AN Challenge: More With Less

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By Mark Lundegren

DSC_0661-Edit~2A key principle behind ArchaNatura is the idea that we can do more with less – and perhaps much more with much less – through more attentive design, the creation of new technologies, and the creative uses of existing technologies, or via new techniques.

The practical advantages of creating and functioning more generally with this goal in mind can be enormous, especially when our efforts are sustained and diverse. And this is true whether we are the creators or beneficiaries of the value-oriented new designs, technologies, and techniques that reliably result from the approach.Steel Arch

How Might We Achieve Far More With Far Less Today?

In addition to immediate benefits from specific advances, a sustained more with less focus offers a number of practical advantages as a strategic approach or framework for work and endeavor of all kinds. First, it turns even seemingly mundane tasks into naturally engaging and meaningful opportunities for creative action. At the same time, the approach also tends to keep us grounded as creators and more likely to produce valuable, as opposed to merely interesting, breakthroughs.

Third, when sustained and probing, the approach can lead to innovations and learning that steadily and progressively build upon one another, or naturally compound, thereby tending to produce more frequent and important breakthroughs, compared with more piecemeal or less value-oriented approaches. And finally, by stressing resource efficiency and solution effectiveness, the approach naturally promotes greater modern sustainability.

Overall, through a dedicated and naturally enjoyable effort by designers and creators to progressively do more with less, rather than the more typical, less challenging, and less valuable modern practice of doing more with more, we have the opportunity to make ourselves and others happier, more agile and secure, and more inspired by the creative process.

On this last point, let me highlight that progressive, value-seeking creation can naturally or practically add to our and others’ ability and inclination to create in this more natural and naturally more adaptive way, further and circularly increasing our capacity for progressive innovation.

In the context of this modern opportunity for compounding and beneficial value-focused creativity – or for new natural progressivity in the creative processI would like to challenge you to dedicate yourself to doing more with less, personally and professionally, beginning now and as a general approach to your life and work, and regardless of your circumstances. With this challenge, my hope is that you will find new and perhaps transformative opportunities to work and create in ways that are more resourceful and intelligent, more useful to you and others, and naturally more satisfying than might otherwise be the case.

As you can see, I have included an image of a simple steel arch roof, a classic more with less design from the twentieth century (and far earlier than this in non-steel versions). My intention with the image is to offer a concrete example of doing more with less, and one that suggests opportunities for doing more with less are everywhere around us.

If you are not familiar with my intentionally generic but illustrative example of steel arch buildings, I would encourage your to explore this important case study in resourceful design. In practice, steel arch buildings can be erected at a fraction of the cost and time as conventional buildings, they are generally maintenance-free, and they are fully recyclable.

Importantly, really the only downside to buildings built this way today – and as with many other novel designs,  technologies, and techniques – is our lack of experience or inadequate design vocabulary to guide our creations. Within this case study, I would acknowledge that steel arch buildings are often banal and uninspiring (all engineering and no design). But as with many new and thus only partly conceived innovations, these buildings of course needn’t remain this way, as the elegant proportions of the image perhaps suggest to you.

With this simple and generally overlooked or unappreciated example of our potential to do far more with much less, let me encourage you, in the next day or two, to pick a specific designed object or fabrication process that you are familiar with or interested in exploring. When you have made your selection, begin to consider how it might be re-created or altered to provide greater value, entirely new forms of value, or require fewer resources or less effort to create or use than today.

As I have suggested, this challenge can apply to almost anything that is created, but I would encourage you to pick a focus area that you are especially interested in – since you will be far more likely to see this process through, to enjoy and learn from it, and to build or progress on it too.

To help you with your specific challenge, consider one or more of the following questions:

> What does the object or process accomplish today?

> Is the object or process really needed or even desirable?

> How might its purpose be accomplished more simply?

> What new uses of the object or process are possible?

> What would be the costs and benefits of the change?

To inspire and open you as fully as possible to take up this crucial creative challenge, let me add that there is likely no aspect of modern life that cannot be improved in this way or with this type of questioning. Literally, every object and process around you can be subject to progressive questioning or exploration of how we might do more with less.

In this important sense – and as a natural fact of modern life and perhaps all life – we need only take up such challenges, or approach the world as naturally progressive creators, and progressive change is almost inevitable. So, where would you like to take up my challenge, and begin to explore this new, natural, and naturally enriching approach to modern life and design?

Whatever you decide, I would enjoy hearing about your immediate and longer-term more with less or progressive challenges and results, whether through posts to ArchaNatura, comments below or on our Facebook page, or private messages.

Mark Lundegren is the founder of ArchaNatura. 

Tell others about ArchaNatura…encourage progressive building & design!

Photo: Archiexpo Self-Supporting Arch

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