The meaning in seeing: visual sustainability in the built environment

De Kock, Pieter (2019) The meaning in seeing: visual sustainability in the built environment. In: Education, Design and Practice – Understanding skills in a Complex World, 17-19 June 2019, Stevens Institute, New York / New Jersey.

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The meaning in seeing: visual sustainability in the built environment

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Abstract

Meaning is the luggage, sustainability is the leaving. Visual sustainability is simply the process by which people are sustained and enriched in daily life through the visual relationship they hold dear to their surroundings. Aesthetics in cities is only important if visually rich, which is only important if meaningful. Visual meaning is only important if sustainable. Visual sustainability is only important if it serves human life. Morphology-based claims that 75% of the world’s population will be urbanised by 2050 are compounded by extended urbanisation theories more focused on process. We have created forests full of strange objects that stare back; surrounded by artefacts validating our existence but no longer enriching our lives. Ignoring all warnings of this creeping phenomenon the perpetuation of corruption of meaning and artistic expression continues unabated. As people wrestle with the scientification of their existence, cities increasingly symbolise compression chambers of consciousness, emotion, alienation, and isolation. This study avoids the developmental and environmental bias in modern-day sustainability; focusing instead on absence of meaning. There is more to ‘meaning in seeing’ than visual literacy or visualisation. In bridging theory with practice we must reset priorities, replacing sustainability driven by sustainability, with sustainability driven by pedagogy; through affordance properties “created to support activity” and meaning. We should look beyond a fallacy of ambiguity, towards epistemically objective science of ontologically subjective domains of knowledge. In this study, relational validity of meaning is explored through the lens of direct perception. Now is the time to make the connection that appears to be absent from urban discourse, between visual richness and sustainability; reconciling non-visual planning processes with the concept of sustainable visual meaning. We must promote the effectiveness, for the builders of our cities, of visual sustainability planning — as well as — the importance, for sustainability planners, of building visually responsive cities.

Keywords:Visual, Sustainability, Urban, Architecture, Meaning
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
X Education > X990 Education not elsewhere classified
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K100 Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
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ID Code:37287
Deposited On:09 Oct 2019 08:21

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