Ayres Knowledge Center Learning From Nature | Page 4

States , grasslands historically dominated most of the land area that wasn ’ t occupied with water . As we all know water has a tendency to frustrate the spread of fire . The neat thing is , fire benefited from the prairies 7 and the prairies benefited from the fire .
Fire needs dry fuel and lots of it with a lot of surface area for maximum spread . The prairies of the central United States would have been perfect for this , vegetation and fuel located low to the ground allowed fire to spread with maximum speed , minimal heat loss to the atmosphere , and comprised of tremendous surface area ( a whole bunch of vertical surfaces , even more dense than would be found in a woods ). But prairie , in turn , benefited from fire . other regions , it was common to create structures and places with the regional material resources available to the designers at that time . If your region was rich with timber resources , you designed and built with wood . Whereas if your region was a desert , you designed with sand and stone . For example , the brick used in many of the historic buildings in Milwaukee , Wisconsin is called cream‐city brick , it ’ s the native color of the clay harvested from the Menomonee River and western shores of Lake Michigan . And it ’ s the color of the clay that was used to make the bricks that gives the older buildings in the region a distinct color . In fact , many of the structures or places we value most for their historical significance are of the place . They have a look , a material that defines the region .
In addition to suppressing many woody vegetation species that might have otherwise dominated the system , the prairie benefited from the cleaning ; the charred , blackened soil warmed faster in the spring and allowed plants to sprout sooner ; and burning forced plants to invest a lot of energy in deep root systems 8 that pushed prairie species to deep subsoil water reserves , permitting prairie species to thrive drought and desiccation . Furthermore , the heat from fires was needed for the seeds of some species to split and germinate . A pretty cool ying and yang relationship shaped the look of the prairies , and prairies were an ideal fuel source for fire .
How could this rule apply to us ?
First , let ’ s think about a “ what if ” scenario : Imagine a concrete or asphalt that responded to routine traffic with improved stability and longevity ; it didn ’ t crumble or erode over time but got stronger while remaining pliable enough that it could be moved or even removed if desired . ( What does that even look like , and how is that possible ? I have no idea . But if we aren ’ t asking the question , we ’ ll never try to achieve it .)
A more pedantic example of how we might apply Rule 1 could be : while the annals of design history are rife with examples of structures and places that “ borrowed ” from
Today building material resources are global but designing highways , buildings , parks , and homes that are of the place is still the best practice in most cases . The idea , of the place , might seem easily applied to structures or landscape , but does it make sense for other design professions ? How would a highway “ of the place ” in Colorado differ from one in Florida ? As design
Prior to European settlement , fires dominated the landscape of the United States . So many acres were burned annually by lightning strikes , or started by First Nation ’ s people , that when European settlers began suppressing fires in the United States , the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere from fires cooled the planet . This led to an event called the Mini Ice Age . And it wasn ’ t just prairies that burned . Many ecosystems in the United States thrive on fire ( Anderson , 2002 ).
We often think trees , they are big , have the deepest root systems . The idea that a tree ’ s branch structure is mirrored below ground is simply not true . While the spread of a tree ’ s crown may approximate the spread of its roots ( even this isn ’ t really true , under good growing conditions root spread can easily exceed crown spread ), most trees tend to have pretty shallow roots . Many prairie species have much , much deeper roots . Where trees might linger in the 3-5 ’ depth range , many prairie species set roots in the 8‐10 ’ depth range . This is why prairies or native grasslands in general tend to be much larger carbon sinks than forests . It ’ s also why the central United States has been one of , if not the most , successful agricultural regions in the world .