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Applications of Civil Engineering to Architecture

Civil engineers have been around for centuries, whether they were called civil engineers or not. All around the globe engineers are constantly creating ways to make the lives of people safer and easier. Civil engineers have affected our lives such as the Hoover Dam which brings power to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Civil engineers designed the pyramids of Egypt, the arch bridges in early Europe, and the present day advanced subway systems and highway systems around the world. Civil engineers design and construct structures. These structures help benefit society and the economy. For instance, structures that make travel easier and bring electricity and water to cities. Civil engineers are overlooked and go unnoticed even though they build these amazing structures that help people. Their role in society is greater than people realize, and civil engineers should not be overlooked.
Civil engineers do not just design things. They “conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct and maintain infrastructure. . . roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment” (Bureau 1). Civil engineers do all these things and they are not just designers. They build bridges and highways, so people can travel faster safely. Civil engineers supervise construction, so everything is within proper building code and people do not get hurt. If they do not do these things a tragedy may occur. For example, a walkway over a road collapsed at a Florida College. Another job civil engineers do is urban renewal. Urban renewal “is a function of urban planning. . . [urban renewal] has a major impact on the urban landscape” (Gray 26). For example, The Pearl in downtown San Antonio was once an abandoned beer manufacturing plant. Civil engineers played an important role in the development process. The Pearl is now a tourist attraction and a place where people shop, walk their dogs, and eat amazing food.
Civil engineers designed and built many structures to help people. For example, the Panama Canal, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Hoover Dam. The Panama Canal was opened in August 1914, but it was first being constructed in 1880 by the French. The French realized it would be too difficult to build the Panama Canal (Brown 24). But, Theodore Roosevelt saw the need for the Panama Canal when it took “one US. Warship. . . more than 2 months to travel from the West Coast to the Caribbean” (Brown 24). So, Theodore Roosevelt purchased the Panama Canal from the French. The construction continued and was opened in August 15, 1914 and still plays an important role in international trade (Brown 24).
The Brooklyn Bridge was designed and overseen by John A. Roebling. He designed and oversaw many other bridges and an aqueduct. Like, “the Delaware Aqueduct, 1848; the Niagara Bridge, in 1855; and the Covington—Cincinnati Suspension Bridge” (Brown 18). John A. Roebling’s last project was the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge needed to be constructed because the only way to travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York was by a ferry. (Brown 18). However, “Weather condition[s] often disrupted ferry service. . . and in winter. . . river ice made [the] service impossible” (Brown 18). Because of this the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge was authorized. On May 24, 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge was opened and made travel convenient. People could now travel whenever they wanted to between Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York (Brown 18).
The Hoover Dam was constructed between 1928 and 1936 and is probably one of the most important structures in the Southwest. The Hoover Dam was built to control flooding of the Colorado River, but it did more than that “it provided water and power to large parts of the Southwest, stimulating agriculture and urban development” (Brown 38). This is why the Hoover Dam is such an important structure. It provides water and power to cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas and many other small cities and towns in the deserts of Arizona and Nevada (Brown 38).
Structures like the Hoover Dam, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Panama Canal are just a few structures that civil engineers have designed and constructed to make travel easier, bringing electricity and water to places that would have less or none, and structures that helped the economy. These structures are breakthroughs in construction and design. The Panama Canal was a huge milestone because it allowed faster travel between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. The Brooklyn Bridge was the first suspension bridge to use steel wire in the bridge and was a standard for suspension bridges that would follow, like the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge (Brown 18).
