“This LetsBlogOff theme is about taking a deeper second look at what appears to be an everyday common object or occurrence where something happens that makes you look at it in a different light. It could be an object, person or place. Or something entirely different.” – LetsBlogOff Team
When I first read through the latest Lets Blog Off topic, I had visions in my mind of all the funny, ironic and generally laughable things I could have talked about in relation to architecture and professional practice. I’m sure even you have a few in mind right now, don’t you?
Instead I want to take a step back and talk about something a little more serious. Something that, upon closer examination, continues to change my life and my perspective almost daily. And, yes, even impacts how and what I design as an architect – my children. And to quote a famous cliche, children are our future.
It sounds trite I know, but it’s true nonetheless. The success or failure of our future depends on our children and the foundations and framework we set for them today. In my life B.C. (Before Children) this was only a conceptual notion, a passing fancy to want to change the world and make it better through the power of architecture. My more immediate goals and aspirations lay with the day to day. Am I making money, when will my boss see I can do more than just redlines, when will someone take notice of my great genius, etc etc. I, and my architecture, were very internally focused. And this is fine if you’re not planning much further ahead than Happy Hour.
But when you set about thinking in more far reaching societal terms towards a future past your short life cycle, there is a shift in the “how”, “why”, “what” and most importantly “who”. Children, I’ve found, have this really annoying “hopeful” effect on people.
What does any of this have to do with architecture? Simply put, when you begin to think outside of what is immediately around you, you’re forced to think about the inevitable cause and effect of all things. That strip mall you’ve spent the last 3 weeks detailing – what effect will it have on the surrounding neighborhood? What happens to it when it’s no longer a strip mall? Could it be converted to office space or live/work lofts? Is it near mass transit? Could it be incorporated into a larger transit plan like a TOD? Are the materials easily recycled or repurposed? Can the building itself be disassembled and made into a completely new structure? Is it modular? Could you unplug portions of the building to make way for a new partial development?
These are the types of questions that I’m led to simply by looking at the faces of my children. And your children, and kids at the park (even the one that stole some other kids’ snack and just wiped snot all over the slide that my son is climbing on right now….). The point is, I no longer think in terms of my limited experiences. I think in terms of the legacy that I’m leaving behind and how that will effect generations to come. In short (too late) the common everyday occurrence of children has forever altered the reality of my architecture, because I now understand that it’s not my architecture. It’s theirs. And it must respond to changes in time, culture, function and perhaps even one day disappear altogether to make way for something better.