The Designosaur Story

07: Object and Process

When I finished my diagram, the Designosaur was still talking to the other building. It was somehow a pitiful picture that presented itself to me. Two buildings - two objects - from completely different times, and one was trying to talk to the other. But both were trapped in their time and had no possibility to change or adapt. The process of their development was complete. In the meantime, the Designosaur had started screaming:

Designosaur: Hey! You! Hey! You! I'm talking to you!
It seems we have something in common....
Hey! What's wrong with you?!

Me: Maybe - maybe it speaks another language. I don't think it understands what you're saying.

Designosaur: Yeah. Obviously, it doesn't. Maybe it's just a bit stupid... no modern equipment!

Me: Mm-hmm. I mean, it was built a few years ago and now it's in this completely different world. That's quite a challenge for a building, isn't it? People have different needs, regulations have changed, the climate has changed, new technologies have come up... the requirements are quite different from when it was built.

Designosaur: That's right! I feel a bit sorry for it. It will probably never be able to meet the demands of today as well as I do.

Me: Yes... and one day you will become that building over there. Today's demands will also change - 100 years is a long time - you will see many changes around you. I think it's difficult for an object like this building to adapt... or for you to adapt....

Designosaur: Hmm-hmm.

I looked at the Designosaur. It stared at the floor ... and then at the other buildings around us.

For the first time, it seemed that the Designosaur was aware of what "time" is – Time is change.

It looked at me and said in a low voice:

Designosaur: You know... I'm going to be fine. I'm a very good building and people will take care of me. They will conserve and restore me. No doubt about it.

Me: Yes. Maybe - excuse me - they certainly will....

But it would be much easier for them if you were built "adaptable". I mean, not like a modular-based structure or a generic structure.... more like - a process. Yes! If you were designed more like a process instead of an object.

Designosaur: Like a process? So, anyone can change me all the time? No, no, no!

Me: No! Not "anyone" and "all the time"… but you could be thought of more as a process. It would be great if you radiated joy in change. Awakening ideas and possibilities, allowing new ways of seeing.... actually: trusting other people and future generations and offering a building as a start for a long journey. Not as a finished object.

To my surprise, the Designosaur was somehow interested in what I had just said and asked:

Designosaur: What do you mean by that?

Me: I just wonder why we build objects for a changing environment. This practice could have been challenged in the Holocene. The requirements were constantly changing. But at least - back then - we saw the planet as something stable, continuous and endless. Nowadays - in the Anthropocene - to design an object in the face of an agile, changing and infinite planet.... just sounds strange to me, doesn't it?

Designosaur: Maybe you're right. But... I will master it!

Me: I really hope so! It would be a shame to see you leave in a few years... because you can't cope with the demands anymore. Then your analysis of your life cycle would have failed, so to speak.

I was about to draw a diagram in my sketchbook
to explain to the Designosaur what my thoughts were.... but it seemed like it didn't hear my last sentence.

While the Designosaur started talking to itself, muttering something about "change", "adaptation" and "solid buildings", I started to feel sorry.

There was something I liked about the Designosaur. Of course, it's a good design. I like the spaces it offers and understand where the attitude came from. I have so many memories of buildings like this. But as soon as I brought my thoughts back to the present - the here and now - the Designosaur felt so wrong.