Energy Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Nikos A. Salingaros March 25, 2013
Interview of Nikos Salingaros by Mumtaz Soogund on Defimedia, Mauritius, 8 March 2013.
Dr. Salingaros recently joined the CT (Centrale Thermique) Power debate in Mauritius, and in this light graciously agreed to share his views on the matter with the readers of News on Sunday.
MS: A coal-powered plant proves to be a massive investment in the long run, and people are talking more and more about renewable sources of energy. Are they viable and would they be equally efficient in Mauritius?Comments (0)
Building, Urban Projects, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros December 6, 2012
By Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros. First published in Metropolis Magazine.
Though overshadowed by his written work, Alexander’s built work has been
prodigious, with some 300 buildings around the world. Above, a title image
from a 2009 exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
Chances are, you have heard of Christopher Alexander because of his most famous book on architecture, A Pattern Language. What you may not know is that Alexander’s work has spawned a remarkable revolution in technology, producing a set of innovations ranging from Wikipedia to The Sims. If you have an iPhone, you may be surprised to know that you have Alexander’s technology in your pocket. The software that runs the apps is built on a pattern language programming system.
How did an architect come to have such influence in the world of software — and as it turns out, a lot of other fields? (To name a few: biology, ecology, organization theory, business management, and manufacturing.) It’s a fascinating story — and it might just have something to say about the state of architecture today, and where it might be headed.Comments (1)
Building, Land, Society, Urban Projects, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros March 27, 2012
By Pietro Pagliardini (1), Sergio Porta (2) & Nikos A. Salingaros (3).
Chapter 17 in: Bin Jiang and Xiaobai Angela Yao, Editors, Geospatial Analysis and Modeling of Urban Structure and Dynamics, Springer, New York, 2010, pages 331-353.
(1) Pagliardini Rupi Andreoni & Gazzabin, Studio d’Architettura, Via Eritrea 9, 52100 Arezzo, ITALY.
(2) Urban Design Studies Unit, University of Strathclyde, 131 Rottenrow, Glasgow G4 0NG, UK.
(3) Department of Mathematics, University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, Texas 78249, USA.
This essay outlines how to incorporate morphological rules within the exigencies of our technological age. We propose using the current evolution of GIS (Geographical Information Systems) technologies beyond their original representational domain, towards predictive and dynamic spatial models that help in constructing the new discipline of “urban seeding”. We condemn the high-rise tower block as an unsuitable typology for a living city, and propose to re-establish human-scale urban fabric that resembles the traditional city. Pedestrian presence, density, and movement all reveal that open space between modernist buildings is not urban at all, but neither is the open space found in today’s sprawling suburbs. True urban space contains and encourages pedestrian interactions, and has to be designed and built according to specific rules. The opposition between traditional self-organized versus modernist planned cities challenges the very core of the urban planning discipline. Planning has to be re-framed from being a tool creating a fixed future to become a visionary adaptive tool of dynamic states in evolution.Comments (3)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Education, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros February 7, 2012
by Nikos A. Salingaros, The University of Texas at San Antonio
This essay presents desirable social functioning as basically a matter of free individual decision. I discuss two basic polarities: Left versus Right, and P2P (Peer-to-Peer) versus Global-mass-society. Each polarity takes certain distinctions and concerns as key to understanding political life. A self-organizing P2P society is driven by individuality, publicly-shared patterns, and common culture based on shared loves; whereas Global-mass-society is based upon groupthink, expertise, and glitzy consumerism, and is run by a small group of intertwined political, economic, and knowledge elites. These two polarities Left/Right, and P2P/Global-mass-society are split in their basic attitudes towards the past, towards authority, and towards religion. I argue that the concerns that have divided Left from Right are less important now than formerly, and that the P2P/Global-mass-society polarity is a better way to understand many important issues today. I then propose that the concerns that have motivated both Left and Right suggest the possibility of enlisting both on the side of P2P. We can overcome the traditional Left/Right distinctions in the name of a new political humanism.Comments (6)
Building — by Nikos A. Salingaros January 4, 2012
Conjectures on combinatorial complexity
When applying mathematics to interpret our world we invariably run into formidable difficulties. Explaining human perception of our surroundings and our reactions to the environment requires that we know the mechanisms of our interaction with the world. Unfortunately, we don’t — not yet. Thus, explanations of why we react to different forms in our environment tend to be conjectural.
