Monday, September 30, 2013

The Design Decisions That Matter


When the people are considered market share we have lost touch with humanity. When price becomes a question of what they will bear we have lost touch with value. When the land becomes a commodity we have lost touch with our source of life. When the atmosphere, rivers, and oceans become a dump we have lost our senses. When we believe winning is the only thing we have lost. 

An economy reflects the decisions of a nation the way architecture reflects its level of awareness. The architecture of cities is telling us that we face sprawl, over-development, environmental ignorance, and blight. When the message is ignored we have lost touch with the decisions that matter on a planet that does not compromise. We all must adjust to a new level of awareness before it will be reflected in the architecture and economy of nations. 

The Republic 

The republic is lost in a blizzard of issues sponsored by an increasing diversity of opinion that cannot agree on common goals. This is a breeding ground for those who divide to conquer and stalk the people looking for signs of weakness.  

When threatened from within the people remain somewhat complacent. They have been deceived and defrauded on numerous occasions. In fact, they are beginning to lose faith in the intent of the republic - and that leads to Imperial Rome. 

We will remain strong as long as the people continue to believe the promise, but trust is easily broken by the repetition of duplicity and deceit. The economy is only the most recent example.  

The lesson from Rome is that a nation’s goals must deserve the people’s trust or it ceases to exist. Individual wealth is no substitute. It is a threat that leads to monarchy of the affluent until the protection of excess can no longer be purchased. 

Predators cannot live without a healthy population in the Natural Domain but their symbiotic existence has been a gift. We must learn from the gift that has been given. This is the challenge since we are all parasites who must create a new way of life or follow in the footsteps of those unable to imagine the consequences of ignoring the gift we have been given. 

The goal is survival with dignity. Democracy and free enterprise are simply a new format for debate based on a vanished Greek ideal that respected the people. It has encouraged a blizzard of issues that distract us from the goal. For instance, we debate the sanctity of life but what good is saving the life of an individual when you can’t save a population from polluting and consuming the planet? What good is free enterprise that is free to ignore the physical and social consequences of its decisions? When the concept of freedom threatens the goal of survival with dignity we need to protect the people. 

I challenge you to think about the goals that matter. Issues are simply objectives without a strategy or a goal. It’s like giving Patton the freedom to assault any objective on the plain. He wouldn’t know where he was going or what he was achieving but he would do a fine job of winning each melee.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Greatest Invention


I recently watched a television program focusing on the world’s 101 greatest inventions. I tuned-in too late to see the entire list, but the Wheel was number one. The program contended that progress can trace its source to the wheel. I cannot help disagreeing. Our progress began with seven gifts and one invention. The gifts were Food, Water, Light, Land, Air, Fire, and Life. The invention was Shelter from threat.

I don’t believe there would be a Wheel without Shelter; and when Fire was captured, the fire circle became the next great invention. This is why the hearth is such a tradition in the home. It was a place of refuge where progress could be considered. In fact, in my imagination the invention of the fire circle could have stimulated the invention of the Wheel.

Shelter remains our most fundamental concern because demand is a function of population growth on a planet with limited resources. I’d like to close with a quote from my introduction to a new effort. I hope it will represent a contribution to progress.

“At the present time, architectural design is a tactical effort -- in my opinion. At this level the objective is limited to a single project. At the strategic level I have suggested that the goal is shelter for the activities of growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their source of life from sprawl and their quality of life from excessive intensity. I for one believe that architectural contributions are needed in the campaign for a symbiotic future, but architecture is unprepared for the responsibility at this time. It has been using a leadership thought process for centuries, but has yet to become a strategic force with the tactical tools and information it has available.”

My intent is to offer a classification system, design specification format, and predictive equations that can expand the tactical methods of architecture and construction to the strategic level needed for shelter design on a planet with limited land and resources.

The equations will predict development capacity options based on the values assigned to their topics. Topic values represent tactical options at the project level and strategic options at the planning level. Options can be evaluated based on topic research at existing locations and accumulated knowledge can be applied to future topic decisions. The goal is to predict realistic shelter options based on a complete set of topics and inter-active relationships. Alternative decisions will affect survival – as they always have.

I've enjoyed this foray into imagination of the distant past. It has served to solidify my opinion of architectural value. I’ll now return to the work at hand.