There are also many different types of civil engineering. There are general engineers which do flood control, water supply, and electric and communication supply (Gray 4). A well-known structure designed and built by a general engineer was the Philadelphia Waterworks. Before it was built Philadelphia was going through a Yellow Fever epidemic and people were outraged that the local government was not doing anything (Brown 2). Philadelphia had to fix this problem, so an English General Engineer named Benjamin Henry Larobe designed a waterworks that would purify the water of Philadelphia and pump water to people. The Philadelphia Waterworks was the only steam reliant waterworks in the country and had one of the biggest steam engines in the country (Brown 2). The Philadelphia Waterworks was a huge success for its time. Another type of civil engineering is a transportation engineer. They design and construct airports, highways and rail systems. A well-known structure that transportation engineers designed and constructed is the interstate highway system in America. Everyone drives on this mass highway system whether they cross it or take it on long road trips. The interstate highway system was a huge success. It grew the nation’s trucking industry since trucks no longer wait at several traffic lights or stop signs (Brown 50). Americans became more mobile. They can drive to one place to another much faster than before (Brown 50). Highway systems boosted America’s economy productivity because manufacturers can move their products around the country faster. (Brown 50).
Other types of civil engineers are environmental engineers, hydraulic engineers, geotechnical engineers and structural engineers (Careers 4). Civil engineers also work with other people like archaeologists to preserve the environment and artifacts (Pierce 1). They also work with other companies, such as telecommunication businesses and athletic equipment (Careers 4). Civil engineers play a big part in how the world works today and why people are healthier and safer than before. “The accomplishments of civil engineers in America often go largely unnoticed. . .[and] simply take[n] for granted” (Brown 1). Civil engineers should be noticed because they build amazing structures for society. The interstate highway system made travel across the United States of America much easier, the Philadelphia Waterworks brought pure water to the city of Philadelphia. The Brooklyn Bridge made it easier and much faster to travel between Brooklyn, New York and Manhattan (Brown 18). The Panama Canal made it much faster for ships to get to the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The Hoover Dam brought water to major cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and many more towns in Nevada, California, and Arizona. (Brown 38). Civil engineers designed and constructed all these structures, but they do “more than just creating, designing, constructing, maintaining” (Careers 4). Civil engineers take everything in the environment in consideration when they build structures. They also understand the preservation of the environment and the protection of the people (Careers 4). Civil engineers lay the foundation for all buildings and structures (Careers 4). Without their input and participation in the building of these structures our world would not be the same. That is why we should not overlook the importance of civil engineers.
Annotated Bibliography
Research Question: Are Civil Engineers important to society and the environment?
Brown, Jeff L. “Landmarks in American Civil Engineering History.” Civil Engineering 72.11
(2002): 92-171. ProQuest Accessed. 18 Nov. 2018.
Jeff Brown, author of “Landmarks in American Civil Engineering History” wrote about several structures civil engineers designed. He explained how these structures are useful to society and the positive impact these structures have on the environment. He also said that civil engineers go unnoticed despite these important structures they helped design and build. He wrote about different water treatment plants such as the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage Treatment Plant, Chain of Rocks Water Treatment Plant, and the Philadelphia Waterworks. He also wrote about notable bridges, railroads and roads civil engineers built. Some of these are the Trans Continental Railroad, Eads Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, New York City Subway, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and highway systems. Brown also wrote about important canals and dams. Such as the Hoover Dam, Erie Canal, Panama Canal, and the Fort Peck Dam.
I plan to use this source to show that civil engineers build structures for the benefit of society. In addition to having a beneficial impact on society, civil engineers assist in providing safe and interesting structures to look at. Such as the Empire State Building in New York and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida. I also want to show that without these structures our society might be different or at least would not have advanced as quickly as it did. For example, the Trans Continental Railroad provided fast travel from the eastern part of America to the western part of America. Also, without the Hoover Dam many people would not have water in the Nevada and Arizona area. I may use this source as the main argument in my paper that civil engineers are important to the environment and society.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, “Civil Engineers”, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, Accessed. 18 Nov. 2018.
