1st Edition

Elemental Architecture Temperaments of Sustainability

By Phillip James Tabb Copyright 2019
    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    222 Pages
    by Routledge

    Elemental Architecture presents a new and refreshing approach to sustainable architectural practice. Going beyond the standard performance-based and quantitative sustainable measures, it incorporates a broader framework of considerations, including the more poetic and noetic possibilities of environmental design.

    The book is structured around the ancient Greek and medieval alchemists’ system of the Five Temperaments: fire, earth, air, water, and ether. Phillip James Tabb examines how these elements produce both positive and negative environmental forces which have an impact on architectural design – from drinking water and fresh air to torrential floods and tornados. He shows how responding to or enhancing these forces can help us to create a more sustainable, healthy, and purposeful architecture. To illustrate this, each chapter draws on seminal contemporary works of architecture, from Peter Zumthor’s Bruder-Klaus Field Chapel to Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece at Fallingwater. These examples are accompanied by over a hundred high-quality illustrations.

    Expanding the discussion of sustainability to include phenomenological as well as qualitative considerations, Elemental Architecture is ideal for students and researchers with an interest in sustainable architecture and architectural theory.

    Foreword Thanos Stasinopoulos  Preface  1. The Elements and Temperaments  2. The Element of Fire  3. The Element of Earth  4. The Element of Air  5. The Element of Water  6. The Element of Ether  7. Elemental Architecture  Index


    Phillip James Tabb is Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Texas A&M University, USA, where he served as Department Head from 2001 to 2005. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Cincinnati, USA, Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado, USA, and PhD from the Architectural Association in London, UK. He is author of Solar Energy Planning, The Greening of Architecture: A Critical History and Survey of Contemporary Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design and Serene Urbanism: A Biophilic Theory and Practice of Sustainable Placemaking, and Co-editor of Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality. He is the masterplanner for the award-winning Serenbe Community and is a practicing urban designer and licensed architect.

    "Phillip Tabb’s latest book provides an important contribution to illuminating the very ontology of architecture. Beginning with foundational philosophies followed by detailed written descriptions and visual imagery, he re-connects us both intellectually and viscerally to each of the elements - fire, earth, air, water, ether, and the temperaments which they illicit – reminding us that these are the essential building blocks from which all architecture emerges. Each successive chapter provides valuable illustrative examples of a design approach that responds with sympathy and harmony to the elemental forces of a given place, both positive and negative. At a time when the world is being experienced less and less through its primary modes of expression in favour of being mediated through our ubiquitous technologies, this book offers a much-welcomed antidote. It re-enchants the reader with the natural world, re-claiming a rich heritage common to all cultures that acknowledges nature’s potentials for improving our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing." - Roberto Chiotti, Architect, Toronto, Canada

    "Written by one of the pioneers of sustainability, this book offers spiritually-grounded perspectives on how to create more integrated, restorative, and meaningful built environments. Systematic without being dogmatic, Phillip Tabb skillfully applies ancient wisdom to contemporary problems. How to build well are his primary concerns, and he presents a continuum of elemental, emplaced, and responsive approaches to design, and useful models for how we might live more deeply embedded in the world." - Thomas Barrie, AIA, Professor of Architecture, NC State University


    The solid principles found in the Dialogues of Plato, notably in the Timaeus, are alive and well in "The Elements and Temperaments". Here can be found an orderly reminder of a truthful and logical methodology, which can be applied by any designer, especially an architect, to any design problem. It is particularly beneficial if the result is intended to be sustainable. This work presents an incisive reminder of the necessary and desired interactions with the elements." - Robert A. Armon, Architect, Denver, Colorado

    "Elemental Architecture offers a fresh, compelling, and humanistic perspective to the imperative of sustainability in architecture. Instead of the usual focus on technical matters, Dr. Tabb approaches the topic from an unmistakable (and so necessary!) design sensibility. This is done by a thorough, convincing, and fascinating reconsideration of the ancient wisdom embedded in the five primordial elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether). Through accessible language, insightful examples, useful case studies, clear summary graphs, and at times profound considerations, this book offers both beginners and seasoned designers something to learn, ponder, and apply. Elemental Architecture reminds us that it is our experience of life in its embodied and transcendental dimensions what our buildings are all about and that today’s successful sustainable work can be achieved by paying loving attention to the fundamental forces and elements of old." - Julio Bermudez, The Catholic University of America