Looking to the Past for Inspiration

A rendering of possible houses with unrealistic materials.

Technology is progressing at unreal rates. The way we interact with our environment in the world is also changing because of this. I think that we are at a very exciting time in the world of technology with all the new innovative ideas, but I am also conflicted with the idea that, are we just exploring what we can make with technology? Or is it actually benefiting us? I am fascinated with all these new materials that we learn about such as Terrazzo Lumina and Kinetic Landscape, both we assessed for our Assignment 1, but as interesting as they are, after assessing them we found that they were overpriced and not very functional. This leads me to question, why are we making them? One would never chose either of these materials for basically any use except maybe in a high scale club or science museum. Neither of these materials are functional or accessible for everyday use.

I do not mean that I do not accept new technological innovations, and I think it is amazing what we can create these days, but I feel that if we aren’t creating helpful materials, what is the point? Why created unrealistic materials, if they are not applicable in real life? What I mean by helpful materials are materials that are sustainable, affordable, accessible, and Eco-friendly. I know that it is hard to create a material that can satisfy all of those requirements, but at least 3 of those ideas would be ideal.

After we talked about wood in class (Thursday, October 11th) I started thinking about the use of wood through the years. Wood was the main material used in all construction. Even Chicago was completely built of wood in its beginning. We just learned about Horyuji in Nara, the largest still standing wooden structure. Thinking about these different uses of wood, made me understand that wood is a very useful material. If so many homes have been built out of it in the past, and have provided a good shelter for people, why don’t we look back at this for inspiration? I think that we are getting too excited about technological innovation and application, that we forget that as “cool” as it looks on a building, is it really that functional? Is it really a new good material that that can realistically be used, or is it more for show? I think that architects looking to the past for inspiration on how our ancestors made safe strong shelters, we can find inspiration. For example, we know that deforestation is a big problem with wood. But, we see that wood has always been a reliable material. So we can take the idea of wood and apply it to modern day concerns. Why can’t we make a more ecologically friendly type of wood? Or create a material that is all from recycled wood scraps. I’m not sure what the answer is, but if the energy and time were spent seeking out an answer instead of creating materials that aren’t as useful, I think a solution could be found. We already know that wood is a strong and sustainable material through seeing how buildings from the past constructed of wood are still standing strong. The next step is to take this material, and make it even more ecological friendly and easily available.

A house made using sustainable eco-friendly wood.


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