BOOK 1: Testament Of A Life's Work
AUTHOR: ETHAN SCOFIELD
RELEVANT INFO: Ethan Scofield is the namesake of the Scofield Collection— all of the assorted documents and artifacts in this exhibit were a part of Scofield's private compendium, which he assembled as evidence of what he believed to be a necessary reimagining of architectural theory. This abstract was typed out on several, highly annotated loose leaf sheets of paper inside a clasp envelope which included, among other things: several sketches, loose candy wrappers, rambling notes, and Scofield's last will and testament.
Architecture is one of the few human practices capable of manifesting persistent higher-dimensional appreciation and influence. This is a virtue that has always been present in architectural creation, though it has never before been its primary objective. By changing the architectural narrative of order to better align with an already active cultural shift towards higher-dimensional thought, architects would be able to lead the world towards replacing the malignancy of a complaisant (or third-dimensional) perception of dwelling with a cosmic (or nth-dimensional) one.
The third-dimensionality of our past outlook projected a cartesian tractability to all aspects of the known universe, where even if the specific coordinates of an object were not static, they could be assumed to change with a predictably constant velocity that could be related to all other cartesian actualities at any time. The Vitruvian triad, a cornerstone of former architectural theory, epitomizes the complaisant view of architecture: where the concept of firmitas dictates a physical permanence of built-structures for users, utilitas prescribes precise means of performance by users, and venustas controls precise means of effect on users.
Nth-dimensionality integrates elements of the cosmic unknown into the everyday experience, stripping away the comforts of the calculable third-dimension by confronting individuals with the unknowable influence of fourth-dimensional longevity and the upper-dimensional universe-branching (or polyreality) of unforeseen consequences. More than ever, the consequences of human action are a felt and physical reality that cannot be trivialized— whether they are the results of the accumulated wave of actions by generations past or the relentless fretting-over of prospective consequences of contemporary actions. Consequences can be embodied by seen-effects (like the development of new ecological conditions by climate change) or felt-effects (like the seeping presence of political shifts/imperatives in everyday decisions or thoughts).
As architects begin to confront nth-dimensional cosmicalities, embracing a counter-Vitruvian outlook would allow all architectural inhabitants to better grasp their full scope: utilizing the Unstable (instabilitas) as an alternative to firmitas would expand the reach of “place” to better catch and communicate higher-dimensional hyperobjects through either physical transience or temporal variability; the Inimical (adversitas), as opposed to utilitas, would replace the emphasis on performance by users to performance by entire structures and systems, and by doing so create architecture with meta-purposes above the strictly anthropic; and the Uncanny (perturbitas) would, through funhouse-mirroring or Xray-visioning, in a sense, reflect the beyond-human qualities of the built-structure and its occupants— qualities such as snaking fourth-dimensional shadows (both backward (birthward?) and forward (deathward?) in space-time) and the strange entanglement of human-made objects and future object-made humans.
Projects that would best harness these new modes of architectural conception would be structures with significant higher-dimensional programming such as, in this instance, a hybrid containment facility for radioactive waste and place of worship for a religion tasked with propagating the culturally relevant tenements of that waste's eternal dangers for at least 10,000 years.