source Architects highlights that when you’re working with good bones, thoughtful updates can still make a huge impact.
Melissa Rymer investigates the legacy of bricks, a material that lends itself so well to concepts of longevity, and we get the clients’ insight on Coogee house by Madeleine Blanchfield Architects to find out how they have settled into their home a few years on. And reporting from the Milan Salone del Mobile, I’ve pinpointed some of the recurring themes that popped up through a selection of the latest products – many of them reference a bygone era, reiterating Mark Twain’s sentiment that “there is no such thing as a new idea”.
All of the stories for this issue have something special to talk about, something more than what can be felt through a picture, for reasons similar to why I never grasped the importance of Villa Müller through an image alone. Perhaps Loos himself explains it best: “My architecture is not conceived in plans, but in spaces. I do not design floor plans, façades, sections. I design spaces.”
– Aleesha Callahan, editor of MEZZANINE
Lead image: Adolf Loos’ Villa Müller.
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