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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Organic Logic

Organic reaction correlates external influences with internal response. This is adaptation in the Natural Domain and must become design in the Built Domain. The first is a gift; the second a responsibility, and essential to the balance required for survival on a planet that does not compromise with ignorance. Appearance is not necessarily an indication of success in the Natural Domain, but a desirable symbol of increasing awareness in the Built Domain.

            Our survival has always depended on the way we think and has always involved the linear concept of cause and effect. Science simply organized a confused search that was full of emotion, distraction, assumption and superstition. At one time we danced for rain and believed it would happen, but random success destroyed the credibility of an idea. Science introduced the concept that achievement is not success until it can be duplicated. This makes talent an achievement but not a success.

Science requires measurement systems and research with vocabularies and specialized languages; but each dispassionate experiment remains a linear thought process that isolates cause and studies effect with the tools created and the knowledge accumulated.

            Linear thinking has gotten us here, but organic thinking must adapt to its success. Organic thinking involves linear strands of knowledge that combine to form a web of response. Architects are used to thinking in these terms without recognizing the attribute, because they have focused on a tactical level of achievement. By this I mean that architectural tactics have an objective that involves a strategic concept and a web of specialized knowledge, but the effort wins a battle that adds to sprawl. I should add that this organic logic may be overlooked because the thought process and decision-making is primarily learned, but not taught, which makes talent a substitute for knowledge. This leaves a vocabulary, pattern language, measurement system and method of evaluation that is not equal to the symbiotic challenge.

            Organic logic is a leadership trait at the tactical, strategic and policy levels of human decision because many variables must be reconciled within a maze of options. Advancing from the instinct, intuition and tactics of linear thought to the more abstract reconciliation of competing options with organic logic has never been easy throughout the course of human history, but it is the challenge that faces the Built Domain in the 21st century. Architects can participate or they can lead, but leadership means that tactical objectives must be woven into a strategic plan focused on a common goal. The result will be public benefit, but the effort will require determination and help from all in the web required for organic logic and adaptation.

Architecture is one of many professions that can rise to the challenge. It is certainly capable of translating talent into knowledge. This must be one objective in a strategy to achieve symbiotic harmony with the Natural Domain. Its business plan, however, may prevent a leadership effort in the public interest. This is not a criticism. It is an attempt to face reality. Major organizational adjustment would be required for architecture to participate in policy and strategic design decisions at the highest levels of human deliberation, but this is where you go when land is not taken for granted.

            Shelter is a fundamental element of survival and the only one I’m remotely qualified to address. It can also be a threat to survival. Those who have read my earlier essays know that I believe it must exist within a Built Domain that does not expand to threaten its source of survival – the Natural Domain. If you agree with this, then you may also agree that the development capacity of this Built Domain will be a function of the shelter intensity options chosen. I’ve mentioned in previous essays that intensity can be measured, classified, evaluated and forecast; but its implications require a coordinated web of research from many tactical professions and sciences. If undertaken, the reward will be knowledge that has leadership potential based on a common measurement system. At this point, tactical architecture will be led by a strategic language on the road to symbiotic victory.

We all know that the decisions of many contribute to victory and few receive award. The objective is to improve these decisions to repeat success. To make a difference, therefore, the emphasis in architecture must adjust from design award to design decision before we will be able to shelter growing populations within sustainable limits. An emphasis on defining decision builds knowledge. When decisions contribute to a goal and strategy, public benefit can be obvious. Opinion will be supported by research and award will recognize achievement that contributes to knowledge capable of repeating success.

An emphasis on award makes it the goal. This results in fame for a few but does not produce a pubic perception of value for the entire profession. Design can produce a symbiotic future for the family of man when the emphasis is on organic logic and decision. These decisions are not limited to architecture, but architecture will be part of any solution. It can be a tactical achievement in a web of organic thinking or move to the center of an organic movement that measures excellence in relation to its symbiotic goal.

In either scenario, architectural design is a thought process based on organic logic. It conducts business at the tactical level of achievement, but can translate talent to strategic knowledge and policy debate when it improves its vocabulary, language and methods of evaluation. A professional goal is to repeat success in the public interest. The challenge is to elevate architectural goals from tactical achievement to symbiotic strategies that contribute to a sustainable future. When this goal is achieved, architectural value will be priceless and award will be public recognition. Fine art will symbolize the contributions of an entire culture and the Symbiotic Period will begin.

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