Slow Architecture: what is it and how to implement it in a new building project?
Slow architecture is the calm architecture. It seems strange that in a world that is going faster and faster every day, architecture should take its foot off the accelerator and slow down. It seems that when a person wants to build a house or a developer decides to erect a building, everything has to be done quickly and in record time.
The urban environment pushes us to demand that everything be faster and bigger. Excessive growth has pushed us towards a context full of standardisation, of prefabricated and mass-produced things.
Architecture and housing design are no strangers to this maelstrom. Projects are shoehorned into impossible deadlines and the review of materials and tools is null and void because there is no time to do it. All this haste ends up having consequences on the projects. The result, on many occasions, affects the finishes, the installations or the design.
The “slow architecture” movement is in favour of not sacrificing well-being and quality of life to develop a project in a hurry. One of its pillars is respect for the environment, ecology and total integration into the landscape.
What is the "slow architecture" movement?
Slow architecture is a method of architecture and design that prioritises the creation of spaces that promote slow living. Its premises are based on social, cultural and, of course, environmental sustainability.
When designing a new home, different factors are taken into account. These include the needs of the clients, the number of occupants of the home and the ecosystem of the location.
Construction is carried out in an orderly manner and in continuous communication with the client.
Slow architecture is based on a series of principles that connect the building with the occupants and the environment. We review these pillars.
Take time to think and rethink the project.
Rushing is forbidden in “slow architecture”. This does not mean that the work will take forever, far from it. The point is to clarify all the issues before starting work. It is a matter of specifying all the materials, finishes and layout down to the last detail.
This avoids last-minute changes that could affect the finish. It also eliminates those decisions made on the spur of the moment and in haste.
This way of working allows attention to detail and has a positive impact on the development of the work and the building. In addition, contact with the client is continuous.
Spaciousness and open spaces
Slow architecture revolves around the idea of designing homes that promote the relationship between people and nature. For this reason, it always opts for large spaces and reduces the number of partitions and walls. Nor do they place very tall furniture or pieces that are an obstacle.
Meeting, conversation and human contact are basic to “slow architecture”. The same applies to outdoor spaces. Transitions are easy and friendly. In this way, it is easy to value the health and freedom of the occupants.
Natural light is the light of life
Natural light is one of the most precious assets when designing a home. Slow architecture” values it and opts for large windows that bring light into the rooms. Likewise, the distribution, with hardly any walls, allows light to spread throughout the house.
The health benefits of natural light have been proven. Therefore, it is imperative to take advantage of it and orientate the house towards the greatest exposure to the sun.
Useful design adapted to the needs
Another important touchstone for “slow architecture” is the function of the house and its rooms. The professional must always consider who is going to occupy the house, how they are going to live and how they are going to carry out their activities. The design must be adapted to these questions and must facilitate movement and displacement.
Our home is a refuge and must have everything necessary for its inhabitants to be happy. And that starts with a home that adapts and prioritises that over form.
Local and sustainable materials
We have already mentioned the importance of respect for the environment in the philosophy of “slow architecture”. Well, when designing a building, it is important to use sustainable materials. We are talking about stone, wood or brick, for example. Fibres such as hemp, flax or bamboo can also be used.
Paints and varnishes should always be environmentally friendly and water-based. Products whose composition is based on chemicals and artificial additives are ruled out.
These materials seek integration with the landscape, zero aggression to nature and prolonged durability. Slow architecture” designs long-lived structures that will last 50 or 100 years and also incorporates existing buildings into the project.
The aim is to imagine how the building ages with its surroundings and perfectly withstands the passage of time.
Local and proximity architecture
When constructing the building, slow architecture always pays attention to local constructions. In this way, it integrates the house into the local community. In addition, local materials are used and professionals from the region are employed.
The value of craftsmanship is always emphasised and the culture of the place and its community is promoted. All of this is done with respect for the environment and with a minimal carbon footprint.
Slow architecture also includes the latest technologies. However, the focus is always on sustainable options. In the field of energy, renewable energies are the trump card.
For this reason, solar panels are often installed to harness the sun’s energy for heating and water installations. Wind energy and geothermal energy are also used.
The aim is to reduce the impact of human life on the environment because buildings are responsible for 38% of global CO2 emissions.
Harmony and priorities
Taking advantage of environmental conditions is one of the premises of “slow architecture”. The amount of natural light, the incidence of the sun, gusts of wind and the different seasonal temperatures are always valued.
Integrating the building into the environment is basic. Humans should not be the centre around which everything revolves. Good harmony of the building with nature and a friendly layout for the inhabitants is essential.
Concepts such as quality, sustainability, durability, authenticity, regionality and economic rationality are pillars of “slow architecture”.
Slow architecture is wellbeing and quality of life.
All these ideas are basic when developing a building project with “slow architecture” as a working method. More and more architecture studios are adopting this sustainable philosophy.
At Molins Design we have a working method that prioritises customer satisfaction and seeks to integrate buildings into the landscape. We are firmly committed to respecting nature and enjoy creating sustainable, welcoming homes that invite slow living.
09 August 2023