Ayres Knowledge Center Learning From Nature | Page 9

Although picturesque, this lighthouse does not enhance the ecological stability or habitat of the site. the system as a whole. The platform could be longer or thicker without losing efficiency, but the system doesn’t gain a lot by an overly large platform, and loses function by a platform that is too small. However, if the snap bar exceeded the length of the platform the system wouldn’t work. Or, if the spring was too loose to move the snap bar, the system wouldn’t work. The mouse trap also won’t work if all the components are the same. If a mouse trap were a pile of springs it won’t catch mice. Lastly, adding to the mouse trap superfluous designs, for example printing the platform with artistic swirls, or even the text, “Mouse Stand Here” with an arrow indicating where the mouse should stand, wouldn’t make the trap more effective. And since printed text wouldn’t make the trap more effective (i.e. the ROI would be zero, see rule No. 2), unless mice learn to read 16 , then why do it? Nature operates the same way. Accoutrement has meaning or it isn’t necessary. 17 Just like the snap mouse trap, Nature allows for some flexibility in the objects or systems it builds, but pushing the allowable variability too far causes a failure. Riparian systems (creeks, streams, rivers) are a balance of water, soil, air, vegetation, micro and macro organisms, minerals, 16 and energy. We are well acquainted with what can happen when a riparian system has too much energy, destructive erosion. We also know what happens with too much soil, siltation. Adding unnecessary components to a riparian system, like a boat house or a dock might not impact the operational function of the system 18 but it also doesn’t improve the system either – not from Nature’s perspective. Here’s the takeaway. Do design professionals, as a whole, take a holistic view of the work they develop to understand if it has all the parts, or too many parts, to function? There is a place for aesthetic expression – Nature does it too, but different than us, Nature does it for a purpose. Aesthetic expression often leads to something called mutual satisfaction of the users. Artistic expression in Nature improves the quality of life for the organisms that experience the aesthetic expression. It helps birds mate, it attracts bees to the flowers, it warns humans to stay away from jellyfish, and so on. I love to paint, but my painting also has a purpose. It allows me to relax and it provides me with an opportunity to share, what for me is an intimate part of me, with those I And if they could read, how long would it take a mouse that could read, and therefor reason, to figure out, this is a trap?! I’m inclined to say unlikely because at the time of writing I can’t think of a form that doesn’t have function in nature, but the scien‐ tist in me is reticent to make an absolute statement that it never happens. Nature is a big place. 17 Actually, adding built spaces to a riparian system usually degrades the system. At a minimum it impacts the flow of the system and it often changes the vegetative cover, to name just two changes that are very common. 18 AYRESASSOCIATES.COM | 9