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SKIING and ARCHITECTURE
From Show Notes 002
There are obviously innumerable ways to break down the relationship between product and culture and there is reasoning behind why I find skiing and architecture so captivating.
Skiing is a sport that helps nearly 70 million people globally interact with/connect to nature. The fresh air, the powder, the trees, the terrain, incredible views, the physical exertion. Anyone who has been skiing knows how exhilarating, rejuvenating, and exhausting it can be. This deep connection and accessibility to nature is made possible through an incredible amount of human innovation. From the tech in the skis, bindings, boots, water resistant and insulated apparel—to the snowmobiles, snow cats, ski lifts, gondolas, and ski resorts in general.
I often say that Skiing is the peak of human experience because I find it to be the peak expression of the human spirit and human innovation. We’re the only species on earth tailoring nature to meet our expectations and to facilitate our survival—whether that be for good or bad. The tech and machinery surrounding the sport isn’t just for function: it transforms nature into a canvas for creativity. Instead of merely surviving in these dangerous environments, we’re flying, carving, dropping, spinning, flipping, and playfully innovating. There’s something so symbolic and beautiful about a gear head's obsession with energy transfer: all the technology from the footbed, molding, boot, and binding to the ski and it’s edge is so carefully calibrated ensuring that any energy coming from the body results in a predictable sturdy connection between the skier and the environment.
It’s clear that this sport can’t happen without the use of human innovation, engineering, and architecture. What is skiing without architectural developments, without resorts, railways, roads, infrastructure, machinery. What is free skiing without the creation of free skiing parks, rails, boxes, kickers, knuckles, super pipes? All unbelievably architectural and beautiful in their own right. And now when you add in the component of filming, photographing, editing, social media etc.—we have a whole culture built off the interaction between unbelievably dangerous, ruthless nature and a plethora of human technological innovation.
Tweets or Instagram stories, clothing, books, apparel, technical outerwear, architecture—these manifestations of culture and technological innovation range in levels of permanence. Instagram stories last 24 hours, t-shirts and apparel have a limited amount of wear, but architecture—having the greatest potential for longevity is the most consequential cultural artefact. Really successful architecture doesn’t just last forever but it reverberates back down what I’ve been calling the “cultural manifestation timeline”.
Ideas are the most disposable thing in our culture, they just come and go, people are having thousands of ideas all day everyday. ideas have to be made manifest through writing, art, design, product whatever the execution of the idea dictates. But ideas become fully realized when executed through architecture. What could make an idea more permanent than when there are buildings and structures specifically created to embody some abstraction? Connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan is just an abstract idea until a bridge is built. When it’s done as beautifully and thoughtfully as the Brooklyn bridge it becomes a new thing entirely. Any bridge connecting Manhattan to other bodies of land are “permanent” but the Brooklyn bridge has become more than a structure. The Brooklyn bridge has come to be a representation of the city and has reverberated back down through that “cultural manifestation timeline”. It has been drawn, photographed, put on t-shirts, visited, talked about, written about, tweeted about millions and millions of times. You can know your architecture is culturally successful when it has that amount of ubiquitous reverberation.
This aligns with my thesis for 77mm: If we start to reinvent the things at the bottom of this cultural manifestation timeline—socks, hats, apparel, books, technical outerwear, film, music, parties, web design, conversation—we can influence the more permanent manifestations: education, transportation, social institutions, city planning, and architecture. And, we can influence it to be as environmentally sustainable and culturally conscious as possible.
77mm, in its purest form, is an architectural practice, a city planning consultation firm, and a university. Your support is essential to our vision to create a unique, diverse, and expansive culture—manifested through architecture—born out of skiing and mountain living.