I love when your everyday artist becomes an architect. I've always said that something many architects and designers lose is their ability to relate with real people and to create solutions that are outside of the proverbial "box." So when I saw that Dionisio Gonzalez created an idea for hurricane-resistant homes on the shores of Dauphin Island, I was, needless to say, giddy.
These are unbuilt, hypothetical structures but they are a great theoretical project that begs a few important questions. Why simply continue to rebuild temporary structures each year that become devastated at the first hurricane of the season? Why waste time, materials, energy, and memories that these people lose forever, on a seasonal basis? Why not think bigger? Why not consider alternatives that could be a permanent addition to the lives of these people and the shores that they call home, live from, love, and respect?
I am no often one to say "build on the beach," or "try to be more permanent than nature" because neither of these are usually in line with the sustainable principles that I hold dear, but to design something permanent means less waste.
I don't know if Gonzalez's structures would work structurally. I don't know if the transparent material could be protected from the wind and debri nor if the concrete and steel could withstand the rising tides and crushing waves. But I do know that if no one ever tries then nothing will ever change. These people who live from the sea will continue to build and will continue to lose cyclically. So I sincerely appreciate Gonzalez's effort to open the conversation about designing for permanency that lasts beyond just the next sucker who will buy a property, or 'til the end of a season for a big box store. T
his conversation isn't just about Dauphin Island...it's about the way we build all over the world. Can we utilize our resources? Can we build to respond to our environment? Can we build things that last like the pyramids and the Parthenon? Or will we continue to turn our nose up at nature, only to have her strike us back down? When we design with the environment in mind, we design with ourselves in mind. Maybe that's how we need to begin to re-focus the way that we propose the changes. When most people realize it's about them, they are more likely to pay attention and to take some stake in an idea.