Change the Narrative

Rewriting the Fundamentals of Architecture

  • Means to an End

    Kayla Castro
    Feb 21, '21 7:56 PM EST

    Immanuel Kant’s deontological ethical theory revolves around 2 categorical imperatives. The second of these moral rules states: “so act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in another, always as an end and never as a mere means.” Kant first acknowledges that a human is an end in-and-of themselves. Tools and inanimate objects are used as a means: a screwdriver is a means to tighten a screw and does not have inherent value outside of its use. Humans have an inherent value as sentient beings and ought to be treated as such.

    Overpopulation contributes to trash buildup, deforestation, pollution, and ultimately climate change. As we try to navigate a planet of rising sea levels, species extinction, and islands of plastic, all solutions must come to the forefront. Everyone ought to apply Kant’s second categorical imperative so as to treat the planet as an end in-and-of itself and never as a mere means. Our planet is not a means to accommodate trash nor carry 8 billion carbon footprints; it is a living ecosystem and ought to be treated as such.

    A history of colonization imposed Eurocentric “ideals” including building styles, materials, and techniques that continually contribute to trash buildup. In a climate of exposing the truths of whitewashed history, solutions to the true history will come forth.

    Specifically, architects ought to build in accordance to longevity. Structure demolitions are detrimental when unnecessary. Most buildings can be repurposed, but it is often easier to demolish. Recycling these materials is often time-consuming and difficult. As a result, we are left with a building’s worth of rubble. Architects have the tools to design a building specifically to be repurposed, so it will not have to be torn down for hundreds of years. Choosing the least detrimental building materials can have a positive impact on the planet. Site specific materials negate the need for shipping materials over long distances. Material such as adobe ought to be utilized as it can decompose without harm to the environment.

    Architects have the power to change the way that we build and ought to impose these standards if we are to slow climate change. The habit of each individual ought to reflect the imperative: “so act as to treat the planet always as an end and never as a mere means.”

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This blog will explore a rewriting of the fundamentals of architecture.

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