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The intention of this blog is to highlight articles and projects that Research + Design are currently invoved in.

By Robert Bedner, May 26 2019 08:58AM


Thankyou so much for your voice and your work and this essay.

As a middle class white guy brought up in the suburbs of Connecticut over 50 years ago, I can relate to your beginnings and formation and the ways of being indoctrinated into a civilization that the architect Frank Lloyd Wright said had no culture of its own. There is a brilliant 1950s interview (so relevant today) of Wright describing his views on this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeKzIZAKG3E

Fast forward to the present and I have been living in the UK for more than 20 years practising the profession of architecture in a very small way and only recently in the last 6 years, found my way to ceremony via singing and meditation. This relatively recent practice has been healing and transforming - first for myself, and then in degrees has radiated out to my family and friends and as well to my work where I endeavour to try the best I can to promote a type of architectural design that is based on a love of nature and endeavours to protect and enhance biodiversity.

It seems to me undeniable and inescapable. Some say the earths biodiversity will be determined by what the present generation does over the next 20 years. This confrontation of western culture with Gaia, this Anthropocene age which we are all a part of and currently living in.

There was at a time when I was unsure and anxious about semantics and symbols and narratives, and how I couldnt see myself fitting into any kind of spiritual tradition. I was concerned with explanations and layer after layer of ideas/explanations/histories and a friend said just focus on the source, on the now, on the indescribable – where its all coming from.

To me, it is about the source, and its about gratitude, wherever you come from and wherever you were born, it is ancient and everyones birthright, it is part of nature and part of us.

By Robert Bedner, May 10 2019 09:22AM

As one of your older readers my generation was in architecture school in the 1980s. Some of us were looking back in the midst of Post modernism to the 50s/60s for inspiration with Louis Kahn or Aldo Van Eyck or Herman Hertzberger and as well everything happening in London at that time.

In an external way, one of the themes here is the relationship of architecture and the built environment to nature. and the vast majority of the projects covered in this post were created at a time when oil and energy and the use and exploitation of nature were either thought to be limitless or at least issues that did not need to be addressed. I wonder how many of these designers would have reacted to the massive loss of biodiversity and the 6th extinction event that is now happening on the planet – (https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/12/what-is-biodiversity-and-why-does-it-matter-to-us).

In an internal way and a way of how our internal life can be affected by our surroundings and relationship to nature, few of these proposals express a love for nature as much as nature as commodity to be exploited and although there is a beautiful craft to the images in Lebbeus Woods work there is for me an undeniable nihilism and the foregone conclusion that indeed the planet has finally been consumed and nature and our relationship to it completely severed.In any event, I think these designs and images need to be seen in the context of the time they were created in.

Many times in these images and designs its always the same edge occurring with a wall or form smashing into some placeless landscape. Perhaps it is this edge (for better or for worse) which will ultimately define western culture on this earth.

Theres a brilliant interview of Frank Lloyd Wright on You Tube at the moment – at the age of 88 – speaking about architecture and nature and culture –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeKzIZAKG3E

Again, many thanks for the post.

Robert Bedner

By Robert Bedner, Nov 26 2018 10:10AM

Thankyou so much for these blogs. The spirit and content must ripple out and touch a lot of people both inside the profession and make its way into the built environment all over the world. I went to architecture school in the 1980s in St. Louis and worked my way over on a tanker to work for Sverre Fehn and then bounced around Paris and London and New York in my journeys - sometimes doing stints for other great names but most of the time doing "bread and butter" work and living life as best I could. I also had a brief experience for about two years teaching in architecture school as well as attending crits.

Like your blog, posing the question why? is so important in todays world (and not only in architecture). It expresses " I care" and "I believe" and in some cases " I love" - all of these things that are essential and at the heart of our profession in making a better world yet somehow do not get qualified either in our professional systems or in many cases our schools.

Unfortunately so much of our built environment manifests itself through other means and expresses the polar opposite - I dont care - I dont believe - I dont love - In this sense Architects and designers and their institutions have much to answer for regarding letting this happen, the state of our built world and its effect on the natural environment. Obviously in this sense, Architects and designers have failed and something needs to change.

In my opinion, we need more people asking "why" in architecture schools and architecture programs to support them and we need more people to fight the good fight in making as Charles Eisenstein writes - The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.

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