online: 3 october 2005
modified: 3 october 2005

2 october 2005 design methods reviving

16:36 Looking up at the sky from indoors i see a layer of fluffy cloud moving south east and leaving behind it pure blue sky as if it were still summer...

And as i wrote that (the first digital diary entry to be written in this my new location) i was listening unenthusiastically to the repetitive mechanical beat of recorded music that is being transmitted through the conductive brick-and-concrete structure of this block of flats... Up to now i have felt that it is too silent here (behind double glass) but today i feel it's too noisy!

Both conditions are the unintended results of actions intended to improve life - prevention of heat loss, insulation from traffic noise, the reproduction of public music at home, and the construction of many dwellings in one block with shared walls, floors and ceilings. Hm.

To me all these are evidence of primitive design processes that fail to take account of unintended but predictable interactive effects of traffic, heating systems, fenestration, industrialised entertainment. housing construction, and the like... Nothing much has changed since the 1950s when this block of flats was built and when some of us were trying to devise more comprehensive and sensitive design processes.

Improvements like double glazing panels and better quality sound systems have appeared but the integration, interactions and 'side effects' of all such developments are, i believe, as neglected as before.

Pausing now (to see where this writing is going) i see that it is a revival of what i and a few others were attempting in the 1950s...

So I decide that it is timely to continue this attempt now only if it is directed at 'everyone' of us and not just at professionals - otherwise it will continue to be limited by the narrow roles which ruin (to my mind) the actions of specialists.

I notice also that in writing this piece i have reverted to abstract technical language... If i am to avoid the vast mistake of the industrialised past it must be in ordinary words that are more concrete and more easily understood and are less exclusive of our feelings.

With these resolves i look forward to a new and more integrated attempt at what i was doing 50 years ago - informed of course by the seemingly different (and more poetic) things that i was driven to attempt in the interval.


3 october:
Today i realise that this seemingly casual decision to revive design methods half a century later was a deeply felt response both to the design faults of my new habitat and to the failure of design methods to make an appreciable difference to what we used to call 'the quality of life'.

So now is the time to take this seriously - but also more cheerfully - and not to forget it, or to let it lapse, or to let it become tedious, tedious!

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