I came to my point of view because I live in the world as it is; keeping my nose to books and writings to understand that world. This is a back and forth between practice, doing stuff in the real world and theory, thinking about the world and what to do in it. Thus I am an ongoing student of history, architecture and urban design; while I work towards social and economic justice and develop political innovation. So I try to be a conscious practitioner. I can say I have an evidence based approach, but towards what? The question is one of values. I value diversity, humanity, and our place in the environment.
An architectural or design solution is an intervention. An action taken to fulfill a want or need which has it's own unique history and character. I am both a listener and speaker. This back and forth is what defines all good design process. A moving repetition often like a spiral, moving in circles but always upward towards the best possible outcome. The list below starts with the most abstract source of inspiration, and ends with the most concrete.
Moving beyond the limits of last century's thinking
All of this back a forth does not come from nowhere as myself and my thoughts do not blink out of the void. It is a response to the slow apocalypse we are experiencing; economic crisis, political instability, and of course climate change. So even big plans can contain a desire for the small and the slow. 'Meta-modernism' or beyond modernism is the name for the now forming counter culture movement: a fusing of modern positions of purity, use of new tech, and 'form follows function'; with the Postmodern strategies of diversity, understanding parts and using context. It embraces duality, the going back and forth between different positions, embracing nuance and our innate complexity. This helps us to avoid messy contradictions, risking being dogmatic. It means being a visionary for gradual change, have an informed idealism, putting realism in ones fantasy. To live sincerely, and give up on irony and image. So I seek to design for people and places; the functional and the holistic; the flexible and for permanence. If all this is too confusing, I’ll just point out meta-modernist is where our better pop culture is at. Bojack horseman, Lego Movie, ‘This is America’(by Donald Glover), are all meta media. How does this translate to architecture? I’m still trying to figure that out.
A book Written by Richard Register: it details a vision of urbanism in line with ecological, or environmentalist ideals; bringing streams outside of storm-drains, density around centers of activity, and lots of local community planning. Its a book for activists as well as planners.
The work of Christopher Alexander is truly awe inspiring to me; many years spent figuring out, sorting, and listing all the things that make our towns, buildings and constructions usable, comfortable, and alive. Out of a life time of work comes a design theory which made the New Urbanist movement possible (although they leave ALOT of this work out and it suffers for it), and help usher us out of the bleak, sterile design of the last century. A century which as local new-urbanist James Howard Kunsler put it, "...threw 5000 years worth of design knowledge in the garbage.." for the ease of industrial materials, and the convenience of car travel.
His major ideas are from 'A Pattern Language'; where he lists design elements with the idea that they are like words in a poem, there are so many words that rhyme or fit, but poems and stories use words in different combinations for the context. The other is 'The Order of Life'; which describes 15 principles to guide the generation of life rather than its fabrication.
A brighter, but grounded futurism
I don't know about you but I'm tried of dystopias, zombie hordes, and visions of humanity struggling to survive on a dead landscape of our own making. We need more utopian thinking to know what we should work for. Solarpunk as a look is one part Art Nouveau, part bio-design and another part an earthship taken to the city wide scale. Primarily growing out of a reaction to Steam punk which glories the Victorian Era and envisions a past that didn't exist, Solarpunk imagines a future that can.
The Nuts and Bolts of True Sustainability
Words like sustainable, resilient, and yes even green have been used for marketing the same old junk with a fresh coat of green paint. To get serious about sustainability, one needs the vision described, but the details of how it will work. The word Peraculture is a combo of Permanent-Culture and is about applying a wide set of ecological principles to design, and to really think in terms of systems, gardens that are a designed ecosystem, houses that work with natural forces rather than just resist them. Its pretty dense as far as around the house landscaping goes, but if done right, it'll maintain itself, and you’ll never go hungry.