The website, Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows data for multiple jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows data on what civil engineers do, how much money they earn, how to become one, and how the job is performing overall. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides information on the work environment, state and area data, and similar occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics goes into deep detail on the skills people interested in engineering need. Skills such as decision-making skills, leadership skills, math skills, problem-solving skills, speaking skills, and writing skills. The bureau also provides information on what licenses, certifications and registrations are required to become a civil engineer.
I will use this source in the beginning of my paper to show the audience what a civil engineer does. I will include information on how to become a civil engineer, descriptions of the work environment, the skills needed, and what licenses, certifications, and registrations are needed to become a civil engineer. I want to inform the reader of my paper that civil engineers have an important and an impactful role in our society as well as to our environment. I want to include specific details that support my idea of the beneficial impact civil engineers have on our society.
“Careers in Civil Engineering.” Institute for Career Research, 2009. EBSCOhost,

How Built Environment Can Participate in Conversation

How literature architecture can encompass
other than human perspectives

Architects have the potential to use design to manifest a platform that enhances not only a human’s experience, but an animal’s, plant’s and organic material’s experience as well. This essay will research how a built environment can facilitate and participate in a “conversation” with all of the inhabitants. Literature and architecture are examined to understand how these arts can encompass other than human perspectives. This is a reaction to the foundation of the built world, as it is typically based on ergonomics and the study of the human scale. For architects, this often leads to the purpose of manifesting a safe, comfortable and inspiring habitat for mankind while overlooking the rest of the ecological system. This essay asks what would happen to our design and architecture if we shift the perspective towards animals and their natural habitat, well-being and social interactions? Animals already construct their own architecture; a termite’s mega-cities, a beaver’s great wall, and a bird’s sky condominium. In this environment each species or subject is enclosed in one’s own realm. Depending on the subject, the objects within its realm are entirely dependent what is relevant to the subject. Their differences in size, appearance, requisites, and perspective will justify that all subjects have their own “umwelt” or surrounding environment. A better understanding of the importance of a multi-perspective space will be illustrated through examples of architectural and literature projects that substitute an anthropocentric perspective for a biocentric perspective.

Literature, philosophy, technology, and science intellectuals have implemented other than human perception into their work. Non-human perspectives include other species, the built environment, plants, and more recently technological objects. An individual’s perspective of space or an object varies depending on the subject’s own form, senses, emotion, memory, methods, and intent with the space or object.[1] By doing so, one will gain a better understanding of the subject’s actions instead of understanding from a human’s skewed impression of the intent. The experiences humans have versus what nonhumans have during the same moment are different. What is consistent throughout the study of all non-human perspectives is the pivot from an anthropocentric mindset, which privileges the human actors, to a biocentric mindset that considers the human actor as an equal among an entire ecological system. Biocentric individualism is understood as the “belief that all living things deserve some moral respect, and the ecological ethic, the belief that ecosystems deserve moral respect as wholes.”(p. 422) [2]This non-anthropocentric perspective involves relations and interactions between humans and non-humans in a non-categorical manner. What is important is how the capabilities and limitations of all the subjects work against or complement each other in any given moment. [3]
One often confuses the biocentric perspective as a view that is in favor animals, excluding the human species. It is essential to understand that the human does not disappear in a non-anthropocentric perspective, it becomes an individual entity in an amalgamation of entities. All entities are legitimate and equal in this mix of “radical pluralism”.[4] The purpose of this essay is to form a better understanding of the biocentric perspective. After forming a basic understanding, examples of theoretical and built projects will be analyzed to allow one to comprehend how literature, architecture and technology may incorporate an other-than human perspective. Such examples highlight the potential design possibilities, material agency considerations, analyze forms, and explore potential senses.
