There seems to be a need for order and regulation within our current mindset, particularly in the realm of design, and that is translated in to our manifestations. Our architecture and urban designs try to force a deterministic agenda when the surrounding in terms of buildings and more so, people are indeterministic in nature. What is ideal today may not be the case tomorrow as environmental, cultural, political, and economical constructs are constantly ever-changing. Architectural design serves as an answer to programmatic, contextual, and lifecycle attributes that are predicted to occur. However, this does not allow for flexibility when the complexities and transformation of the surrounding arise; and the ease of change is much more prevalent today than ever before due to technological advances. The works of Archigram established a discourse of the uncertainty within architecture: as Peter Cook states, “buildings with no capacity to change can only become slums or ancient monuments.” This applies to the discourse of historic preservation as well. Historic preservation should to take into account the elements of uncertainty, and to focus on adapting to time more regularly and correctly in order to satisfy mindsets of current and future generations.
Cities are made up of urbs and civitas, and both are dependent on one another. That goes on to smaller scales as buildings and people that inhabit them are mutually dependent. Thus, when buildings lose their use value, or even exhibit weak characteristics of use value, they do not contribute to the civitas holistically. Weak characteristics do not address social, political, economic, environmental, or religious aspects of current or future generations. When the main focus of historic preservation solely concerns visual elements of a building; when we strive to restore a building to an image of its former glory or leave it to age aesthetically and disregard its possible usage to current and future situations, then they become tourist attractions that serve temporary flocks of usage rather than fulfill the needs of a thriving community. So, What happens when our role in historic preservation and architecture refrains from the stagnant effects of nostalgia? Do not rely solely on the visual elements of historic, age, and art value and instead fuse it with use value? And most importantly, accommodate to change and unpredictably of the environment? We do not need to domesticate or tame disorder but in fact embrace pandemonium.
Alternate Savannah attempts to infuse these points into the city of Savannah. The Great Depression crippled many businesses in the city, and as a result, it declined over the subsequent years economically. Only by the late 20th century did is starting growing again. The project thus demonstrates an alternate reality to the city of Savannah; one that shifted direction on the historic timeline by 1930. What if people took a different approach around that time? Instead of passively reacting to the economic downturn, what if people were more direct, active, and took risks by adapting to the abrupt change in society? What if people took to the streets to address their grievances with the banks and governments and slowly destroyed parts of the city in the process? How do we adapt to that?
The mindset of Alternate Savannah is one that adapts to abrupt changes. People do not care about visual aesthetics and do not care to demolish partially destroyed buildings; they make use of the situation to meet their current needs and will find ways to accommodate when things change in the future. They are radical adapters.