Spheres of interaction

In the semester’s course of a studio, there tends to be something of a geometric progression for time spent slumped over my digital drafting table. I lose track of my diet, then my apartment deteriorates into a pile of dirty laundry and dishes as I spend less and less time there, staying only long enough to sleep a few hours and shower by the time finals are nearing. Last, I’ll begin to lose track of the world around me, nearly forgetting that all of those things moving around me in the streets and in the studio are other people, complete with their own thoughts, feelings, deadlines, and degrees of caffeine addiction.

At other random times, I’ll notice the same effect for other reasons – I become so caught up in my own inner world, (over)thinking about some past or future thing, that the present moment vanishes from me. I fail to capitalize fully on whatever I’m experiencing at the time, whether listening to Bonham’s galloping rhythms in “Achilles Last Stand” or catching up with a friend as we run to grab coffee in a five-minute break between classes.

I start thinking then about the various degrees of interactions that happen more times in a day than I can count, that I overlook as I obsess over studio or my own thoughts.

Firstly, there’s the sphere of my own inner interactions, all complex beyond imagining, that result in these things I call my body and my mind. Our society has a variety of occupations seeking to keep these things in better balance, from conventional medicine and therapies to more alternative preventative practices, including yoga, meditation, and even massage.

Secondly, there’s the sphere that governs and dictates (or even simply tries to understand) my interactions with others of my kind. Within this realm are law-related disciplines and perhaps even some social scientists – all of them, at their core, seeking to understand or uphold the fabric of lawful or reciprocal human interaction.

Thirdly, there is a sphere of interaction between me and the environment within which I exist. Perhaps more ambiguous than the first two spheres, this could be said to house architecture (landscape or otherwise), planning (although this blends smoothly between the previous sphere), construction, environmental sciences, various modes of psychology, and a variety of others.

We might consider our doctors and our lawyers as the paragons of the first two spheres. Would (or could) architects, with their similarly long and arduous educations and internships, be considered the equivalent experts in the third field?

Despite the breadth of education for doctors and lawyers, however, their areas of study are still focused and precise. How might the profession of Medical Doctor and our health care industry as a whole change if our doctors were masters of more than ‘just’ conventional practices in medicine and were, instead, more comprehensive masters of the human body? Likewise, how might our societal fabric evolve if its experts of interaction played a stronger role in understanding, mediating, and enabling human interaction?

How might our buildings, our cities, and even our personal lives then change if architecture took on a similar mission, one of mastering the knowledge and practice of understanding the relationship between our environments and ourselves? Is such a comprehensive mission even possible, or even desirable?

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