Jakob von Uexküll describes subjects’ “umwelt” or unique environment in A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: with A Theory of Meaning by writing “…for everything a subject perceives belongs to its perception world [Merkwelt], and everything it produces, to its effect world [Wirkwelt]. These two worlds, of perception and production of effects, form one closed unit, the environment…These environments, which are as diverse as the animals themselves, offer every nature lover new land of such richness and beauty that stroll through them will surely be rewarding, even though they are revealed only to our mind’s eye and not our body’s.” (p. 42 )[5]
Although there seems to be development in non-anthropocentric perspectives, human-centeredness continues to dominate literature and design projects. There are obvious implications and hurdles involved when shifting away from a human perspective, however this essay provides an argument towards the non-human perspective and the rewards for exercising this alternative perspective. Concepts may be discounted when implementing only a human-centered perspective. A non-human approach expands the scope requirements of the project and its research as it incorporates the humans needs and wishes as well as other subjects involved. By realigning one’s perspective, new opportunities for a phenomena experience in design, literature and research are created.[6]
“…there is a continuous communication not only between living things and their environment, but among all things living in that environment. An intricate web of interaction connects all life into one vast, self-maintaining system. Each part is related to every other part and we are all part of the whole, part of Supernature.”[7]
-Lyall Watson
Material agency acknowledges how humans and materials interact relationally, not the intentionality attributed to materials. A non-anthropocentric perspective understands that one is in constant dialog with non-human subjects through materials.[8] In the journal article, Non-anthropocentrism and the Nonhuman in Design: Possibilities for Designing New Forms of Engagement with and through Technology, Carl DiSalvo and Johnathan Lukens write:
“When considering material agency, it is important to remember that actors interact with other actors regardless of our pre-existing ideas of agency. For example, the DNA of a particular plant may not want or will itself to make copies of itself. We do not think of plants as entities that have desires. Yet fruit is produced that affords us sustenance, and more directly, that affords the plant the ability to distribute its genetic material. As DeLanda (2007b) reminds us, “Capacities are relational: a capacity to affect always goes with a capacity to be affected. This is why a given distribution of opportunities and risks depends both on an environment’s materiality as well as on the behavioral capacities of an animal.” [9]
The human perception is clearly our most relatable and automatic form of perception when manifesting art for humans to enjoy within their own culture. The rapid development of humans over time has created built-environments, social realms, measurements, and material indulgences that undomesticated species do not perceive as important.[10] A simple exercise in comparing a horse interacting with its environment to a human interacting with its environment justifies this. There is a clear difference in an “other-centered” perspective to a generally “self-centered” perspective. As a prey animal, a horse’s senses and awareness to its surrounding environment are extremely acute in comparison to a predator such as a human. Physically, a horse’s eyes are farther apart than a human, creating a different range of vision and perception depth. What may be left, right, up, down, forwards, and backwards to a human is different to a horse. A human may determine a chair as an object to sit on, where a horse may think it’s a predator. A human may use a fence or signage as a boundary line to express their territory, where a horse may use scents and body language to demonstrate what is their territory. A subject’s level of interaction with their surroundings depends entirely on if they have had a previous encounter or a hardwired connection within the space. [11] Jakob von Uexküll justifies this idea in his writing, “With the number of actions available to an animal, the number of objects in its environment also increases. It increases as well in the individual life of any animal capable of accumulating experiences, for each new experience conditions a new attitude toward new impressions.” (Pg 96) [12]
Humans are imprinted with the belief that our species is are the top of a scala naturae. It is a myth that has been contrived and widely understood by humans that we are superior in all ways to other subjects and that our perception is the most interesting and important.[13] This quotation by Jakob von Uexküll illustrates this myth humans collude with, “… it begins to look increasingly ridiculous for us to indulge our delusions of possessing a radical cleverness, some sort of un-Umwelt that would separate us as if by an “abyss” (as Heidegger puts it) from other animals.”( p. 23)[14] To overcome this position, one can start with exploring non-humans and their abilities to have the capacity to express themselves. Another way to shift one’s perspective would be to visit, meditate or inhabit the natural environment. Returning the roots of all species initial “home” creates sublimity that provokes one’s imagination to recollect a perspective before there was differentiation from other forms of life. [15]
Literature has been successful in exploring a setting from multiple perspectives. Often using symbolism and word play to compare subjects to their objects. Literary scholars often embody non-human subjects as a mechanism for further developing or explaining a character in the story. Although literature is a purely anthropocentric activity, it can be successful in shifting non-human perspectives. This change in perspective triggers phenomena and allows for potential imaginative engagement with the literature. However, incorporating a biocentric perspective in literature is still only beneficial for humans, as they are the one’s engaging in literature. Yet at the same time, it allows for a lesson in understanding one’s surroundings and the plethora of other perspectives in the physical world.
