I'm not going to use the words 'green' or 'sustainable'. Truly we have always know of these ideas, lived them to a larger extent (in many cultures around the world) without the commercialized use of these terms, without the "greening" of anything. So how have we forgotten about these basics of life? How have we forgotten what it means to be a part of our environment so seamlessly? These are fundamental questions that seem easily exposed when visiting places inherently part of a larger system.
I recently revisited a historic garden in the far south on the Korean peninsula. Maintained for over five hundred years, Soswaewon has passed through successive generations as a place of seclusion, meditation and scholarly discourse. It has passed through the hands of political outcasts, scholars, invading governments (Japan) and was subsequently rebuilt after Colonial destruction. In Korea, it is one of the most recognized historical places of its kind and continues to represent uncompromising points of view regarding 'constructing' in the context of nature. Balance has been established through relationships.
Soswaewon is composed of a meandering wall which, encloses the garden on all sides except to the southeast where the site is bound by a small creek. The wall shifts from edge boundary to internal divisor and in doing so separates a small structure (a residence of the host) situated at the highest elevation in the garden. An even smaller residence for a guest placed at the lowest elevation just below the hosts house. At the middle of the garden the wall encloses a small outdoor space of meditation, or what one can assume was the past function of this 'outdoor room'. The wall continues to transform over the restricted distance of the valleys shifting topography, giving way to altered functions. The wall rises and falls, responding to both nature and human necessity. Its function oscillating between boundary and permeability, being seen and being invisible, exposing and concealing. The expression of which is a clear reflection of a balanced existence.