Human existence is manifested in the presence of oppositions. When the human domain and the physical domain come together you find the struggle that is human existence.
An opposition is defined as any time the ideas of the body, mind, individual, or collective come into contact with the empirical and metaphysical characteristics of the physical realm. The physical realm consists of materials, chemistry, climate, electricity, biology, time, optical phenomenon, and physical phenomenon. It is up to the designer to dream up ideas that somehow bring the two opposing sides together. The basic manifestation of this is the built environment. With this mindset, the built environment becomes a beautiful balance of opposites, someplace where humans and the physical realm have come together to form something unique. For example, gravity is a physical force that continually pulls us toward the center of the earth. When humans and gravity come together you get stairs. The stair allows the human domain to interact with this force. Creating a balance where the physical realm can be respected and the human domain can move to new levels.
So how does this affect my identity? First we must look at the built environment that I am a part of, currently the University of Minnesota.
I interact with the built environment of the University on a daily basis, and I think that its characteristics and my lifestyle have become very similar. The university is designed to be a place of learning and that is what I am here to do, what I’m learning I haven’t quite figured out yet, but I hope that it will all make sense someday. It is also a fast paced campus, where there are countless things to do and be a part of that sometimes it feels like things just don’t stop coming at you. It has been designed to be like this. The campus was created to accommodate thousands of people from all over the country and all over the world. This opposition of distances has come together to form the university, where we can all come together to share ideas and learn. I feel as if I am part of something bigger here. There are major research facilities and big ten sport teams all around me. It is hard not to feel connected to or even proud of that legacy.
Along with the University, the other built environment I have been a part of is my home in Madison Wisconsin.
The house my parents still live in today was where I had lived for the first eighteen years of my life. We never moved, so this place has a certain permanent quality in my life. Moving away to college was my first out of home experience, so my house and the surrounding area still have a very tight grip on me. Life was so familiar there, the sights all the same the people and activities always right at my fingertips. This was an environment where al l my needs were provided for, I was left with time on my hands to explore things that interested me and gave me pleasure. Now that I am a college I have those same opportunities, but now there are on a much deeper level. The new environment has given me a sort of reality check, questioning my feelings and concepts of life as I knew it. Since I arrived I have been challenged to differentiate between what I find to be worthwhile and what will satisfy me here and now. This has not always been easy, and I constantly find myself trying to slow down my busy lifestyle to think about the important questions in life such as my major, what really matters to me, religion, faith, friendship, school, my family, and my ideals. The wonderful thing is that this campus provides me with the opportunity to develop all of these things. There is always a place where I can go to explore and research new ideas. This comforts me and gives me hope that one day I will know where I am going and how I’m going to get there. But until then I am content to just wait, question and explore, confident that whatever I am searching for will become clear.