Buildings don’t need to last forever — impermanence is part of life and sometimes it just makes practical sense
By Fernando Pagés Ruiz
In the U.S., people are very focused on durability. If something lasts for a long, long time, it’s said to be sustainable by definition, because the environmental and economic impact gets amortized over the ages.
The Japanese have a different concept; this is why they build with paper.
Life is impermanent; nature allows for the death and renewal of annual flowers, the limited life of animals and people, and even the erosion of stone. A little impermanence can help make room for something better.
I cannot help think this way as I walk up and down the beach near our place in La Diablica, along the Ecuadorian coast.
As I walk, I see the old industrial buildings, from days when shrimp labs lined the coastline, and I am glad the industrialists of yesteryear cheaped-out and built their ugly, industrial yards with beach-sand concrete, and block.
The sea salt disintegrates the structures — even the steel reinforcement — which almost magically fade over time. Like sand castles in the wind. Becoming in essence, biodegradable concrete.
Not everything should be built for the ages.