Notes on More-than-Human Architecture

In Gretchen Coombs, Andrew McNamara & Gavin Sade (eds.), Undesign: Critical Practices at the Intersection of Art and Design. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 24-37 (2018)
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What can the creation of artificial habitats to replace old-growth forests tell us about the process, value and future of design? This chapter takes a concrete and provocative example and uses it to rethink design as a gradual, ecological action. To illustrate this understanding, the chapter begins with a description of a proposal to provide artificial habitats for wild animals such as birds, bats and invertebrates. The controversial idea to replace rapidly disappearing old-growth trees with artificial structures puts in doubt habitual assumptions about the clients, procedures and goals of design. This example is of relevance to all design because the need to provide artificial habitats to nonhumans will be increasingly common under the influence of such phenomena as global warming or urbanisation. … The invention of artificial structures in place of natural habitats is described in this chapter as an incitement that highlights the need for further research into values, participants and methods of design. This discussion concludes with a proposal for an attitude of modesty in the face of increasingly overwhelming volumes of information as well as in the presence of an even greater ignorance about the futures of nondeterministic, volatile and incompletely controllable natural systems. The dilemma of design in these conditions is in the tension between its remit to act and the uncertainty that inescapably underlies any creative endeavour.
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