Thesis (Part 1): Life as Academia
This proposal investigates modern perspective on education as a lifelong experience. Rather than a transitional stage in life, education should become a common voluntary activity. Knowledge is one of the most important factors that influence people’s decision. The investigation does not target a certain population and by no means attempts to salvage people who are in need of education. Proposals like this one has little, if any, physical ability to improve universal issues such as illiteracy. The comments in this proposal identifies education as one of the universal linkage between human beings, hoping to provoke readers to put emphasis on the essential values in life like empathy and responsibility.
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer described life as a constant cycle of pain and boredom. Craving for a certain goal for a long period of time hoping for a rewarding result is only an illusion. Once that goal is achieved, such illusion will vanish and an individual has to return to the reality which is empty and worthless, or in short, boredom (Schopenhauer, 1932). This is a criticism from the 20th century and still a relevant one in the 21st century. The combination of mass production and capitalism has created a deep global culture of consumerism. This culture created negative global impact in ways no one had imagined. It must be noted that consumerism is equally damaging to individuals. Continuous desire for materials and entertainment is described by Aldous Huxley as distractions. The ever increasing appetite for distraction is a psychological drug that eventually threatens freedom of individuals. Such habit is a declaration for anyone to govern a life but self. In order to maintain liberties, individuals must be vigilant and intelligent enough to govern themselves (Huxley, 1958).
As human beings, it is only natural to possess emotion and empathy towards self and others. Interactions are complicated translations full of empathy (love and hate), and emotion (bliss and sorrow). It is reasonable to limit hatred and sorrow because love and bliss are genuine a higher form of virtue. However, love nor hatred had ruled humanity, same applies to bliss and sorrow. The lack of both empathy and emotion is among the so-called “civilization.” Selfishness makes an individual indifferent and lives in isolation. Distractions such as consumption and television are lethal substances that obstruct one’s ability to think. When an individual depends on fragile concepts like distraction, he/she will only live in a meaningless world.
In contemporary Westernized cultures, one expects life to be fulfilling during youth and decrease in value towards the end of life. Values increase exponentially as a child is nurtured and delivered to formal education. As of the year 2015, high school graduation is a minimal expectation. Such achievement is sufficient to contribute to the work force. Students who acquire an undergraduate degree are common as well. Nevertheless, most students are not prepared for the environment outside of the academy. Facing direct responsibility and uncertainty, individuals often develop anxiety. Then as anxiety builds up and motivation vanishes, one loses purpose before the stage of retirement. If mental strength has worn away in the middle of life, one cannot expect much towards the final stage in life but constant regret. Also, an individual without knowledge can only make poor decisions based on prejudices and generalization. Such a life is undesirable but can be well foreseen. There is a hidden aurora surrounding an academic environment in which students can be genuinely happy in academies. Human beings accumulate knowledge to improve lives in general, they find different and new purposes as the archive thickens. In contrast to distraction, knowledge is the healthy food for the mind. If an individual continuously learn throughout his/her life, the membrane of knowledge enlarges the value of life. By the end of life, one can pass on the wisdom accumulated in the past fifty years or so.
Without a doubt, modern technology that allows automation had reduced workload for humanity in the past twenty years. Such technology will only increase in efficiency and precision. Therefore, all repetitive tasks that people do not want to do and cannot be done well should be fed to The Machine. If automation can complete a job much faster and better than a human being, no one should be working at jobs that has a set routine. Tasks that cannot be automated like design, consultation, and education should remain because they contribute to the society in innovative ways. Once people are no longer working an undesirable job, they are free to devote time towards exploring academia. Such freedom should not be wasted on distractions and must continue to explore the endless world of knowledge until one finds the subject of interest.
Before the 15th century, the time when printing press was invented, knowledge is private. They are only accessible by the royals, scholars, and religious leaders. Even with the printing technology, only a few selected unimportant literature are distributed to the population. Six centuries later, humans have achieved public knowledge. Pictures, animations, lecture recordings, massive database, and open sources are available through the world wide web. The traditional modern for learning is linear and modern technology has surpassed it by distributing information with little cost. The next step is to realize other values of academies. Salman Khan, the founder of the non-profit education organization Khan Academy, is in the attempt to increase teacher-student and student-student interaction utilizing technology. Other than interactions, academies can also offer networks. Network are one of the most important factors in modern academies because relationship is a collective effort for upward mobility and the ideal way to share achievements.
During the exploration of modern education and its intrinsic value, architecture seems to play a minute role in the effort on academic improvement. Architecture should correspond with this humanitarian effort. Therefore, designers must challenge social norms and generic factors that influence people’s decision.
One of the social norms that must be challenged is the misinterpretation of mobility. In the Westernized societies, merely owning an automobile grants an individual the certificate of mobility. It is the icon youths crave without understanding the essence of mobility. Moreover, adults who drive alone in their automobiles also claims to be mobile because one of their possessions allow them to travel to work. Daily commute to work and errands are meaningless forms of travel. Drivers quickly become numb to such repetitive trips after about three trips. True mobility can be described by two events, indefinite excursion and meaningful encounter. When an individual embarks on a journey far away from the comfort zone indefinitely, he/she has to make a few pauses. It is at those pauses will one encounter others with different backgrounds who are doing the same. This can be achieved only when time spent on routine is minimized.
Decisions on a permanent residence are often influenced by the balance between convenience and affordability. With heavy emphasis on education in this proposal, academic interest must not be neglected in decision making process. In the theory Archology, the work of the Italian architect Paolo Soleri, “city” is a vague term that is more properly described as a phenomenon (Soleri 1973). Therefore, one cannot expect success in a short period of time by designing a masterplan for a community. On the other end, one cannot expect a group to construct a suitable city without guidance. The model of the circular branch of knowledge demonstrates the variety and connections between academic fields. This model can act as a category guidance while designing for academia. A community incorporates residence, academy, and industry that share a common academic field. When a community has a core based on a specific field, social interaction is bound to increase. High rise structures accommodate people of interest, students, and professionals for effectively communication within the field of study. The structure is also a landmark due to its massiveness. With common area and introductory knowledge, it provides academic exposure to the public and may attract external interest.