Thus, long before the Earth was viewed from the moon, our perspective has changed. In a movement that seems at first contrary to ecology, we are looking according to Vidal de la Blache, at the relationship between Earth and man from a greater distance and in ever more comprehensive ways. He had already seen how phenomena in the atmosphere affect not only their immediate surroundings but also places thousands of miles away. No part of the planet exists in isolation. All of Earth’s parts are coordinated. Every local study is subject to the general laws that apply to all local studies. This fundamental unity of the planet has been recognized since antiquity, but it was only in the 19thcentury during the early stages of globalization that it found expression in human experience. Think, for instance, of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. We scarcely realize how thin earth’s hospitable surface is –a mere veneer, at most- and how intimate our bond with it is.

Blinded by the market, which has been only too pleased to comply with the demand for more artifice and difference, architects have preferred to ignore this terrestrial unity. Buildings, we know, are responsible for some 40% of all CO2 emissions. This fact alone should prompt architects to look beyond a mere compliance with regulations and encourage them to explore the general conditions of the earth and the reciprocity between these conditions and their work. 

Irénée Scalbert, New Apples (2010)

(Thank you Despoina Zavraka)


Kathryn Gustafson, Shell Petroleum Headquarters Garden (1991)