From past solutions to future suggestions?

Relative to the age and experiences of recorded history, I am hardly even a twinkle in someone’s eye. A mere single drop of coffee in a hundred-cup pot, I might be wrong in the assumption that I am about to make.

From what I’ve studied throughout my life, however, I am led to the conclusion that we exist in one of the few moments in history when we as a species have (1) an identifiable problem responsible for many societal ills (or, at the very least, an understanding that there is a large-scale problem waiting to be identified), and (2) the knowledge that our past, traditional solutions to this problem are, generally, very, very wrong.

We hear fragmented bits of the symptoms from various sources of news, and we learn of possible ways of treating those symptoms from our classes and our colleagues. Many of these become buzzwords for a time, and so we pledge ourselves to the paradigm shift that was sustainability (as an example). Our classes swear to it, our various industries throw the word around, and people capitalize on it by swearing that their business or product is the most sustainable, and that anyone who shops elsewhere isn’t green.

And then I wonder how deep the thinking really goes.

I know there are many people in the world who lose sleep over the problems we must solve, and I know there are as many people who have ideas and suggestions for the changes we need to make. But if there is a common problem that everyone is trying to address – and the overwhelming drive towards sustainability and being ‘green’ in our particular industry offers evidence for this – why do we remain so fragmented in our approaches?

This firm researches new technologies for passive and active wall systems to improve building performance. That individual writes online articles, which nobody reads, to come to a better understanding of the world he lives in. One school prides itself on radical innovation in architecture, another on strengthening what past approaches and ideologies might still have to offer. Many people, many approaches, and many ideas, and yet it seems so difficult to find more than a few.

And are any of them acting in concert with one another? Or, do we tend only towards competition with one other in a market that allows for nothing more?

Every school has something to offer, every student and every firm a voice. Is there a way for us to have stronger dialogues? Can we come to better, more conscious – and more comprehensive – conclusions about what we are trying to solve? About what each of us can suggest for the future?

Could we unite more than we already are, or are we already on the best path that our feet can travel?

As always, I hope for feedback showing how wrong or uneducated my conclusions might be. Otherwise, I’ll just keep whining forever and drinking too much coffee in the process.

3 thoughts on “From past solutions to future suggestions?

  1. Can it be that this way of thinking is limited to the society and culture for which you and I both live? In my experience in this country, the good ole US of A, people are driven to materialistic natures. After all, this great country was built on the notion that capitalism builds a strong nation. I have hope the idea is becoming stale the more I see well built homes, buildings, and infrastructures.
    I believe we, society, are beginning to see the traditional ways had a time and place and the here and now needs new answers; thus, I see more people trying to make changes for the better such as people (either learning, teaching, or doing) building better buildings and designs that work with society. Humans’ competitive nature may always be present but perhaps that competitive nature will drive us to make a society that can be truly sustainable.

    • I think it’s less dependent on the times and culture of the US of A and more a product of how humans pushed themselves through the process of industrialization. Materialism is probably way older than that; I’m just not sure, to be honest.

      I do feel that competition breeds strong ideas, but without direction it will breed less-relevant ones, and potentially more destructive ones – hence the situation we’ve found ourselves in and are still trying to understand.

      I guess what concerns me and what I probably didn’t get across in the article is: How can competition breed stronger, more relevant, and more global ideas when our efforts are so diffuse that we don’t even know what or who we’re competing with? That we don’t even know we are competing, because we aren’t even aware of the vast majority of others’ ideas?

      It’s hard for like minds to “think alike” and strengthen their ideas when those like minds can’t even find one another. Instead, they remain scattered across different firms, organizations, and schools and only occasionally have moments when different groups come together in a local or a limited fashion.

      I didn’t mean to sound so anti-competitive-ness. There’s no escaping it, and there probably isn’t a reason to, ultimately.

  2. I differ that great minds not finding one another. Great minds usually find one another when in school and when in firms going to conventions and seeing ideas. I suppose if one has the passion for something and want to indulge in it, school is the first step but the individual must remain driven and seek the answers to solutions him/herself.
    The great thing about being artistic (ART-itecture!) is always seeking perfection and yet never finding it – the passion and drive is always alive.

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