The life expectancy of humans was, for many thousands of years, somewhere in the region of 20 to 30 years of age. However, since around 1820 and the age of industrialization, life expectancy around the world has dramatically increased and continues to rise, as demonstrated in the enlarged detail. In 2010 global life expectancy was almost 69 years of age. It is predicted that the world population will triple by the end of the twenty-first century, a development that will necessitate dramatic changes to the way we live.
Data source: Indur M. Goklany, “The Improving State of our World,” Washington, Inspirational interior design ideas DC: Cato Institute, 2007, page 36. Life expectancy is believed to have been 20-30 years prior to 1820. Age 25 is selected as an average.
The Ultima Tower, a proposed development of tiered natural environments within a single megastructure, by Dr. Eugene Tsui. Envisioned for the city of San Francisco, this tower will stand more than two miles high (more than three times in height and exponentially greater in width than the Burj Khalifa, which is framed in the illustration). The trumpet-shaped tension structure is arguably the most stable and aerodynamic shape ever conceived for a tall building designed to withstand natural calamities. It is not built in terms of floors but rather in terms of an entire small city, which is landscaped and contains districts with “skies” that are 100 to 150 feet (30 to 50 meters] high. The Tower will contain ecologically balanced conditions and support sustainable lakes, streams, rivers, hills, and ravines with soil and landscape on which residential, office, commercial, retail, and entertainment buildings can be erected. Within built environments such as these we will be able to keep sheep, vacation in resorts, and visit grandmother in her supportive and assisted-living elderly residence complex.
Tallest building in the world 2010
Foundational design is required to be taught as its own expertise in the context of university-level learning. Research and methodologies of the sciences and humanities will complement, and contribute to, a new fundamental knowledge for design. The concept of abductive logic, which can be seen as the basis for creative reasoning in design, brings a valuable new dimension to the inductive and deductive logic of the sciences.11 The fine arts and design will find opportunities for higher research and expression (and thus academic legitimization) and art and design’s centrality to life will be more fruitfully recognized.12 The visual literacy and experiential approaches of the fine artist will be utilized by designers at a larger scale, to stimulate and support people within immersive environments. Developing a new and expanded dialogue across wider and sometimes seemingly divergent disciplines will stimulate a greater creativity and provide a fresh and much needed intellectual impetus. This will reposition design in what is called the knowledge economy of the twenty-first century, with its complex disciplinary, spatiotemporal, conceptual, sociopolitical, cultural, and material contexts.
The promise of the century ahead comes with inherent challenges of social and environmental sustainability that are not new to our age. Although the scope of our use and abuse of the earth has greatly expanded, this is largely the result of the technological and industrial revolutions that have so greatly increased standards of living in the developed world.13 Here, once again, the sensitive designer has a role to play. Responsibility for sustainability should cover not only the preservation of the physical world, but also how we sustain ourselves in concert with the environment. It must become an integral and inherent basis for all design exploration. If design’s primary goal is to foster wellbeing, the question of how we further human survival without irrevocably harming the natural world cannot be ignored.
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