Where does the environment fit in our contemporary lives? 

In 2006 Andres Jaque Arquitectos were commissioned to build a house in Ibiza, Spain. The Ibiza of today is a result of a new social foundation that was created there in the 1960; it was a place of experimentation and recreation. The architects approach was two dimensional. First they wanted to link architecture to the intangible spheres of modern life. Secondly, they wanted to have a direct connection with the surrounding environment. These two dimensions were to allow the owners to simultaneously experience nature and the worries and indulgements of daily life. The house promotes a deep respect for nature. The design process started off by a mapping of all trees and shrubs and a decision to elevate the house from the ground was made. The result was a very little impact of the house on the natural environment. The unconventional distribution of space in house explores the role architecture plays in combining social spheres of modern life. Philippe Rahm argues that its exactly this unconventionality that will help us achieve the modern architecture of the 21st century. In his essay “Form and function follows climate” he discusses that the concept of sustainability has been stuck in archaic mindsets about what architecture should contain and respond to.

“ sustainability = development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”

There is a paradox in sustainable architecture. The most ecological type of buildings are completely sealed off from the natural environment. Rather than using whatever nature has to offer, we have hermetically sealed ourselves in. Philippe Rahm states that if the process of designs starts off with an early recognition of the problems and how new technologies can provide solutions, then new and unexpected architectural forms can emerge. This type of approach can open up many more possibilities than we would have managed to achieve if we were trying to integrate new technologies into stale principles. He argues that a free interpretation of space and a deprogrammed architecture will help us adapt to the present and future faster and more efficiently; functions have become obsolete and act like a weight tied to progress. Adaptation is needed in the sense that we stop building our future on the foundations of our close past. We can simultaneously recognise what defines the present while we go back to the fundamental questions and try to rebuild our design principles. Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 20.52.43  

Nature nurturing architecture and vice-versa 

In the late 19th century Louis Sullivan stated the famous, rational and functionalist “ Form follows function”. It was only later in the 1960s when Louis Kahn agued that “Function follows form” trying to free himself of the functional rigidity. I would argue that “follow” is a word that doesn’t describe the relationship I see ideal between human beings, needs, technologies, architecture and nature.  Maybe “coexist” or “symbiosis” are more appropriate words. Architecture and technology are slowly merging to their own singularity point. In this process we forget that the organic should take the first place.  In his book “Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life”, Albert Borgman states that technology creates a controlling pattern in our lives. This pattern, discernible even in such an inconspicuous action as switching on a stereo, has global effects: it sharply divides life into labor and leisure, it sustains the industrial democracies, and it fosters the view that the earth itself is a technological device. He argues that technology has served us as well in conquering hunger and disease, but that when we turn to it for richer experiences, it leads instead to a life dominated by effortless and thoughtless consumption. Borgmann does not reject technology but calls for public conversation about the nature of the good life. He counsels us to make room in a technological age for matters of ultimate concern—things and practices that engage us in their own right. Although his discourse is not directly related to architecture, his point can easily be extrapolated. Our definitions of things and concepts change because we evolve constantly. We are right now in a very important historical point. Technology has advanced more in the past hundred years then ever before, but it left behind humanity. I believe that people should change technology, not the other way around; technology should not change our identity. Evolution of architecture could probably include empathy towards nature and human beings and stop trying to build barriers between them. I would research on how technology can help us remove as many of those barriers between us and nature as it can. It is absurd to propose that we should go back to where we were 2000 years ago, when the environment chose for us. But integrating architecture and technology with more sensitivity can help us reconnect with nature. The architect is the driver of the fundamental principles; I propose designing for todays needs and taking advantage of todays possibilities to the maximum, but with nature and the concept of symbiosis in mind.

In his science fiction book “The Jesus Incident”, Frank Herbert deals with concepts such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and resource allocation. He described a world very advanced technologically but the built environment in the sense of dwellings and other programmes didn’t exist. The planet has a globally interconnected, sentient plant which all lifeforms on the planet are dependent upon. Just like in “Dune”, the inhabitants had to endure very harsh environments, but rather than building barriers between them and the environment, they learned to use technology to coexist and adapt very efficiently to the surroundings. These stories have more fiction than science in them, but I find the imagined utopias and distopias of science-fiction to be a good source of inspiration, because such products of imagination are completely liberated from the old principles.

To conclude, my point is that rather than using this tool, that is architecture and technology combined, to run away and seal ourselves in from our problematic environment, we could use them to face nature in all its force, beauty and inconveniences.

When we reach the ultimate singularity point, why not integrate nature into it?