These various locations of her life have shaped Prof. Kuo's approach to designs and to her research. For example, when designing facades: "In Asia I saw how traditional neighborhoods had to make way for all-glass skyscrapers. In these blazing tropical climates, full-glass facades are simply the wrong solution. Even in more moderate climate zones, their use is questionable because of the energy-intensive consequences to make these glass towers inhabitable," the architect adds.
Nevertheless, glass facades are seen as a symbol of technology and progress, perhaps wrongly so. "There are technologies for creating climate-responsive buildings in all cultures. They employ various physical principles, for example to provide for shade and cooling," Kuo points out, calling for the reinterpretation of elements of the "vernacular architecture", i.e. traditional and simple building methods, and for their integration in the development of design draft solutions. "It's our responsibility to learn from methods which have already been applied and which have proven effective in local cultures and to reinterpret them for modern use."
Vision reaching beyond the construction process
Mutual inspiration is also an objective of Prof. Kuo's teaching. She's the head of the Integrated Architecture Design Studio – a design course in which third-semester architecture students develop a building from concept all the way to construction detail. Prof. Kuo wants to bring students together at an early stage with experts from other disciplines, including civil engineering and climate technology. In doing so she intends to strengthen skills for transdisciplinary collaboration and to promote a holistic view of the built environment. "I want to encourage students to think critically and analytically, to deal with history and technology in an intelligent manner and to realize all this in their own designs."
It is important to Prof. Kuo that architects think beyond the actual building process itself. "We should ask ourselves what happens with a building after its use. And what has to happen in order for it to be used again, maybe in a completely different way. After all, our responsibility doesn't end when we hand over the keys."