Sustainability is such a loaded word. Understanding the foundations of this field is one that requires more than a semester of study. That being said, over the course of the semester we were exposed to a diverse set of problems. We were then asked to dwell into topics of our choice and explore them using different media. This brought about an understanding of the topic and some exploration into the type of media. What was most interesting is that our preconceived notions were challenged. It changed my perception and me sense the invisible in the visible.
The bare in the backbone
Sustainability is the agglomeration of three fundamental aspects – economic viability, environmental stability and social justice. We studied these aspects in terms of the backbones of nature this semester. I learned that soil is the true foundation of sustainable design. Food and water – the two basic human needs are so interdependent on that foundation. Run-off, erosion and even groundwater recharge are all impacted by this foundation. However, managing storm water is a problem being faced by many countries. As a result of what we studied, I understand that designing the soils is an important feature of the solution to this problem. Looking at the way the water interacts with the soil can be used to further HVAC systems in buildings or use the water for agriculture. Both these systems would affect the biodiversity in some way. I used this knowledge to further my studio project in Seattle and incorporated this very system as part of my final review. It added a whole other dimension to my project and me express my thoughts better.
The images show the problem that storm water mis-management leads to.
The physical environment is very easy to perceive. Soil and water can be seen and touched. Vegetation makes a connection with food. But sound is something that is often lost. As we studied sound and attempted to understand its implications, what I thought was noisy was also calming. What I assumed would be quiet was perhaps the space with a plethora of sounds. The exercise opened my mind to geophony, biophony and anthrophony and made me come to an important realization. As humans we love green spaces, and enjoy proximity to them. We presume that as we plant more trees in urban areas, we are benefiting the environment- which to a large extent we are. We design beautiful parks with the hopes of filling them up with birds, bees, trees and flowers. But we get annoyed by mosquitoes and their buzz. We come in with food trucks and our generators and just add to the chaos of the environment. But as designers we can try and find answers to these questions to only some extent. As citizens of the world, we need to take responsibility not only of the environment we perceive, but the environment that perceives us. This is perhaps the most unexpected and most important take away I had from the class.