An Archaeology of the Future

Ursula Le Guin (1988) writes of an archaeology of the future.

The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, longtime from now ….. The difficulty of translation from a language that doesn’t yet exist is considerable, but there’s no need to exaggerate it. The past, after all, can be quite as obscure as the future.

A possible language, known to architects and planners is pattern language; giving people the tools and abilities to define their problems and solutions, and achieve them (Brand, 1981).

They have been proposed as a means of establishing a language for talking about what people really need from buildings and communities. The Green Chain in South East London is derived from this work.

Make sure that you treat the edge of the building as a “thing” a “place”, a zone with volume to it, not a line or interface which has no thickness. Crenellate the edges of buildings with places that invite people to stop. Make places that have depth and a covering, places to sit, lean and walk, especially at those points along the perimeter which look onto interesting outdoor life. (Brand)

Day argues cogently that our imaginations of the possible for shelters, for built environments are blinkered. If you want to institutionalise a building, you need corridors. If you want to raise movement from A to B to become a renewing, preparatory experience, you can use a cloister. Cloisters are semi outside spaces, around a garden; if glazed they cease to be cloisters. None the less, we can build some of their quality into passages so that any future destination can take second place to the experience of where you are now. How else can eternity live in every moment? (Day 1990/1).

Day believes that art healing gift and listening may be combined as a social work within the work of building. (Day 1990/2).

It was my first lesson that building is part of the artistic process. On site, I realised that I could create a curved roof by setting rafters between non parallel wall plates. The curve that resulted I could never previously have imagined on paper. Only on site could I see the potential to develop it.

Participation is so fundamental that it requires the direct interaction with a building as it is built. The scientific planned architectural method in comparison is two dimensional, like a sheet of paper.

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