Religion and lifestyle reflected in poor arquitecture and planning pt.1

January 28, 2009 at 2:20 am (Essays) (, )

For my first post I decided to write about something I found really interesting, which is green arquitecture and sustainable construction. I have been reading some things on the subject, and I’d like to share some of what I have learned so far. I intendo to write a follow up on the matter, since there is too much info for just one post.

First of all, “green arquitecture” is a concept that goes beyond just building things with low energy consumption, and filled with trees and things like that. It’s so much more, it’s understanding the connection between the building and the environment, using regional materials, working WITH the terrain and not angainst it, minimize impact onf the surroundings, visualizing the building as as an extent of the land, and all that without losing the aesthetic iconography. It seems that green arquitecture is a growing trend in constructions (though few buildings are truly “green”) now when the environmental problema is pressing down on us. Maybe the only choice is to turn green, but why has this taken so long?

Our point of view on nature and the environment is shaped by everything in our culture and our lifestyle, with religion playing a mjor role in our mentality. For example, in western religions, god created everything and the entire world exists on his will. Teachings in these religions show man also as a creation of god, but fail to connect him with the natural world. There is no commitment or responsibility implied in the use of resources. Man exists on god’s world to benefit from it. You can see it many examples of it in the bible for example.

Heaven, for example is a place for the soul, implying that the essence and importance of man relies not in the physical world. Needless to say, there is no mention of any animal or plant present in heaven.

Christianity is not the only example on this case, and there are sure some cases in which the opposite occurs. But this post is getting kind of long and I’ll have to leave it for later jaja, depends on how’s the response to this one.

Don’t miss “Religion and lifestyle reflected in poor arquitecture and planning pt.2” !! (I need a better title for the post)



  1. McMasa said,

    Wow, really interesting post. The other day I was watching a documentary on Soviet, especially Stalinistic, buildings, and though it has little to do with religion, it has much to do with lifestyle. Apparently Stalin wanted a monument to commemorate Socialism as much as the Wall Street building commemorates capitalism, so to build it a whole hill was digged to make room for what would be a gigantic construction, including a statue of Lenin (? not really sure, can’t remember who) at the top. How “ungreen” of them, a perfect example of not working with terrain. At the end, WW2 started so they couldn’t afford to complete it. As conclusion I’d say religion affects architecture as much as ideology, not strange enough, since both are closely related.

  2. DMI said,

    There’s also Stalin´s grand plan to create the Seven Sisters of moscow, a series of towers that combined Russian, Baroque and Gothic (Stalinist style). Of the seven, the most emblematic is that of the university.

    What it shows is that religion does not necesarily have to relate to the divine. Communism, in being an atheistic ideology, takes on the roles of both, the state and the church. It can be as permeating as religion.

    However, when it comes to Stalin´s grand plans, I’d argue that he followed a different kind of religion that is more closely resembled in the architecture of the era: the religion of megalomania. The buildings were made, not as a monument to the russian people or the communist revolution, but as a monument to himself, and the spaces reflect that perfectly. Both in style and size.

    And while I know the post is about western religions, I’d have to ask about the Mayans. Would they really qualify into this theory about religion and sustainability? They´d seem to be a paradox. They built big and they built tall to appease their gods. And while their buildings appear at first glance to be religiously coherent, weren’t they also supposed to be the stewards of this world? Were they not unbelievers in the “resources exist to be consumed” ideology? It seems weird: for all their fanatism, the Mayans got themselves wiped out in the 900s AC. That would imply they didn’t take care of the world as well as they’d been tasked to. And their buildings reflect that.

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