Weather has the power and the will to change the day. In an instant it can alter the flow of a city. Over time it leads to regional abandonment. Daily it damages structures. Occasionally it strikes fear into larger populations. Undeniably, it is beautiful in its own right. Often it steals the thunder and at least momentarily removes the focus from everything else in the world.
While the Earth is diverse in its climatic distinctions, the atmosphere is a commonality that affects the lives of all of us. Weather is the immediate condition of the climatic patterns in the proximity of the greater atmospheric surrounds. Each region has unique conditions, but forces are connected over great scales, and storms and anxieties bring us all together through awareness and obsession.
In regard to climates, weather permits design and fosters its alterations. Humans have a tendency (and good reasons) to designate regions to be more suitable for living. The flow of the seasons, the precipitation, and the recycling of the world allows us to live, and despite our grumblings, it allows us to change. Cultures develop as they become uniquely acclimated to the patterns of the atmosphere in their chosen proximities. Tendencies and vernaculars develop in a deeply rooted respect for climatic conditions. Further, the birth of architecture rests on the development of shelters, commonly regarded as a basic human need.
We cannot run, nor hide from the weather. It is always there surrounding our spaces, effecting our decisions, and leading us in new directions. It provides the experience of an instant.
As much as we would like to predict it, and try to, you never know how or when a change will occur. We’ve devised means to look at it, we’ve chased it, we’ve tried controlling it, we’ve tried blindly barricading ourselves and despite all of these efforts we still don’t get it right. And thankfully, we never will.
All things considered, the weather ultimately receives great attention. Generally, it is the in the realm of negative press. Despite the attention, when it is not forceful enough to threaten change, are we apathetic to its warnings? And when the slightest scare strikes, we fall regretful and grow anxious. Even with all of the anxiety involved, there still remains an alluring excitement about the lack of control.
Unique to time and place, yet connected by the notion of scale, patterns, and attention, weather is the temporary condition and the surrounding influence of the atmosphere and well deserves strong attention in the definition of a site.
Instead of turning a blind eye to climates, writing off anomalies for another’s lifetime, and beyond the simple, pre-apologetic clause of weather permitting, the challenge remains to celebrate and harness these conditions. Invariably, by integrating and altering a predominately negative conception to a positive, an invigorating and hopeful connection can be developed.
Such a shift in thinking spurs new ways of viewing the site. Issues of scale, time, intensity, calms, anomalies, typical conditions, extremes, and energy harnessing emerge at the forefront of design criteria.
While not the most consistent or reliable source, at a time when strategies for new electrical sources is of great concern, one must recognize that the power of a place rests not only in minerals, but also in the climatic conditions, and the thrill of the weather.
To become attuned to its location and to provide the social and cultural grounding in particular locales, architecture has the opportunity to become a registration of its location both visually and energetically. Architecture after all, to fully understand its people and their needs, must breathe the air it is in. It must capture in some sense the site it rests upon. In such a manner, architecture would no longer be a stranger or bizarre appendage to its site.
With architecture’s social motive there is clearly a connection to the concern and attention given to the world’s climatic issues. Be it a disaster, a seasonal event, prediction or just plain hype, our spaces and cities need to grow ever more in tune with their greater surrounds if anxieties are to be calmed and the joy of a storm is to be more widely shared.