When Rumiko Handa wrote the book titled Allure of the Incomplete, Imperfect, and Impermanent, she never knew who would be reading it. Most recently she was contacted by Architecture Boston deputy editor Fiona Luis to write a letter to the editor to complement the issue’s theme On Temporary. Luis thought it would be the perfect addition to the issue. Handa’s letter stresses the point that “Urban Mining” in architectural design is not a new concept, but rather a rediscovery of a technique that’s been used throughout history. Her goal of the piece is to inspire a renewed mindset that beauty can be found in reusing old and imperfect materials in a new construction. In her book and the letter, she challenges designers to resist the temptation to just use new materials in new construction. It might be easier to use perfectly manufactured, uniform products that are predictable in nature, but she asserts there is a unique and undeniable beauty in reused imperfect materials. For instance, if we take the time and patience to use reclaimed bricks for a project instead of newly manufactured ones, we may discover an inherent appeal in something that is old, irregular, something that beckons to a life of an earlier time. “It is certainly in our human nature to appreciate those values,” Handa said.
Handa agrees there’s an undeniable value in urban mining including sustainability, economy, ecology, etc., but an often overlooked attribute of the imperfect is its intangible aesthetics.
Handa has also taught an upper class design studio that focused on the values of urban mining. To learn more about Handa’s work and her letter to the editor visit: https://www.architects.org/architectureboston/articles/temporary-summer-2016. For a copy of her book visit: https://www.amazon.com/Allure-Incomplete-Imperfect-Impermanent-Appreciating/dp/0415741491.