Architecture Building Sustainably

Day three: Masters of Architecture class


By the end of the second class I realized I needed to buff up on my architectural academic knowledge. Books by Vitruvius, Corbusier, and Louis Kahn are going to be my starting blocks.






We discussed Jeremy Rifkin’s Architects of the Mechanical World View in his book Entropy.

Jeremy Rifkin talks about Entropy, the gradual decline into disorder. There are two ways, historically, in which people make decisions he states. Before the ‘mechanical world view’ Rifkin argues that decisions were made based on the afterlife. Societies’ thoughts were altered when they began to be influenced by Bacon’s Novum Organum, Decartes mathematics, and Newton’s ‘tools of how to unravel nature.’ People began to think that gaining an understanding of nature to provide food, shelter and a more consistent living standard allowed them to make more selfish decisions. Humanity launched into a prosperous life that involved ‘controlling nature.’ These thoughts progressed to become more materialistic with Locke and Smith’s beliefs. The idea that man should acquire unlimited resources is deeply rooted in what society believes today -300 years of trying to make our natural resources profitable for personal gain.

Society now knows more about the earth’s limit of materials and what effect the extraction and refinement of these resources have on the health of our world. Did we humans understand nature’s natural order, and try to grow with that? On a global scale, I don’t think so. We grew with a  limited view and based our decisions on economic benefit.

Let’s examine how prosperous our world is and what technology we use to supplement expiring practices with energy and material use. Humans understand how to use wind and the sun for electricity.  We practice permaculture; that variety of food and a balance of flora and fauna is better than monocrops and overgrazing. According to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI – June 2014) about 80% of the world has access to food, sanitary shelter, education, and other quantifiers of a plentiful life. Aristotle argued ‘prosperity becomes a barrier to happiness.’ Bill McKibben writes in Deep Economy that people don’t need to make more than 30K a year -that this income provides sufficiently all that is necessary. (Published 2007, comparing U.S. salaries tbc) The question of how to help the 20% of underprivileged people and how much is enough for wealthy individuals remain. How do the wealthy continue growth and should we provide for the 20%? Who’s role is it to look globally to evaluate when enough is enough for some when others still do not have a good quality of life.

The discussion was engaging, and lasted over an hour and  a half. We debated why we (humans) believe what we believe. What governs us? What do we know now that needs to change in order to survive? What is personally important, versus what is important for our world? It was interesting to hear from the generation ten years younger than me.


The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben

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