Architectural Design: When Context Matters

So we’re going to look at design again this week, but from the perspective of city planning. The tech magazine Wired published a critique of Apples new headquarters recently, and it makes some interesting points about how global companies interact with the physical places their offices are in, and how the architecture they build helps or hurts the community around them. What I’d like to know is if the situation in California correlates to situations with industrial park developments in Taiwan, for instance in Hsinchu or the more recent development in Nangang. Are things working as intended in terms of helping businesses contribute to the economy? But I also want to talk about what you think Taiwan is getting right or wrong in terms of transportation and housing as well. So let’s talk design!

The context of a building is just as important as the building itself
You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood.

Cities or Nations, which is better governance?

Are cities a better locus of government than nations?

Which is to say, there have been some serious drawbacks to the relatively new concept of nationhood, including but not limited to:
1. arbitrary borders not matching tribal/social divisions
2. border control and passports
3. arbitrary limits on economic opportunity and migration
What are some of the benefits of nationhood?

What are some of the potential drawbacks of city-based governance?
What might be the benefits?

Here's a TED talk touting the idea:




Here in the recent news is an interesting example of city-government acting on the world stage. When the US government pulled out from the Paris accords on June 1, suddenly on the same day the "US Climate Alliance" was announced.

Check this out:

Leadership and the Excercise of Power

The saying goes: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But is this always true? This article in the NY Times says there are mitigating factors. Let’s discuss!


Freedom or Responsibility
Some psychologists separate power, defined as the control of valued resources, into two concepts: power perceived as freedom, and power perceived as responsibility. How you view power can affect how you use it. When you see power as a source of freedom, you are likely to use it to serve yourself, selfishly. But when you see it as responsibility, you tend to be selfless.


Contextual Clues
Who you are — your character and cultural background — affects your approach to power. But contextual clues about how power should be used can be surprisingly effective in altering leadership behaviour.