Specialisation in  the World

Specialism of action has been an important aspect of human culture for centuries. It is also a part of animal nature, in the sense of the web of life where each contributes to the whole in their own way – the bee pollinating flowers, the earthworm aerating soils, the bird distributing seeds. In one way or another the world we know today has come to experience several crises, related to imbalances in this dynamic yet delicate web of life. As humans, our part, our contribution is often made in isolation from nature – for example the architect who draws together their ideas to house living beings as part of a living planet yet cultivates this creativity in a sterile, electronic office environment and specifies materials to construct with which destroy other life forms.

The way that living in a wild environment affects our thinking and our actions has become tangible over the past two years. Part of this is due to the proximity we experience here each day to the effects of our own actions – an everyday example being the observation of small pieces of non-biodegradable elements in the organic mulch around a fruit tree, encouraging future dedication to the removal of plastic from cardboard boxes that go onto the compost pile. Another part is related to the physical efforts involved in bringing materials in and out of the rainforest, which have heightened our intentions to recycle, reduce and reuse, and especially to work with what is available right here and now, from food to building materials. A third influence is an exposure to changing weather, seasons, rhythms and cycles without the buffer of, for example, a piped supply of water, food shops stocked and accessible every day, or for a while, an electric light and a solid roof.

All in all, we have noticed in ourselves a changing sensitivity to what a flourishing state of nature looks and feels like - meaning the thriving landscapes all around us and the feeling of being well inside our beings. From this place we can see with increasing clarity how what we are doing and how we are being is or is not nourishing and enriching life.

This has affected the way we design buildings as well as the way we care for plants. It has brought to question the benefits of specialisation to the extent that work and life are separate. A contributing view-point may be that by focusing on a specific skill and being able to dedicate most of my time to that, I can become better at it and offer more to the world. However, to make this most effective I need to live in an environment of time-efficiency where I trade the time I commit to carrying out my abilities for my basic needs of food, water, energy, shelter, entertainment, etc. This usually means that I am quite far away from the minute and cosmic forces that allow life to blossom, from the freshly uncurling leaf to the passion lying deep in my heart. For us it brings up the question of why life needs to be like this.

Our intention isn’t to go back to how life was a few centuries or millennia ago, to reject the progress we as a civilisation have made, but to re-think how we can best contribute to the evolution of humanity during our lives on earth. Are we creating a world of life or of death? Are we inhabiting a space of meaning or of efficiency? Perhaps all of these elements have a role to play in a healthy whole, and the question is about what we see as an enriched world.

For us, being in touch with a space of appreciation, beauty, and realness of relationship with the earth, allows a new flow of creativity and care that comes through in a sensitive architecture, in an intention to invite others to be part of this process, in how and where we choose to dedicate our time and efforts. Perhaps we can cultivate a future that overcomes this paradox between specialisation and enriching what is alive.

Dwelling in Symbiosis