Brown Bag Lab Lunch Series


return to schedule

add a new review

Reviews of Human Limb Objects and the Law of Mechanical Selection:

  • Ann Marie Sager

    As usual, Alex delivers a well-heeled lecture. We all need to study his method of organization and presentation. I've been a fan since Arch 350!
    When a 'tool' has been designed to a point where no more tweaking is needed (the bottle, the bicycle), then we are freed creatively. Corbu's thoughts on the 'Minimum House' and 'the house is a machine for living' are extensions of the idea of Human Limb Objects. Can a home be designed to a liberating perfection? Can we then mass-produce that home? Have we experienced that with pre-fab homes and do they meet all of our needs? Yes, we're all human with the same basic needs but we're also unique. Stamping out identical homes isn't the kind of architecture I'm drawn to, no matter how economical and practical.

    edit this review

  • Diana P Ayala

    It seem that Prof. Alex Anderson gave a great lecture about Human Limb Objects and the Law of Mechanical Selection.

    edit this review

  • John Christopher Mayfield

    Ah, this was the day I forgot to bring my notebook. Since my memory is naturally inferior and needs to be suplimented with pencil and paper, I'm probably forgetting some important stuff.

    This was the first time I had heard about the Law of Mechanical Selection, and it struck me as a very accurate and insightful way of thinking about the creation of standardized objects. As in natural selection, the best objects--the most efficient, most useful, and most aestheically pleasing ones--come to be accepted, and the poorer versions are replaced by new, experimental ones.

    Creating architecture through selective standardization seems difficult to me, however. On one hand, a great deal of such selection has already taken place, and the existing standards for spaces do tend to work well. On the other, no development is possible without experimentation--experimentation which is sometimes difficult and dangerous in our conservative profession.

    The possibility of creating a single standard house capable of adapting to the individual user is certainly a worthy goal. I'll have to follow those sorts of projects more closely from now on.

    edit this review

  • Ferdinand Laurino

    ¡°Form ever follows function¡± by Sullivan. Alex argument of how human beings instinct to adapt and change tools to better themselves is true. Everyday the human race are challenge with new problems that needed to be resolve for us to move on. That¡¯s why we have user research group just to understand how human interact with an object from a hummer to a transducer to design and improve current products to be integrated well to the user. It is very important not to forget to add the human factor when designing a product to be successful in today¡¯s market.

    edit this review

  • Rosanne Weiling Chien

    The Law of Mechanical Selection seems very common sense. Ideally, tools are used to help improve whatever we are trying to do, and thus can be considered an extension of ourselves. Yet with time, we are able to improve our tools of yesterday, and hopefully make them better for today. But in today's case, it seems as though we are trying to improves tools for tools sakes, as a way for manufacturers to make more money. Granted that this is a good idea since todays society believes that compact and efficiency is important, almost necessary for "survival", we seem to be taking it to a whole new step, with everything being lightweight and compact and small, yet have the capacity to perform thousands of different tasks. But when I go and buy items that are so compact and lightweight, I get worried that I may be missing out on the durability of the item. If I drop it, will it break. And going back to the comcept of Law of Mechanical Selection, we would think that this era of lightweight and compactness will soon disappear, unless things will stop breaking all the time. And ideally, since objects are considered extensions of our body, we don't want them to break because then our bodies would indirectly be breaking. And then we will not be improving ourselves, but hurting ourselves in the end, which is not what we want at all!

    edit this review

  • Ethan Hilleary Whitesell

    Alex's lecture was very interesting and thought provoking. It seems only natural that architecture would follow the laws of selection just as everything else in the world. It is always nice to have the opportunity to listen to ALex lecture.

    edit this review

  • Gregory Nathaniel Heasley

    I thought this lecture was really quite interesting. As a person who leans toward the analytical, the Law of Mechanical Selection fits very nicely into my desire to place everything into a box. Unfortunately, I believe, architecture cannot be placed into this box quite so easily. The problem, at it's core, is that archticture is as much art as it is science and as much science as it is art. I'm convinced that since architecture, as we know it, began people like us have been trying to pigeon hole it into something we can easily wrap our brains around - Vitruvius? Ledoux? It never hurts to keep trying.

    edit this review

  • Eithon Michael Cadag

    This was an interesting talk. It gave a very unique spin on the development of tools, and in general the design of objects to accomodate their human inhabitants and users. The general idea seemed very similar to that of Don Norman's book, "Design of Everyday Things", which discusses the development of objects to cater to a sense of usability. The discussion, however, brought this idea to habitation, and I thought it was a very interesting way of viewing the spaces where people lived and worked.

    edit this review

  • John Hilgeman

    Well, the theory presented by Alex may explain why most of my Dad's tools work better than mine. Most of his tools are old, heavy, and high powered, whereas most of mine are light, plastic and wireless. Hopefully, in a few years, the current "lightweight" revolution will produce some solid designs.
    I have no doubt that any new design - be it for tools, shelter, cloting, etc. - will either fail or become involved in a process of evolution. I do find it interesting that, like biological evolution, some fantasic designs fail simply because of the circumstances in the environment. With animals, a species may evolve on an island and, due to isolation, never have the opportunity to encounter the larger world. With man made designs, a great design might happen just in time for a recession and fail for lack of a market. I have seen examples of both and am always interested in recovering good concepts that have been lost on failed designs. Unfortunately, until bioengineering decides to take on the task, the lost species are kinda screwed.

    edit this review

  • Scott Brandon McDonald

    Prof. Anderson is one of the better speakers we've had. Some of the other presenters should take note his organization and delivery. Other than that, I was not very impressed, mostly because I am not the biggest fan of Le Corbusier. Not that I am against modernism, but I don't think Le Corbusier's ideas were that good, nor do I think he was a decent artist. It was interesting, however, to see the progression of objects we use. Utility does seem to inform the design of many things.

    edit this review