The sky is the limit.


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There is an undeniable link between mankind and nature, but if we were to graph that using time and connection as parameters, it will show as a descending line.

Contemporary life is defined by cities, concrete forests where even the green areas have been designed and feel artificial. This drives individuals away from their own essence to an artificial realm. In ‘The Conditioned Outdoor Room’, Bernard Rudofsky argues that the link between environment and mankind can be mended. He supports his theory by reminding us of our anscestors and the way they used to integrate a garden in the house, not as a separate space, but as a ‘room with sky as a ceiling’. He states that while the relation between us and nature deteriorates we lose parts of what make us human without realizing it.

Throughout history man has always strugled with the forces of nature. Climate has been more of an enemy than a friend. We could not control it, but we could hide and protect ourselves from it. First hiding in caves and later building their own habitats.

A home is called a shelter – a protective space where we feel safe, where we control the climate and where we seal out nature. But even with this attitude towards the environment, nature was not completly forgotten.

Today we speak of the indoor life we have settled into, subways as the ‘revival of the cave’.  Using technology to control the indoor environment we are just reinforcing what our anscestors were doing. Hiding. Sealing. This ultimate control of temperature, humidity and light solely through technology weakens the proverbial ‘if you can’t beat it, join it’.

Rudofsky proposes that we do join nature, within reason. He raises the issue that using a garden properly can improve the quality of life, that they can end up being ‘ oasis of delight’. Rather than sheltering ourselves in, can we not find comfort outside.

This introversion has pushed us to make the outdoor a fabric of wasted space.

Giving examples from Asia to Europe, he examines the pattern in wich he examines how the garden is used in relation to the users thoughout time.

He critices contemporary american lawns, which represent more a space that need exesive care than one that provides joy. Nature should not be viewed as a sacrifice of time, space and energy.

Rudolfskys proposal is one of interconnection between built environment and natural environment. He proposes integration of garden within a home. Walls would offer detachement from outside leaving one to feel more protected and making the garden more habitable. The walls act as a confroting factor and a privacy screen.  The reference to Ancient Rome, the way they used nature to generate a particular mood favorable to spiritual composure, strenghtens this idea and can be adapted to modern life.

Loosing ‘the essence of being human’ can be prevented through good design and nature-integrated solutions. The use of todays technology not to seal ourselves in, but to open ourselves up, will scrub away the artificial layers of contemporary lives.

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