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Cameron Sinclair in the Washington Post
Jamais Cascio, 6 Aug 05

The work done by WorldChanging contributor Cameron Sinclair and his partner Kate Stohr at Architecture for Humanity ranks as some of the most important and truly worldchanging work I know. Cameron and Architecture for Humanity are the subject of a lengthy profile in today's Washington Post, going into detail of both AfH's history and the challenges faced by Cameron in his ongoing crusade to convince his colleagues to "design like you give a damn." This translates into the purposeful use of design as a tool for improving the lives of the citizens of this planet most in need.

For all of the discussion here about the importance of design as a method of turning understanding into interaction, it's easy to get swept up in the notion that innovation is all about transforming a product; sometimes, the more important innovation is about transforming the audience.

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BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURE (Let it be a gift to the masses)

The original article on the work of the visionary architect should be complimented and applauded.

For too long the edification offerred to a people or a civilization by an architecture that brings forth buildings of extreme beauty has been marginalized within many circles of people committed to progressive social activism . Beauty is numinous; it is holy. Beauty offers a kind of beatitude taking us *beyond* pleasure and fun and shows a person that which is greater than their own personal self. It offers perception within the individual person (and by perception I do NOT mean mere opinion) an *intellectual intuition* something greater than themselves ! (Philosopher Ethel Puffer writes about this ability of beauty to make people forget what might best be called the dragging weight of being a particular self. She should be read more often ) .

The reference in the article on such visionary architecture mentioned the intriguing prospect of buildings being built with unknown colors . That possibility is especially awe inspiring ! There may be unknown primary colors and secondary and tertiary colors that we could see if someone would find the substances to construct buildings that display them . There may be yet to be discovered shades of existing colors in addition. Building houses and other buildings with such rare colors would be good to do .

It would be good to discover also new textures that are interesting to build buildings and houses with and thus build with such unusual textured materials. I read about a hotel in Sweeden above the artic circle where all the furnishings and the hotel itself was composed of ice. Houses with interesting shapes would be good also . I would , for one like to see a house shaped like a fish.

More beautiful houses and buildings that are good in their own right should be built and this would offset/ help get rid of the rising tide of placelessness/ which is to say the rising tide of amorphousness/ugliness/tackiness ....such placelessness which is characteristic of this present, weird, mundane , inane yuppie influenced era (an era that abounds in such totally worthless monstrosities as reality t.v. and similar pop culture junk)

Beauty edifies a civilization . Ugliness de-edifies it. Beauty CAN be defined : it is vividness of form coupled with a sense *sensory repose* and/or harmony amongst the parts . Vividness is a key element in beauty.

And just like morals are NOT relative to opinion or so called "perspective" (NOT mere "shades of grey") /therefore beauty is *not* relative to opinion . Contrary to cliche popular opinion, beauty is NOT merely "in the eye of the beholder" . If someone tells you a Target or Wallmart Supercenter or a banal Marc Maconi home is as beautiful as Chartes Cathedral chances are they are possibly smoking crack / or at the very least we can be assured they have a depraved sensibility . (Perhaps they are smoking crack and also have a depraved sensibility ) . It is obvious that the opinion of such a person would be totally wrong and would deserve no respect (though of course they should have the legal right to express such an opinion) .

Here in central Florida there is a welter of these amorphous, tacky- trendy (aka yuppie style) sorts of houses that have become characteristic of this present goofy era . They are called Marc Maconi style homes . A good slogan ought to be sent forth. The slogan should read, 'Don't let your neighborhood get Maconicized' .

Beauty like every other intrinsic virtue ought to always be taken to extremes. After all, consistency demands that every intrinsic virtue be taken to extremes. And consistency itself is a virtue. It is flexibility *not* consistency that is the hobgoblin of small minds. Cultivation of beauty like every other virtue should NEVER be sold out by tolerating ambiguity. Cultivation of beauty like every other inherent virtue should be taken to extremes and NEVER balanced/NEVER tempered by even a little ugliness or tackiness . It should NEVER be compromized for the sake of "looking at things from another perspective" (aka selling out). It should never be compromised for some ambivalent postmodernist pansy attitude of respecting some yuppie opinion !

Posted by: Jason Leary on 11 Aug 05


In the post shown above, there is a typographical error that I must fix . There is a sentence above that should read, 'Beauty offers a kind of beatitude taking us beyond mere pleasure and fun and shows us a *mode of existence* which is greater than our personal self' .

Instead, I accidently had typed the phrase , "person which is greater than our own personal self" in the essay posted above . A couple of times I left out some commas too. Darn typos !

Posted by: Jason Leary on 12 Aug 05



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