Design for decline
Author(s)Guignon, Christopher Tohru
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
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The turn of the millennium has been marked by global economic and environmental instability. Sustainability has emerged as the prevailing response to the destabilizing nature of unchecked growth and shortsighted planning; however, in achieving mainstream recognition, sustainability has been co-opted into the Western, neo-liberal ideology of progress. Molded to fit the ideological framework it once deemed unsustainable, and given the task of sustaining indefinite progress, sustainability has lost its capacity to envision possible futures beyond growth.As the depletion of resources and the instability of ecological and economic systems quickly outpace development of renewable technologies, nations must abandon a linear history of progress and come to terms with the possibility of decline. The architect's habit of designing for obsolescence is evident in the abandoned buildings of former boomtowns. Designed with growth in mind, obsolete architecture is both a symptom of, and contributor to, urban decay. By redefining sustainability as a strategic tool for facilitating the transition between growth and descent, could we envision an architecture that-facing obsolescence, foreclosure, and neglect-both transforms itself spatially and repays its initial material investment to better serve its inhabitants and a community in transition? Design for Decline investigates how one might design multiple "lives" into a building by superimposing an appropriate "architecture" for a society in decline on top of an architecture for our current growth society.(cont.) The key aspect of the project is to design a bank such that it can transform itself physically-with minimal or no intervention-to better serve the changing needs of a post-growth society and beyond. Contingency plans, designed into the bank, become operative when triggered by a catalytic event, such as a fundamental shift in the local economy. Designed to accommodate scenarios beyond the present, the architecture breaks the cycle of obsolescence and destruction that typifies architects current approach to their discipline. The purpose is not to create ruins to glorify the past, but to design an architecture that anticipates a possible future beyond progress.
Thesis (M. Arch.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2010.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 88-89).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology