I’ve always felt that a prerequisite for being an architect is to be a visionary. We create spaces, design assemblies, and represent ideas through everything we do. Often, this takes the form of speculating about the future. I think Ashley Schafer said it well when she encouraged us “to let go of the perfect notion of the future.” I agree that we worry too much about this utopian vision. Often it is a waste of time when there are much more interesting and engaging things to be designing and debating. However, I know as an eternal optimist that I will never be able to completely let go of thinking about the future. Part of my life as a designer is the hope that we are continually building more interesting spaces and interfaces in order to keep our users excited and engaged about the spaces they inhabit. My reply to Schafer is: If we let go of the future, we let go of the ambition and exhilaration that the future of design inherently brings.
Many stimulating ideas were discussed throughout the weekend, and the following highlights a few of my favorites:
Mark Burry: Could Gaudi have ever predicted this is how his masterwork would be constructed? Completion by 3-d modeling software and machine cut stone over 100 years later.
Usman Haque: By creating platforms for participation, we force the user to be engaged with the space they inhabit. I will take note, Usman.
Leah Buechley: How often do we miss the point by not reaching all our constituencies and users?
Amos Winter: People inherently want to feel like they are doing “good” work. Are architects missing an opportunity when we detach ourselves from the process after the final punch list?
Bruce Sterling: Does “consumer collectivism” change the way we design? In my opinion, “community” centered design is here to stay. So, should we be more focused on how our users can adapt their spaces themselves?
Michelle Addington: I was sincerely intrigued by her notion of smart technology as “force fields” for individual artifacts and the archivists who preserve them. As Kathy Velikov noted later, where does nature stop designing technology and technology start to define nature?
Anna Dyson: I was most interested by her thought that we are physiologically changing as a result of technology. Is the fact that I am so dependent on my iPhone say something about how my brain is changing as a result of it?
Michael Batty: How can we take this notion of “simulating cities” one step further? I envision a system where we set up parameters for development and watch models of how cities can be planned, zoned, designed, and developed.
Mark Fornes: I appreciate honesty, humility, and the fact that one doesn’t have to always act like he or she has everything figured out.
Sean Lally: I’m intrigued how his arguments about rethinking our micro-climates and conditioned environments could factor into a Neo-Sustainability debate.
Overall Quote of the Conference: “It’s [still] about the author and intention, not the tool…”