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“Green design is not enough; a deeper connection between self and place is required to create truly sustainable spaces.” -Kevin Hackett
Design-builders love to talk about clients’ needs—how they’ll take your vision, your desire for your home and turn it into reality. But few, if any, have shrinked your psyche to do so.
But don’t be nervous. Kevin Hackett and Jessica Weigley of San Francisco’s Siol Studios are no lab-coated therapists. They’re researchers, artists and educators, and they’re working to change the face of sustainable home design.
I spoke with co-founder Kevin, a very kind and insightful architect from Limerick, Ireland, about Siol Studio’s “architecture of self and place,” and especially this notion of the brain as a home—or your home as a formed representation of your psychograph. Here’s what he had to say.
You teach seminars on the connection between psychology and architecture. How would you incorporate a client’s psychological needs/desires—things that are intangible— into the physical and practical design of their home?
KH: Each client has a unique psychograph. This encompasses their moral, cognitive, emotional, aesthetic and interpersonal lines of development (to name but a few). It is the role of the designer to interpret this profile. This body of knowledge is then overlaid with the client’s program to create a foundation for the forthcoming design process.
We also explore the client’s environmental subjectivity while educating an objective understanding of the mind. Subjectively, each client has a different response mechanism to space, color, texture, lighting, form, etc. We investigate the connectivity of such responses and bring awareness to the client. From the universal perspective, we share current neurological data and explain how it can assist us in the design process. It is a multifaceted approach that reflects the layered individuality of each client or group.
I love that you leave your projects with room to “evolve.” This gives the client freedom to change and grow their space at a later date, but also cuts down on waste during future remodels. Is that part of your design process?
KH: From a sustainable approach, buildings need to be seen as living entities. Evolution thus occurs at the building level as well as the user level. A spatial layout that allows for both adaptability and emergence is essential. We like to think our spaces facilitate this change, behaving as a catalyst for developmental growth.
I see that you participated in San Francisco’s Park(ing) Day 2008. How did you get involved and what did you take away from that?
KH: Parking Day was both an urban installation and experiment. We collaborated with local merchants to create an environment where the hierarchy of car – bike – pedestrian was turned upside-down, placing the pedestrian as priority.
It was a lesson in the street-narrowing process to create a more enriching sidewalk where culture and community intersect. We also wanted to demonstrate the potential flexibility of urban space on an intimate scale. This is commonplace in Europe, specifically with older grids, where a street has multi functions to reflect the changing momentum of the city.
What is the Siol Salon? Do you hold events for Bay Area locals?
The Siol Salon is a lecture series that we have previously held in the Bay Area. It is an opportunity to share and discuss pertinent topics that relate to the architecture and design professions. This fall, we intend to hold our second salon with a group of lectures discussing the concepts of Integral Architecture.
What’s next for you? What are your ultimate goals as thinkers and builders?
This coming July, we will be presenting our paper ‘Towards an Integral Architecture’ at the Integral Theory Conference in Pleasant Hill, California.
“An integrally informed architecture can nourish spirit, evolve perspectives, participate in harmony with its natural systems, and symbolically represent the whole.” We believe that green design is not enough, a deeper connection between self and place is required to create truly sustainable spaces. This connection comes from an intimate understanding of self and the fulfillment of our role as co-creators and citizens of Earth. It is this connection that we seek to explore through our practice.
Get in touch with Kevin and Jessica:
An Integral Design Practice
2311 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
tel: 415. 655 9722 fax: 415. 236 6070
Photo Credit: John Lee
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