In the beginning there was Earth.
Paradise. An unspoiled sanctuary of beauty.
The only place in the known Universe, capable of creating and sustaining life.
Species too diverse to catalog. Like the swans gracefully swimming along Lake Laverne. The birds and the bees, calling to each other to come out and play on this beautiful day. Or the fish, curiously popping their head over the surface only to taste the breadcrumb I threw in.
Humans are also a product of this Earth’s evolution. The first and only species so far, capable of replicating nature’s uncanny power of creation and destruction.
Over time, we have literally changed the face of the Earth. Look around where you are seated right now. Notice just how much of your surrounding was made by human ingenuity – the walls, and the windows, the books and this glowing screen.
Now close your eyes and listen.
Beyond the chirping birds and the simmering water, listen to how much of the sound all around us was also invented by the human race.
The cars honk, buses rumble and teenagers giggle as they run by on rubber soled shoes.
Mankind might have invented some comforts but nature still holds our fascination.
Vincent Van Gogh said “For my part, I know nothing with certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.”
Just take a walk in a park or experience the haunting whistle and breathtaking beauty of snow-fall and you’ll be immediately reminded of nature’s beauty.
As architects, we consciously design around what we see in nature. We start with our site’s terrain, build in courtyards and invite beautiful natural sunlight to brighten our structures.
But this noisy dichotomy has me in a dilemma. Our assessment of sounds has made me question sustainability in design.
I see why Harley Davidson designers make noisy motorbikes to stick to their brand’s history.
But why do sustainable architects soundproof their buildings when Most soundproofing insulation comes from petroleum?
If sustainability is defined by the ideas of environmental stability, economic viability and social justice. Petroleum harms all three of these pillars.
How does Sustainable design justify blocking out the howling winds and the chirping birds with materials that will hurt our children?
And how will we ever silence our rumbling SUVs, soften the ringing of our phones and bring back the balance in our world?
A picture might speak louder than words, but silence is infinitely more powerful.
As you listen to this audio piece, help me find answers to the questions above.