Friday, December 19, 2008


What Humanism means to me is an expansion, not a contraction, of human life, an expansion in which nature and the science of nature are made the willing servants of human good.
John Dewey, What Humanism Means to Me
There is no denying the fact that we are entering a new design epoch. We have seen the zeitgeist, and it is green*. While just a couple of years ago you could still claim to not be interested in sustainable design these days those words would be considered blaspheme. Over the past several years a steady stream of design conjecture has given rise to a new design paradigm which attempts to recalibrate the (not so) delicate (im)balance between us (humans) and the rest of the world (everything that is not us or produced by us, but more than likely is probably consumed by us); an attempt to place us within the ecosystem rather than over it.
This demonstrates a much different attitude towards the world and our place in it than has previously been exhibited. According to John Dewey, the great American philosopher, humanism means bending nature to our will. This attitude prevailed during the last couple of centuries and has gotten us to the sorry state of affairs we have arrived at today. Global warming, peak oil, environmental degradation, mass extinction; the list goes on and on. Artists, architects, landscape architects, and urbanists have been rising to these challenges in a methodology that goes over and beyond mere sustainable design. Much like the radical shift in thought from a geocentric to a heliocentric model this means a displacement of humans from the center of the design and development ethos (or at least a sharing of the center?). Over the next few posts I will look at the theoretical underpinnings and various strategies of this new movement, which I am calling:


More catchy than “sustainable”, right?

*Why green? Why not blue, or white? Are vibrant blue skies and crisp white snow capped peaks also not important?

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