MODERNISM: DESIGNING OUT NATURE The age of reason saw a shift in the perception of nature as other to civilization; cities were built as autonomous environments, as isolated machines - and still are. The onset of the Industrial Revolution mechanised the human environment as well as human attitudes and understanding of their environment. Driven by â€œprogressâ€? and profits nature was exploited and dominated. Gathering pace from around 1850, Modernism, in western art, architecture and design selfconsciously rejected the past as a model for the design of the present. It is thus characterised by constant innovation. But modern art has often been driven too by various social and political agendas. These were often utopian, and modernism was in general associated with ideal visions of human life and society and a belief in progress. From the very beginning, modernism was directly aligned with the machine, and the marriage of the two has become integrated into design and architectural thinking of the 20th century. Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) opens on an explicit visual connection between the two: a lingering shot of a rectilinear skyscraper superimposed with the pumping pistons of some infernal machine. (Codrington 2001/02) The mining of ancient sunlight, or the extraction of fossilised carbon stores, or the extrusion of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, powered the Industrial Revolution. Michael Pawlin refers to this time as the Fossil Fuel Age because of the enormous impact it had on the way society functioned. (2011)
In Cradle to Cradle; Remaking the way we make things William MacDonough and Michael Braungart (2009 p18) list what the design intention of the Industrial Revolution might have been if written in retrospect: Design a system of production that: >Puts billions of pounds of toxic material into the air, water and soil every year. >Produces some materials so dangerous they will require constant vigilance by future generations.
"My God is machinery, and the art of the future will be the expression of the individual artist through the thousand powers of the machine," Frank Lloyd Wright
>Results in gigantic amounts of waste. >Puts valuable materials in holes all over the planet, where they can never be retrieved. >Requires thousands of complex regulations: not to keep people and natural systems safe, but rather to keep them from being poisoned too quickly. >Measures productivity by how few people are working. >Creates prosperity by digging up or cutting down natural resources and then burying or burning them erodes the diversity of species and cultural practices. Such outcomes were never the intent of the engineers and designers of the Industrial Revolution, rather they were a consequence of quick fixes and problem solving, exploiting resources for economic gain. In the past two centuries the human footprint on earth has multiplied many times over. (Orr 2002)
Biomimetic Design for Landscape Architecture