How Feng Shui is re-invented in architecture today.
There are some new and exciting advances coming our way in the world of design and architecture that may change the way some of us, especially in the modern western world, look at and apply design fundamentals. While Architecture is traditionally based mainly on rules of functionality and Interior Design concentrates on beauty, Feng Shui adds the dimension of feelings. How people react emotionally to a building, room, or place is as important as proper architectural or interior design. It is essential, and should be the end result, that people feel comfortable and safe in their home, workplace, or garden. After all, our job as a professional designer is to manipulate spaces in order to create environments where we can be happier, healthier, more prosperous and free. From the day Feng Shui was first introduced to the west 35 years ago, we have been either overlooking its benefits or ignoring its place in modern design all together. Fortunatly there is a company that has not only paid attention, they have been researching and developing a way to bring the science based classic art to the designer with a set of modern development tools that will revolutionize the way we program and develop future designs.
In breaking down how the energy forces in nature interact with our surrounding environments is proving to be inherently in tune with feng shui principals. Through years of study and modern applications of physics, new tools are showing up and application advancements are being made available at a breakthrough pace.
Before we discuss advamcements to the application of Feng Shui, lets take a brief look at what Feng Shui is and where it came from.
Originating over 6,000 years ago by the Neolithic Chinese, feng shui was a closely guarded secret. Deliberatly excluding commoners, a feng shui master was hired by emperors, aristocrats, and the privileged elite to assure the divine leaders of harmony, balance, and continued success.
From ancient times forward, feng shui has been described as a science, an art, and even a philosophy. The practice of Feng Shui has been utilized as an architectural approach, a design method, and even labeled as a superstition. Superstition, however, may be the label most misplaced as a description.
As technology advances, we are now able to see what the acient could only "feel". We are now understanding, on a scientific level, that the flow of energy and the polarity of our planet has significant influences on our lives and the environments we live in. The energy around us, the same energy the ancient chinese called Chi (natures life force or energy), is the same energy we are utilizing to better our design methods and enhance the influential "feel" of the spacial relationships of our built environments. Feng shui is just that - the study of time (heavan chi) and space (earth chi). It combines elements of astrology and astronomy, geology, physics, mathemetics, philosophy, and intuition. It is based, in part, on modern scientific reasoning. Lets look at Albert Eistein (1879-1955) for example. He proved that matter is an illusion, a hidden form of energy. We, and the living space around us, are actually groups of interwining, connecting energy, all in flux, flowing or running together, pervading our very being. With the advent of the Theories of Reletivity and Quantum Physics, and the more recent theoretical holistic theories of physicist David Bohm, biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, it is suffice to say modern science has begun to accept the interconectivity, or "oneness" of all things.
As we advance as a society, we begin to understand the energy and physics around us to a much higher degree; we are learning that good design, places that simply make us feel better, is traditionally (in the west) a product of spacial study and the integration of proven design tools as taught at Americas top two Architecture schools California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Cornell University. What you may find most interesting, however, is that those same design tools taught in these Universities and handed down for centuries are similar in their basis, if not identical to the underlying mathematical principles of the ancient Feng Shui.
To further explain this phenomenon, we can again turn our question to science: Scientists use mathematics to explain what we cannot understand using sensory perception. Somehow, this man-made abstraction magically conforms to the principals of the universe and nature's truths. In western science Mathematics is the language of the universe; whereas the ancient Chinese understood that mathematics was the language of the gods - and the gods "spoke" to their descendants using numbers. This numeric information based on the stars eventually translated into the basis for a system of feng shui. It is by no coincidence these numbers can all be traced to the same place: The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci Sequence, and the Feng Shui Flying Star system. All respective design ratios translated and used throughout the centuries because these ratios and proportions they represented made us "feel" good when we looked at objects where these ratios existed. Not only do these series of numbers magically bring the design tools of the East and West together, they miraculously connect with nature - these sequence of number patterns can be found in the forming of the branching in trees, the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruit spouts of a pinapple, the flowering of an artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone's bracts.
So how does this relate to advancements to the application of Feng Shui today? Through the understanding of the basis of mathematics and numbers, applications are being developed to harness the power of computers, iphones, and tablets which enable us to enter specific information based on the traditional feng shui with integration of the five elements (chi expression of fire, earth, metal, water, and wood), yin/yang (express the movement and transformation of all things), and the principal of the Eight Trigrams. All of this resulting in new mapping of our world. As we all become familiar with Google Maps, and Apple Maps, the near future will bring us overlay information maps that will help us better understand the chi of ones country. A way to overlay new digital lupoan compass in your language. Plug in apps for leading BIM design CAD programs like Archicad and Autocad.
Feng shui is such a huge subject that one article, let alone a series of books on the subject, could not come close to answering all of your questions regarding the subject. 35 years ago feng shui first came to the west. Today, with the help of innovation and technology, we are seeing new opportunities where feng shui is re-inventing modern architecture. In this premiere issue of 109TM Home & Living Magazine, my intention was to introduce the basis of feng shui, offer some substantiated ideas, and create a spark of intrigue as to how we are on the cusp of a revolution in design ability. Even today people are still questioning the effectiveness of feng shui. Let me leave you with this: I can assure you that the use of feng shui and if practiced with expertice, it is every bit as effective as the curative properties of acupuncture, and if wrongly applied, every bit as devastating as effective. In upcoming issues I will be covering many more related topics expanding the ways we think about design, architecture, and the spaces around us. I look forward to sharing with you the exciting times we live in!
Scott E. Stankey
ArchFX Design Inc.