|Genetic Architecture: The art and science of Eco-Structure design.|
A paper by Prof. P. E. Harvey.
Since mankind descended from the trees and set out on the long journey to modern civilization, we have taken elements of our environment and turned them to our own use. This is not unique, the Beaver builds a dam and cracks shells with a stone 'hammer'. From tools and clothing we progressed, until we found the need for shelter. If there happened to be a handy cave nearby, early man would make good use. The very earliest interior design ideas can still be seen painted on the walls of caves around the world.
Before long however we found the need to expand and by use of wood, clay, stone, sand, mud, straw and so on we learnt to build ever more complex structures for living, storing, defending or enjoying the fruits of civilization. In all cases of the use of materials we have learnt to turn them to our own advantage. We know how to cut, shape, work and join wood in a thousand ways or more. We have fashioned liquid stone in many ways.. mud dries on hut walls, concrete sets to form vast structures, metal ores are refined and shaped in fantastic shapes and uses. We manipulate their basic underlying structure by applying scientific and engineering principles to our knowledge of their properties.
Much of the history of mankind's development has been profoundly affected by leaps of technological skill and knowledge. So we have the 'stone age', 'iron age', 'bronze age', 'nuclear age'. If a culture develops a technique for manipulating raw materials in new and useful ways they can gain great advantage, so the incentives are strong for maintaining the pursuit of new ideas.
At the start of the 21st century mankind faces a self generated dilemma. Our ability to engineer on a large scale, and the incentive of economic growth in what is known as 'development', is cloaking the planet in a stifling layer of concrete, glass, steel and tarmac. The effects on the natural environment and the delicate balance of resources is devastating, leading to wide scale extinctions and global climate changes. Clearly it is imperative that we respond with appropriate strategies for survival and improvement of the human condition, as this drive has been the foundation of our success as a species.
As illustrated previously, it is mankind's ability to innovate and find new solutions to environmental needs that has driven our developments in construction, which in turn has characterised the history of culture and civilisation. We propose that the next step in revolutionary technology will address mankind's problems and help redress the unravelling of planetary eco-systems essential for the species and all life's mutual survuval.
Development of our environment is intrinsic to all the activities of a 'civil' society. We need houses for living in, built in proximity to facilities and retail outlets, with storage, distribution and manufacturing complexes integrating as economic systems of interrelated communities. Until now however we have developed these at the expense of a natural environment. We have regarded micro eco-systems, such as a swamp or a native forest, as either wasteland ripe for building on or plundering their resources until they really are wastelands.
But now there is another way. A system for 'building' structures and related infrastructure which works harmoniously with the environment. Its purpose is to replace the wasteful and ugly world of concrete and steel with a beautiful one of fantastic organic forms at one with sky, land and water. It is a process we call GENETIC ARCHITECTURE.
Prf Harvey is dean of the Unusual Engineering faculty of the university of Witchika, Washington State. USA
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