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Presentation of projects by Prof Louis Sauer

Presentation by Prof Louis Sauer on his extensive work. Prof Sauer presented some of his residential and urban design work to ED2009 tutorial group lead by Beatriz C. Maturana, University of Melbourne, 6 May 2009.

Professor Sauer's projects are unassumingly social, economic and environmentally sustainable, sustainability nurtured by his conviction that "form follows function".

These projects show how the use and quality of the space can be maximised by a well thought through design offering multiplicity of uses, experiences and spatial quality. Manifested in these projects is Prof Sauer’s subtle sense of aesthetics. Yet, aesthetics is by no means the driving force behind his work, but the result of mastering the craft of architecture.
Presentation by Prof Louis Sauer

Louis Sauer: an architectural statement
Focus: The Low-rise Housing Work of Louis Sauer, Toshi Jukatu Journal of Urban Housing,
(Kajima Institute, Tokyo), pp 6 – 7, January 1980 (monograph)

Architecture is a process and a product of civilization for solving specific man-environment problems. As a process, it is an intrinsically cultural and economic action, involved with complex issues and varied participants, to achieve political purposes through technology. To the extent that the interactions of these forces, issues and participants are understood, one can become more effective in predicting and modifying the outcomes of the designed environment. By understanding the separate goals and disciplines of the individual participants in each aspect of housing, architects can intervene for greater influence upon the quality of housing and its environment.


The values and attitudes of architects are the most powerful determinants of their work. The open door to change is to understanding and working with these values and their resultant accountabilities. In order to make design choices, one must advocate a particular set of values and thus, architecture is a political process and product.


For the architect to be in control, to be able to modify his work for predictive results, he should understand the nature of the various participants, their power and the incremental goals and resources for each of them and for each phase of the work. Design programming is dynamic and is directly linked to formal design — each design tool (site plan, elevation, detail, etc.) is in fact a synthetic statement of program and solution. This should be seen as a contingent process. Evaluative criteria are rarely explicit for those very areas most essential to the quality of architectural form. Architects are aware and highly sensitive to the values of their clients and peer group, and to the extent that these represent larger societal interests, to this extent will these larger interests be incorporated into the design program.


Normally a people develop homogeneous traditions, forms and infrastructure that satisfy their shelter needs. But when populations change and or become heterogeneous in terms of lifestyle and cultural expectancies old traditions no longer satisfy needs, and an architect's implicit understanding of the environment no longer solves the problems.

In these situations man-environment architectural relationships need to be made explicit, in order to predict the user’s fit with the final designed artefact. One problem today is that many architects understand the values of the programmer and are not sensitive to when the user’s value differ from those of the programmer. But substantial social knowledge is available to help the architect and programmers. The need for this is understood. What is not understood are the non-architectonic conditions necessary for the successful creation and use of architecture.

The final product of the architect is not under his control. To produce a lasting architecture the inter-relationship between land, finances, users, management and architectural form should be understood; however, architectural form is perhaps the least necessary to regulate – to control.


Cultures produce traditions of building that efficiently solve shelter problems. This tradition, in the form of building typologies (site, building and unit), is generally given to the architect. It is only the abnormal and non-generic situation that allows the architect to produce forms outside of the tradition (e.g. Habitat by Moshe Safdie).


Anonymous said...

I like the projects and to me --I see many of them and the ideas employed within them were forward looking--addressing "very early" many of the issues we talk about now as if they are new.. The issue of the symbolic meaning differences between front and back of the houses is notable.. also, the urban fountain project is a real conscious endeavor to revolutionize the urban realm... This work of Louis Sauer needs attention and I suggest documenting it for the purpose of teaching too.. My best, Ashraf Salama

Beatriz said...

Adding to your comment Ashraf, Lou's architecture emphasizes the experience of the space, there is complexity. It is the articulation of space and not only of form (fa├žade) that makes it rich, visually and spatially. I must add that his presentation was very well received by my students who valued the opportunity to learn and engage with someone offering a different perspective of architecture.

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