Who creates the vista?


Buildings can be wonderful in isolation, but the vista is formed from juxtapositions

Walking around Singapore, i’m always struck by the diversity of architecture. Glass and steel is forged and curved into many shapes, rising high above you, defining and enclosing different spaces for many purposes. The Marina Sands Hotel, three linked towers with a deck running across all three at the top, The multitudinous towers of the Central Business District, the giant steel trees in the Gardens by the Bay. My personal favourite is the Art Science museum, sat much like a tulip, opening up by the harbour side, a triumph of cantilevered engineering.

It’s easy to appreciate the building in isolation, each designed and owned by a different person or group, but the true value, the aesthetic, the meaning comes from the juxtapositions. It’s the vistas that make the city.

Walking across the bridge over the bay, itself shaped like a helix of DNA, i can see it all, stretched out, and wonder who owns this, who is responsible for the vista?

My point is this: things can be spectacular in isolation, but the real meaning is created largely in the context. We don’t experience any building in isolation, and we don’t experience any learning alone. When you walk by the Singapore River, there’s a wonderful stretch at Raffles Landing where you can see a whole row of Chinese shop houses lining the waterfront, the original landing places and small merchant warehouses, but towering over and above it are the towers of the modern business district, the history and the present stratified for all to see.

Because organisations procure and develop learning in units of ‘one project‘, we run the risk of creating behemoths: structures that have meaning in themselves, but conflict with or fail to take into account the wider vista.

In the Social Age, the wider vista is our overall learning, throughout our lives: everything new needs to fit into this picture. Not everything needs to be big, but everything is visible at some level. We need the iconic structures, the hotels and towers, our degrees and formal qualifications, but we also need the bridges, fountains and individual trees. These are what create the ambience, what make the vista complete. And we own this journey ourselves.

The reality of our learning is constructed in conversation between organisation and individual, but needs to take into account the needs of both.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Collaboration, Community, Environment, Knowledge, Learning, Learning Culture and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Who creates the vista?

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