Sunday, January 25, 2009

Art and Architecture

Art is about itself. An excellent article here -
"Why do we need art?" - about its roots in human celebration and expression in all ways. It connects people by "making special" the experience of being in a place.

This experience of a place is about the haptic (spatial, tactile, acoustic and light) dimension of physical space. It's grounded in the location and orientation of a site in an urban or rural environment. The place itself is part of a larger ecosystem and infrastructure, and the meaning of architecture is to make that experience coherent, not chaotic and arbitrary. Ways this has been addressed throughout human history is shown in the book, "Body Memory and Architecture" by By Kent C. Bloomer and Charles Willard Moore, as I pointed out in my first post here, Starting Out.

Our perceptions are also explored in this article "This is Your Brain on Architecture".

The organizing principles of architecture began with practical site constraints and protection from the elements; it is part of the land, an earth science. This later evolved into expressions of larger monumental structures that expressed the central community organizing principle, basically churches, temples and pyramids. The euro-centric history of the built environment is the history of churches built over several lifetimes, usually because most early cities and towns had homes/farms, stores and the central church, which expressed their community values and allowed them to congregate. Then came schools, specialty civic buildings and libraries, all still "monumental" to express continuity and stability. Banks became temples of commerce. Industrial revolution brought factories and weapons manufacture (no more ironsmithing those old flintlock muskets and cannons) and an explosion of building types in now-urban areas, including trains and shipping transport. Automobile production finally destroyed everything, thankyouverymuch Henry Ford.

Portovenere, Italy Sept. 2000

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


It's Twelfth Night - the night of epiphany, of recognition and awakening. From the darkest days of the year we need to look towards the light, celebrated around the globe, regardless of creed, in different cultures down through the eons with fire, candles, light and music.

We can choose to follow these luminous trails to a better future through intelligent crafting of solutions to the consequences of human habitation on earth. The dimensions of the resource problems are clear - see TED - and our financial challenges will force creative and highly streamlined efforts in rebuilding a new kind of infrastructure that creates instead of consumes.

Walking in the path of natural capital - see the footprint network! - following the trails of nature's processes and becoming part of this ecosystem in balance again, is crucial to a future for all of life. Seeing the big picture and taking the high road will get us there, leaving behind the narrow and cynical view and the empty grasping of coin. Nature is not to be feared or conquered, but embraced and joined, because it's our world and our selves calling for stewardship.