We are the pioneers..

No drugs were used in the inspiration for this piece and alcohol had yet to be consumed!

I was lucky enough to spend a night in Killarney on the shores of the lakes recently and had some time to day-dream. Day-dreaming is something we rarely get the time to do in our busy lives, but I think it is important to find time to do it once in a while, particularly to those of us in the creative professions, because in doing it we often find our motivation.

Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible. Thomas Edward Lawrence (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935)

As we cycled around the lake, my imagination was regularly captured by the distant, inaccessible regions of forestry and hill-side, or outcrops of rock and cliff-face and the thought that these are places where no people ever get to. I had an inexplicable urge to explore, to boat across the lake to the overgrown, wooded shore and machete my way up the hillside to see if I could reach that point that had caught my eye.

I had to ask myself, where does this urge come from? What is the logical benefit to such an exertion of energy, to get to a place that, once I reached it, would probably be no more interesting than the vegetation right in front of me. ‘Far away hills are greener?’. Surely that could not be it?

Then I surmised that maybe humans have an innate momentum to try to claim these untamed places. It may extend back to the movement of humans along the shores of continents, to find un-competed food sources, as we populated the entire globe in the space of 100 generations.

Such an instinct would mean that our forefathers who were not satisfied to stay in the established village, where a limited food source limited growth of population, would have more successful offspring and so select an increasing population of go-getters and adventurers..

And what would happen to that urge today, when every corner of the planet has more or less been explored and colonised? Maybe that is part of the thing that pushes scientists to broaden the boundary of knowledge, to look further out into space, or deeper into the oceans or into ever increasing finer detail into our cells and DNA? These are the new pioneers, who find fertile ground in new science and from there new technology and so new wealth is created.

My chain of thought came back to my own field, to architecture and where it is going. It gave me great personal pleasure to count myself among the minority of my profession who are pushing technology in the field of really low-energy buildings. I may have not invented the wheel here, but I know from the amount I am learning everyday in trying to produce these super energy-efficient buildings that I am not taking the easy option and re-hashing the techniques of the past.

And when I again looked at the distant, impenetrable forest, and I knew that I did not need to disturb that piece of pristine landscape, that in going back to work the next day I would be in fact continuing an equally satisfying adventure.