EKISTICS



 
 


Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 10:06:48 -0500 (EST)
X-Sender: Noah_Raford@postoffice.brown.edu
Mime-Version: 1.0
To: negenter@worldcom.ch
From: Noah Raford <Noah_Raford@brown.edu>
Subject: Ekistics and Architectural Anthropology
 

Dear Sir,

My name is Noah Raford and I am an undergraduate student at Brown
University, in Providence, Rhode Island. I was excited to read your post
to the Urban Geography listserv regarding your analysis of Architectural
Anthropology, as I am engaged in studying precisely that. I have included
a text attachment describing the nature of my degree. As you can imagine,
there is no degree in Ekistics at this (or any other) university. The file
is a copy of my proposal presented to the board of deans and faculty
responsible for independent concentrations at Brown. Once completed, I
believe I will have the first and as far as I know, only, degree in
Ekistical Analysis.

Until now, my work has largely in a vacuum. I have been struggling
to conceptualize the tools and methodological framework within which to
place myself and my work. Of course I have read Rapaport and others, but
most of my time is spent extracting what I am looking for from traditional
books on human ecology, anthropology, cultural geography and cognitive
science. So you can imagine how pleased I was to find your work! I am
also dying to get my hands on a copy of Paul Oliver's work, which I saw you
contributed heavily to. Alas, I am a struggling student and being the slow
beast it is, our library system is already taxed beyond it's limits. It
looks to be the essential resource for our field.

With this introduction, I am looking forward to further
corespondence with you. I am full of questions! Where are you located?
What is your background? Do you ever travel to the New England or the
States? I was excited to read your analysis of Japanese medieval villages.
What other projects are you working on? I am currently involved in a study
of the Klondike Goldrush and the spontaneous settlements that arose from
this event. I was intending to be in the field this semester, but because
of El Nino and the very intense weather in Alaska, the government would not
allow me permits. I wonder how much of it is general resistance to new and
challenging studies, but that is a discussion for another time. For now,
it suffices to say that I am leaning towards a more complex systems theory
approach to the development of settlements in Alaska at this time. Have
you found such an approach to be useful? Could you suggest any possible
resources that might be of value? Again, I have a million questions but I
will leave it at this for now. I greatly look forward to talking to you!

Sincerely,
Noah Raford
Brown University
Box 5803
Providence, RI 02912
phone: 401.863.4006

Attachment converted: HD:Ekistics.txt (TEXT/ttxt) (00011900)

The title of my concentration is Ekistics. Ekistics (from the Greek word -
oikos, or house. The English words economy, ecumenical and ecology are
derived from this root) is the study of human settlement, in all it's
phases. It draws heavily from cultural geography, human ecology,
anthropology and environmental studies, with a special focus on shelter and
settlements. It's theoretical foundations and tools include:

* Geomorphology (land forms and topography), climatology, and environmental
analysis,
* human needs, impacts and interactions with the environment,
* cultural production and interpretation of the built environment,
* influence of the built environment on social behavior and organization,
* study of cultural and cognitive landscapes & spatial awareness,
* environmental psychology, philosophy and ontology,
* cross-cultural studies,
* the history of civilization, urbanization, and construction,
* technological, tectonic and architectural studies.

There are many ways to understand settlements and the social
systems that occur within them. I believe the most effective way is to
begin with a historical grounding in urbanization and settlements. From
this historical survey, the key variables influencing settlements will
emerge. I believe these fall into two catagories; environmental
prerequisites and cultural engagement. Environmental variables include
climate, biodiversity, water availability, food production, energy
production, and health concerns (disease, predators, etc.). Cultural
engagement includes design and construction techniques, cosmological
models, spiritual and philosophical beliefs, artistic interpretation,
language, communication and media, environmental psychology, resource &
waste management, dietary preferences, gender relations, race and class
dynamics, and other forms of social organization. Combined, these two
classes of variables interact to form a wide degree of settlement patterns
and architectural solutions. The outcome of such interaction is the core
of Ekistical analysis.

Both of these factors, the external and the internal, go into the
creation and sustenance of human settlements. Because humans are notorious
at modifying their environment for their own goals, and because the
environment is a powerful influence on humans and their goals, to utilize
only one approach would be to deny the intricate feedback relationship
between the two catagories. Using environmental and resource data in
connection with anthropological research, Ekistics explores the interaction
between these two poles and how it effects both our lives and the world
around us.

It does this through the study of landscapes and populations over
time. This kind of analysis allows for an understanding of how humans
interact and depend on their environment, and how their changes effect that
relationship. It looks for the mechanisms linking people to environments,
individuals to society, and meaning to construction. In other words,
Ekistical analysis examines the product of this environment/culture
interaction as expressed in the built environment. The built environment
gives us a record by which we can decode the attitudes and events of a
settlement's life. Using this tool, we are able to explore both the
environment and the cultural factors simultaneously. This is of obvious
use in identifying historic patterns that still influence everything from
waves of settlement and the development of the built environment to the
social structure, philosophy and attitudes of those who live in it.

The final component of Ekistics is cross-cultural study. Because
of the biological universality of the human condition, there are
similarities between cultural reactions to the environment. These
universality's (such as physical form and mechanics, nutritional
requirements, etc.) can act as the vessels by which to compare different
cultures. The importance of cross-cultural study cannot be underestimated.
The range of strategies adopted by humans across the globe to changing
environmental conditions stand as an open book for new solutions and
interpretations of the universe. To truly gain a sense of the dynamics of
the human environment, settlements and cultures, such a diverse background
of experiences must be incorporated.

