What gets better with age?
There aren’t many things apart from certain wines that are perceived with the ability to improve with age. In theory, we as individuals improve with age if we can put vanity aside. Although our bodies are confined to the natural courses of biology our minds and souls have the ability to develop with greater knowledge, confidence, and wisdom. We hope that our moments and experiences in life make us more spiritual with time. Good Architecture is often described with uplifting or as having spiritual qualities. Well-conceived buildings also share the ability to also improve over time. This is evidenced by the number of classic or iconic buildings that continue to inspire and look better with each visit.
At WOLF Architects we are very aware of time, and apply long term thinking towards our design approaches. While we know that buildings can continuously be maintained and preserved, we consider what might happen if our designs were left to fend for themselves against mother nature? What if timbers were left to fade, steel left to rust and mould left to grow on walls? Why could that not look good if carefully planned for? Many clients these days insist on minimising cracks in their polished concrete floors, yet it’s often those cracks that give it character. Maintenance is always more difficult and expensive on a building’s exterior so it’s important for architects to consider how to design buildings to age gracefully in the absence of maintenance.
Further to the external finishes on buildings the landscaping is equally important and certainly something that can improve with age. Landscaping will always require some level of maintenance but with good long-term design and planning the bones of the outdoor spaces should be sound. Trees of the appropriate species planted in the right positions are like money in the bank. Beautiful mature gardens add value to homes and thoughtful design is key. Having said, a garden can take several years to mature so a good design is one where the landscape does not look immature or inappropriately sparse. A smart design will still look good when young and then great when old.
Landscape design at WOLF architects has always been seriously considered from the onset. Our designs however are not aimed to provoke or make magazine covers. Our gardens are spaces to experience rather than just to be looked at. We rarely design gardens that require perfect manicuring at all times. In fact, we think tall grass can even look and feel better in some instances.
When it comes to the interiors of our buildings we expect certain things like door handles and tap fittings to date but those are minor components. Again, it’s the bones of the floor plan that can transcend eras. Premature renovations are not only expensive but wasteful to the environment. A WOLF interior is designed for greater flexibility, able to adapt to different family types at different phases in their lives. We don’t expect our houses to need more than new paints, carpets and fixtures as time moves on.
Change however is the only thing that stays the same so while our designs are intended to last a lifetime we don’t believe that they need to be preserved as they were on their day of completion. We as humans are always changing with new technologies, fashion and ideas. Buildings should be allowed to grow with us and accommodate changes such changes. Where a wall spaces was designed for a TV unit, we see a future where the whole wall becomes a screen. We allow for lifts to be retro fitted at a future date while ensuring that there is always sufficient roof space for solar energy.
Gardens should also leave room for the owners to imprint their own personality and memories upon it. Spending time in the garden is healthy and we prefer landscape designs with room for tinkering and modifying. So, while most things in life simply grow old and tired, an architectural masterpiece complimented by sound interior and landscape designs can age gracefully and outlast many generations.
5 years on and the owners have been able to tinker and make changes without breaking the bones and intention of the original design
This impressive tropical resort garden requires a lot less maintenance than it seems as a result of careful design and selection of plant species
Mr Wolf planted this Chinese Elm tree in 2005, and it grows more magnificent each year
Let Nature take its course