The Designosaur Story

01: What’s this?

Okay - imagine a city like Berlin. Or any other city. Or any other place on the planet. As long as you don't forget - we are in the Anthropocene. But in my case, I was in Berlin. The weather was good - surprisingly warm for this time of year - and I was full of anticipation to see some of the widely appreciated work of my colleagues.

I walked along the streets. Looking at the dense developments that had grown over the years. All kinds of different architecture, from all kinds of eras. Some Gründerzeit buildings with the typical stucco. Other elegant examples of the early Bauhaus tradition. Buildings from the 1950s, the reconstruction period after the World War Two. Beautiful examples of the ideas of the 60s and 70s. Postmodern buildings, a genuine trip through history. I liked them.

But they were not the reason I was there. I was interested in finding the contemporary buildings - those built within the last 20 years - since people began talking about the Anthropocene thesis. It wasn't hard to find them either. They are almost all big and shiny - and some of them are still under construction. When I looked at them, their shapes and surfaces were familiar. I understood the references and the intention. Well made, good quality. These buildings are designed in the manner I had been taught during my training and work experience. I stopped in front of a building that had probably been built in the last twenty years and said:

Me: Hello! How are you?

Building: Hello! I'm fine, enjoying the here and now. How are you?

Me: I'm fine, thank you. I'm just taking a walk through the Anthropocene. I'm trying to get used to this new epoch.

Building: Hmm, okay. That's cool. I'm more here too, chilling, shining. Living the moment!

Me: Hmmm. Sounds good to me. Looks like you're enjoying staying here.

Building: Yes! I've taken up residence here. I heard the Holocene is kind of coming to an end. So, I want to make sure I have a good site in the Anthropocene.

Me: Ah, that's why you look so familiar, I know you from the Holocene. How are you coping with the new conditions here? It's quite different, isn't it?

Building: Hmm... it’s different somehow. But not too much! Generally speaking, a little make-up and some jewellery seems to be enough to adapt. You know: Don't change too much... people don't like that.

After that sentence I was perplexed. So, this building was able to talk about moving from the Holocene, but really believed that some jewellery and make-up was appropriate for dealing with the Anthropocene. Interesting! When I read about the Anthropocene, it always sounded like a fundamentally different world to me.

Anyway ... did I just talk to a building?
Yes, I did.

And to avoid misunderstanding: There is no scientific proof that buildings can talk in the Anthropocene! Alexa doesn't count!

I was surprised and didn't really know what to do next, so I probed:

Me: Okay. Interesting. Well welcome to the Anthropocene. By the way, how should I address you?

Building: You can call me CDB. That's short for contemporary-designed-building. And what is your name?

Me: I'm an architect - for contemporary design. But you can just call me Architect. Nice to meet you, CDB - I have to go now.

CDB (former building): Bye, architect. See you around!

I continued my walk wondering what had just happened and why I didn't like this building - - the CDB.