Friday, January 27, 2006

Is AIDS the ultimate pandemic of FEAR?

I recently watched a movie called "Yesterday". The movie focuses on the issue of living with AIDS in an under-developed country. Although the setting is South Africa, I see very real and relevant applications in the US (can anyone forget Katrina in 2005?)

You may ask again, what does AIDS or pandemics have to do with design, planning, or architecture? Well I'm no architect... but the movie focuses on a woman who after contracting AIDS from her husband, has to deal with the effort of obtaining medical care for her husband, protect her young child, and deal with the society's fear, anger, and potential ostracizing.The woman eventually builds a new home for her painfully ill husband. I won't go into the details of the building, (watch the movie) but it highlights the impact of fear of this deadly disease and the resultant dwelling. On a larger scale, it brings to mind how fear feeds into communities, how fear feeds into the development of communities, new communities, poorly built communities, communities that can potentially breed more fear and more/different situations. Does this sound gloomy? It does not have to.

The poor and suffering are not the only ones who are afraid.What of the fear of the 'riche'? Do they also fear that they lose what they have? Are there those who fear that the illness of the poor and underprivileged might rob them of their status? Is that why they build in the hills, on the remote islands, on the cliffs of mountainsides that are well off the tracks that are off the beaten tracks? What about the pandemic of fear? Recently I watched a piece of a Michael Moore film - "Bowling for Columbine". He went to an actor's house, rang the bell at the gate which was quite a distance from the house. The house was guarded and had all of the artifacts of security. Michael Moore asked whether his security measures weren't overkill. The actor was living in a very remote area of suburbia.

The thing is that maybe there is a fear that many of us won't talk about. Especially the rich and the haves. Could it be possible that it's fear... and fear alone that drives architecture? What do you think about that?

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