Naomi Darling on Sustainable (and Inspiring) Architecture

IMG_1772To kick off her talk about sustainable design, Naomi Darling showed a slide of a place all Williston Northampton students would recognize.

“That’s where we are right now, right?” said Ms. Darling as a picture of Reed Campus Center appeared.

“Pretty much everything we see has been designed,” said Ms. Darling switching to a view of the Williston pond. “It’s all part of a built environment that very much shapes our lives.”

Ms. Darling, a Five College assistant professor of sustainable architecture, was visiting Natania Hume’s Contemporary Arts and Culture class to talk about historical architecture, best sustainable practices, and some of her recent projects. To give students a basis for comparison, she showed how the Williston campus integrated aspects of other designed spaces: English gardens, the University of Virginia, and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

“Architecture embodies the aspiration and achievements of a society,” said Ms. Darling. “It is a realization of a culture, time, and place.”

IMG_1769Ms. Hume explained later that she invited Ms. Darling as a way to provide a more in depth perspective on the sustainable architecture field. The class had studied architectural styles, from 1950 to the present, and two students took those lessons a step further, creating final projects that centered on architecture and sustainable buildings.

“I also thought that, since my students will be the next generation of consumers and designers of buildings,” said Ms. Hume, “They should hear from an expert in the field about how climate change will effect our habits, lifestyles and tastes in the future.”

During her visit, Ms. Darling noted that the best, and most lasting modern designs not only addressed relationship of a building to the site, but the way it provided a complete human environment—in every sense of the world.

“As architects, designers, builders, we really are in a position to make a difference in a really concrete way,” she said. “The most sustainable architecture is that architecture which inspires people.”

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