MODERNITY OR MADNESS?
We need not change buildings, but WE need to change.
Some of us might have read the most recent news about climate change and greenhouse gases – concentration of GHG is now the highest in a million years; 2015 has been the hottest year in our recorded history; in addition to worrying about global warming to 2 degree Celsius over pre-industrial revolution levels, we are now calculating the effects of 4 degree rise; land inhabited by up to 600 million people worldwide may get submerged due to rising seas from global warming; climate-altering carbon levels have broken their own past records, to reach a new high. This list can go on.
The last 19th Conference of Parties, where world leaders come together, held at Lima, Peru recorded the highest carbon footprint amongst all held till then. During the first week of December, more than 100 leaders from nations across the world are assembling in Paris to discuss how to mitigate climate change. The fact that meetings to discuss climate change themselves recording increasing carbon footprints may be an indicator of our hypocrisy, our failure or our helplessness. Equally possible, it may indicate the human ego, which at any cost, intends to dominate nature, ruining the world.
Until the industrial revolution, humans could not control nature, though in many smaller ways, people of the past learnt how to modify their immediate surroundings towards better conveniences and comforts. The early technology had also taught them how to sail, build tall temples or how to fight wars. However, none of the human actions were of the magnitude to affect Mother Earth irresponsibly and irreversibly.
When industrialisation joined hands with civilisation, the equations started to change for those who could afford. In construction, needs like shelter turned into greed for luxury; provision for conveniences led to passion for possession; confined happiness got replaced by unconfined discontentment over everything we do and services stretched to quench the insatiable visions of a few. As such, architecture evolved to catch up with new technology and new designs enabled contemporary constructions, even while aspirations raced further ahead, enacting the carrot and stick story. No wonder, today the construction industry is in the forefront of manufacturing materials; marketing worldwide; creating comforts; influencing lifestyles and altering our times by redefining how we live and work.
It is no more a matter of modernity, but of madness. Traditional buildings with supposed shortcomings did support society; ancestral homes with less comforts were also lived in; contextual architecture had many implicit advantages; local designs did not harm the locality; and we were energy efficient not by supply of energy, but by the sense of sufficiency.
The young are no more living the way their parents lived and the parents too possibly, are not living the way their parents lived.
We write and discuss Green Sense hoping to change our buildings. May be its time we realise that we need not change the buildings, but WE need to change.