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In a beautiful place

»A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ›Universe ‹, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to a ection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. re in its beauty.« Albert Einstein

In a corner of the uni­verse, a star is spin­ning. A star that means every­thing to us because it is our home. It is a place of excep­tional beauty, diver­sity and exu­ber­ant nature, of which we are a part. It must be a tem­po­rary mis­take for us to go against nature in the pur­suit of short­term inter­ests, for how much more reward­ing, how much more beau­ti­ful it is to do as nature does and strive for per­fec­tion. Noth­ing in nature is out of place, no stone in the wrong posi­tion: nature itself, how­ever it appears, is nec­es­sar­ily beau­ti­ful. This beauty draws us in and is where we relax and feel at home. Places that have grown over cen­turies, old cul­tural land­scapes or Ital­ian hill­side vil­lages fill us with joy. We feel at home where every­thing has its place: in the park, by the lake, in the open coun­try­side. Yet we have designed cities accord­ing to the needs of cars and shop­ping cen­tres accord­ing to the scale of max­i­mum profit. We have con­creted over entire land­scapes ignor­ing man and his nature. It is time to cor­rect this. Back to nature does not mean sac­ri­fice but profit because the beauty of nature is pur­pose­ful, sus­tain­able and there­fore eco­nomic.

We live in a time where com­pletely dif­fer­ent places start to look the same. It’s the same logic which is indis­crim­i­nately at work there: the logic of the quick and cheap, of the arbi­trary. The result is sep­a­ra­tion, nature is locked out, the short­term goal is the mea­sure for every­thing. As a con­se­quence, beauty expires because it is more than the sum of its parts. If you replace one of them care­lessly, then the cal­cu­la­tion no longer works and we lose our home. We only feel good if every­thing is right, if the indi­vid­ual ele­ments of our sur­round­ings har­mo­niously inter­twine. We feel good because we are allowed to be human, because our envi­ron­ment com­plies with us.

Nature and urban­ity are only oppo­sites where we have gen­er­ated them with glass, con­crete and asphalt. »The world is a process of our think­ing,« wrote Ein­stein, who added: »It cannot be changed with­out chang­ing our think­ing.« The fact that it can be done dif­fer­ently by think­ing dif­fer­ently is shown for exam­ple with the Bosco Ver­ti­cale in Milan, a ver­ti­cal forest with 900 trees rooted in the facades of two high­rise build­ings. It was cre­ated by the archi­tect Ste­fano Boeri with eco­log­i­cal and aes­thetic den­sity – decades after Hun­dert­wasser had planted a »tree tenant« on the first floor of a rented flat in Alser­bach­strasse in Vienna. The tree grew along the window and amazed passersby. The vision­ary later out­lined his pro­gramme with the phrase: »Roofs must become forests and streets must become green val­leys.« Hun­dert­wasser tack­led the urban land­scape with bright colours and round shapes like excla­ma­tion marks. But you need whole sen­tences to do the same thing with nature because the design vocab­u­lary of nature is extremely com­plex but not strik­ing. Its beauty unfolds in its struc­ture, rhythm and rep­e­ti­tion.

Beauty always involves func­tion­al­ity: nature doesn’t know super­flu­ous­ness. Even the splen­dour of a flower serves a pur­pose and appears sub­limely beau­ti­ful because of this: noth­ing can be left out or added. Besides form, mate­r­ial and appear­ance, it needs another qual­ity for us to feel some­thing is beau­ti­ful: time. Beauty must prove itself. Only some­thing that stands the test of time and lasts decades later is truly beau­ti­ful. In order to pre­serve it, it is nec­es­sary to think in cycles and not in short­term trends. Good is what remains, what sur­vives. Beauty is not a short­term effect but only flour­ishes with sus­tain­abil­ity. Some­thing that is sus­tain­able, that holds together, is auto­mat­i­cally beau­ti­ful. It inte­grates itself nat­u­rally into the respec­tive envi­ron­ment and merges into it. This is why grown struc­tures create well­be­ing and why the per­ma­nent brings com­fort.

Flora and fauna are the result of an ongo­ing process of adap­ta­tion. Nature is above all prac­ti­cal: any­thing that doesn’t work or is super­flu­ous is devoured by the weather or evo­lu­tion. What remains is clar­ity, endurance and renewal. For thou­sands of years, man has shaped his world: we have cul­ti­vated deserts, cre­ated cul­tural land­scapes and pre­served habi­tats worth protecting.It’s up to us: what we do, under­take or pro­duce must be per­ma­nent and still make sense decades from now. This is how the world will remain a beau­ti­ful place for us. We have the tech­ni­cal oppor­tu­ni­ties, resources and knowl­edge for this.

Let’s get started, let’s get on with it!

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