ABSTRACT: THE CASE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ARCHITECTURE

Prior to the Industrial Age, building design and community organization reflected the limits imposed by local natural conditions and the responses necessary to mitigate their most undesirable effects, at least from the perspective of human utility and comfort. The technology to respond to excessive heat or cold, too much or little rainfall, or a host of other more complex natural phenomena was limited. The Industrial system responded to these limitations by creating a parallel artificial environment, sealed off, in effect, from the natural world. The unintended consequence of that strategy has been a progressive assault on the natural environment because the industrial system has been constructed so that creating a balance with nature is not economically feasible. It is not that industrial products and systems cannot be designed to maintain this balance, but that the entire physical, political, social and economic enterprise is configured against it. At the core is a cosmology, a philosophical worldview that humanity has a special relationship to the rest of the natural world which not only allows, but demands that the natural world has be altered to fulfill human destiny.

Twentieth Century industrialization is about centralization - of production, of energy, of power. Its organizing principal is to bring all materials and information to point locations where they are transformed and then redistributed. The result is to proliferate a uniform product available on a mass basis which flattens regional distinctions and creates a universal industrial environment. The architectural expression of this is called the International Style. To do this requires a concentration of people, energy and management. Hence, the high-rise industrial city, in which efficiency and economic viability relies on the transportation and communication technologies (mostly trains and telephones - later airplanes) developed at the end of the Nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. All of that is now slowly but steadily becoming obsolete.

Environmental Age development tends toward social patterns in which communication, transportation and energy are decentralized and can no longer be used to compel centralization. Social, political, economic and cultural power, which resides in communication, is more and more distributed through a universal grid and can can coalesce and disperse out of control of physical coercion . This same dynamism is at the heart of modern democracy enshrined in the vertical and horizontal divisions in both the American and parliamentary systems of government.

Environmental Age development proposes to create a world parallel to the natural environment, not destructive of it. It should be able to collect natural resources in sustainable quantities, replicating and recycling them through applications of science and technology, largely already in place, specifically developed to maintain the process of natural change. In order to assure a stable global environment, it should rely primarily on electromagnetic forms of energy, and molecular and chemical processes collected from the already existing pool in the natural world, transforming and redirecting them to power the industrial enterprise. The architecture should reflect global variations in climate and the opportunities for collecting, transforming and employing energy, and local approaches to expressing them.

Environmental Age development proposes a different approach to architecture, urban design and land development than the prevailing work of this Industrial Age. It proceeds from different conception of humankind's relationship to the rest of the natural world, and requires a Post Industrial technologyto build and maintain it., as described in detail in:

 
 
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
bennett.d.j@worldnet.att.net