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Blog 5 - Oppositions that shape my world

How does the built environment affect who I am? When considering this question, I really had to sit down and think. What is it about the built environment that intrigues me? And how, realistically and without knowing, do I interact with the built environment everyday? Many times I experience architecture without even realizing it, and I think that recently I have become more aware of the built environment around me. To begin, I look to the opposition of GRAVITY AND MOVEMENT. My realization of this opposition came with the collapse of the 35W bridge.


With the collapse of this bridge, our whole nation began to question the quality of the infastructure we use everyday. Although there have been other events involving buildings collapsing and bridges failing, this event really brought on a realization that things we use and inhabit everyday could possibly be faulty. While it was a disastrous event, it gave way to people not only questioning the stability of bridges and other buildings, but also made officials realize that we need to be more critical in evaluating the built world in order to prevent events such as this. Architecture, in a sense is really about helping people move through space and defy gravity, whether it be moving over a river or living on the top floor of a skyscraper. Structure and durability are the most important piece in this aspect. This is how I understand and am influenced by the opposition of gravity and movement.

One of the most important oppositions to understand in my world is that of CLIMATE AND ENCLOSURE. With the explosion of Sustainable and LEED approved building, it is easy to get lost in the real purpose of these buildings - Our environment. I am currently interested in learning more about our environment - aside of architecture. I want to know about weather systems and how the atmosphere and solar system work. I think this affects who I am because understanding our world is much more than understanding the built environment or even the landscape and climate upon which it rests. As much as I love to read about this, I usually find myself flipping through magazines like National Geographic and the Smithsonian just to see the phenomena of nature. Looking at our environment to better our architecture is an important aspect of our education and future in design.
When it comes to sustainable design, one of my favorite websites to search is INHABITAT.COM - where information on ideas about sustainable design are gathered. Some of them are pretty crazy, yet impressive, like this Hydro-Net Vision for the San Francisco area. In this Hydro-Net we see algae-harvesting towers, geothermal energy ‘mushrooms’, and fog catchers which distill fresh water from San Francisco’s infamous fog. Architecture, before looking good, first and foremost must hold a significant purpose or function



Another opposition that shapes my values when it comes to architecture is that of ENTROPY AND PERMANENCE. This idea is one of the hardest to completely get my mind around. The idea of eternity is something that I am sure everyone struggles to comprehend. Although I have a faith in a God and a Heaven, the idea of people and things going on forever really blows my mind. There are certain buildings that exemplify timelessness to me, such as the Great Pyramids or some of Boullee's work, like Newton's Sphere, as we talked about in class. One way to look at it is to think about preserving pieces of history so they live on, possibly forever. I value this in buildings and in education in general. I think having a good knowledge of where things came from and what was important in the past is necessary to move forward.
A seed vault building that was just recently opened in Svalbard, Norway does just that. This building holds duplicates of seeds from all over the globe and from almost all types of food crops. In the event of a global catastrophe, we will have back up of the basic unit that we need to sustain life....pretty cool! It is placed in a frigid place to better preserve the seeds.
This video reports on the opening and main concepts behiind the building.

Obviously, my life would not be at all the same without the influence of the built world around me. I would not be able to live in Minnesota, for one. It is amazing to really sit down and think how big of an influence architects and engineers have on our lives.