As part of our ongoing investigations with the architecture of ecological processes, this year we have challenged our students to design spaces that support the growth and dissemination of living system design knowledge: for the individual learner, the collective, and society.
Living systems design is understood as a set of creative and experimental practices (built and grown architectures, art, gardening ...) that design with the environmental, societal, and intra-personal ecologies nested within sites, caring for the emergent creativity of existing complex systems instead of erasing or fixing them into static visions.
Students began semester one by collectively researching examples of such design processes. Each then developed a design for a space (studio, garden, school) to host their chosen form of practice/learning on a site in Harrow. Many of the projects were durational and were intended to be re-made over time as the living systems design processes were performed.
From this, in semester two the students developed designs for larger institutes to grow and disseminate multiple forms of practice and research, located on the nearby University of Westminster campus. They focussed on various specialisms such as Sympoetic Arts, Biodesign, Co-making, Entropic and Negentropic creativity, Materials Reuse. Some organisations are guilds of practitioners, others provide for artistic and/or academic residencies, while some are experimental design schools.
The institutes are understood as scaffolds supporting the development of a plurality of practices, places for sharing knowledge and for multidisciplinary research communities to develop. This has led to four flexible typological approaches: large floorplate “support” systems, village like arrangements around squares, 3D modular systems creating complex topographies, and large sheds (or tent) structures for large-scale production. Most schemes have deep and porous, lived-in edges through which the exchanges between climate, humans, and other species, can be dynamically negotiated.
We'd like to thank our critics:
Anna-Marie Versteeg (Ivanov Versteeg Architecture)
Christina Geros (MA Environmental Architecture Programme, Royal College of Art)
Hwei Fan Liang (MArch, University of East London)
Jenny Dunn (Social practice designer)
Jenny Kingston (MUF)
Keb Garavito (Pilbrow and Partners)
Philip Longman (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
Tim Waterman (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
As well as our guides in Berlin:
Sandra Jasper (Humboldt-Universität, Berlin)
Poligonal – Office for Urban Communication
Brandlhuber+ – Architects and Urban Planners