Mette is a Type A person. But since her MS diagnosis she has had to learn to fight the urge to do more. Thankfully, Andrew is Type B and has helped Mette slow down. Rather than doing a lot of things poorly they have decided to focus on a few things and do them really well. Without flash or fanfare, like the proverbial tortoise, they run their architecture studio and raise their family slow and steady, one day at a time, with a little time off now and then for espresso in the cafe.
It turns out there are lots of other people in the world trying to do the same thing and they call it the Slow Movement. The Slow Movement is a quiet resistance to the fast paced pressure of modern life, a cultural shift to slow down life’s pace and revive the sensual pleasures of daily life.
Carl Honoré writes in his book In Praise of Slowness, “Fast and Slow do more than just describe a rate of change. They are shorthand for ways of being, or philosophies of life. Fast is busy, controlling, aggressive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity. It is about making real and meaningful connections – with people, culture, work, food, everything.”
We believe that architecture can help people live better, feel better and be better. We believe that every building, whether it is a single family home or a hospital, has the power to make lives better. However, only 2% of buildings are designed by architects and only a small portion of architects are consciously working to improve the lives of people they serve.
Physically, Slow Space is a place you enjoy spending time in, where you feel relaxed, comfortable, calm and happy. Imagine it may be your bedroom, your church, a cozy cafe, or the New York Public Library. Slow Space is deliberate, meaningful space that has been designed and crafted for you and your experience. It calls out to all of your senses and leaves a lasting impression in your mind by way of your nose, skin, eyes and ears. It is not a place you pass through or an object building to look at, but a place to inhabit, linger and experience. It is the antidote to our busy, harried lives.
Buildings, like bodies, have bones, skin and systems. Interior decoration is clothing; it is fashionable and mutable. The space inside is the soul. It is the intangible feeling that is difficult to describe and impossible to photograph. Space requires slowness to experience it, it is not readily consumed, but once it has been absorbed it is not easily forgotten.
Dieter Rams coined this approach in the late 20th century and it is all the more powerful today. By shifting the emphasis from quantity to quality we address problems of stress, overwhelm, over-consumption, waste and exploitation. For us it means designing fewer, timeless, high quality buildings that will endure more than 100 years.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes rather than imposing your own views. We do this by resisting the urge to jump into design solutions before we have a chance to listen to you, observe your life and get familiar with the place you have chosen.
Systems and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not just a collection of parts. The design of the whole is what differentiates Architecture from a building. It’s not just the walls and roof, but also the space, the feeling, the materials, the supply chain, the workers, and the environmental impact that we are designing.