Bas04 flexibility

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Bas04 flexibility

  1. 1. FlexibilityA ‘high’ civilization shall contain whatever is necessary (…) to maintain the necessary wisdom in the human populationand to give physical, aesthetic, and creative satisfaction to people. There shall be a matching between the flexibility ofpeople and that of the civilization. There shall be diversity in the civilization, not only to accommodate the genetic andexperimental diversity of persons, but also to provide the flexibility and ‘preadaptation’ necessary for unpredictablechange. (Gregory Bateson, Ecology and Flexibility in Urban Civilization in Steps to an ecology of mind. 1972/2000,p.503)Even though Bateson wrote this paper in 1970 it contains a strong prediction of the coming climate changes and aforeseeing of the challenges that planners and architects have to deal with concerning profound ecological matters.Bateson prescribe the survival of our civilization as closely linked to our understanding of natural processes; We arenot outside the ecology for which we plan – we are inevitably a part of it. (IBID p. 512) The new invention gives elbowroom or flexibility, but the using up for that flexibility is death. (IBID p. 503)When global forces and global economical fluctuations influence even the most remote places, it seems more thanever necessary to build a flexibility outside the global consumer economy - to be resilient to economic alterations (ofthe kind that stifle the European economy - or the American economy) - to be prepared for devastating environmentalimpacts (of the kind that affects Bangkok these days) or to foresee future effects from expected climate changes(as e.g. rise of the sea level). The closer a society is related to nature the more awareness and understanding thereoften is towards shifting environmental conditions - such as prediction of alteration, planning for uncertain futures,adaptation to inevitable changes and improvisation for the unforeseen. The modern man’s turn away from nature(the lost contact or acceptance of the inevitable in the nature) has a long legacy, and from the Enlightenment it hasdeveloped an absolute belief in man as superior to nature.In the northern regions flexibility and adaptation has historically been crucial for surviving in a notoriously harshclimate. A combined living from both fisheries and small scale farming (and for some: additional hunting) providedresilience towards fluctuations, and was a unique way of maintaining a renewal of the natural resources. Thesuccess of adaptation, sturdiness and change in the region, is dependent upon the will to develop open, cooperativestructures, and on the collective esteem from people living there. Any system of nature and culture is in reality basedon interaction and dynamic, and it is therefore easy to argue that a planning method that is going to handle suchdynamic systems has to be elastic and dynamic too. This in opposition to a linear and hierarchical planning regime,that to a far extent is built up on simplification and limitation.Bateson talks about survival not in resisting change, but in terms of accommodating change. It means that yourthinking has to be every bit as fluent and adaptive as the kind of systems you are talking about. In other words youcan not apply rigid or dogmatic principals to systems that are themselves fluent, adaptable, changing and alwaysincorporating feedback. (…) It is a way of thinking that mirrors the dynamism of ecological systems themselves.(Stan Allen in dialog with Florian Sauters, ‘Theory, practice and landscape in Natural metaphor’, architectural papersIII, 2007)In our concept Mosaïc::Region (competition about a future understanding of the Øresundsregion: www.mosaic-region.com) the mosaic-metaphor is used as a picture of complexity and ‘of everything that happens’, both on a physicaland on a metaphysical level. A mosaic inspired planning must contain a strategy for seeing, finding, and adaptingeverything that goes on. If one piece of the mosaic is painted in a different colour, the picture changes, - not much,but the sum of many small pieces changed, eventually gives a totally new picture. The colours of the pieces aredepending on political visions, local initiatives (spatial practices) and the collective will in the region.The global society will soon lose the most essential elbow room for existence of a modern civilization in the way wehave been accustomed to see it, namely oil and gas. The future planning has to take into account the consequencesthis will entail. On the background of contemporary global crisis and ecological disorders, planning has to become acontinuous, interdisiplinary and integrated process in a search for new answers and systems of flexibility.GL/MH

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