Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nature: Builder, Organizer, Recycler, and Re-Creator

Get your magnifying glass out and inspect the ground you walk.
Lay on that grass and look to the big blue sky.
Crawl through the garden and stop to smell the flower.
Sit with your back nestled against a tree trunk and look directly up through the sprawling branches.
Climb to the top of the tree and look to the mountains, watch the birds soar overhead.
. . .
What great truths are we missing? 
What can we see if we look with new eyes?

     View the small details, the proportionate pieces, the vast panorama, look at the process, the structure, and understand the natural systems. To see all life has to offer, to see all life has in common, to see life as a whole, we need to shift our views.  In the book, “The Way Life Works: The Science Lover's Illustrated Guide to How Life Grows, Develops, Reproduces, and Gets Along” by, Mahlon Hoagland and  Bert Dodson you can read about sixteen patterns very commonly seen in nature.

     Today I will discuss one of the sixteen patterns: “how life works in cycles”.  Below you will see how I have taken the notion that “life works in cycles” and re-designed an 11 week college level interior design studio.   

     Interior design studios 11 weeks long are based on the quarter system (with four quarters a year).  Through the 11 weeks a "typical" interior design studio slowly proceeds through the “interior design process”: programming, schematics, design development, construction documentation (*see image below showing the design process unfolded).  There is a "typical" midterm presentation at week 6 and a "typical" final presentation at week 11…the “oh-so-typical” cumulative quarter.


     I have seen how nature works and decided to look to nature as my mentor and developed a new interior design studio.  Instead of working linearly for 11 weeks, I will work in a spiral shape which coincides with the notion that, “life works in cycles”.  


     Using this natural pattern will improve the course structure and student learning.  Typically students learn one new items each week and with 11 new items being thrown at them, by week 11 they forget what they learned in week 1!  Through the use of nature’s cyclic behavior the course content will be touched upon multiple times allowing the students multiple encounters with the same material.  With each spin they will deepen their knowledge as well as their project development.  Also, if students do not understand a concept the first time they are introduced to it, then on their next cycle (or spin) they will have a chance to better understand.  


     I have discovered that the patterns occurring in nature are useful when it comes to designing sustainably.  Knowing this, I expect the students in this 11 week interior design studio to design more sustainable on every level from programming to construction documentation.  The spiral and the cyclic behavior of nature implemented in this new class design will allow the students multiple attempts to think about sustainability on new levels at each level

What do you think?  

 I welcome your feedback!

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