Planetary Architecture
SYSTEM by Matt Taylor - 1987
superimposed over NASA shot of Earth and Moon in half eclipse
The Case
ACT: part three of three
A Method and A Program
A MG Taylor axiom is “you cannot get THERE from HERE - you can get HERE from THERE.” Given a sound strategy, the Act phase has to bring the vision here - one project at a time - every day. The MG Taylor Method, network of NavCenters and the specific PROGRAMS created to address this issue, are designed to provide a technical/social armature that will facilitate this emergent outcome.
The Nature of the Problem
There are two things that are important about problems. First what most call a “problem” is the condition. If you are happy with everything I have described, and see no negative downside in it, you have not problem. A condition becomes a problem when you want another outcome. It is the interaction between the condition and your vision that generates the problem. Problems are good things - they can be solved. Secondly, there are two kinds of problems, simple ones and complex ones. Complex problems are SYSTEMIC in nature. they are not a fix within a stable system. They pertain to the system itself. The conditions and solution options that make up the problems associated with Planetary Architecture are complex - they cut across boundaries of all kinds and the are tightly connected to the architecture of the system itself and many of its component parts. It is these kinds of problems that humans are notably incapable of solving.
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Solution Requirements
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A Facilitation Method
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Understanding Iteration, Recursion and Emergence
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A Set of [Meta] Programs
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The NavCenter
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A network of NavCenters
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The Crystal Cave
The Crystal Cave is a design for a community of architects, planners, designers, engineers, artists, facilitators, economists, ecologists, scientists, educators who will maintain the system of the Master Planning Process and the representation of the Plan on the global level of recursion.
A project such as this requires a community in the literal sense. This community has to be housed in a living/work environment that is highly connected to the world yet semi remote in its physical circumstance. This team, to do their work, have to be “of the world but not in it.” The Crystal Cave project provides such a community and environment. I expect that there will be a core membership who will devote a great period of their practice life to this project and there will be those members who will devote a period of their time. Continuity of work will be important as will the diversity of the team. The work has to be kept totally free of politics and inappropriate influence of any kind. It is also my concept that Speakers for Gaia will be educated at the Crystal Cave facility and use it as a retreat center. These groups have to build their communities and hone their art and have sufficient “away-ness” so as to remain free of certain influences. At the same time too great an isolation has to be avoided as does the disease of dogma.
In addition to stewarding the Master Plan Process and the Speakers for Gaia program, the third function of the Crystal Cave Community is to perform a level of R D& D on key aspects of Planetary Architecture with the Crystal Cave structure, itself, being the testing ground. If you look at the architecture of the Crystal Cave, you can see similarity with the architecture described in the Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars science fiction series. This is not the result of a deliberate design decision. However, the conditions on Mars, in the novel, drove the architectural responses. The Crystal Cave is designed to be both a self contained environment and an open one. It is designed to be able to adjust to a wide variety of possible climate, and and other human induced circumstances. If we fail to alter our impact on the Earth in time, and/or if there be other impacts on the Earth in our future, environments like the Crystal Cave will be necessary to understand how to build “life boat” architecture. As unfortunate as a circumstance like this should be, there is no reason that it should lead to the extinction of all life nor is their a reason for the the survivors to live a sub-human life.
The is a tenancy to ignore such possible scenarios and not to prepare for them. This is foolish particularly given that so many of our actions and social policies are bringing about the very conditions that can lead to these scenarios. In addition to application to possible applications in response to a variety of Earth scenarios, there are many off-planet applications which will be discussed below.
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Bootstrap into Space
Inhabiting one Planet when you can do more is a colossal error in strategy. The argument for space exploration is twofold. The first is that it is plain stupid for all of humanity to accept the single point of failure which is our current default “strategy.” This is bad engineering and would not be allowed for the braking system of your car let alone the control system of a jet liner. Yet, this is our situation in terms of the entire planet. The second argument is that there is a Universe out there full of wonder and opportunity. Planetary Architecture cannot be legitimately considered without the notion of off-planet architecture. Of course, there is always the argument that we cannot afford it. Well, we seem to be able to afford war and its colossal preparation costs the net effect of which is to destroy some part of the planet if not, in time, all of it. I wonder what would happen if this budget was put to defending and promoting all life on and off the planet. You can call me an idealist but I think it is clear where the present game is headed. “Graduation Day” is about choosing.
This will have to include vehicle scale environments but this will be adequate only for the early exploration period. The real challenge will be the making of HABITATS on the scale of tens, hundreds, and ultimately, millions of people and a myriad of other life.
We are building megacities today - just poorly designed ones. The BOOTSTRAP Project recognizes that there is a common thread between lifeboat architecture, megacities and. ultimately, space habitats and other-planet habitats.
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The Beginning Point
For me, the beginning point was nearly 30 years ago. It has taken nearly a generation for a number of trends to converge so that the idea of Planetary Architecture can begin to come about in a considered way. For a world just coming to grips with global warming, the systematic use of space, the creation of the European Union, and other global issues, Planetary Architecture is a new concept but one that will increasingly make sense.
Until now, global issues have been typically cast in the framework of freedom versus collectivism. This does not represent the full range of choices. Planetary Architecture does not challenge autonomy nor does it involve sacrifice. It is a design process that facilitates a greater range of considerations into that process. Done correctly, it will generate far more sustainable wealth than the present way of doing business.
It is impossible to say if the practice of Planetary Architecture will take hold - or when it will if it does. At the root of it is a different way of looking at the world and at life. This seems to fly in the face of modern inclinations. We shall see. I believe that the arguments presented in this Paper will increasingly, and forcefully gain weight. There is little to be said about our present course other than a faith that “somehow” it will all turn out OK. I hope that we, as a global society, do not blunder into a series of crisis and then react with encumbering rules, regulations and impossible procedures in a last ditch effort to save a past that is already gone. This will not get us a healthily planet any more than our present course - it certainly will not make a “planet as a work of art.”.
With this paper I have pointed out a condition, reviewed some of its many aspects and proposed a course of action. I will make Planetary Architecture the centerpiece to my approach to architecture. I will continue to build the infrastructure of NavCenters to facilitate the kind of local and global engagement necessary for this kind of program to be conducted. I will continue to promote the programs that support this agenda. This is a start but hardly sufficient. To become a reality, Planetary Architecture must be a social-scale response. I can help with the Armature and build one practice of it but that is all. It will take the work of many and the genius of many to make this a reality.
This Paper is a “bird call” to those who will pick this cause up and develop it. Beware that it is a long range program - a lifetime effort. The world, I think, needs more of these. Together, we can make this happen.
Contact me by e-mail.
link for reverences and examples
Return to INDEX
Return To SCAN - part one of three
Return To FOCUS - part two of three
GoTo: Master Planning Process
GoTo: SFIA THESIS - Making Authentic Architecture
GoTo: Worthy Problems
GoTo: ValueWeb Architecture
GoTo: Weak Signals
GoTo: The Gaia Project
GoTo: PatchWorks Designs
GoTo: NavCenters - What, Why, How
GoTo: New Business Paradigm
GoTo: Bootstrap Into Space
Matt Taylor
July 10, 2005


SolutionBox voice of this document:



posted: July 10, 2005

revised: July 16, 2005
• • •
• • 20050716.233212/mt •

(note: this document is about 30% finished)

Copyright© Matt Taylor 1987, 2005

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