The Three Ways Of Seeing The Built Environment
N. John Habraken


N. John Habraken, 1984

©Monica Pidgeon

The topic I would like to talk about is the built environment as such. For a long time I have been very much interested in understanding built environments as living organisms that will live regardless of professional intervention. They've always been there and they will always be there and, it seems to me, that if we understand built environments as they exist by themselves we might be in a better position to determine what we as professionals can do to improve the quality of built environments.


Los Angeles Air View

©N J Habraken

So I'm not interested in the first place in what is a good or a bad built environment. That is what we as professionals always have to decide. But I'm more interested in how they really can be seen. And I would like to talk about three different ways in which we can see any environment, and the three ways are related to the way we interact as human beings through the built environments, ways in which we exercise our power and in which we relate to other people. That's why I call these three ways of seeing 'Orders'. They are intrinsic Orders in the built environment, and if we know more about them we might be in a better position to understand the built environment.

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