Sanctuary Magazine

Review of Sanctuary  Magazine

published quarterly by the Alternative Technology Association

S29-front-cover-web-e1415257835244Given the levels of climate change issues not being addressed effectively by our governments, many people look to various sources for inspiration and ideas to initiate their individual actions. Anyone renovating or building a house with environmental issues in mind will look to any available resources including particular TV programs and magazines for ideas and guidance.

Sanctuary is one of those magazines. It fulfills its objective somewhat successfully. Here’s a link the organisation’s website.  click here

The approach being taken for this magazine has a major historic flaw in its adopted approach to the environment, sustainability and the ecology. I say historic, as this flawed approach by the architectural professions to the built environment goes back well into the 19th Century.

The vast majority of architects have historically been concerned with the design of the buildings without a holistic approach to the total environment in which the building is to exist. Looking through the many fine examples of successful architecturally led designs within this current and a few previous issues, it is rare to see comments about how the upgrade or refurbishment has benefited, has enhanced and is to add value to the surrounding ecosystems. There’s little comment about increasing the biodiversity of the sites.

Many of our suburbs will need to change to house more people. This demands a host of creative and intelligent design solutions to ensure such intensification delivers opportunities for attractive and healthy  lifestyles. However these design solution rarely provide the means to improve the opportunities for enhancing the complex ecosystems within our suburban areas. The trend at the moment is to infill but to do so by reducing the amount of greenery, the shade opportunities and the biodiversity within our inner and outer suburbs.

To effectively and realistically address climate change impacts, it is necessary to take every opportunity to not only retrofit the existing suburbs for more houses, but to work through how to bring back far more complex and integrated ecosystems into all the inner and outer suburban areas. In some suburbs this may be easy as often the houses are on larger blocks. In the inner suburbs of most metropolitan cities, the buildings are often terrace houses built on top of each other. Even in these latter cases, initiatives have to be explored as to how to bring back more of the ecosystems, the plantings, the shade, the biodiversity and subsequently more fauna into the residential areas.

This designers showcased in this magazine more often than not fail to deliver on a whole of residential block approach. The architectural design work on most of the buildings is to be admired and the owners are to be congratulated for their commitments. But we see little evidence of how the total environments in which these structures stand are also being taken seriously.

The magazine is huge improvement on the usual architectural professional magazines on the shelf that are simply trade magazines filled with project porn – being about self promotion and professional spin. At least Sanctuary, while having a dominance of architectural project stories, is in fact delivering somewhat on what it claims to address – to quote: The Alternative Technology Association (ATA) is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to connect, inspire and assist people to make sustainable choices in their homes and communities.

It definitely inspires and assist in the choices the readers are to make. Unfortunately the organisation through this otherwise worthwhile magazine avoids the fact that it does not deliver a more holistic approach to delivering choices to deal realistically and effectively with the complexities of climate change in the urban environments – where we all live.

Here’s their link again –  click here 

I recommend that for people who need to look for ideas for such renovations, that Sanctuary is as good as it gets at the moment. That is, by all means pick up copies, read the case studies and the promotional articles and then hand them around to friends. But do so in the knowledge of the magazine’s very serious and very obvious limitations. The buildings being promoted within the articles exist in landscapes that are being largely ignored within theses case studies.

My rating below is providing on the basis of what Sanctuary magazine is providing – not what it should be doing. It is a user-friendly architecture magazine with environmental and sustainable building ideas to be considered.

If I were to rate it as a magazine to assist with the totality of the domestic , urban and landscape issues to be addressed, I would take three points off the rating below.

Recommendation: Rating 7/10


Paul Costigan

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