Have you ever struggled with why certain places feel “off” or uncomfortable? Have you ever had the sense that our homes and buildings were making us sick? The quest to find the ‘why’ behind these intuitions may not have launched a thousand ships, but did drive the formation of Timeless Structures.
For us, this unease – the absence of delight – occurs in most places of the modern era. Our journey to find the source of this disease led to what seemed a thousand paths – permaculture and natural building, A Pattern Language, biophilia, even classical architecture and building science. Through this wandering, we discovered not separate paths, but planets orbiting around a center. The central notion is this: Healthy and beautiful places are one in the same, and depend on both the felt as well as the seen. Good design, whether manifest in structural engineering or residential placemaking, is a process that involves the physical, physiological, and psychological integrated into a single whole.
If we take a hard look at the state of the building industry, it can be quite depressing. Buildings are a major contributor to carbon in the atmosphere and the climate change it is creating. We currently use building products with toxic substances that lead to poor indoor air quality that is at the root of many health concerns. Most current design disregards the world around it, leading to isolating and uninspiring works that contribute to break-down of community and increased stress.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Buildings can be the solution, not just the problem. We must proceed along a different road, however, than is currently being traveled. This is why Timeless Structures exists, to help you move the needle toward a more regenerative, healthy, and beautiful built environment through a different level of thinking.
The current thinking in design seems to be that the end result is conceived in a single step. The television designer walks through the space and expresses their vision, almost if by magic. The reality behind the television show is not even this way. Generative, healthy design cannot work in such a process. Your soul, your wholeness, must be at the heart of any design that is considered good, healthy, beautiful.
We see design as a process, with each step building on the previous one. This process, the journey we take with you, is guided by a definable set of principles. These principles embody how we think differently.
Without good bones, beauty will not manifest on the surface. Structure is often hidden behind the walls. If you think of buildings in which you are truly comfortable, however, most likely have expressed or implicit structure revealed at the surface: The sense of enclosure provided by exposed timber framing, the refuge created by an Arts and Crafts era built-in room divider, the prospect through arched windows. Structure, as with many aspects of integrated design, forms the basis for the patterns that make up the beauty of the whole.
Comfort Is More Than Skin Deep
Physical and physiological comfort is a necessary component of the beautiful. There is a deep sense of wellbeing when seated by a sunny window on an otherwise cold day. This inner calm comes from more than just the heat of the sun. The window and wall must be correct. The interior surfaces must be pleasing to the touch. The view through the window needs to be directed toward a center of beauty. The tactile experience and physiological response are primary components of the health and beauty of the whole, much more so than the mere aesthetic appearance.
Nature Doesn’t Do Zero (Carbon Sequestration is Sexy)
Natural materials are meta-indicators of healthy design. Locally obtained, sustainably harvested or extracted, natural materials generally have the lowest carbon footprint (if not carbon sequestering), have the lowest toxicity, and are more likely to be physiologically stress-reducing. The world around us has had millennia to perfect these materials, and a beautiful whole is not possible without them.
We Cannot Thrive Without our Mother (Nature)
The natural world is the only real model for our physiological and physical wellbeing. The calm that comes from looking at a savannah comes from many biophilic aspects. The primary of these are ordered complexity and levels of scale. Biophilic design is not merely slapping some wood cladding onto a non-adaptive design. It is integration of the patterns and levels of scales of nature into the whole from the beginning.