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INHABITAT INTERVIEW: 8 Questions with Architect Tom Kundig
Posted By Diane Pham On March 12, 2013 @ 1:00 am In Architecture,Interviews | 4 Comments
Chicken Point Cabin, Idaho
Tom Kundig: Not entirely sure. I’m sure there are impacts that we are not aware of – are we ‘mysterious’ because we are remote, or are we ‘removed from the action’? My guess is that it might be both, but the most important consideration is how we do our work. In a large landscape like the Pacific Northwest – and in a relatively large city like Seattle that is connected internationally – we might have the best of both worlds. Irregardless, our work is context based - cultural, environmental, craft, tectonics, and so forth – and we are in an ideal location where all these elements converge.
Tom Kundig: I am absolutely concerned about it. And I’m not speaking strictly of the environmental, because the process of building and what’s required to maintain a building consumes not only a significant amount of natural resources, but also has a huge influence on cultural and social sustainability. Ultimately architecture  is cultural and social – it is shelter at its most basic human level, and within the spirit of that notion, it is a deeply humanistic endeavor.
Tom Kundig: The greatest challenge is designing to an authenticity that recognizes the true issues of sustainability, not just treating it as a check list of items or simplifying it to accomodate to score keeping. Sustainability takes on a true, holistic understanding of all the implications of a design.
Inhabitat: You’re the sole N. American representative in Toto Gallery MA’s “Global Ends – Towards the Beginning” an exhibit that hopes to inspire architects to break away from the architectural uniformity resulting from past movements. Modernism has clearly been the most dominant and continues to permeate design – what are your thoughts on its value today?
Tom Kundig: Modernism at its core is a humanistic value. It is about shelter , about culture, and about equality, safety, and nurturing for a better future for EVERYBODY. Unfortunately today, many of these values have been lost in stylistic fashion. I am hopeful that the next movement will be about a meaningful search for a humanistic architecture . This is an idea that will never go out of style.
Tom Kundig: Sustainability has been relegated to the ‘science’ side of practice, both by the practitioners and in academia. Architecture at its core is the intersection of the rational and the poetic. If architecture , academics and practitioners can embrace that idea and respect the two realms of the practice, this question would not have to be asked. Unfortunately the question is a good one.
Delta Shelter, Washington State
Tom Kundig: It was a 1918 classic two-story bungalow with a porch facing the street. However, it was its location near a large city port that had more affect on my childhood than the house itself. Spending my formative years in and around the lake cabins of the areas probably had the most impact on my career.
Tom Kundig: So many architects , both living and dead, inspire me. It’s difficult to list. But certainly individuals within the architectural, art and music realm are the most inspirational. And when I speak of artists, what I’m focusing in on are those willing to truly put their souls on the line for their art. They are working ‘out there’, many times without a net, vulnerable to the second guessing of polite society, bureaucrats, academics, and mainstream media – it’s a lonely place to be.
Tom Kundig: I hope that my work is meaningful and it that it resonates in people’s lives - architecture at its core.
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