When one is asked “Why does this issue matter?”, it most commonly is attached to some global dilemma currently taking place in the world, from deforestation in South America, to global warming affecting the poles, to poverty stricken nations affected by some natural disaster. The smaller scale topics are often left out, such as tribal wars in Ecuador or child labor in southern Africa. These topics mainly remain unquestioned. Unfortunately, when these topics are questioned and analyzed, very few are adequately considered. The results, which can even be considered rewards, of a simple topic such as the use of green roofs in society, can create an overall sense of awe in society. There have been some people who have studied the relationship between green roof’s and culture, such as Emma Dummett, student of University of Edinburgh, and Mark Anater and William Koonce, writers for the Urethanes Technology International articles but there are too few people on this planet that know of the conditions these authors explain. Those who rarely pay attention to such little articles, miss out on the realization of the importance of green roofs in their relationship with culture and architecture, and in humanities in general. I believe it is important to contribute my own opinions to this underappreciated topic in society. In addition, I will analyze the thoughts of those mentioned above who have delved deep into the research of Le Corbusier and his connection between nature and culture through green roofs. And lastly I will give my own thoughts about their conclusions.
Previously in class, the name Le Corbusier was referred to, and because of my interest in French culture and language, I had an immediate interest in why he was being mentioned. What more could I have asked for? Not only was he a French architect, but he had a particular passion for nature and green space, just as I do. Our connection was imminent and I wanted to know more. Though I knew some benefits of combining nature with our lifestyle, I was surprised by what Le Corbusier was mentioning about the depravity of society during the early 1900s. He mentioned that people were receiving less than the proper amount of sunlight each day, which is six hours. He also mentioned that green space was being taken over and that the aesthetic settings of an environment were being lost. Until I was told about all of this, my mind remained subjective, only to my own reality which is nothing like the one Le Corbusier describes. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the likeliness of this occurring in the time Le Corbusier was probable. Not only in the past was this nature deprived lifestyle pressed upon humans, but also in today’s society. Currently in less fortunate parts of the globe, people are being deprived of their basic needs. With this empathetic feeling in mind, I instantly realized just how important a small factor such as sunlight and nature could affect our daily lives. Just to share a slight glimpse of the importance Le Corbusier’s thinking, it is common knowledge that weather has an effect on a person’s mood. When it is winter and cold, a person may feel more susceptible to negative emotions such as depression. But when it is spring the flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining, there is a grand boost of energy and optimism. Flowers and sunlight coordinate with nature, and nature coordinates with peoples’ tendencies to behave in certain ways– positive ones. It was in that sense that people were being deprived of basic necessities that offer a life of content and pleasantness. Now what is the most basic and simple way to provide these people with the connection to nature and the necessities it contains for a happy life? Le Corbusier would answer this simply by saying each house needs to begin with a green roof. Le Corbusier, being an architect, did just that. He put green roofs on each of the houses he designed. Previously mentioned Emma Dummett, does a thorough explanation of Le Corbusier and his creation of the relationship between architecture, nature, social aspects and culture.
Next, few can automatically see the relationship between nature and culture. Emma Dummett who wrote “Vernacular architecture, nature and the sacred: Le Corbusier and the influence of the ‘journey to the east’” is here to assist you. In her paper she discusses and explains Le Corbusier’s view of how members of society are deprived of their basic needs and how, through nature, they are connected to the sacred. She begins by stating Le Corbusiers’ two most strongly held beliefs: “the need for human society to reconnect with the natural world, and the importance of finding a new form of sacred or spiritual experience for the skeptical world of the twentieth-century, industrialized West” (Dummett 1). Where does the answer for both of these needs come from? Green roofs of course! Green roofs provide the perfect connection between the natural world and society while at the same time offering that cultural or spiritual experience the fast paced and quickly growing society needs.
