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The unit of survival

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Andrew Ballantyne


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We live in ecologies in which the elements connect with one another. If we see elements in isolation then we can believe that we are doing well by proliferating or perfecting an element, but for the ecology to do well everything must be held in balance. We are part of the environment of others, just as they are part of ours. Buildings mediate our relations with one another and with the world. Even some buildings that seem visually isolated, such as the Farnsworth House, are connected to mains services and need the rest of a civilization to be in place if they are to be conceived and maintained. If we think of ourselves as participating in actor-networks, rather than as autonomous individuals with free will to act on our desires, then it becomes possible to articulate ways in which we are enmeshed in our milieu. Our connections in the world are an important part of who we are. The elements of our bodies work together to produce consciousness, but also much else besides. The conscious part of us can articulate how it feels, and what it thinks, so we give it a disproportionate level of attention. In turn, at a larger scale, we participate in entities that act as if they have a will of their own, but they do not necessarily articulate it, but we help them along without necessarily being aware of it. Buildings are involved in establishing functional connections and separations in networks, both domestically, in providing protection and shelter, and economically, in connecting us into the banking and property systems that do much to establish the pattern of our lives. The unit of survival is organism + habitat, and our habitats do not have easily defined local limits.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ballantyne A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Architecture Research Quarterly

Year: 2016

Volume: 20

Issue: 1

Pages: 39-44

Print publication date: 01/03/2016

Online publication date: 20/07/2016

Acceptance date: 16/10/2016

ISSN (print): 1359-1355

ISSN (electronic): 1474-0516

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1359135516000129


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