“In Tibetan Buddhism lojong is the art of putting yourself in another’s shoes. Thus, while assuming the sensorium of other organisms has long been claimed in shamanic circles, and has been explored in fiction… such explorations, such as “embodiments” remain rare in scientific literature.” (p. 21) [16]
An example of a multi-perspective literature is Mrs. Dalloway. It is a fictional novel that covers a day in London, England. The author, Virginia Woolf, jumps from the main character to secondary characters perspectives to gain a more developed understanding of what is happening in the novel. The constant back and forth perspectives clash, relate and compliment the main character, Clarissa Dalloway and her portrayal of the city. The author’s style of writing in detail, through multiple perspectives allows the reader to visualize the story more clearly. Virginia Woolf’s use non-human subjects as comparisons to the characters is an essential part in the literature as it allows the reader to use their imagination and put themselves in the subjects’ position. The metaphors and symbols are all derived from how a human would perceive the non-human subject, the non-human subjects are not expressing themselves. It is an example of anthropocentric encounters with the environment. There are moments in Mrs. Dalloway where they are imagining themselves as animals, however it is clear that they are using a skewed human perspective on how the animal is encountering its surroundings.Virginia Woolf uses naturalistic imagery to convey her message in a vivid and visual way that assists the reader in understanding the complex and often wordy poetry. The literature often uses nature when describing one’s experience of the city. This language includes the use of flowers, gardens, trees, animals and water as symbols to the characters emotions, the scene or appearance of something. The symbolism and metaphors create a successful experiential space as they enhance one’s meaning/event by bridging one’s imagination with reality, temporally and spatially. This gives potential for the reader to be active personal imaginative participation, making the writing more interesting and experiential.
“. . . how fresh, like frilled linen clean from a laundry laid in wicker trays the roses looked; and dark and prim the red carnations, holding their heads up; and all the sweet peas spreading in their bowls, tinged violet, snow white, pale–” (p.13) [17]
Natural Imagery is used as a mechanism to create a distinction that allows the reader to distinguish each character’s authentic feelings from what is not. An example is the symbolic use of flowers. One can tell that in contrast to Richard and Lady Burton, who “bunch up” the flowers, Clarissa is very comfortable with flowers. Clarissa uses flowers as a source of joy for her as she is going about her daily activities. In this instance, the flowers represent a source of emotion for her as they reminded her to cherish the beauty of everyday life. For Richard on the other hand, the flowers were a source of communication as he relied on them to prove his love to Clarissa. The flowers show the lack of courage for human emotion and passion in Richard.[18] Virginia Woolf uses flowers to allow the reader to understand the level of human emotion and expression in each character. During the fiction, the flowers or non-human subjects do not express their inner self, there is no biocentric perspective.
They beckoned; leaves were alive; trees were alive. And the leaves being connected by millions of fibres with his own body . . .” (p.22)[19]
“Well, and what’s happened to you?” she said. So before a battle begins, the horses paw the ground; toss their heads; the light shines on their flanks; their necks curve. So Peter Walsh and Clarissa, sitting side by side on the blue sofa, challenge each other.” (p.44)[20]
Eileen Scarry writes with passion for both the natural world, specifically flowers, and the literature world. She discusses how flowers are uniquely attuned to human perception and how the phenomena which is most evocative in literary language, to describe space, shares qualities with flowers. Scarry explains that just as architects understand how to manipulate buildings, writers understand how words are their material palette to influence the human brain.[21] Scarry explores the world from all perspectives and use this as a tool to enhance writing, theories and the built environment.