The strength and focus of Ekistics is it's use of findings from
divergent fields and it's ability to synthesize a larger picture of the
whole that could not be gained by studying the parts alone. Ekistical
analysis is meta-level analysis, an analysis of connections. It reveals
(or hints at) the concrescent effects caused by the interactions of complex
systems that make up our urban, social and psychological landscapes.
Ekistics seeks to explain those resulting urban qualities that are greater
than the sum of the whole. Buckminster Fuller referred to this quality as
"synergy". I seek to explore and explain how these dynamics affect and are
affected by each other. Such study can offer a rich, invigorating
interpretation of the process of living in the landscape (both natural and
artificial). This is crucial for our long term understanding of the world
and what role we play in it.

But what differentiates Ekistics from other fields such as Urban
Studies, Architectural Studies, Anthropology, Environmental Studies or a
historical analysis of settlement? There is one overarching reason; my
objective is to explore the intersection of these fields, using tools from
each of them, to develop a unique perspective on humans living in a
changing landscape. Because methods and data are drawn from different
fields, this perspective may yield new insights that will not fall under
any preexisting category. They must be defined in their own field, the
field of Ekistics.

Ekistics is unique in it's focus on both internal and external
factors, and how these complex mechanisms manifest themselves in the
evolution of the built and natural environments. For instance, Moghul
gardens have exerted significant influence on Islamic architectural and
urban development. Based on Koranic visions of Paradise, these gardens
represent divine order in Nature. But they also were a reaction to and
served as refuge from the arid desert winds. They provided supplementary
food, herbs and medicinal sources, as well as shade, and an inward facing
oasis for contemplation, prayer, business interaction, and entertaining
visitors. An architectural historian may be concerned with how the gardens
were built and how they fit into their urban context. A historian might
look at the gardens and emphasize their role in expressing economic status
or their social importance. A sociologist could seek to draw causal
connections between the gardens and the continuity of family structure. An
ecologist might examine what impact the gardens had on the local water
table and distribution of species over time.

Each of these approaches is valid and useful, but fails to grasp
the totality of the system. I want to know what causes certain kinds of
buildings to be built over other, not just how they are built. I want to
know why certain aspects of the built environment are valued over other
aspects. I want to know why gardens were so important, not just that there
was a causal relationship to society. And not only do I want to know what
effect development has on the land, but what effect the land has on
development, and how those feedback over time. In short, I want to
understand the relationship between the cultural conditions and
environmental conditions of settlements, and the mechanism between them.
The purpose is to gain an understanding of how these affect the quality of
life for those who live in and act as part of these settlements. This kind
of understanding can only be done through intensive interdisciplinary
study. My ultimate goal is to identify the causes and vectors that
stimulate or prohibit positive cultural and physical growth, and utilize
these in a pro-active fashion to promote healthier, sustainable, more
intelligent settlements for the developing world. This concentration will
provide the tools and structure to do so.
 


Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 20:31:22 -0500 (EST)
X-Sender: Noah_Raford@postoffice.brown.edu
Mime-Version: 1.0
To: negenter@WORLDCOM.CH
From: Noah Raford <Noah_Raford@brown.edu>
Subject: Architectural Anthropology and Ekistics
Status:

Nold, I am writing to double check if you recieved my previous message
regarding architectural anthropology and my degree in Ekistics. Included
is the text of the message. I look forward to your response!

Thanks,
Noah Raford
Brown University
 

****

Dear Sir,

My name is Noah Raford and I am an undergraduate student at Brown
University, in Providence, Rhode Island. I was excited to read your post
to the Urban Geography listserv regarding your analysis of Architectural
Anthropology, as I am engaged in studying precisely that. As you can
imagine, there is no degree in Ekistics at this (or any other) university.
The file is a copy of my proposal presented to the board of deans and
faculty responsible for independent concentrations at Brown. Once
completed, I believe I will have the first and as far as I know, only,
degree in Ekistical Analysis.

Until now, my work has largely in a vacuum. I have been struggling
to conceptualize the tools and methodological framework within which to
place myself and my work. Of course I have read Rapaport and others, but
most of my time is spent extracting what I am looking for from traditional
books on human ecology, anthropology, cultural geography and cognitive
science. So you can imagine how pleased I was to find your work! I am
also dying to get my hands on a copy of Paul Oliver's work, which I saw you
contributed heavily to. Alas, I am a struggling student and being the slow
beast it is, our library system is already taxed beyond it's limits. It
looks to be the essential resource for our field.

With this introduction, I am looking forward to further
corespondence with you. I am full of questions! Where are you located?
What is your background? Do you ever travel to the New England or the
States? I was excited to read your analysis of Japanese medieval villages.
What other projects are you working on? I am currently involved in a study
of the Klondike Goldrush and the spontaneous settlements that arose from
this event. I was intending to be in the field this semester, but because
of El Nino and the very intense weather in Alaska, the government would not
allow me permits. I wonder how much of it is general resistance to new and
challenging studies, but that is a discussion for another time. For now,
it suffices to say that I am leaning towards a more complex systems theory
approach to the development of settlements in Alaska at this time. Have
you found such an approach to be useful? Could you suggest any possible
resources that might be of value? Again, I have a million questions but I
will leave it at this for now. I greatly look forward to talking to you!

Sincerely,
Noah Raford
Brown University
Box 5803
Providence, RI 02912
phone: 401.863.4006



We cannot think first and act afterwards. From the
moment of birth we are immersed in action, and can
only fitfully guide it by taking thought.
- A.N. Whitehead


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