Illuminating the Innovative Mind: the Design of a Stimulating Environment to Encourage Productive Thought and Accelerate Social Evolution

Open Access
Koch, Jana Louise
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Architecture
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Darla V Lindberg, Thesis Supervisor
  • Scott W Wing, Honors Advisor
  • Architecture
  • Social
  • Evolution
  • Mind
  • Design
  • Systems Theory
  • Einstein
How does the world change? We often give credit of our society’s evolution to innovative products, radical theories, complex equations,major discoveries, and so on. All these different means of social change have one thing in common: an origin of a simple idea within the human mind. Ideas are everything. The mind is capable of wonderful, powerful things, a concept needing to be embraced by all members in our society. However, today new ideas are being encouraged from within the barricades of an office, reduced to linear, calculated processes, and stashed away as private, financial values or goals of power take precedent over social advancement. Ideas are on the verge of becoming commodities, where good ideas are valued solely for their financial potential. Our over-specialized educations, our bombardment of smart technologies that we “need” to function socially, and our reliance on the corporate world to supply us with life-changing ideas are essentially discouraging us from exploring our own minds and our capacity to contribute to this dynamic world. The dominant forces of the corporate community and the expectations of society are enabling us to become mere consumers rather than proactive, productive, and intelligent contributors to the present and future. This thesis has sprouted from the importance of productive thought, not for financial gain but for the sake of our evolution. The aim is to change the perspectives of the individual and remind us of our place and responsibilities within this social system in which we live. The intentions of this design of a sanctuary for free-flowing thoughts, is to address the disconnect with the individual mind and our over-stimulated and corporate-dominated society with an architecture dedicated to opening the minds of our public and encouraging the population to take measure of the self, the whole, and their role in our own society’s evolution. Using the techniques of Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers the world has ever seen, as well as providing the structural support for our own intellectual potential, this site will challenge the public to take part in the process of idea making. The Techne Sanctorium is designed to become the location for our next big stepping stone in the timeline of our cultural evolution. In order to inspire thought within the individual’s mind, the location for this sanctuary requires public land. In a world which values a constant state of connection via our technologies, personal interactions are becoming obsolete. This modern-day problem demands the site of this sanctuary to be available to all members of the system, where uninhibited and exploratory thinking can take place. The public park has long been a staple to the well being of the communities of Salt Lake City, allowing momentary escape from the structured daily life, in a city dominated by corporations, banks, church influence, and academic structure. However it is because of these looming powers that Salt Lake City is destined to become one of the most influential cities in the U.S. As resources, jobs, and diverse populations continue to expand exponentially each year, the public park as a viable public resource is at risk. Sugar House Park, one of the most beloved in the area, at 110-acres of open natural space and a beautiful view of the Wasatch mountain range that borders the city, is set to lose its ownership by the year 2040 with privatization seeming to be its impending doom. But if the public park can become a relevant entity in the coming years, contributing to our system’s advancement as a productive society, it can remain as public land. Within the park that breaks the city grid of Salt Lake City, the Techne Sanctorium will provide a break from the majors powers that drive our system today, becoming a center for everyone to explore their own thoughts, communicate them with others, and collectively change the world. Einstein’s ability to think productively, thus solving some of the world’s greatest anomalies, stems from two actions that are reiterated through the design of Techne Sanctorium: Analytic Meditation (understanding of the self and answering the question: how?) and Collaboration (using others to understand the whole and exploring the question: why?). In order for the individual to maximize their role in the social system, ideas must incorporate analysis of the self and the individual’s role in our world, as well as the whole, our actions’ ability to affect the overall system. Much as the mountains serve as a reminder of the power of nature, the monolithic wall that serves as the entrance to the site reminds us of our ultimate goals: to create new ideas with awareness of ones self and our responsibility to the world as a whole. To design for change, this park must reflect the pulsating world in which we live, where the only true constant of our world is its potential to completely change with the enlightenment of a new idea. This thesis recognizes that in order for a place to truly allow for new ideas, and productive thinking, it must be designed through the medium of time. As Rodger Ackoff once stated, “The only thing harder than starting something new is stopping something old.” The institutional architecture that frames our built world, have been designed for permanence, making social evolution as difficult as ever. However, in a world that constantly fluctuates from society, an architecture as nimble as the thoughts that enter and leave our minds should be present. As our minds continue to discover new paths and insights, the people can create new paths and work spaces, using this site as canvas upon which we can explore new ideas and redesign our world.