Embodied Love
ImageLove embodied in buildings.

The beginning of theology is found in Genesis. God looked at creation and observed that "it was indeed very good". From this everything follows.

The world today is deeply divided between those who love the natural world and those who fear it. For architects this division is between those who see the very purpose of the built environment as strengthening our relationship with a natural world which gives us life, and those who see the purpose of the built environment as sheltering us from an unfriendly natural world which seeks to do us harm. In simple terms this division is between those who fling open their doors to embrace the day, and those who huddle behind triple glazing worrying whether they are going to be comfortable.

Another distinction is between those who seek for happiness in things and those who seek for happiness in doing things. This is the distinction between a materialistic consumer society and a society where people love life and embrace it in all its fullness. Love is concerned with doing, not possessing. Involvement in the doing is an essential first step before the manifestation of love in building is possible.

Loving life makes all the difference in many practical aspects of our lives. Our Building Act assumes that buildings are nothing more than materialistic objects, and the Act is concerned with consumer protection. All this is negative. What we need is a creative, positive Building Act. We need an Act which helps to make love manifest in our built environment. John Key and those only love money might find this to be  a very strange idea, but there is more to life than money. Rather than talking about economic recovery we should be talking about love recovery. We need to go about building in a completely different way.
Creation is indeed very good and our built environment needs to embrace that goodness. Love is the key.

This change of perception is more than just an interesting idea. It has many immediate practical applications. For example we can begin talking about embodied love in buildings. This is not unlike embodied energy. When the bricklayer loves laying the brick the love gets built into the structure, just like the brick. If the building is destroyed that love gets lost forever, in the same way that embodied energy is lost. The embodied love speaks to us just as it speaks to us in a Mediaeval cathedral. The drawings and the photographs capture the structure but not the fullness of the love.

If I might return to our Building Act. It assumes that the bricklayer lays bricks only to make money. The Act degrades not only the act of building but also everyone involved. Human beings are reduced to human resources in an economic system which is devoid of love.

God began it all by loving the natural world. We look in wonder at the love which built the Mediaeval cathedral. All we need to do now is to once again build with love. There is no cost involved beyond falling in love with the natural world, and the benefits seem limitless.

My suggestion is that we conclude the night by signing a manifesto to send off to government. This could achieve two things. It would force us to become focused. Expressing opinions may make us feel good, but if nothing changes they remain as idle opinions. Secondly the manifesto might give form to our commitment. To admire love and then walk away from the evening without changing our lives and our buildings seems to be a great failure of confidence We live to pass our whakapapa on to future generations.

Tony Watkins