Technology is not fashion, it’s timeless.
“Hope for Architecture” is the call of Clay Chapman, described by him as “a building initiative to face the challenges of an uncertain future”. In fact, “Hope for Architecture” is a masonry and wood technology, reinvented and adapted from antiquity to today. Clay and his young family moved to Carleton Landing, Oklahoma, fifteen years ago to fulfill a mission: to create a community and exploit this technology.
Chapman describes his mission: “The initiative was launched in 2012. We started with a single goal: to establish a lasting alternative to throwaway construction that is both viable to build and affordable to buy. After a field test in Columbus, Georgia, and a thermal mass study conducted in conjunction with Clemson University’s National Brick Research Center, we also collaborated with the University of Notre Dame, offering internships and workshops for students at the School of Architecture.”
Chapman describes his technology as “a reduction to the masonry superstructure”, that is, to solid, massive elements. His method uses triple layers of ceramic bricks and depends on decisions made at the construction site. According to Chapman, there are “inevitable moments of problem solving and improvisation on a 1:1 scale.”
After the heavier elements are ready, the design proceeds with conventional decisions — lightweight elements that provide, essentially, “everything that rests on the mass… Nothing is recessed into the side walls or vertically. The perforations are made perpendicularly. Most of the time, these passages are cut and/or drilled later. The conduits are directly attached to the walls.”
The work was awarded the Barranco Award and the Urban Guild Exploration Excellence Award. Chapman has also received other recognitions from the National Brick Industry Association for his designs.
In addition to the obvious savings and long-term resilience, there are basic energy conservation realities: buildings perform substantially better than what is required by the US building code.
In this new look at the timeless, Chapman simply states that “modernity would have us believe that the thousands of years of construction before the industrial revolution did not produce best practices suited to people’s needs today. I strongly disagree. Obviously. has tremendously improved our lives, nothing has proven better than massive masonry when it comes to lifecycle, resource management, ancestral connection, resilience and honesty. masonry is damaged in this process.”
“A building that has the potential to last five to ten times the lifespan of a new construction becomes extremely less expensive for both the economy and the environment over time. ‘Dilution’ is the ideal word, whether we are talking about price per square meter or carbon footprint. In terms of long-term cost, nothing is cheaper.”
Technology can be a blind agent of change, or it can reflect and convey values. Of course, Chapman’s life’s work reflects one answer: “We are in a state of multifaceted cultural cannibalism… rooted in the ugliness of the places we create.”
“New” is not innovation, it’s just what’s happening now. Technology can change everything but our humanity. We may be dazzled by what we discover, but we are nourished by what we value. As Clay Chapman says, “That goes for any innovation, whether it’s Tesla or Legacy Architecture.”
This article is part of ArchDaily Topics: The Future of Building Materials. Monthly, we explore a specific topic through articles, interviews, news and projects. Learn more about ArchDaily topics. As always, ArchDaily is open to contributions from our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, please contact us.