INHABITAT: What do you feel is the greatest challenge when it comes to designing for environmental sustainability?
Steven: The space, the geometry, the light of an architecture in great proportions must remain the core aim, while engineering aims for zero carbon, ultra-green architecture. But this balance between the poetry of architecture and its green engineering is crucial.
INHABITAT: Many of your fans would say that you design your buildings with a strong focus on both user experience and natural light, is this correct? Can you tell us more about this?
Steven: Space is oblivion without light. A building speaks through the silence of perception orchestrated by light. Luminosity is as integral to its spatial experience as porosity is integral to urban experience.
For our Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma the most important building material was light. Of the twenty-five galleries which make up the main function of the museum all have a slice of natural light. The behavior of light guided many decisions. The low angle of the Helsinki sun – never reaching above 51 degrees – helps give sectional form to the curved “light catching” aspect of the architecture. Changes in natural lighting conditions are left visible – so passing clouds bring shadow – brightness varies as the interior experience varies.
We conceive of the space, light and concept of a work from the very beginning. Often in concept watercolors the aspects of light are there in the first sketch, integral to the concept of the architecture, unique to the site and place. The infinite possibilities of light have been evident from the beginning of architecture and will continue into the future. The revelations of new spaces, like interwoven languages, dissolve and reappear in light. In magnificent spaces, light changes and appears to describe form.