We know from observation that human beings crave structured variation and complex spatial rhythms around them, but not randomness. Monotonous regularity is perceived as alien, with reactions ranging from boredom to alarm. Traditional architecture focuses on producing structured variation within a multiplicity of symmetries. Contemporary architecture, on the other hand, advocates and builds structures at those two extremes: either random forms, or monotonously repetitive ones. Let us explore why human beings find the latter unappealing, and propose what they do like instead, with the ultimate aim of characterizing that mathematically.Comments (2)
Building, Consumerism, Economics, Society, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros November 14, 2011
Interview by James Kalb of The Philidelphia Society, August 2011
Home sweet home?
Nikos Salingaros, the mathematician and architectural theorist, recently published a new book, Twelve Lectures on Architecture: Algorithmic Sustainable Design (ISI Distributed Titles, 2010). It’s a somewhat expanded set of notes for a series of lectures he gave a couple of years ago on architecture and urbanism. As such, it gives a clear if rather spare presentation of ideas he’s presented before.Comments (0)
Building, Society, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros October 20, 2011
Photo by داود on Flickr
We highlight a little-understood cognitive phenomenon that may play a key role in the maladaptive failures of the modern human environment. There are implications for our future ability to integrate built environments into sustainable ecosystems. By discussing vision we mean how architects interpret what they see in front of them, not the brave new world they envision populated with their own designs.
By Michael Mehaffy and Nikos A. Salingaros (originally published on shareable.net)
1. Seeing the World Differently.
Have you ever looked at a bizarre building design and wondered, “what were the architects thinking?” Have you looked at a supposedly “ecological” industrial-looking building, and questioned how it could be truly ecological? Or have you simply felt frustrated by a building that made you uncomfortable, or felt anger when a beautiful old building was razed and replaced with a contemporary eyesore? You might be forgiven for thinking “these architects must be blind!” New research shows that in a real sense, you might actually be right.Comments (4)
Consumerism, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros February 9, 2011
by Nikos A. Salingaros, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Abstract: Human physiology can lead people who have acquired false beliefs to stubbornly persist in holding them. Intelligent persons conform to irrational groupthink, employing a stock of tools to fight against any idea that conflicts with those already held. There is in fact a built-in resistance to new ideas that do not conform to accepted practices, even when such practices are demonstrated to be failures. We can understand this resistance to change within the framework of social learning and evolutionary adaptation. “Cognitive dissonance” is a state of physical anxiety to which we instinctively react in a defensive manner. We are programmed to counteract its occurrence. Studies in political science and psychology reveal strong innate mechanisms for preserving misinformation so as to avoid cognitive dissonance. Methods of handling contradictory information within settings requiring urgent action — while obviously appropriate at the evolutionary level of early humans — wreak havoc with our present-day rationality.
Is today’s consumerist society headed for collapse because of its exponentially growing, hence unsustainable needs? For some years now we have been aware of the damaging affect that the material pursuits of both industrial and developing countries have on the earth and its biosphere. Yet, despite numerous well-made rational arguments that urge us to change the catastrophic global waste of natural resources and energy, expanding agricultural regions at the risk of losing the diversity of the biosphere, etc., it is frustrating to find that human inertia overrides sound logic and reason (Max-Neef, 2010; Wilson, 2006).Comments (10)
Consumerism, Eco-Villages, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by Nikos A. Salingaros October 14, 2010
Originally published by the Athens Dialogues E-Journal, Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies, November 2010. Republished with permission of the author.
All photographs © Craig Mackintosh
by Nikos A. Salingaros, University of Texas at San Antonio
Moving towards sustainability and a greater understanding of how human life is connected to the earth’s ecosystem goes beyond mechanistic notions. Totally consistent with the Greek concept of geometry underlying life, increasing evidence shows that the geometry of the natural and built environments is responsible, to a large extent, for the quality of human life. Certain geometrical characteristics of natural and living structures, such as fractal scaling, mathematical symmetries leading to complex coherence, and structural invariants (patterns) found in disparate forms seem to be responsible for a fundamental healing connection between the body and its environment. In what is known as the “biophilic effect”, we draw emotional nourishment from structures that follow general biological rules of composition. It is perhaps not surprising that natural environments should nourish us, but what about artificial environments: the environments we build? Artificial environments that are the most healing emotionally and physiologically embody traditional design techniques that themselves arose from imitating nature. Superficial imitation does not provide the intended effect: a form (artifact, building, urban space, or city region) has to be built according to principles that derive from the organization of living matter. This discovery opens up two major topics of application: (1) validation of older design techniques as ultimately healing, and which should not be rejected in the interest of achieving novelty; and (2) applications of the biophilic effect on the urban scale to restructure alien urban environments. We are thus led to a re-appreciation of traditional-scale urban fabric, with the added benefit of energy sustainability, since traditional methods of design and planning necessarily had to be sustainable. Applying geometrical rules of design as derived from the latest scientific findings about biological structure promises a new beginning for architecture and urbanism.Comments (5)