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Laurie Baker – Architectural Principles

by Mel Starrs on April 28, 2010

in Manifestos

I came across Laurie Baker via a Twitter conversation between myself, Nick Grant and Prashant Kapoor on coffee houses of India a month or so ago. I travelled to Kerala back in January 2004 and had indeed had coffee in the spiral coffee shop in Trivandrum. Nick kindly pointed me towards Laurie Baker, the architect’s, website, where I found this gem of a manifesto, or architectural principles. I’ve been trying to collect up various manifestos and lists of principles, especially with regards to sustainable buildings.

Although Laurie doesn’t explicitly mention sustainability, and there’s a certain local Indian flavour to some of it, I think it’s a pretty good start:

  1. Only accept a REASONABLE BRIEF and one which you think you are capable of carrying through.
  2. DISCOURAGE EXTRAVAGANCE & SNOBBERY and don’t take on a job which is either.
  3. Always STUDY YOUR SITE re soil, topography, water climate + neighbours (noisy temples, smelly factories, etc)
  4. See POTENTIAL SERVICES – water, drainage, access, power, fuel, phone, etc. If not possible or available, what will you do?
  5. YOU, YOURSELF, GET ACCURATE DETAILS of the site, with in-situ facts such as trees, rocks, a well, wind + rain directions
  6. Every building should be UNIQUE. No two people, or familieis etc are alike, so why should their homes all be the same?
  7. STUDY & KNOW LOCAL MATERIALS – their availability, performance, costs, techniques + workmen who know how to use them.
  8. STUDY & KNOW ENERGY used in the manufacture + transport of materials, avoiding using energy intensive materials where possible.
  9. BUILDING CODES ARE ADVISORY & NOT MANDATORY! Read the first chapters of our National Building Code!
  10. DON’T ROB NATIONAL RESOURCES + do not use them extravagantly or unnecessarily
  11. Be HONEST & TRUTHFUL in design + material usage, construction, costs,  + about your own mistakes!
  12. AVOID OPULENCE & ‘SHOWING OFF’, + don’t use currently fashionable gimmicks
  13. Get your CONSCIENCE out of deep freeze + USE IT. Let ALL YOU DO be honest + truthful – not only yr buildings.
  14. Look closely at YOUR OWN PREJUDICES. Question them and see if they are still justifiable.
  15. HAVE FAITH IN YOUR OWN CONVICTIONS + have courage to stick to them – but respect those of other people.
  16. Make COST-EFFICIENCY your WAY OF LIFE – not merely “Low Cost for the Poor”. Practice what you preach.
  17. Keep your INFORMATION & KNOWLEDGE ‘UP-TO-DATE’, but make sure the latest ‘fashions’ are better than establishedways before changing.
  18. DON’T DO THAT WHICH IS NOT NECESSARY. Explain this to your clients when you thik their demands etc are NOT necessary
  19. Above all USE COMMON SENSE (I think you had better not ask me what ‘common sense’ is!) + HAVE FUN in designing.
  20. TRIM your drawings, staff, equipment, travel + transport, paper + expenses

(MY FEELINGS ABOUT BEING AN ARCHITECT) Laurie Baker

  • http://www.ajfootprint.com Hattie Hartman

    This is really lovely, Mel. If only more architects would follow this line of thinking…

    Hattie at AJ

  • http://www.ajfootprint.com Hattie Hartman

    This is really lovely, Mel. If only more architects would follow this line of thinking…

    Hattie at AJ

  • http://www.greenliving9.com/laurie-baker-architecture-gandhian-principles.html Laurie baker architecture

    Laurie Baker’s sustainable architecture was greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi when he first visited India in 1944. Since then, it was no looking back for him. His techniques in construction industry was a marvel. More than 90% of his architecture’s are without the use use plasters and cement.

  • Nick

    I have this on my wall as regular reminder. Lived in one if his buildings for 3 months. Very good.