Before I carry this out further, it is important to define what a green roof actually is. Most would assume that it is a roof that some sort of vegetation covers, offering a beautiful sight. Is that all though? Just as a religious group walks into their temple or shrine and feels a sense of awe, a weight taken off their shoulders, a feeling that they are no longer on earth, that they are in another reality, so it is the same with green roofs. Day to day, people are clustered with each other in confined spaces, deprived of sunlight, unable to escape from the dark reality of their lives. This lifestyle is even carried to their homes, where they have children who need to be fed, work that still needs to be finished, and cleaning to do. The green roof is their temple, their shrine. It provides the same cultural affect the temple does to the religious group. It gives a person a sense of freedom and lightness. To continue the analogy, religious groups often have special medicine for their people, or certain out worldly ways of healing. Does this not stand true for green roofs also? Green roofs provide an open space full of oxygen and sunlight and a view of greenery. This offers a sort of combination of the safe out worldly ways of healing, but these ways have now become tangible. On the subject of green roofs, Dummett states that “Le Corbusier incorporated those aspects of nature which are easily controllable into his designs, in a way which implies that the natural world has a role to play in servicing human needs” (Dummett 15). In contrast to early years, if people were now asked what are the basic fundamental human needs, most would respond by saying protection, individuality, affection, leisure, creation, and freedom. Without a doubt, Le Corbusier, through his architectural green roofs, offers each of these basic human needs. Having a green roof offers a sense of protection, you are high up, apart from the world if disaster and misfortune. You are free of all obligations when you go to your green roof. It is your vacation; it is where you go to spend leisure time, to let your imagination be free and creativity run wild. Green roofs offer you the chance to be an individual, to stand out among the rest, and show that as you love nature, nature will love you. Nature will offer you shade when it is hot, it will care for you by giving you oxygen to survive, and it grows with you and gives you a peaceful setting to relax in. Now that the importance of the connection to nature, and the wonderful human needs it provides has been examined, we can look on to see how Le Corbusier’s work has grown throughout the years.
Recently, it can be assumed that one would know that green roofs are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas due to the recent global move in environmentalism. William Koonce and Mark Anater, wrote an article in the Urethanes Technology International called “Green Roof Systems Become Increasingly Popular In US and Europe”. To make an immediate connection with their article, a question must be asked. Do you think Le Corbusier thought of all the other functions that green roofs could provide for the modern day home? Not only has he provided a link to the cultural past with his green roofs, but he has also established root functions for the house “—shielding the building from cold and heat, rain and snow – green roofs have additional benefits. These include conservation of energy, extension of the service life of the roof, reduction in storm water run-off and flow rates, and overall cost reduction over the life of the roof and restoration of ecological and aesthetic value to open spaces in urban areas” (Koonce 1). Le Corbusier has successfully provided the owners of the green roofed house basic human needs, a link to the cultural past, and now a positively set based life, not only for the owner himself, but also for the world in general. From saving the owner money, to conserving energy, Le Corbusier has thought of it all. The advantages of having a green roof are clear and this is why there has been a recent growth of green roofs all over the world, especially in Europe and North America. Koonce states that “Green roof technology is well-established in Europe and its inherent advantages for energy efficiency, longevity, storm water management, ecological responsibility and improved quality of life are making it more popular in North America” (Koonce 6).
In final analysis, present day humans do not realize it, but when they create green roofs, it is actually a teleportation to the most basic necessities of life. Le Corbusier knew this concept early on, and through his green roofs, he assisted humans in the entering of a meditative and supernatural state. He did this by having them step into something exceedingly aesthetically beautiful, the green roof. After being in the depths of a crusted and failing civilization depriving them of life’s necessities, people are now able to enter an environmental retreat at home. This concept was explained in Dummett’s paper, discussing the nearly tangible connection between Le Corbusier’s green roof designs, nature, culture and humans essential needs. Green roofs provided the basic human necessities such as, protection, freedom, creativity. Now, the original question was, “Does this issue matter?” It matters in the sense that Le Corbusier’s conception of the green roof could be the one most productive efforts to stabilize society will providing people with a portal to their culture past, the fundamental necessities of peoples’ present and long lasting harmony of the future.
Stay Positive and Go Green
Garth E. Beyer
Dummett, Emma. “Vernacular Architecture, Nature and the Sacred: Le Corbusier and the Influence of the ‘journey to the East’” Google Docs – Online Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Surveys, File Storage and More. Web. 13 Feb. 2011.
Koonce, William, and Mark Anater. “GREEN ROOF SYSTEMS BECOME INCREASINGLY POPULAR IN US AND EUROPE.” Urethanes Technology International 27.1 (2010): 18-21. Advanced Placement Source. EBSCO. Web. 15 Feb. 2011.