Architecture is meaning. Other than a few hundred tons of concrete, what separates the shed in your neighbour’s backyard and the Guggenheim in New York City is a sophisticated cultural narrative. Architecture is building with an intent to communicate a message. A building conveys ideas about itself: how its organized, how it should be used. A building also conveys ideas about the society that built it. These messages are carefully crafted by the architect and realized in the discourse of his critics and peers. What separates architecture from the banal is the collective discourse and understanding that surrounds the built form.
This is important because going forward, I believe we will begin to craft buildings in a fundamentally different way. The notion of singular architects, visionaries who decree clear narratives, is being eroded. As the world grows more interconnected, specificity becomes possible where generalizations once reigned. In response, hierarchical organizations are being replaced by decentralized processes. Mass customization will soon become possible in the physical world as it has in the digital one. The consequence is that broad, widely understood messages will be replaced with billions of tiny, contextualized ones. The implication for the built world will be increasingly ad-hoc processes of accretion and change. Their meanings will be more specific, and therefore richer, but increasingly impenetrable to the uninitiated outsider.
Now that information scarcity is over, all of the institutions that we have taken for granted are being revolutionized in this way. The pace of change is unprecedented. Our political structures and laws, formerly pillars of social stability, are no longer able to keep pace. I am interested in investigating the ways that we will be forced to cope with the new world that is emerging around us. As such this blog is intended to be a discourse on meaning. This is a forum for sharing my reflections on how we can comprehend a rapidly changing world that lacks fixed forms and clear narratives.