Archinia Founder Rachel Preston Prinz was asked to present at TEDxABQ 2011, whose theme is Dare to Inspire, on 9/10/11.
We think we know why. Rachel loves to share her message that:
Archaeology can inform the way we do modern design, and give us buildings that a) are TRULY green and b) work no matter the circumstances.
Its about YOU!
To learn ways YOU can use architecture history and archaeology to make a greener future for your family, business, or non-profit... please Click Here!~ to go to the video on YouTube!!
Here's the talk so you can check out what you might have missed, or follow the rabbithole to find out about the cool projects Rachel shared with the TED audience.
When this photo was taken 15 years ago, I would have no idea how prophetic it would become.
I was traveling to Europe’s mysterious ruined places, like Paestum and Pompeii, and
I fell in love… with the bones of architecture.
I would marvel over details, like this elaborately laid column, for hours.
That… was the beginning of a career where I would get to play on the edge that separates architecture and archaeology.
In the highly romanticized version of my life, I’m sortof an architectural Indiana Jones …
I get to figure out the puzzles, the patterns, and the underlying systems that made old architecture work and then apply that knowledge to modern design.
Today, I’ll share you some of the things I have learned. I’ll also share ways you can make your existing space work better for you now.
One of the things I have puzzled over the most in my career is this stuff they call “green.”
Like this award winning green gas station. It has no place. It could be anywhere.
It’s metal. That has to be mined, transported, brought to extraordinarily high temperature to make workable, using huge amounts of resources. All those surfaces – they have no point but decoration and they require an unbelievable number of connections.
What the past tells us about green design, is that it is local and efficient.
The majority of things we do to make ourselves feel green, actually aren’t.
Double thick walls means double the wood.
Rigid board insulation is made from petroleum.
And the whole Zero E thing means windows you cannot open because air is delivered to you via a power-driven system. That’s just not smart. Because as we learned last winter… the sun goes down, storms pop up, and power and gas go down… then what?
Green buildings have to work without dependence on mechanical systems.
Here’s how I know it can work.
In the 5000-ish years of human building history…
If this rug is my timeline and I walk it out…. Starting here is when we started building.
(Takes a step) About here is Stonehenge
(Takes a step) About here is the founding of Rome in about 700BCE,
(Takes a step) About here is Gothic Cathedrals and people in the southwest moving into cliffhouses some 2000 years later…
(Takes a step) It wasn’t for another 6 hundred years - to here - that we introduced any kind of “mechanical system” to try and control our environment.
Of our entire building history, we’ve had mechanical systems for less than 4% of that time, meaning that for 96% of our time building we worked WITH the environment instead of against it.
Understanding this was the first part of my paradigm shift…
Then one day, I was hanging over the edge of a ruin taking this photo of a kiva/pithouse in Chaco Canyon…
precariously balanced, I was trying to get the shot right, and… I had one of those a-ha moments…
I realized that I was being given the second part of my paradigm shift.
I saw that the same levels of the kiva/pithouse are the skeleton – the bones- of this, the Navaho inspired Moonlodge in Taos where my girlfriends and I met for women’s group once a month. Its super comfortable and warm, has great light and feels like home…
I finally got it.
By looking at archaeology as an applied science instead of just a recording of history,
we can take lessons from the old ways to make the new work better!
So we should look at what our region has to offer us in archaeological building lessons…
The first – was from my a-ha moment. Earth Shelters work.
Have you been to Mesa Verde or Bandalier and climbed down into the kiva on a hot summer day? They are at least 20 degrees cooler than outside and in winter – they can be 20 degrees warmer. And they can be warmed even more, with just a small fire.
And, it wasn’t just us doing it 1200 years ago.
Just about every culture in every time period around the world knew the earthshelter technique worked.
(Working left to right)
Bottom left Baptistry, Coober Pedy, Southern Australia
Middle left Vaodong, Loess Plateau, China
Bottom Center Troglodyte complex, Guadix, Spain
Top Right Star Wars! Hotel-sididriss, Berber troglodyte, Matmata, Tunisia
Bottom Right Viking pit-house, Sebbersund, Denmark
And the coolest one of all? The one on the top right – Does that look familiar? You’ve probably seen it. It the Skywalker family home from Star Wars! Yep, it’s a real place - a hotel in Tunisia.
Seriously! Do I have to say this? If Luke Skywalker can live in a earth shelter, and still drive a spaceship and save the galaxy… what’s stopping us?
But… the lesson is twofold…
study and learn from the past… that’s the first half.
The second half is applying the lesson.
There’s nothing “granola” about this pithouse, its sleek and modern and full of light.
Another lesson that NM archaeology can teach us about building –
Is adobe – its just a handful of mud and a dash of clay, some water and straw… add some sunshine and you have a variation on sun dried mud brick made first in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago...
First we plastered our pithouses with mud, then we figured out we could pour it in lifts and make walls, then we started mass-producing adobe bricks.
Today, we can google “adobe and stone structures” and find examples from around the world that show us new ways of building – ways that other cultures finessed for their place and time…
Top left Coumound, Sirigu, Ghana, West Africa
Bottom left Trulli 1, Alberobello, Italy
And, we can take a little of this and a little of that and put it together in new ways that reflect our values and our access to information. NM has evolved. We can do something new and honor the past by leaving it intact.
The hacienda was a gift to us from the Spanish, who got the idea from the Moors… who got it from the Romans who got it from the Egyptians and so on and so on. It was an idea that was used EVERYWHERE.
Courtyard houses are great because:
they are easy to build - you can start with one room and grow
the wrap around portals are cool in summer and will keep your boots dry in the winter
and those courtyards with trees and wells… are a form of natural air conditioning.
And again, they weren’t just used here recently.
Ancient villages, Christian churches, the Alahambra in Spain – All use courtyards to control heat and cool.
And again, we can learn from the past and embrace change along the way.
This is a modern courtyard house in a high-rise designed by Korean architects IROJE KHM
The tiny courtyard is a lightwell.
Another designer (like me) might put flowerboxes into the edges to grow fruits and veggies, or they might have a roof catchment and collect water and then use aquaponics to clean the water and grow veggies.
Really, there’s all kinds of ways to make this small space a green asset.
There’s one more lesson we can learn from our past too…
Old NM buildings used earth roofs. They worked, though sometimes they’d leak, and they’d grow weeds.
They didn’t realize then that they could harness that.
But in places around the world, they did. And they do.
Today green roofs are a staple of great green design.
They can take lots of different forms, depending on where they are.
|In New Mexico, we’ve learned how to make them work for us too…|
The truth is, we can have truly green design without technology.
We can honor our roots without being old.
And if we choose to, we can find a way of being that we can honestly call green.
Of course, not all of us are ready to jump into building an entirely new home.
The greenest thing we can do is not to waste what we DO have but to make it work.
There are lots of lessons for that from the past too. We built a blog within the archinia webportal to collect ideas on better living through archaeology and share them free with the world. We believe that only way we can participate in a change of consciousness on a global level is to share what we know with the whole. That’s how we Dare to Inspire.
If there is only one thing you do, go out and get 5 healthy deciduous trees – as large as you can afford. If they are native heirloom fruit trees, even better. Plant them 10’ away on the south and west corner of your building. Love them, water them, sit with them, watch them grow, harvest their fruits, and see what happens. I bet you’ll love the difference you feel, and I just bet that when it comes time to pay the bills, your pocketbook will love the change too.
See Rachel's page at the TEDxABQ Portal
Want to see more examples from around the world of ways of designing in concert with the environment?
Visit our Archaeo-Architecture Pinterest Board!