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#UNLITTER Architechture

By Harrison Neuman

Architecture is all around us. It’s the built world we create and inhabit. It’s where we eat, sleep, learn, create. It feels like sometimes we take architecture’s ubiquitous nature for granted—we’re not always present, analyzing, questioning.

My name is Harrison Neuman. I am an aspiring architect in Miami and I credit architecture for making me more observant and more engaged in the world around me. Throughout my twenties, I started to become more and more aware of my surroundings. As someone trying to leave a positive impact on the world,  I learned that architecture could be a great avenue for enacting positive change and helping create a healthier planet. Knowing our individual health and the planet’s health is so closely tied to the built world and the world we are able to create. I challenge us all to start tuning into our daily backdrops more closely and imagine what could be. 

Green architecture with plants

The fact that architecture is everywhere is a big reason why I got involved in the industry in the first place – knowing the need will always be there and sensing the potential day-to-day impact. It feels like a turning point is underway when it comes to thinking sustainably, we have to keep pushing forward and keep applying new ways of thinking to the different scales we’re able to work at, which can be thrilling, albeit overwhelming, but as with anything, the more of us to get involved the more powerful the potential for change.

With that, it’s important to discuss how and why architecture can be a powerful driver for change and, to me, it boils down to our health and wellness. We know how important the idea of community is. We know the benefits of natural light and access to green space. We know how much of a contributor the construction industry is to global warming – we must think differently about how we build, preservation

efforts, materiality, etc.

Building with plants

With all of the projects I work on, if it’s a new building, one of the first considerations is the buildings orientation on the site in order to maximize the buildings relationship with the sun and the light and energy it provides—especially in tropical climates, there are ways to design to create passive systems for ventilation, energy, and water management. If i am dealing with an existing structure, the goal is to preserve if possible. As Carl Elefante, former president of the American Institute of Architects, famously once said, “the greenest building is the one that’s already built.” Beyond the design, beyond the planning, it’s important to consider the demolition and construction processes, as those can be big greenhouse gas contributors.

On top of carving out and forming spaces, architecture also deals directly with critical infrastructure like our food and water supply and our transportation systems. What can we do to demand better architectural products? perhaps it’s something as small as starting a garden and compost at your apartment complex, maybe it’s something potentially bigger like going to vote for a more accessible public transportation network in your city.

Dome building with trees

Architecture at its simplest provides shelter, safety, comfort. Architecture at its best engages the senses. It provokes. It sets the stage, and it brings out the best in us. Everyday my focus is to create the best end product I can knowing the potential domino effect my work can have: that each of you can bring the best to your daily life, so we can all tap into the #UNLITTER state of mind.

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