Cultivating Architecture

Architectural Thesis

This architectural thesis begins with the idea that we survive on this planet as a consequence of our interaction with a set of co-dependent and synergistic organic systems. As in nature, a building cannot have one function, nor can it characterise a linear system of production, consumption and waste. It must form a symbiotic relationship with its neighbours and with the environment as a whole. A valid means by which to judge our buildings is therefore the measure of its success in this regard - any constructions that are inconsistent with our ecological systems will ultimately prove destructive and thus could not be considered ethical. Our duty as architects is to develop a rigorous and moral framework which precedes the design process.

This thesis is in search of a rationale by which architecture can be made ethical and respond simultaneously to the legacy of the built environment, whilst also addressing the social and environmental problems which are result of deficiencies within our collective philosophy. This project explores how Architecture should; both on a micro and macro level, respond to the opportunities presented by the site and reflect the limits imposed by an ecological reality. The configuration of resources and the existing social systems should define the activity therein, rather than a perceived need or arbitrary plan based on an unquestioned adherence to an existing framework.

As architects, we should become the facilitators of good systems - questioning at every stage the ethical and moral value of both the framework within which we work, as well as the structures that are a product of that intangible construction. Centring on the renovation of an abandoned university campus, transformed into a sewage treatment facility, the project aims to show that it is theoretically possible to create employment, provide homes, produces food and offers a range of social services that cost the community nothing in their maintenance. In turn, reducing the requirement for the huge investment in energy it costs to retain the current status quo. It is further speculated that the cultivation of the environment in this way would foster an intense relationship with both the seasonal and the temporal.

Camden Street, Dublin, Ireland


Donn Holohan