In David Abram’s, The Spell of the Sensuous, Abrams divides his explanation for his studies in a personal and scientific chapter. His main argument is that “we are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.” (pg. ix)[22] In other words, consciousness and mindedness emerge from environmental attunement. He argues that our present society participates almost exclusively with other humans and with our own human-made technologies. Abrams is shifting this attention back to non-human nature and through hissurroundings, specifically the organic world. His spatial recognition depends entirely on the relationship to the landscape and ones ability to engage, participate, sense the surrounding world. He defines the act of perception of being seen and seeing others. To Abrams, Participation is being in one another’s existence, influencing each other and being influenced in turn.[23] The Spell of the Sensuous has a vividdescriptive writing style that eloquently relates and contrasts nature from a non-human and human perspective. Real life experiences are shared explaining how he truly attuned himself to animal perception and constantly compared one’s structured opinions or built surroundings to something more organic. During a night walking alongside the fireflies and stars in the rice fields, Abrams has a bodily experience with the landscape. “I was no longer beneath the nights sky but also above it – the immediate impression was of weightlessness” (p. 4)[24] In this experience, Abrams exclaims that he was a part of a systematic whole in his surroundings.Mirroring Jakob von Uexküll’s attitude towards a biocentric perspective, Abrams explains that if we shut ourselves off from the other voices like the landscape and other animals, we our robbing ourselves of humanity. [25]
Architects have a responsibility to design spaces that are experiential, enlightening and engaging to the subject inhabiting it. In order to do so, designs are strategically thought through based on the target occupant. The objects and attributes within the designed space must resonate with the subjects.[26] James Gibson definition of affordance explain the concept further as “a combination of physical properties of the environment that is uniquely suited to a given animal—to his nutritive system or his action system or his locomotor system.”[27] Carl DiSalvo and Johnathan Lukens reflect on Gibsons definition with design. “As is commonly held, then, the space of possibilities and limitations within any design context includes all of the affordances in an environment….By cataloging and considering the affordances of the multiplicity of actors in the environment—and, by way of ANT [Actor-Network Theory], extending the role of “actor” to all of the entities in the environment, both human and nonhuman—we can imagine, and design for and with, a much broader range of action.” (p. 425)[28] For example, a city park may have many affordances that different subjects may engage with. An adult may walk along the asphalt pathways and sit on benches while watching a child play in pond, where a squirrel does not perceive the asphalt from the grass but responds to the benches as “feeding” zones, the pond as a bath and trees as seating platforms for viewing other subjects.
