Film/Video/New Media · Human-ities · Philosophy · Videos

Omar Khayyam: The Poet of Uncertainty – Full BBC Culture Documentary

Architectonic · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Design · Human-ities · Public Space · Social/Politics · Theory

Architecture Depends

Architecture depends—on what? On people, time, politics, ethics, mess: the real world. Architecture, Jeremy Till argues with conviction in this engaging, sometimes pugnacious book, cannot help itself; it is dependent for its very existence on things outside itself. Despite the claims of autonomy, purity, and control that architects like to make about their practice, architecture is buffeted by uncertainty and contingency. Circumstances invariably intervene to upset the architect’s best-laid plans—at every stage in the process, from design through construction to occupancy. Architects, however, tend to deny this, fearing contingency and preferring to pursue perfection. With Architecture Depends, architect and critic Jeremy Till offers a proposal for rescuing architects from themselves: a way to bridge the gap between what architecture actually is and what architects want it to be. Mixing anecdote, design, social theory, and personal experience, Till’s writing is always accessible, moving freely between high and low registers, much like his suggestions for architecture itself.

The everyday world is a disordered mess, from which architecture has retreated—and this retreat, says Till, is deluded. Architecture must engage with the inescapable reality of the world; in that engagement is the potential for a reformulation of architectural practice. Contingency should be understood as an opportunity rather than a threat. Elvis Costello said that his songs have to work when played through the cheapest transistor radio; for Till, architecture has to work (socially, spatially) by coping with the flux and vagaries of everyday life. Architecture, he proposes, must move from a reliance on the impulsive imagination of the lone genius to a confidence in the collaborative ethical imagination, from clinging to notions of total control to an intentional acceptance of letting go.

Text and Image via MIT

Human-ities

Stress best: How Uncertainty Makes Us Stronger

Long periods of stability allow risks to accumulate until there is a major disaster; volatility means that things do not get too far out of kilter. In the economy cutting interest rates at the first sign of weakness stores up more trouble for later. In markets getting rid of speculators means prices are more stable in general but any fluctuations cause greater panic. In political systems the stability brought by regimes such as Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt was artificial; without any effective way for people to express dissent, change leads to collapse.

The principle applies to career choices too. An apparently secure job within a large company disguises a dependency on a single employer and the risk that unemployment will cause a very sudden and steep loss of income. Professions that have more variable earnings, like taxi-driving or prostitution, are less vulnerable to really big shocks. They also use volatility as information: if a cabbie is in a part of town where there are no fares, he heads to a different area.

Excerpt of an article via The Economist. Continue HERE