Erika Jacobs LordAlumnus
The Way We Live?
Flipping through magazines recently it was fascinating to see the latest trends in fashion and architecture. Models of a fashion spread sported intricate and irreproducible vintage hairstyles from the 1940's while a well-known design magazine cooed over Scandinavian designers of the 1950's and Modern architecture. In this time of information overload and government-sponsored international conflict, nostalgia isn't so surprising. The pure white boxes and clean ninety-degree angles of another era soothes the rattled 21st century mind. We conveniently ignore the fact that those bygone eras had plenty of uncertainty and tension, but that's easy to do using hindsight.
" architecture was a revolution in architecture, but it is not our revolution. Today it is used as a comfort, a bromide that produces euphoria but stops architectural development dead in its tracks. Modernism was a clear and brilliant response to a question posed long ago, but is it still the answer? Is this the way we should live?
In my research I will undertake an archeology of the present to produce a new concept of living in today's unrelenting urban environment. Open spaces are being increasingly consumed for housing, cities more polluted and urban densities are increasing out of pure necessity. How does the interior architect respond, and what is the architecture we need for today, that can bring us smoothly into the future?
I will answer this question by using a broad range of sources. I start with the form of the curve, exploited for the first time by the Romans but largely absent from today's urban fabric. Zeitgeist, or social mood will also inform my design. Human beings have not evolved in thousands of years but Western lifestyles and social habits have changed quickly in recent years. We spend a great deal of time behind their computers, immersed in lives lived increasingly online. Video screens are sprouting up instantaneously in every nook and cranny of public and private life, drawing our eyes involuntarily to them, giving us information we may not want or need. Some spend the majority of their time staring at computer screens. Does this (in)activity change our perception, our interaction with the world around us, our needs for physical space and how that space responds, supports and envelops us? Another facet of my research is the health of buildings. With urban dwellers at high risk for cancer and other stress-related diseases, it is important for the built environment to protect us from harm, rather than cause it. Technical and design solutions facilitate natural light, clean air, and environmental protection for inhabitants, turning high-rise housing from caustic to livable. Housing for us, today.
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