Thursday, September 27, 2012

Architecture :: Design :: Planning :: Ecology


Today our world is a jigsaw of urban and industrial areas encroaching on degraded forests and ecosystems, a consequence of mindless development. There are many dimensions to this problem, and also opportunities. The most immediate issue is climate change, which dictates that we find different ways of obtaining energy and reducing our use of it. The entities responsible for implementing these corrective changes include governments, private and public corporations, farming, utilities and industrial production and shipping.

Future public policy will necessarily shift towards conservation and regenerative measures that work in concert with natural processes and global conservation agreements. This approach stands the current system on its head and represents a challenge to civilization that has not been faced before in human history. The scale of human impact has finally reached these proportions, requiring us to shift our paradigm.

These issues encompass many complex layers, and will require local problem-solving in concert with national systems for benchmarking progress towards common goals. This is difficult for any nation to pull off whether it's the USA's constitutional republic form of government, China's one-party government, or the socialist policies of most European governments. And frankly the problem stems from the corporate invasion of government processes across the globe, an issue of financial scale that has been a part of every empire throughout history.

We must shift to a different form of benchmarks and rewards that are founded on regenerative processes rather than extractive ones. These economic policies need to be integrated into the culture and laws of all countries. The means of implementing these goals can be grounded in science and creativity in every field. Climate solutions will require many years of focused effort by a myriad of local efforts around the globe. The design and engineering professions are a major part of solving this problem brought on by human habitation. Our profession is changing profoundly, and there are immense opportunities to be part of the solution to human habitation.

In the architecture and engineering field, our tools are as follows:

Design analysis - identify the nature of the problem, the scope of solutions that work in local regions.

Context and approach - how the problem gets solved to facilitate local ecology and interaction

Systems of measurement and production - what kinds of goals and measures are actually sustainable


Digital information and management - coordinating the massive information models now in use

Expansion of resources and miniaturization - shrink the footprint, and complete the cycle



Laurie Barlow, AIA