How Buildings Learn: Chapter 8 - The Romance of Maintenance

How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand is a really great read about the underlying processes that govern the evolution of buildings over time.

The issue is core and absolute: no maintenance, no building.

A staggering one fifth of the sample said that the need to clean their windows had not even been considered during the design and construction of the building.

The root of all evil is water.

A building's most important organ of heath is its roof.

The worst of it is, when water comes through a flat roof, you can't tell where the leak is because the water travels great distances hidden in the roof, ceilings and walls.

The question is this: do you want a material that looks bad before it acts bad, like shingles or clapboard, or one that acts bad long before it looks bad, like vinyl siding?

What you want in materials is the quality of forgiveness.

Redundancy of function is always more reliable than attempts at perfection, which time treats cruelly.

Bricks more than any other material look like they were made to fit the human hand.

If that small stuff isn't happening all the time, you're not going to take care of it, and it isn't going to come to order.

In his book The Oregon Experiment, Alexander elaborated "Large-lump development is based on the idea of replacement. Piecemeal growth is based on the idea of repair."

Large-lump development is based on the fallacy that it is possible to build perfect buildings. Piecemeal growth is based on the healthier and more realistic view that mistakes are inevitable.

I'd like to see building designers take on problem transparency as a design goal. Use materials that smell bad when they get wet.

Maintenance, in this light, is learning.

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