SSB, Lecture 7: “Land of Milk and Honey,” and Lecture 8: “Man vs. Eagle”

SSB, Lecture 7.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010.

Climate not a static or stable thing. It is a dynamic phenomemon.
2,000 years ago the middle east was a lush and fertile land. “Land of Milk and Honey.” Mesopotamian flourish. This changed.
In the early part of the last millennium wine was grown in England, Greenland was green. relative climatic stability.
“Little ice age” 15th and 16th centuries was a period of extreme volatility. Huge storms.
In a period of relative stability over the last 100 years. In the 30s in the dust bowl there was a set of extremes. Many more hurricanes in the 50s.

North Africa: Wind catchers. Can begin to think about mapping spaces in terms of time lag, response to temperature changes.

Tropical house in East Asia, Malaysia. Up out of the ground. Ways of controlling the intake of air on the edges. Places for gathering toward the center. Very high ceiling shaped in a way to maximize breeze. Shaped by a desire to move air

Swiss barn homes: Surrounded by livestock, animals insulate. Built into hill, becomes almost earthwork when covered with snow.

American Tipi: highly adaptable. Rich responsiveness. Particularly for nomadic culture that may spend summers in hunting grounds and spent winters in more protective forests.

“These ecosystems, as we may call them, are of the most various kinds and sizes.
They form one category of the multitudinous physical systems from the universe as a whole down to the atom.”

A.G. Tansley (1935). Coinage of the term.

As we make decisions, how can we increase the capacity of the nutrient cycle by undoing what’s been done.
Ecosystem services: $44 trillion.
Analog: Understand interactions of ecosystems, can we design buildings that behave in a similar way.
Biophilia. Ecophilia. Biomimicry. Ecomimicry.

SSB Lecture 8
Thursday, September 16, 2010



Landscape Ecology
Structure: Spatial structure to the landscape that is one way of understanding it
Functioning of landscape: what are the processes at work
Change: how do we read a structure over time; ways of reading structure in terms of capacity for change

False dichotomy of Form vs. Function
Leaves out change
Speaks very reductively about function

Manahatta Map Project:
Manhattan was a landscape shaped in large measure by the activity of a particular species that then constructed the habitats for many others.
Not til humans came along was there something operating at a similar scale.

Beaver’s manipulate landscape at a landscape scale. Transformation of a landscape. Ecosystems build around this. Every stream in US was full of beaver dams at some point. Certain requirements to live. Europeans hunted beavers when they arrived to get their pelts. So many dependent structures arrive from local ecologies the beavers could construct.

Don’t truly own land that we parse. Do we design for ourselves, for the client or for whoever is inhabiting that land in years to come. Design for the future.

Our legal system is only designed to parse things into smaller units, assign value. Entire discipline is based on system that does not relate to how the world works.

Man vs. EAGLE

Patches – interior habitat vs. edge habitats
The larger the connected patches the better

Capacity for resilience within natural changes over time.
Witnessing a radical decrease in biodiversity because we are shrinking patch sizes around the world through urbanizing processes – are we going to continue to build in a way that disconnects populations.

Greater ecology of biodiversity in larger patch.

Patches are linked in a way that proximity allows communication between them.

Just as applicable in urban ecosystem as in landscape ecology

Countries – curviness and straightness of boundaries. Curvy boundaries imply condition – topographical, cultural differences that allowed natural boundaries to exist. Straight lines are more likely colonial, bear no relationship to natural human boundaries, boundaries in landscape. More likely to be at war.

Bears run in a 10 mile radius!
Stream and river corridors. When you strip away forest, get erosion, cut depth of corridor, change the way that it functions.
Networks: connectivity of corridors. High connectivity – low circuitry vs high circuitry.
High circuitry to low circuitry may result in traffic jam
High capacity for loops, alternative paths. Density makes a huge difference.
Allows for functioning of high density urban zones.

Places of crossing and communication
As patches start to disperse.

David Attenborough Termite Mounds.
Plank catches full strength of sun. Narrow edges pointing north and south. Called magnetic termites. Nothing to do with magnetism. Everything to do with heat.
Nigerian termite

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