Unlimited: Climate = Culture

Dr Julianne Schultz said some thought provoking things at the Unlimited Symposium on Wednesday.  One thing I noted was this idea how Melbourne was most known for art and design and had “the type of climate to be introspective”.   I found this interesting as it insinuated that colder climate meant more time indoors, perhaps more time in making things and going to galleries etc.   She mentioned that our climate meant Queensland design was more pragmatic.   Prehaps hinting our warmer climate was one where most people relish to be outdoors, therefore no time to fuss about.

This tie with climate came up again in the Emergent City Workshop when CJ Lim was at our table he asked “what do people come to Brisbane for?”.  On the topic of climate, one comment came up around housing design.  I have previously understood how climate might change thinking in built form (solar orientation, materials) and aspects like outdoor dining and public interfaces.   But it was fascinating when someone who migrated from Adelaide, noted how the large windows and openings for natural ventilation (in Queenslanders) meant they starkly noticed that they didn’t even have the walls for their art.  It made me think of how the consequences of climate are perhaps way deeper than I’d really thought about.

Is our lovely sunny weather making us appear “uncultured”?

Last week, I had too started to think about climate and how it influences in many other ways.  I was in LAX Airport, and for the first time confronted by a lot of Australians.  I watched the crowd, eavesdropped on conversations, seeing the way people dressed and thinking how “bogan” some Australians guys were.   I started to formulate a theory that New York/Toronto people were probably more attractive because of climate.  Jackets, coats and scarfs and the like, instantly make men look different – it somehow has a class and sexiness.  It is probably partly why Melbourne is also seen as a trendier and more sophisticated place than perhaps Brisbane. It is true, that warmer climate makes us dress more casual or in different colours.  And it isn’t a bad thing, it just is what it is

Toronto was the first time I was living in snow and seeing distinct seasonal change, I definitely started to see how climate does influence cities, people, lifestyle and culture.  More and more I continue to recognize this is many other ways.   I would therefore put the challenge that innovation and smart design could come from putting climate in the centre of design thinking.


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