Engaging the question “What is Worth Saving?” in order to better understand natural transitions of landscape, materials, and program of the inhabitants involved.
Nature is the source of all the energy, resources, and support that humans need to survive–integrating the natural systems of the Earth into architecture only lead to a better connection to our comfort on this land and through time.
There seems to be a great discrepancy in the administration of long term existence within the designs of contemporary architecture. Policies in many different countries allow construction of buildings to last, in some cases, 30 years or less. This to me is both a great neglect and despicable misuse of materials, as well as a terrible loss of the physical and intangible heritage of place. Unless of course, a building was meant to last only 30 years, and used appropriate materials that then decayed, got reused, or recycled, it might be a viable option and opposite to the idea of long term design. Time, according to the Earth’s lifespan, for humans, is a mere blip. Whether 30 years or 300, it makes no difference to the Earth. However, relative to our own lives, the difference is vast and should be considered accordingly.
Garbage. Waste. Refuse. Junk. Currently, the six oceanic garbage gyres, plus the countless beaches, landfill sites, even Earth’s orbit, are places where humans have deposited their misunderstandings of how material systems work on this planet. What we have yet to comprehend in our economic systems is that nature is a circular—not linear—system. It might even be true to say that all systems on Earth are circular, but because we lack the patience perhaps, or the time to comprehend, or the holistic perspective to understand these complex systems, we cannot have known the repercussions of our past actions. Only now we are finally seeing some of the effects. In the Anthropocene era, how can designers and innovative thinkers begin to turn these effects back, how do we start giving back to nature, repairing the damage that has been caused? Is it even possible? Must we, like Bill McKibbon in his book Eaarth, start to think of ways to exist in a new world? If so, we must do so with great sensitivity.
And so what is necessary to life? In coming home from Tokyo, I realized the effortlessness of being in the city of highest convenience, and felt sick to my stomach. When life becomes effortless, the world becomes a grey that stings the eyes and fills moments with listless freedoms. In nature, it is not easy to survive. And it is not that humans must return to nature, like down to the dirt living, but there is a satisfaction and terrible beauty that can be found in the rawness of surviving a difficult moment, figuring out a solution, creativity activated. I would add Glenn Murcutt’s sentiment that he sees “nature always as the result of tough circumstances. As minimal survival. What happened? How does it survive?” (R. Cole notes). There is an innate, pragmatic sense of existence that nature holds; a meaning that comes from a deep connection to actual needs of life. All this becomes fogged by excessive convenience.