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leave no trace

When set with the idea of influencing my idea of architecture while impacting my environment, I immediately return to experiences in nature, though aware that many other surroundings and conditions are apart of my envrionment. While I am very familiar with my surroundings here in Minnesota, I would almost certainly travel as widely as possible in order to supplement or even develop ideas of my environment and the world.

In considering places I would like to visit, I viewed remarkable photos of structures and other buildings that were very impressive. However, the idea of environment continually reappeared in my mind and the feelings invoked by other, natural areas created effects that, I believe, are uncomparable. The following photos are natural wonders of the world; places which leave an immense impact on one's idea of almost everything.

Above: Mount Everest, view from Nepali approach

Above: The Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Above: The Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA

Above: Victoria Falls from the Zambia side

Above: The Harbor of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil

Above: The Paricutin Volcano in Mexico

Above: The Northern Lights

Above: The Galapagos Islands

Above: Crater Lake in Oregon, USA

When exploring the preceding places, giving each due time, and absorbing their overwhelming brilliance, it becomes clear that the emotion invoked by these places are, indeed, the same breathtaking outcomes designers only hope to capture in their buildings. If set free from the "constraints" of the architecture school program, this is where I would hope to begin.

After viewing some of the most beautiful places on the face of the Earth, one will almost certainly become aware of much of the same spledor in the environment surrounding them. Now, the question becomes, how will I impact the environment around me? This answer, I believe correlates somewhat with my United Nations Millenium Goal of ensuring environmental sustainability.

Personally, the idea of impact on the environment evokes memories of a trip I took in Cimmaron, New Mexico. I was a part of a group of about ten members backpacking through the wilderness for two weeks. On the trail surrounded by hills, mountaintops, trees, and open fields, we adopted a way of dealing with the environment. This idea is one I would adopt in impacting my environment. Essentially, it can be summed up as "leave no trace."

Above: photo of a mountain meadow at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico.

Above: photo of a peak named "The Tooth of Time" at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico.

Leave No Trace consisted of many, many practices on the trail which would greatly minimize the impact on the surrounding environment, an objective especially important when visiting natural wonders seen above.

Our first practice was planning ahead. Months in advance, we conducted practice hikes, created an itinerary, and checked equipment to make sure we were ready. Most other ideas were witnessed on the trail. Traveling in a single file line on already worn paths concentrated the impact we had in certain areas. Where no path had yet been worn, we separated in a horizontal line, spreading out the potential impact over a larger area. We were careful not to disturb and rocks, plants, or other objects, but rather leave them as we found them, only observing. We carried days of food and packed out our trash. Daily inspections of our changing campsites were thorough. Additionally, we only camped in existing campsites along the trail, making sure not to expand human impact. While on the trail, we also spent a day improving existing paths so multiple trails were not created. A group member and I dug out a large rock - previously serving as an obstacle for hikers - and flattened a trail in its place so groups would not be interupted in an attempt to find a legimate route. Each of these things contributed to the idea of "leave no trace," or rather, as little as possible.

The idea of "leave no trace" is easily applicable in a natural environment. However, it seems this idea should become a constraint of architecture. Obviously, creating a building for example would have an impact on its surroundings, but the idea that one can minimize their impact as much as possible is a remarkable starting point.