November 14, 2013
We are too distracted today to achieve real, focused, positive change/results. Too distracted by constant noise, chatter by/from/about each other or the weather, news, world events, guns, politics, religion, reality TV, celebrities, etc., etc.. Too many things in our way detouring us from a clear road of a sustained stream of conscious thinking and planning for an improved future. Today we seem only to RE-act to other actions (or inaction) rather than plan an appropriate, sensible course forward.
What we need is more positive focus on intelligent beneficent ideas that will enhance the quality of life for ALL, not just the top. We need more visionaries like Edison, Einstein, Wright, King, and Jobs with bigger bolder ideas. I think the 1950's was our greatest decade in terms of invention, exploration, design (industrial, auto, architectural concepts) - dreaming, imagining, and actually planning the future, or what we thought it could be. We had the highest standard of living in the world. We were designing, making, building, manufacturing, fabricating, supplying, buying and selling! We were working, praying, playing, growing, traveling, enjoying -- living!! We were fearful of defeat and fearless toward a challenge. But the main thing we were that made us, for a brief moment in time, unstoppable in advancement and achievement, was that we were TOGETHER - we were one nation singularly focused on the prize - on being #1. In it for better or for better - never considering "for worse".
Today, we are fractured as a nation, as people, and are close to becoming merely a conglomerate of people, of separated individuals part of the "me" generation. The time has come to call upon our vast resource of human ingenuity and creativity - to pull together as we never have since WWII. It may be time to turn off the "I" phones for just a minute and focus back on the "we" for the betterment of our kids and grandkids. America has always championed the underdog. We are still the giant awakened in WWII, recently fallen back asleep while the rest of the world catches up and passes us by. But we were also once a great Cinderalla story (Revolutionary War, WWI and WWII), and we need to make a comeback once again!! So let's focus, turn off the chatter that can tear us apart, and be that great nation of free, hard-working thinkers and dreamers that our Forefathers imagined we would be!
~ Colin Edward Slais
"Old World" Architecture vs. our New World
Everything seems to be “modernizing” except the typical preferred tastes for the American dwelling. It is 2013 (we were supposed to be flying by now in our individual flying transport units according to those “seeing” the future in the 1950’s), and everything relates to the current time in which we live, yet our homes more closely reflect the year 1813 or even older. No one who prefers this “
If the answer is that we need a respite, a break from the ever-changing, ever-updating techno world spinning around us – that we long for a solid, stable, roots-in-the ground atmosphere, I suggest that we need not go back 200 years or to
There have been many movements, or styles, in architecture throughout history, from Classical and Baroque to the Prairie Style, Modernism and Deconstructivism, etc. Today’s new buildings continue this evolution in the perpetual search of expressing our time. The one constant through all this change that will always be the basic purpose of architecture is shelter! Shelter has, throughout time, been especially concerned with the overhead, expressed by visible roofs with names like gable, hip, shed and dome, etc. Because these roofs were visible, a variety of materials and colors were used to celebrate this function of shelter.
However, with the Industrial Revolution and the turn of the century, the visible roof began to disappear and give way to the “flat” plane (which still, by the way, has some slope). This “flat” roof plane sometimes still had an eave, but with the International Style and “machine-age” becoming more popular, the visible roof vanished and metamorphosized into parapets and flatter, abstract forms & surfaces. This challenged the notion of what shelter could be while breaking free from traditional forms, which coincides with what was happening in the art world regarding challenging traditional subject matter in favor of a new expression of a brave new world (which I think is utterly essential!). But, this all has raised a question within me – what has “removing” the roof done to much of the architecture today??
Many of today’s more publicized buildings appear to me as “machines”, devoid of the sense of human scale and shelter that generous roofs can help provide. Roofs protect us from the elements (which tend to come from above) as well as protect the exterior building “skin”, which can help reduce maintenance. With flatter surfaces and more box-like forms, today’s buildings do not invoke the same feeling of comfort that can come from a good “hat” to keep the sun and rain off.
Most of the “cutting-edge” structures in the magazines today also seem to depend heavily on new technology for everything from heating & air conditioning requirements (which a good roof with appropriate overhangs could minimize), to electrical and security systems, as well as for the exterior materials. Again, while I encourage R&D for a better future, there is a tendency for the mere celebratory expression of technical prowess, resulting in buildings appearing thin, fragile, temporary objects, separate from nature and the very people for which they were designed.
Of course there are pros and cons to everything. The artificial products briefly mentioned above do have some big positives -- lower financial cost and maintenance, less depletion of certain resources, greater durability and lifespan, etc. But what will be the catch? There is ALWAYS a catch! Could we be poisoning our bodies and increasing certain disease risks with artificial foods or from product off-gassing? Are we building a world where PERCEPTION of truth is replacing truth? What would be wrong with a world where very little is as it seems? It feels like a philisophical question -- one that I've not heard posed, until now. I haven't formulated my own definitive opinion yet, other than it just FEELS like we are headed in a dangerous direction.