Martin Liefhebber Interview Part 3: Career

Martin Liefhebber discusses his career, his interest in sustainability and what it takes to be an architect.

Qasim Virjee
Martin Liefhebber, Elise Hodson, Daniela Bryson
March 2006
CANADA Toronto Region, Ontario, Toronto Region, CANADA
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Martin Liefhebber discusses his career, interest in sustainability and what it takes to be an architect. "Just about design itself: I always say that almost everything we have doesn’t really work. It is really about looks. This is important for most people and most designers. I say looks yes, but first, how does it actually function and does it get us out of the environmental hole we’ve dug for ourselves? So we really have to design very differently which means that there is – if you take the position that very little actually truly works – then that means for future designers there’s a lot of a work. There’s a heck of a lot of work in that everything has to be designed from the point of view of doing more with less, economy of means, knowing materials, knowing physics really well so that what we build with can be more carefully chosen. Where does it come from – did it need to be mined? Does it cause a lot of pollution? Such as aluminum and all these kind of things. But also, then, how do these products respond to natural forces - wind and temperature changes, convection, conduction, radiation? So I think if you’re actually good at physics you might actually be a really good designer. Which is opposite of how most high school counselors would suggest – “Oh you’re artistic that means you’d be good architect.” I would take the point of view that you have to have both. You have to have a rational side which is about mathematics and physics and, of course, an artistic content as well, but I find that in the tradition of architecture its been more about the sculptural aspects rather than about knowing what it is you’re doing and how it fits in the overall picture of the planet and the planet’s health."

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