A non-anthropocentric perspective provides new opportunities for experience and design as it involves looking at the appropriation of non-human form, construction, or material of a space. Biomimetic architecture is becoming increasingly popular and is always developing as technology develops. Prototypes where qualities of a plant or other organic subject are being studies for their shape and function and are applied to potential architectural structures and facades. Sensors and other technology are usually also incorporated as the new material and structural properties are intended to be a bio-animate environmental participant and sensor. By shifting the perspective of the human towards the perspective of the morphology of plants, one achieves new forms to investigate with.[29]
Ethical organizations in architectural practice are providing motivation for design that considers a better environment for all subjects. Precedents may include the birdhouse, salmon runs built into dams, and artificial reefs. Although these examples are largely for the humans benefit, there are marginal hints towards possibilities for nature-restoring architecture and architecture that serves other than-human interests.[30] This concept advances the notion of environmental remediation by introducing nonhumans as the client for the design. In 2007, Natalie Jeremijenko’s project called OOZ exhibited this thought. The project consisted of spaces where humans and willing animal participants would interact. The sites of the interactions were to be designed to attract and accommodate the animal’s interests before the humans. Jeremijenko listed several design goals for the sites of interaction that included providing shelter, food, species-specific comforts and conveniences, and technologies that the animals could master. Carl DiSalvo and Johnathan Lukens justify this project as a non-anthropocentric design perspective. “Interspecies interaction at these sites is intended to be reciprocal—for example, “the light switch in the preliminary beaver home would be operable by both the beavers and the humans, such that humans may turn the light on to better observe the beaver, however the beaver could turn it off again, or vice versa” (Jeremijenko 2007). This allows conditioning, traditionally performed on animals by humans, to be performed on humans by animals as well.”[31]To acknowledge a multi-perspective space, architects can be use design as a tool in providing individual accommodation spaces for the species, joined spaces for bonding, and zones in between. Architecture must respond to this non-verbal communication between all living things, and example would be creating a space that promotes the use of body language for the equally anxious horse and human. Perhaps architecture could reflect the same 100% honest intention that a horse has. Design should be used as a tool to mirrors the characteristics of the inhabitant.[32] Depending on the purpose of the space, the design should influence the occupants inner self. Experiential qualities that trigger the imagination would welcome this potential phenomena. Exploring how consciously and subconsciously, the built environment effects ones mental state.[33] Mechanisms such as light, scale, form, material, and even aroma are essential. Experiential qualities in architecture will be crucial in creating a comfortable environment for all inhabitants.
If one is unable to fully understand the perspective of another subject, technology could be the answer. For example, The Animal Superpowers project created a line of sensory-enhancing toys that allow a human user to experience a non-human perspective that is visible and tangible.[34] All of the explorations demonstrate a consideration for the subject of study, not for the human using it. Some examples of the line include: “an ant costume, which comes with hand-mounted microscope antennas to see the world from the perspective of an ant as you crawl along the ground; a bird costume that provides the wearer with a physical sense of magnetic fields; a giraffe costume that changes the wearer’s voice; elephant shoes that which receive vibrations from other nearby “elephants”; and a helmet that provides children with spatial vision similar to that of an electric eel.” [35]
As Carl DiSalvo and Johnathan Lukens believe that “A move toward more astute recognition of nonhumans and the interplay between humans and nonhumans would be, from that perspective, a move toward a more sustainable society and future. Shifting from a human-centered to a non-anthropocentric approach and granting legitimacy, if not equivalency, to plants, animals, and other biomass, would draw heightened attention to the need to understand and account for the systemic effects of design across species and throughout the environment.”[36]By overcoming anthropocentrism, we are able to view that world outside of our own daily subconscious patterns, like breathing in air, binocular vision or being bipedal. “It involves imagining the perception of wavelengths outside of those visible and audible to us. It involves imagining devices other than the opposable thumb. It involves the recognition that our perceptions of causality, history, morals, and agency all too often assume that they are reciprocated in kind by agent’s incapable of reciprocation. Ultimately, it involves our overcoming the narrative fallacies and rationalizations that we use to place ourselves at the top of a chain, and instead placing ourselves in a web in which the components are impossible to isolate from the whole.”[37]
A biocentric perspective would allow one to see and understand and manifest architecture, literature and technology in new ways. The point is to decenter the human from is presumptuous position of importance in contemporary design. However, there seems to be a paradox in creating a non-anthropocentric perspective for something that is deemed important in purlely human terms. Many explorations are to benefit the human for adopting such a perspective. The human is not abandoned, as illustrated in the examples above, a non-anthropocentric perspective is a means to an end of some human benefit. [38]
[1] Uexküll Jakob von. A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: with A Theory of Meaning. University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
[2] From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen : Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement, edited by Marcus Foth, et al., MIT Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central,
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Uexküll Jakob von. A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: with A Theory of Meaning. University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
[6] From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen : Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement, edited by Marcus Foth, et al., MIT Press, 2011. ProQuest Ebook Central,
[7] Suzuki, David T., et al. The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature. Allen