By Jason Inch (殷敬棠)
To paraphrase Walter Gropius, who wrote the original Bauhaus Manifesto and Program in 1919, a complete building is one for which all aspects have been considered individually as well as for their part in the overall entity. While he was primarily focused on the integration of art, architecture, and practical use and accessibility for people, at LOHAUS we extend his concept to include a healthy lifestyle and urban sustainability. We have created a Loft of Health and Urban Sustainability – LOHAUS. This is our manifesto.
Many of our buildings—commercial and residential—are fixated on a singular purpose derived from capitalist ideals of efficiency and utility. For example, an office building maximizes use of space in terms of number of workers. A residence is almost totally devoted to housing its occupants in relative comfort without thought to the work those occupants spend eight to ten hours or more a day on. A store or restaurant or train station is used almost exclusively for the sale of goods or services or transportation respectively.
This model of building construction and usage worked for centuries and is still the norm for many who are reading this document today. Under this model, people live disconnected home and work identities. Taking this model to an extreme, our traditionally constructed buildings can be thought to serve as barriers between our separate identities, protecting us, giving us privacy, allowing us to focus on our work, but also imprisoning us within their limited scope of usage. That is, buildings’ fixated singular purposes limit the lives within because they were designed for a society with clear separation between work, life, and third places in between.
For example, it used to be that when we left the office we became mostly unreachable to our work relationships. Upon leaving work, friend and family relationships came to the fore as we made the trek home, occasionally stopping at a third place such as a coffee shop or theatre or shopping mall. Then the convergence started to accelerate. It started in the 1980s with the advent of the pager, the mobile phone, then in the 1990s with email and devices such as BlackBerry two-way pagers. Today many of us keep an ever more precarious barrier between our various identities. We keep friends on Facebook, co-workers and business contacts on LinkedIn, chat with friends on Weixin, do business on Skype or QQ. Even this balance is failing in a hyper-connected society such as China’s.
Even the once-formidable electronic power and network signal barriers are also becoming more permeable. We used to turn on our mobile phones and computers when we wake or arrive at the office, and turn them off later when we leave or prepare to sleep. Now extended battery life and low-power devices mean we leave many of them turned on all day and night. Similarly, it used to be that network signal strength was a limiting factor. Once we unplugged the network cable, we were off the network. Then came wireless. Once we were out of range of the office or home wireless hub, we were disconnected until we returned. Then came the VPN. Once we were unable to get a wireless signal outdoors, then came free wireless at coffee shops, then other venues, and finally metropolitan area networks where entire cities are blanketed by wifi. Now with 3G mobile and country-wide networks, there is practically nowhere we can be out of range. So, as the Internet becomes ever more ubiquitous and battery power gets better, we are quickly becoming 24×7 connected to the world. There is no more disconnection.
Now, work flows and follows us wherever we go. There remains only a physical barrier between our work and home lives, but the “last mile” between the mental and societal barriers is increasingly breached by tablet computers, smart phones, always-on Internet connections and cloud data storage, home delivery of practically anything we want to buy, as well as flexible, part-time, freelance and other forms of employment. There is no more single work or career focus for most of us.
We study at home or the office by eLearning, we work while on the road in hotels and airports, we have been reduced to announcing our presence via FourSquare in a place as large as a shopping mall, restaurant or store with the plaintive and unspoken hope that one of our important relationships might just happen to be in the same time and space and would agree to meet us as long as they too were free and not merely on the way somewhere else. There is no more exclusive, single purpose space.
Enter LOHAUS, a flexible-use space in the heart of one of the world’s megacities. At LOHAUS, people can work, meet, socialize, create, exercise, eat, drink, and live their multi-faceted lives in one place. LOHAUS is both a Loft and a Lifestyle of Heath and Urban Sustainability.
In the same way as Gropius once lamented that the arts had become separate from the buildings they were originally created to ornament, today’s sustainable technologies and habits, from clean energy to recycling to health, have been relegated to their own isolated places – solar and wind farms, recycling centers, and health clubs—putting them out of sight, and out of mind. LOHAUS brings them back home.
Why shouldn’t power be generated at home? Why shouldn’t recycling be done at the individual level, embodying the true spirit of the three Rs: reusing, reducing and recycling. To this we even add a fourth R – renewal of body, health and mind through more intelligent consumption. Why shouldn’t we exercise at home, or near home? We commute to the gym to run on a treadmill. We lift shaped pieces of iron in the form of weight plates and dumbbells, and use other exercise machines, moving our bodies unnaturally and overworking ourselves in ways nature never intended. At LOHAUS, we believe that all of these must be done individually before they can be accepted and be effective as a society.
At LOHAUS, we use stairs daily, to climb up and down six stories. We forgo an elevator, saving both electricity and space.
We encourage healthy commuting: Walking to work. Riding bicycles. If needed, usage of subway and bus where a walk to and from the station is healthy as well as more sustainable and clean. When needed, electric vehicles and propane-powered taxis can be used rather than gasoline-fueled vehicles.
We separate our trash into raw and recyclable. The raw waste we turn into fertilizer in a worm farm or through enzymatic composting, and then use the fertilizer to grow plants for the interior oxygen and air filtration they provide, and grow food such as mint, aloe and tomatoes which can bring additional nutrients to the occupants. For recycling, we sell our paper and other waste to recyclers who will take care to properly reuse the material or pass it on to larger recycling facilities.
Bauhaus in German means House of Construction. LOHAUS means Loft of Health and Urban Sustainability. We are constructing a new lifestyle of health and urban sustainability.