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Take a Walk

Before one commences with a building project of any significant scope, they should take a long walk in the woods. Modern living has, with mostly good intention, separated us from nature. The resulting advantages (clean running water, heat, pest-free, refrigeration etc) have masked this separation and the accordant loss of connection to the simple fact that humans are not distinct from but inextricably part of nature. This is an understandable ignorance but it is accompanied by an inexcusable arrogance that leads to some serious consequences.

We have become unbalanced. First, we waste too many resources and pollute too much. The other, less recognized and less quantifiable effect of our separation from nature and the associated immersion in our selves is a negative effect on our human spirit. There is an emotional void created as we distance our selves from our natural surroundings. It might be easy to attribute the myriad of ills plaguing the human condition to this disconnect thereby proving the point (an attribution that will subject one to infinite open ended dialogs) but it is easier to prove the point with a simple walk. Homo sapiens sapiens (we know that we know) has spent the vast majority of its time on earth… camping. Looking past the realities of hunger, disease, conflict and other hardships of the primitive camp yields an undercurrent of essential connections to the sights, smells, scale, texture, pattern, order, color, and other elemental components of our shared, immersed natural experience. Reacquainting ourselves to these basic conditions is surprisingly easy but the results have far-reaching and extraordinary benefits. In the realm of the built environment, of which each project is a responsible and elemental part, the benefits derived from a walk in the woods can be determinably focused and secured. These benefits are derived without effort and require no plan or outline. One need not step onto the path with the intention of perceiving scale. Scale, the relationship between the size of one thing to another, has meaning beyond the simple mathematical ratio. Indeed value can be apportioned to these infinite ratios ultimately ranking some as better than others. The increasingly complex and at least somewhat subjective concept of scale is on parade in the woods and is revealed on a most basic level. Indeed each of the complex, interdependent variables that form architecture are at their most accessible in the subconscious and it is in the primitive setting that we find these complexities absorbed, exposed, revealed. This illumination is difficult to verbalize but the knowledge is transferable. It can be used in many ways as an instrument of calm and balance. When used in the direct parallel from the architecture of the natural to the architecture of the manmade, the results are not only readily perceivable but enduring.