Professor of Architecture Kevin Nute's new video-animated ebook, Vital: Using the Weather to Bring Buildings and Sustainability to Life, culminates nearly a decade’s work. The book demonstrates how buildings can be designed to reconcile their traditional role of protecting occupants from the elements and reconnecting us with nature.
“Physiologically we are still essentially outdoor creatures conditioned to a continually changing natural environment, but most of us now spend over 90 percent of our lives in indoor spaces that lack both nature and change,” Professor Nute explains. “One of the consequences of this mismatch are chronic accumulations of stress and declines in alertness when we can't access natural outdoor environments for long periods.”
“The thing that most buildings are designed to actively exclude — the weather — is actually a perfect source of natural change, and it's not only free but also available everywhere,” Nute says. “The prime movers underlying natural changes in the weather — sunlight, wind and rain — are also critical natural resources, yet globally only a tiny fraction of buildings make use of them, and even when they do, these efforts often go unnoticed by the general population.”
The book has been extremely well received so far. “As an architect I’d never have thought of using the elements indoors in this way,” wrote one reviewer. “This book will change my own practice and a lot of other buildings.” Another review suggested that the book “provides a lens to view the design of the built environment that can have powerful effects on people’s quality of life. The ideas resonate with cultural desires to reconnect with the natural world. They are a comforting reminder to pay attention to the important things in life.”
The electronic installation “Outside in,” which features videos from the book, can be seen at the UO White Stag Building in Portland from now through December 31.