Broadly conceived, the aesthetic is disposition, so what of the sensibility, orientation, stance of the constructed environment—apart from, or in addition to, function?
“Form follows function,” proclaimed the modernists of the twentieth century. However, others have said before and since that aesthetics is a distinct domain of representation not necessarily or entirely determined by function. Even when form follows function, there is an aesthetic. Even when we might claim an aesthetic is a travesty, or that there has been no attention to aesthetic, the aesthetic nevertheless persists. What makes place distinctive?
How are the built environment and our human geographies in dialogue with nature?
The built environment is inevitably in dialogue with nature. Nature provides its material sources. And the built environment invariably articulates with nature—whether that relationship is carefully premeditated or casually circumstantial. Settlement and construction have an impact; they create a footprint in their environments. In our century, concerns for the relationship of humans to environment increasingly deploy the rubric of sustainability. Is a practice environmentally profligate or prudent? Articulation with the environment has become one of the fundamental concerns of our times.
How can a constructed environment be designed and made in such a way that it best serves the panoply of human needs?
As human artifice, our various design and construction practices shape our lives. The physical forms they leave are a humanistic legacy. However, our human experiences and interests are irreducibly diverse. So how does a constructed environment affect different people differentially? How can it be sensitive to their varied needs? How can it be inclusive? How can potentially negative impacts be anticipated and mitigated? How can a constructed environment be designed and made in such a way as to best serve the panoply of human needs?