The architecture of choice: Letting go for tomorrow or going back?
Micène Fontaine, December 2, 2021
I wasn’t sure which button to click, “Go Back” or “Send Message.”
The first option sounds safe - even in red. The other seems like a commitment - even more so in blue. The stakes were low. I was only sending a message to customer service to close a bank account I don’t use. I had a bit of an emotional attachment to this bank account. It was the first account I opened 20+ years ago when I moved from France to Tallahassee, Florida. Still, why was it so hard to click the obvious choice?
The tension between doing what I knew was the right thing to do, and the easier, safer status quo struck me as symptomatic of where we are - as a society: Running. Back and forth. Out of breath. Between “go back” and “send message”.
Home, connectedness, and happiness are three foundational ideas around which societies are being reshaped. The decision to “go back” or “send message” for me touched on all 3. My sense of home. How it was 20+ years ago. How it is now being redefined. My understanding of self. My love of nature - and my place in it. Biophilia. How far we’ve come. How much further there is to go. Self-care, mental health, and Happiness - as in The Pursuit of :-) Our concept of home, connectedness, and happiness are tacitly embedded in our everyday choices and made explicit throughout our built environment?
Home, connectedness, and happiness are - if you look closely - embedded in the projects we love working on. Whatever you do as an architect, designer, or allied design professional, you help shape these ideas for generations to come.
A lot of the courses we develop are about these “in-betweens” where decisions happen and where tomorrows are being built. What we seldom talk about during these courses is how difficult it can be to let go (let go of what no longer serves us or let go of what still serves us - but only us and at the expense of others). As a species, we are hard-wired to resist change. So, it's no surprise that many of the design solutions we see implemented are - to a large extent - anachronistic in their approach. Anchored in going back to how things used to be, what we knew then, the outdated metrics we used to define value rather than in sending a message about what could be and how it could be manifested in our built environment.
We know what to do: Learn from nature. Redefine home. Design for Happiness, etc. What if we did? What would we have to let go of to design and build for the next generation? Do we "Go Back" or "Send Message"?