Architecture is looking at the world we already know to find the possibilities for modification to make it a bit more interesting, exciting, pleasurable, or functional. Once the project is completed, the world is now that way – it’s world changing. The Anthropocene is a not an ideological position. It’s a diagnosis. Right now our mining, damming, burning of fossil fuels, paving of roads, agriculture, and clearing of forests is the most significant geological force on the planet. We’re interested in trying to find ways to mobilize aspects of the design to perform actively in response to the environment. With modernization came building services, mechanical ventilation, air conditioning, central heating, insulated windows, electric lights. All these things made us independent of our environment. We used to have windows for light, operable windows for air, and we understood solar orientation and wall thickness to maintain a comfortable temperature. Machines allowed us to build however we wanted, and in the end architecture didn’t do anything. It became a container of space that was artificially maintained by machines. With the forms not serving any real function, architecture became more and more boring. We had to invent Postmodernism to add arbitrary forms to make things more exciting. Rather than looking at sustainability as a necessary response to a climate crisis, or a point system like LEED to alleviate bad conscience, maybe we could return this attribute to the bones of the building. Maybe we could even eliminate the dependence on machinery to compensate for a building’s poor performance by putting some of the responsibility to perform into the geometry of the skin, or the orientation of the volume. The tower we’re completing now in Shenzhen (the “Shenzhen International Energy Mansion,” as it’s known) has a pleated skin, which in a basic way adds to the building’s vocabulary. It has an Issey Miyake kind of look, which actually reduces the air-conditioning consumption by 30 percent. When you increase in performance, you also gain in aesthetic discoveries. In the end, the design should be the physical manifestation of the narrative.

Taken from an interview with Carson Chan in PIN–UP 20, Spring Summer 2016.

Portraits by KT Auleta.