Referential Style at the US Capitol Visitor Center, Washington, DC: A Case Study of Environmental Graphic Design in a Historical Context

When a structure or space of historical significance is renovated, preservation concerns may influence the type of design approach that is used in the addition of a new Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) program. To address preservation concerns such as material integrity or aesthetic sensitivities, design practitioners may consider processes and solutions that take into account the historical significance in some way. This case study describes the role played by historical significance considerations in the design process of the EGD program for the expansion of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, with the construction of a new Capitol Visitor Center. Inaugurated in 2008, the Visitor Center is a prime example of a referential style approach where the characteristics of the EGD program were inspired by the historic Capitol and appear to belong, but are not period-specific replicas. This paper highlights details of the project, its challenges, and solutions.

Dead Monuments: The Case of the Red Location Museum in Mandela Bay Metro, South Africa

In 2005, and after a twelve-year consultative process, an esteemed architectural practice inaugurated a new museum commemorating the lives of several anti-apartheid stalwarts, among them Nelson Mandela. This museum, the Red Location Museum, is recognized as a site of national struggle and is situated in Port Elizabeth’s oldest black township, New Brighton. Designed to challenge conventional museum design, the Red Location’s design is highly participatory. Twelve tall, rusted memory boxes contain the multiple threads of different personal histories. On entering any of these boxes, the visitor is confronted by a wealth of personal memoires and artefacts relating to the struggle for dignity during the apartheid years. In addition, there is an art gallery, a library, a music archive, and an on-going community-centred heritage programme. Despite the prominence, both nationally and internationally, of this anti-apartheid institution, local residents (the museum is built in a black township) forced the closure of the entire museum complex and have prevented museum staff, and members of the public, from entering any of the buildings. By way of explanation, a community leader asked, “Why build a house for dead people when us, the living, do not have a roof over our heads.” This paper, built on first-hand interviews with residents and city councillors conducted at the end of 2014, links the closure of the museum to “capture” politics and the wave of service delivery protests that have reportedly increased during President Zuma’s administration.

Climate-responsive Strategies in Vernacular Houses in Northern Iran

The amount of energy needed for buildings to provide comfortable thermal conditions will eventually become unsustainable. Climate-responsive architecture offers possible solutions to this challenge. Vernacular buildings, in contrast to modern buildings, are more responsive to the environment and are built according to principles developed over many generations. In the Gilan region, located in northern Iran on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, the climate plays a fundamental role in the diversity and formation of vernacular residential buildings. Climatic factors such as sunlight, wind, excessive rain, and high humidity have significant effects on the form and elements of vernacular houses. This paper studies the strategies used to respond to climatic factors in Gilan and also identifies and classifies architectural elements created in response to those strategies. In order to achieve this aim, it identifies Gilan’s climatic and bioclimatic factors and then investigates methods used to respond to them in the construction of vernacular houses. The climate-responsive approaches used in vernacular architecture are important for modeling an integration between passive and active design strategies. Climate-responsive architecture can improve comfort and use less energy.