about ARCHITECTURAL BIG HISTORY

2022

Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest.

— Nobel Prize Winning Physiologist Albert Szent-GyÖrgyi 1937

This an Architect’s Take on the Universe !
After many years of designing buildings and thinking about architecture, I am taking some time off to write and illustrate a science book:
A Big History of Architecture, from the Big Bang Until Now: How Information Sculpts Energy into Form“.
This book is from a lifetime of thought. When I was a very small child my father showed me a picture in an evolution book of a hairy, apish fellow and told me that was my greatx10000 grandfather. I understood totally. Ever since then, although rarely talking about it because I found people didn’t understand,  I have looked at the world through the lens of gradual evolutionary change. I also scored sky-high on science aptitude tests in the early 70’s (which I found in my mother’s filing cabinet in 2014).

Although oblivious to this inclination for science,  I was always reading science books about the early universe, early life and early humanity. My Architectural Masters Thesis in 1992, Museum School, was about the evolution of the schoolhouse towards optimized teaching environments. During the downtime of 2010-2012 Big History by David Christian and others was discovered — I felt my calling quicken.

Being interested in energy-efficient architecture  I began researching a book about the History of Energy, but quickly the concept of information as physical became part of it, the yin doesn’t function without the yang (see Seth Lloyd below). Finally, after working with the American Institute of Architects as Publications Co-Chair on a book about the various architectural areas of Atlanta for the 2015 AIA Convention, all the various pieces fell into place. And here it is!.

—ARCHITECTURE: “Architect” comes from the latin word architectus which comes from the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων (architéktōn). Architéktōn is composed of two parts: ἀρχι (archi: to be the first, who commands, designs, provides the information) and τέκτων (tecton: mason, builder, energy looking for a path).
—EXPANDED DEFINITION OF ARCHITECTURAL FORM: A MUCH wider definition includes the design (the information sculpting the form)  and the building (energy finding a path) of the total built environment, thus referring to the fundamental structures of all built systems. ALL evolved or evolving form is energy sculpted by information into ultimate usefulness by enhanced energy flow.—

Several Definitions:
1. Energy is electron flow and bonding between atoms.
2. Information is Physical (Chapter 4 of Programming the Universe, Seth Lloyd; 2011, page 65). Since the beginning of the universe, all form is sculpted by the available information. Electron flow is selected for, as it allows evolution, change and adjustment to the ever-changing information flow.
3. Form is the result of Information sculpting Energy. Living form is an energy flow scaffold structure, forming ecological systems that share and circulate the energy flow. Cultures, tools and the built environment are also a result of Information sculpting Energy flow.

SYNOPSIS: From the beginning of the universe (14 billions years or so ago) energy (the labor) is sculpted by available information, creating all form. Universes are built upon Universes as they stabilize.
UNIVERSE #1: The Physical Universe→ After the Big Bang particles are the most basic form of energy waiting to be sculpted. After several billions of years of interacting with the 5 most basic energy forces, these particles are sculpted into the simple atoms of hydrogen and helium, these crushed by gravity into stars, then exploded into space, beginning to form the complex atoms of the periotic table.
UNIVERSE #2:  The Live Universe→ (See TED Ed here)
ENERGY: Life reverses entropy (the loss of energy) locally. Under temperate “goldilocks” conditions like on Earth, atoms share electrons and combine into molecules creating conditions favorible to life. The first life may have occured at chemical gradients (electron exchanges producing free energy) produced by heat vents on the tectonic plates on the ocean floor. Then when an electron was snapped off by a suns photon, this magic spark of sustainable flowing energy began organizing the chain of life.
Information that sculpts paths for electrons to follow was selected for, as energy flow allows things to happen, self organization. All forms of life, powered by electrons and sculpted by the earths environmental information, began to gain energy flow, complexity and function. One species, by surviving and adapting for millions of years in the trees, on the savanna, by the sea,  developed an ultimate architecture for electron flow.
UNIVERSE #3: The Sapient Universe→ Electrons fly off the fingertips of the Sapients. Surrounded and sculpted by accumulated working information for electron paths, they take over the world. As in Darwinian Classical Evolution, the working information enabling electron travel survives and organizes information for further electron flow.

This is why things are slowly improving→ 100K years ago we were hunter-gatherers sitting around open fires, watching our backs for wolf predators. Now, in nations that have efficiently organized their cultures to free their information resources, all we have to do is push a button for heat or cool air and we have evolved the wolves into our most loyal friends!