BlackBerrys in hand during a committee meeting.
(Sarah L. Voisin/the Washington Post
The Washington Post offers a critique of the PDA / laptop world. This one has great meaning for designers. This trend portends the demise of awareness of one's surroundings as a consequence of spending oodles of time with one's head down reading the latest on a Blackberry, iPhone, and all manner of gadgets and apps. Robert Harrison, professor of Italian Literature at Stanford offered this nugget:
Designers, architects, take note: the "cloaking device."
The difficulty, Harrison argues, is that we are losing something profoundly human, the capacity to connect deeply to our environments.
Landscape designers talk about bestowing on a garden its genius loci, or spirit of the place, that bubbles up into your consciousness if its presence is strong enough and the visitor meditative enough to receive it.
Harrison says a garden truly reveals itself only when its own depths and those of the beholder flow together. But that takes time. "For the gardens to become fully visible in space, they require a temporal horizon that the age makes less and less room for."
"Most of the groves, courtyards, gardens, fountains, artworks, open spaces and architectural complexes have disappeared behind a cloaking device, it would seem," he writes in his book "Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition."What will it take to bring us back to our context? Or, how will our environments change in order to elicit interactions and bestow a sense of place? Or, what will become of our relationship to the constructed world? Only questions, it seems.