Build Local

By February 6, 2012Building Our Community

There is a current counter trend to shop, grow, dine, and support local enterprise. When prompted, Google Images instantly renders hundreds of “Buy Local” logos from “Buy Local Portland” (Maine) to “Local First Portland” (Oregon) and every place between.  This includes a fine campaign by Local First Utah, a non-profit organization that “seeks to strengthen communities and local economies by promoting, preserving, and protecting local, independently owned businesses throughout Utah.”

Buy Local Collage: Google Images

We can call the phenomenon a counter trend, of course, because of the sweeping trend toward commercial globalization, the other omnipresent topic. As a reaction to the prevailing trend, the “Buy Local” initiative is appealing regardless of where “local” happens to be. Reason being that local interest has manifold motivations in improving economy, sustainability, health, and community.

If our impulse to “live local” is proportional to the rate of globalization then we can expect that as our world becomes increasingly “global,” our appetite for “local” will increase. Where will we look to satisfy our increasing demand for a sense of locality or perhaps our ultimate goal, a sense of home?

“Otherworld”Andrew Wyeth 2002

The architecture of the places we live, learn, worship, and work is ideally suited to grab us by our senses and make us feel at home in our community.  However, the architecture of our day-to-day life will not provide us a sense of locality simply by being there.  In fact, our built environment could further alienate us if local influence is ignored or omitted.

Just as in commerce, as we build buildings, only a conscious effort can temper prevailing influence of the default and standard.  At the same time, we must acknowledge that standardization makes many of the amenities of modern life and modern design available to us.  How, then can we “localize” new architecture while utilizing the advancements and services in the modern, globally standardized world?

Architecture scholar Christain Norberg-Schulz wrote: “Architecture is something built, and that built form becomes an art when it gathers and represents the world to which it belongs.”1 By sensitively gathering, translating and representing local elements in the new architecture we make, we begin to shape a built world that makes us feel at home in a specific city, neighborhood or room.

“Night Sleeper” Andrew Wyeth

At Lloyd Architects we think about how to make architecture feel at home on a specific site. Working in Utah’s unique urban and rural landscapes allows us to discover design opportunities to locate new architecture in time and place.  As architects and designers, we aim to be sensitive observers of culture.  As we witness the cultural desire for “Buy Local”, we propose that “Build Local” is appealing for all the same reasons.

1. Christian Norberg-Shulz, Nightlands: Nordic Building (Cambrige, MA, The MIT Press, 1996),ix.