The Moon, the Stars, the Earth & Your Home: Re-cycle, Re-purpose and Design Thinking
Fresh Fruit & Architecture, a firm founded upon recycling & collective work, are rethinking the precepts of the organic school of thought and applying them to our contemporary post-industrial landscapes. Since, architecture after all is the quest for harmony between human beings and their environment. We at Fresh Fruit & Architecture have been using byproducts that are no longer of any use to their primary industry since 1975. There are many interesting, highly engineered cast-offs that are obsolete to the primary industry they came from but we can give them a great second life. We call that re-purposing. We continually experiment in order to create new materials from industrial waste: steel, glass, ash, cement, etc. Our very competent and resourceful people approach these products with creativity and technical knowledge in order to provide long lasting structures, furniture, decorative installations, and the like. Many things were done about the "energy crisis" back in the 70s, and this caused many architects at the time to have a desire to continue this idea as they pursued their careers. Myself included. I created a diagram to reconnect with, and be mindful of, the environment. I called it "The House System". It laid out a set of rules based on ideas of maintaining a healthy house ecosystem that would allow for a person to "do their part" to help the environment and avoid any catastrophic energy crisis in the future. However, back then it was not a thing that people were interested in. No one seemed to see the importance of their own part in the big picture, and their lives were too comfortable to be changed. Today it is a different story entirely. More and more people are eager to participate in many things to be conscientious to the planet, and my system can help bring that willingness home for them. Literally. Modern generations are much more involved, or at least willing to get involved, than my generation was. This makes all the difference when presenting my ideas. Like the one that was behind the Pole House. The Pole House was oriented to accentuate the light, and in turn heat, from the natural movement of the sun by placing the house walls at the correct angles as well as placing windows in the correct areas for maximum efficiency of this concept. Wind was also taken into account when placing windows to allow the best airflow we could provide in order to cool the house down naturally in the summer months. Its primary heating system for the winter months was a wood burning stove that was aided by the design of the house, the form of the house was actually designed to have a heat gain in the winter and a heat loss in the summer. There was also a green house connected to it, fully functional all year round. The green house's irrigation, as well as the rest of the house's water systems, were aided by the house's ability to collect rain water and then distribute it to various parts of the house in order to reuse this natural water source instead of only relying on the cities pipelines. This rain water coupled with a design that reused greywater (by using the water in certain areas twice before flushing it out completely) made for a very stable and incredibly eco-friendly water system that would hold up above and beyond today's standards. But, all this being said, it was also very enjoyable. It was minimal, only 20 by 20 feet, but it was very comfortable and by using it's full volume (wall storage that went up three stories) it used it's space very efficiently and did not feel cluttered or tight. The entire project used re-purposed materials from previous projects. For example, all the flooring was oak that had been re-purposed twice before it ended up as the floor of the Pole House. But, along with re-purposed wood, we used the natural wood from the surrounding area so that no tree was removed without being used. In fact, the entire house was very connected with regional materials. This was important to me at the time, and still is. By using regional materials you are using up less resources to get the material to the site to be used (no need for it to be shipped overseas on a freighter and then trucked across the country, burning all that fuel only to end up in a place that has resources of its own). This may come off as being really hip to things before my time, however I was not the only person that was doing this sort of thing by any stretch of the imagination. I remember at least ten other people in the USA that were doing the same thing back then. Actually, the peasants of Mexico have been doing many of these things for as long as I can remember. So, this isn't my being ahead of my time, this was just my being a part of my time and being very conscious of my time and where we were all going from an energy consumption perspective. The only issue was that it was not a system of thinking that was embraced by the general public. Now, however, it is.
For a long time the general public has been purging materialism from their lives, and they're still not finished. But, that has to happen before people can truly become sensitive to the incorrect idea that buying man made products will somehow buy happiness. We are all guilty of this, some more than others, but all of us are very bad consumers. It's a funny thing, really. Funny in a sad way, I guess. We buy a new car, the latest iPhone, run off to see the latest movie at the newest theater, play with the latest technological gadgets and communicate with one another through the latest social media fad; only to end up feeling very lost, unconnected, unfulfilled, bored, and anxious all too often before finally resorting to a retreat of some sort away from it all on a beach, or in the woods, or at the top of a mountain. We run from our man made technology every time it all becomes overwhelming, every time we can't put ourselves through it anymore, and we run for the hills... literally. We turn to nature to provide for our minds and provide for our souls, just as it provides for our bodies. We run home. Our real home. To become one with nature again and center ourselves, to find meaning again, just to turn around and run right back into the thick of what we call modern life. But, it doesn't need to be this way. We can connect to nature from our own homes. One home at a time, reconnecting people to nature, reconnecting communities to themselves, and ultimately reconnecting humans to their natural environment. Not by living in tents, or caves. But, by showing real mastery over our environments by understanding how to embrace its best qualities so that we can use them for ourselves in a clean, healthy way. It's fulfilling, and it's fun, and it's entertaining, and it's connected, and it's right here. We know that people will always consume, but we all need to make a shift to consuming more meaningful things. Our consumption needs to be focused more on maintaining and sustaining, that's all. No one can stop consumption, that's not possible. But, we can stop consumption that leads us down the wrong path. Take food for example and the idea that we have of "eat less junk food and instead eat healthy". The individual price of buying healthy foods is more expensive. But, you actually consume less of it to feel satisfied because it has real nutrients for the body, and in the end you spend less money on food because you don't need to eat as much of it. This concept applies to many designs, and has to be the approach to any design problem in order to make consumption more healthy for us, and the environment. It's an interesting thing when you think about it; the "human condition" of it all. On the one hand, we're running from what we need the most and in the process of doing so we're killing what we need the most. On the other hand, the solution is as simple as "stop running", stop consuming. By actually being happier, and healthier, the planet will in turn be healthier as well. It really is a no-brainer. But, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, every car company and every entertainment industry wants you to believe that happiness is only found in their pockets. Toss in a dollar and you'll find love, freedom and satisfaction. But, it isn't true. We've believed in this method of pursuing happiness for so many generations that we can't even believe our own mind when it's telling us, "Can we... uhh... just take a moment here to... uhh... get away from it all. We really need to take a break from this stuff. It's.... killing us." Literally.