Tuesday, 5 February 2008

ruskin and eco-estates

I think my underlying question in the Ruskin piece is a moral one, regarding the sacred value of work, of craft, of place etc, which possibly i extend a little way in the two new essays. I feel Ruskin saw an honesty in the style through its workmanship, and an intrinsic motivation for that workmanship being the craftsman's faith. Would Ruskin read the aspirations of an eco-estate as motivated by extrinsic value systems and the fleeting vogue for solar energy? Perhaps I am falsely extrapolating such shallow branding efforts from a name, in the suspiscion that almost as soon as the eco-estate became the self-consiously 'eco'-estate, it has slipped a notch from Primary architecture. I'm not sure, perhaps I'm too sceptical, certainly here, there remains an emphasis on architect as saviour: eco-estates, were we to design them within the prevailing paradigm of design in the school here, would rely on no more than token participation of a community, compared to the centrality in Ruskin's thought of laboured, personal local buildings by happy craftsmen.

But I think yes, an eco-estate in its truest sense would likely have many Ruskinian traits, furthermore, there are parallels in that there are empassioned writers, writing espousing the saving power of these eco-estates, as Ruskin did of primary architecture, and they, as he was, are being imitated as a style, a neo-(green)-modernism to the neo-gothic his writing inspired that so reviled him. Ruskin and the environmental design movement share a great many parallels and may fail for similar reasons, of elitism, of writing rather than doing, of insufficiently critiquing the cultural structure than stands in opposition to deep sustainability. We shall see.

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