Typology: an architecture of limits: D. Kelbaugh
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Limits are essential to freedom. Physical limits can liberate and constrain us at the same time: traveling on skis or bicycle frees us to move with much greater speed than on foot, but it severely limits the ability to turn sharply, not to mention the ability to operate, say, a lawn mower. Other examples are not so obvious: being trapped in a snow-bound airport may at first seem imprisoning. If there is the slightest hope of flying, the situation can be one of high anxiety. But if there is absolutely no chance of flying, there can be a reassuring calm as social barriers fall and a free camaraderie settles in-a rare moment of freedom, community, and equality. This irony also applies to mental activities, especially cognitive ones such as sorting sensory data and classifying information. Epistemological limits, i.e., ones that limit our ways of knowing the world, are essential. Likewise, site and programmatic constraints actually make the design process easier. Unconstrained freedom is anathema to designers, who need limits as much as civilization itself needs rules, traditions, and conventions. A blank piece of paper may be welcome to an artist, but it can be intimidating to a designer.