Flexibility / Identity

POLO is interested in the ways architecture meets the twin requirements of flexibility and identity. While not directly opposed, these two characteristics can be considered somewhat inversely proportional.

It is a topic we are increasingly engaging with through our involvement with built heritage. We find the case for preservation of an old structure can be made on two fronts. Either a building has an ingrained spatial flexibility and it makes sense to reuse it from a standpoint of economic and environmental sustainability; or a building can be deemed worthy of conservation because of its strong identity, drawing on principles of cultural sustainability.

Here we find a creative tension between two interpretations of architecture. Architecture can be accommodating and subservient or architecture can set out to be autarkic. It is in this wide playing field between the blandness of the overly generic — where architecture devolves into being mere infrastructure — and the straitjacket of the overly specific — where formalist frivolity hinders human adaptation and modification — that POLO goes in search of that elusive quality we call architecture.