pattern language, politics

Another Everything Post (Architects, Architecture, Design, Values)

It seems we are in a sort of dog days situation. Everything moves on but a lot of the news is warmed over mishmash, much of it distraction or irrelevant. For example, I have decided not to Tweet, or give any notice otherwise, to the antics around certain book promotions and similar distractions.

Here is one thing I feel is important that I wish became news.

The need to come up with a revaluation of both design and architecture.

I think both these fields are dens of narcissism where adulation of designers and architects takes the place of serious analysis of how wretchedly these sectors tend to serve the rest of us.

There is first the issue of costs.

Architects and designers who are venerated ordinarily work not for the people but for the rich and their products are rationalized as being useful some way or another.

But far more serious is the underlying idiocy of the current concentrations.

Architects (I should include planners, urbanologists and other related “specialties”) are so wed to the past that all they can do is variations on it. These are worse and worse, not because they do not have the requisite frills and improvements, but because they do not break out of the box they are in.

The box has to do with the shape of a green urbanized ecumenopolis-type world in which the primacy of the pedestrian becomes normative. Christopher Alexander and his concept of democratic participation in building settlements and dwellings needs to be more accepted. The ascendancy of the automobile must be understood to be a terminal state.

Much more of this thinking is stated in my pattern language posts.

Some years back, there was a lot of reimagining going on. I think the notion of reimagining is a box in itself. Nietzsche correctly understands that the true creative revolution lies in the revaluation of values. Not in reimagining things.

When we talk of such things as design and architecture we are challenging the underlying values of these worthy enterprises. Values of nonidolatry, tolerance, democracy and helpfulness are typically given lip service while other more traditional values remain operative. In the case of design and architecture these values include, in no particular order:




monetary value,


and so forth.

This is the traditional and still dominant culture that gave us the twin towers (which may be venerated now but not for their original structure), metrosprawl and, I would argue, the context for our economic meltdown.

By simply misunderstanding the purpose of their fields, design and architecture help foster massive unsustainability, depersonalization and destruction of community values (gemeinschaft — Tonnies).