The architect Michael B. Lehrer describes design as a moral enterprise, finding beauty in chaos and in places where people usually don’t look for value. He illustrates his view of designers’ moral enterprise with examples of award-winning work:
Design–beyond visual or functional satisfaction, beyond a sense of well-being, beyond cache–asks the simple question: What is the LEAST resource needed to achieve an EXCELLENT outcome? Contradistinctive from “cheap”, it posits this challenge for an ethical, mindful life. It is about value: the value of value. The value of values.
Vitruvius, the great ancient Roman (and first) architectural theorist declares economy–the best for the least –a cardinal virtue of architecture. He elaborates this through the idea of appropriateness, using what is necessary /possible to achieve excellence.
For the architect, it suggests that there are no throwaway spaces. Find value/beauty where others don’t or can’t. In parking lots and chain link fence. Mine each situation for its inherent/usually-latent beauty. This trajectory, ultimately, is from shit to gold. It is potent, it is moral, it is magical.