One of the wonderful benefits of being an architect/builder/developer, is that, in the normal course of business you get the opportunity to learn about almost everything. Buildings impact on the landscape, technology, materials, finance, law, regulation and politics, really, the list is almost endless.
Over the years, projects in the institutional, healthcare, commercial and residential settings have provided lessons in an extraordinary number of areas of life. Real decisions have to be made, with budgets and schedules! In the short term these decisions get the project approved and built. More importantly, for decades to come the buildings continues to exert a considerable influence (positive and negative )on the people and community within which it resides, .
Good solutions are rarely simple and almost never fit into a binary decision making process. By binary I mean, when people attempt to simplify the decision-making process, by limiting the options to two (i.e. left-right, up-down). This definitely simplifies choices but rarely provides the best option(s).
This post was prompted by a very interesting recently published article. The author, Charles Mann explores the past, present and future of agriculture; and addresses the challenges of feeding a growing world population that is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050.
Here are a few figures to use as a point of reference:
Approximate World Population:
1900: ~1.6 billion
1950: ~2.55 billion
2000: ~6 billion
2050: ~10 billion
The solutions are presented by two binary choices. Each position is represented by an individual thought leader, William Vogt and Norman Borlaug.
Vogt became the visionary for the modern environmental movement. His view put the responsibility on human behavior and that consumption and population must be controlled.
Borlaug viewed science and technology (applied appropriately) as a solution for all challenges.
These two world views were futher simplified by the author. Presenting the challenge as an epic battle between two opposing sides, Wizards and Prophets. The wizards searching for magical, techno solutions and the prophets preaching human change.
The article places these two solutions in competition, with a winner take all proposition. This subject certainly impacts on building in many ways. All though I have not (yet) done extensive research on this topic, I am confident that real solutions, that bring long-term benefits to their communities, will involve contributions from both philosophies.
It is always easier to learn a subject matter by simplifying the circumstances, but life almost always requires more than a simple, yes/no response. Due diligence, thoughtful insights, a willingness to consider multiple options and combinations, care and yes perhaps most importantly, lots of hard work are all necessary ingredients for long-term success.
I for one, hope the wizards and prophets learn to collaborate and work together. I aspire to follow in Anthony Bourdain’s footsteps. Enjoying good food for many years to come. So I am routing for both the wizards and prophets to catch the spirit and make some magic together!