Saturday, December 3, 2011

Not in the 19th century Industrial Revolution mode anymore

Wednesday November 11, 2011. Metropolis magazine office.  We are expected by Editor in Chief Susan Szenasy who welcomes us at the door.  It is quite impressive to walk into the head offices of Metropolis magazines, and not because of the design which is surprisingly very humble, but because this is where some of the most progressive people create one of the most forward thinking sustainable architecture magazines. Here in the unpretentious small space unique talents such as writers, editors, graphic designers, craft the next issue each month.
We gather around the conference table and the Editor in Chief is ready for our get together and sharing with us her beliefs on architects’ and designers' role which we have to play in the future of the world.
"We are not in the 19th century Industrial Revolution mode anymore" says Szenasy. Haaaa!.... This sounds so refreshing and hopeful. Like the world of consumerism, as we know it, is officially molting its old fossil fuel energy embodied shell, which belongs to the Stone Age after all. We can finally embrace the thought of the “Living building” challenge where the built environment takes care of the human and nature’s needs.  Szenasy raises the questions: How do we make things that are as naturally built as possible? How do we create that closed-loop consumption? How do we build buildings that are self-supportive?  As we develop on sustainability I particularly enjoy listening to her thoughts on the "smell of no smell" in a building: no VOC, no off-gassing, no "faux" smell of clean from cleaning products... just pure fresh air that marks that something different is going on: sustainable design.  Buildings need to be connected to nature, and it starts with the smell of the interior and then continues with light, temperature etc.
Szenasy is an optimistic. She is hopeful because as she puts it “human intelligence is always hopeful”.  When talking about the economic crisis she states that in this time of recession, "a symptom of our misfits", a shift is taking place; a makeover of who we are has become the central point of social identity. “We live in a nature-less environment which will change with the people of the next generation”. But for this to happen “we need to connect on a social level. Connectivity is the key”. She adds that the chemists and psychologists can’t do it on their own; they need to connect and look at the big picture by joining forces.  
I agree and I also personally think the generation "I" (internet) and "text" are growing more mature everyday around the globe: Twitter, chat, cell phones and cameras. They take pictures which they upload instantly on their Facebook, or use to report offenders (on the streets of Cairo or MTA subway transit), they record protests as a way to protect their rights and document police and military brutality. These tools are extremely powerful as they allow people to create their own media to by-pass the mainstream media. They represent themselves instead of allowing distribution channels to wrongly represent their groups, actions, visions, distinctions. 
So we are not in the industrial mode anymore. And that’s not thanks to new technologies only but to the people who learn how to use it as a powerful tool to make changes. 

I found this interview of Susan Szenasy which I thought complemented our conversation with her  on sustainability and our role to play. Enjoy.

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