Open Source Architecture

This book came to me by chance. I followed a new instagram account: designboom. I hardly read my feed, but that day I happened to surf a minute. There was a designboom post showing their summer reading list. I could only make out one title (the point was not to actually give real information, but to see the pretty image of architecture/design books stacked on a designer stool). On a whim, I look up the book on Seattle Public Library’s website. Oddly, they have the book even though it has only been out for a couple months AND (bonus) there are only 2 people in line. I put it on hold and it comes in less than a week (this has never happened). I start to read it, but start devouring it. How are all the thoughts running through my head explained and so elegantly and concisely where the written words make perfect sense? All the angst I have for the development process in Seattle and the disappointment I have for the projects being built and the unmet expectations I have of the Seattle architecture come to a head within the first few pages:

‘we should recognize the built environment is an autonomous entity that has its own ways, and the architect should study that and explain how and why he can participate in a largely autonomous process’ – John Habraken
Architects are being marginalized because we aren’t listening to people at large and it has been to our own determent. Today more than ever we must remember to have empathy and understanding- nobody is served from a developer trying to make money, or to cheap/bad construction practices or to badly planned spaces. These are having a large impact on our quality of life when the issues of urban planning needs are not considered and poorly met.

‘…systematic social design is difficult or impossible…such methods yielded nothing but a recognition of the lowest common denominator – arriving at a ‘satisfactory’ solution that does the least harm to the greatest number, rather than solving difficult problems” -Horst Rittel & Melvin Weber
This describes how I have viewed the DPD’s process to give people participatory access to projects from developers. They method for providing feedback is public, but with no real impact or change happening at the end of the day, no matter how much neighbors complain. The avenue that exists to give people opposing a project a voice does not actually garner enough publicity or impact any significant change on the authored set of plans that become reality. What is doctored are the pretty renderings and concept imagery of how much green landscape will be provided and seems to disappear as the project leaps off paper to be built.

In short, this book has been liberating, validating, and introductory because I am seeing development in a new light and hope you do too!

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