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Design For Life: The Architecture of Sim Van der Ryn

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Somewhere in the last century, architecture lost its soul. Modern culture developed the wealth, the power, and the technology to create structures that once seemed impossible. While the larger-than-life skyscrapers and the coldly post-modern structures of our time do inspire a detached sense of awe and wonder, very few appear to have qualities that truly move us...

When was the last time you were moved to tears by a building, or did not want to leave a building you were in ...

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Hardcover New Design for Life: The Architecture of Sim Van der Ryn surveys the work and principles of Sim Van der Ryn, a world leader in the field of sustainable architecture. ... Sharing his years of experience as a teacher and using his building designs as examples, the author shows us that buildings are not objects but organisms, and cities are not machines but complex ecosystems. Design for Life illustrates how Van der Ryn came to see the shifting patterns in nature and how these patterns profoundly affect how people live and work in the structures we build. Van der Ryn explores how architecture has created physical and mental barriers that separate people from the natural world, and how to recover the soul of architecture and reconnect with our natural surroundings. Appointed California State Architect by then-Governor Jerry Brown, Van der Ryn introduced the nation's first energy-efficient government building projects. His vision heralded a Golden Age of ecologically sensitive design and resulted in th Read more Show Less

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Overview

Somewhere in the last century, architecture lost its soul. Modern culture developed the wealth, the power, and the technology to create structures that once seemed impossible. While the larger-than-life skyscrapers and the coldly post-modern structures of our time do inspire a detached sense of awe and wonder, very few appear to have qualities that truly move us...

When was the last time you were moved to tears by a building, or did not want to leave a building you were in because the place touched you at such a deep level? When was the last time you shivered, ecstatic, in a manmade place that tugged at something deep inside of you?

Buildings are not objects; they are organisms. Cities are not mechanical assemblies; they are ecosystems. Through ecological design, our buildings and cities can become more fully integrated with nature. Like organisms, they can produce their own energy, and consume and recycle their own wastes without polluting. Design can show use the connection between nature's cycles, the living and the built environment...

Our global crisis is also a design crisis as civilization shifts from design processes and products formed in the image of the machine to design based on the forms and processes of the intricately ordered web of life. I lay out the characteristics of the emerging integral worldview and integral design. As Gandhi said, "We must be the change we want to see." This is the essence of actively living with hope.

—Sim Van der Ryn

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
"Form follows flow" is the mantra of this highly personal autobiographical work about the life and career of Van der Ryn (architecture, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Sustainable Communities), considered the father of the modern green movement. Each of the six chapters of this richly illustrated monograph focuses on the various phases in his realizing, experimenting with, and developing sustainable architecture, which merges organic design with technology and ecology as well as integrating environment with habitat. The initial chapters, "Roots & Seeds" and "Branching Out," describe his early life, his training, and his emerging teaching career. The middle chapters, "First Generation Ecological Design" and "Second Generation Ecological Design," show the blossoming and fruition of his sustainable architecture projects. The concluding chapters, "Places of Heart & Spirit" and "Making the Great Leap Forward," show maturity in the design and function of religious and cultural centers like the San Francisco Zen Center and the radical Findhorn project in Scotland. The epilog ties the life and nature concepts together through Van der Ryn's own experiences and family life. Cohesive and user friendly, this book offers a fascinating look at life, design, and nature. Recommended for all types of libraries.-Stephen Allan Patrick, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586855307
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 8/18/2005
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Sim Van der Ryn is the president of Van der Ryn Architects, a northern California firm known worldwide for its work in sustainable architecture. He taught architecture and design at the University of California, Berkeley for more than thirty years, inspiring a new generation to create buildings and communities that are sensitive to place, climate, and the flow of human interactions. He is the author of six groundbreaking books about planning and design, including Sustainable Communities and Ecological Design. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Read an Excerpt

"At its boldest, architecture is a statement of an image of living, for the form living takes is the germ of an architecture."
-Rob Straus, former student. Outlaw Building News, 1971

Where has beauty gone? Since our emergence as a species, humans have been making places and spaces. We've been designing them for the last thirty thousand years. All that practice has made us better at producing more material things, and doing it faster and cheaper. Our advancements in science and technology have provided the knowledge and tools that have allowed us to shape the material world in utterly fantastic ways. But we have lost our ability to create places of beauty, comfort, and durability that fit both the natural world and our own human nature.

Architecture speaks volumes about the culture from which it springs. It is the physical manifestation of values, ideas, hopes, and dreams. Architecture is the human habitat, the environment of our own creation, the skin that separates us from the natural world. It is also a series of walls-physical and mental-that compartmentalize our perception of the world. It doesn't have to be.

Sometime during the last century, architecture lost its soul. Modern culture developed the wealth, power, and technology to create structures that once seemed impossible. While the larger-than-life skyscrapers and the coldly postmodern structures of our time do inspire a detached sense of awe and wonder, very few appear to have qualities that truly move us. Buildings that we truly love are buildings that last. In our modern cities, there are very few that are loved. Beauty and spirit were integral to the works of earlier cultures and times. Today in Bali they still say, "We have no art; we just do everything well."

When was the last time you were moved to tears by a building, or did not want to leave a place because it touched you at such a deep level? When was the last time you shivered, ecstatic, in a man-made place that tugged at something deep inside of you? We travel around the world to experience great works of architecture and cities of the past, but the architecture in which we spend most of our lives leaves us empty.

Our buildings, our suburbs, and most of our cities are cold, lifeless, and disconnected from people. They are uninspiring. To inspire is to breathe life into. How can we make the buildings of our everyday lives fit our deepest human needs? We can design environments that inspire and nourish our souls, bringing architecture into deeper connection with our innermost self.

How can we reconnect buildings and cities to the cycles and flows of the natural world that are the basis for all life on earth? The creation of buildings and the systems that support them-energy, water, waste, roads-is the largest industry in the United States and the industrialized world. This industry is the largest user of energy, materials, and open land and it is the largest polluter of air, water, and soil. We are still designing and building as though resources are unlimited, without regard to the waste and pollution caused by the construction and operation of buildings and the infrastructure necessary to support them.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

I Roots and Seeds

II Branching Out

III First Generation Ecological Design

IV Second Generation Ecological Design

V Places of Heart and Spirit

VI Making the Great Leap Forward

Epilogue

Bibliography

Illustration Credits

Index

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