Enacting Ecological Aesthetics

People

People

Hanane Behnam

University of Stuttgart

Research Associate

I am a doctoral researcher at the Cluster of Excellence Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture (IntCDC) at the University of Stuttgart since November 2022. I graduated with a BA degree in architecture engineering at Dr. Shariaty University in 2015, and majored in architectural technology—bionic design—at the University of Tehran in 2018.‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎ 

I work on responsive architecture, bio-digital design, and sustainable design through systems of intelligent technologies and materials in building design, intending to achieve optimal results in future architecture. I am interested in inquiries into the varied nature and practice of computation in architectural design and the ways in which design meaning, intentions, and knowledge are constructed through computational thinking, representing, sensing, and making.I will contribute to the project by conceptualizing and designing the prototype in response to Bateson’s theories, supervising its fabrication, and observing the climate of these prototypical interventions using environmental sensors, which include measuring the temperature, moisture, and other pertinent environmental factors. This data will be used to track pollination activities and the overall well-being of the plants. Prototyping and codesign of various prototype elements for species comfort supports the preferences of various species, which leads to biodiversity support. I believe that innovative computational tools, processes can help to create socially meaningful responses to challenging design problems.


Links: IntCDC University of StuttgartLinkedIn



Joanna Boehnert

Bath Spa University

Co-Investigator 

I am a senior lecturer at Bath Design School, Bath Spa University and a AHRC Innovation Scholar on Transition Templates on the AHRC funded project “Transition Templates: Pathways to Netzero” working with Livework. I am the author of Design, Ecology, Politics: Towards the Ecocene (Bloomsbury, 2018).ㅤㅤ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ㅤㅤ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

Within the project I work on making key Batesonian concepts accessible and usable in the context of design for learning, social change, and sustainable transitions. A multimodal research process will be conducted to investigate sense-making across Bateson’s three ecologies: the self, the social, and the environmental. The three ecologies concept helps theorise change across domains in transition work on issues of complexity. Using visual methods, the research aims to reveal how Bateson’s ecological lens can inform contemporary design practice. By illustrating concepts such as epistemological error, extended mind, double bind, theories of logical types, meta-communication, etc. across the three domains, the work will make ecological ways of knowing tangible and actionable. This work will reflect Bateson’s own interest in theories of mind drawing on insights from when things go wrong – with a focus on learning from trauma and crisis – along with associated psychiatric disorders. The work builds on my long standing engagement with ecological theory that describes Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind as central to an ecological turn over the past five decades in social and cultural theory and, more recently, in design theory. These ideas can be foundational to a yet to be implemented ecological turn in normative design practice. 

Links: BlogTwitter | Livework

Marie Davidova

University of Stuttgart

Co-Investigator 

I am a systemic, urban and architectural designer, design researcher and educator. My research focuses on cities’ transition towards post-Anthropocene conditions with a more-than-human perspective. Within my practice, codesign and collaborative work is used for prototypical urban interventions. ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

These project ideas are publicly shared via DIY recipes, urban gamified approaches, citizen science apps, and community events. My role in the project is to develop Batesonian ideas in real life through full-scale prototypical interventions with more-than-human interconnectedness. Our team will contribute with prototyping and codesign of different aspects of the prototype. We will install responsive wood insect hotels or other species habitats. The hotel uses wood’s material properties for generating different climatic chambers, which supports the preferences of diverse species, and thus supports biodiversity. The hotel is equipped with a pollinators’ garden for the pollinators in the insect hotel. These installations will host several environmental sensors, such as a moisture meter, humidity meter, temperature meter, etc., providing data for climate monitoring of pollination activity and the wellbeing of the plants. The prototype will be marked with QR codes leading to Spot-A-Bee citizen science application for monitoring the bees and using the images for future image recognition and similar structures’ DIY recipes for public engagement.

Links: IntCDC University of StuttgartSystemic Approach to Architectural PerformanceResearchGateLinkedInTwitter

Jon Goodbun

Royal College of Art

Co-Investigator  

My research interests explore architecture in relation to cognition and the environment. My 2011 doctoral thesis – The Architecture of the Extended Mind – made a specifically spatial and architectural contribution to Gregory Bateson’s conception of an ecology of mind and an ecological aesthetics, expanding conceptions of empathy. ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎

It further explored the concept’s rich history in Young Hegelian aesthetic theory and the origins of the architectural concept of space, while drawing upon and extending three significant contributions from the Marxian tradition concerning cognitive mapping, the production of space, and the production of nature. I co-wrote the €1M Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment EU HERA research project, which resulted in several publications including The Design of Scarcity (Strelka, 2014), and my work has been published widely in the Journal of Architecture, Architectural Design, Architects’ Journal, Architecture Today, CAN, AJAR, e-flux and Radical Philosophy, most recently thinking about Green New Deal narratives.In this project I have two main research goals. Firstly to lead the research group through a series of dialogues that explore the concepts developed by Gregory Bateson, and their relevance to helping architecture and design find a role in social and environmental movements today. I will also conduct archival work looking at Bateson’s engagements (both critical and affirmative) with questions of socio-ecological planning, and some of the teaching methods and materials he used to create a learning context for growing ecological wisdom.

Stefanie Huthöfer

Bauhaus University Weimar

Research Assistant 

I am a research assistant at the Chair for Theory and History of Modern Architecture at the Bauhaus University Weimar since June 2023. I was born in 1986, and I have BA degrees in business administration and architecture, where I explored ideas related to post-growth, questions concerning technological practice and public participation. ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

I have explored these ideas furthur in different contexts of practice, such as the work I did at the planning office Luxgreen Climadesign for the KFW, reconceptualizing the redevelopment of existing buildings through considering energy parameters based on insights gained by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection, funded research project, “Maggie.” In January 2023, I completed my master’s in architecture at the Bauhaus University Weimar, where I was looking at the application of earth construction (Lehmbau) in urban housing in order to explore the technological and cultural questions related to the material and its broader applications within the German context. By using my current material practice while sharpening and linking my research to Batesonian ideas, I plan to expand my research on technology, material practice and public participation within the context of Germany and explore ways this research can contribute to current transformation discussions.

Dulmini Perera

Bauhaus University Weimar

Principal Investigator 

I am a lecturer and researcher at Bauhaus University Weimar. In my research, I look at the complex systemic relations between ecological ideas and questions concerning technology within the context of architecture and design. In my creative practice, I experiment with various dialogical and play models to explore alternative ways of engaging complex ideas. ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

Like Bateson, I believe the changes required in working with contemporary ecological problems cannot simply be brought about by better-articulating concepts but rather by developing forms of disseminating concepts that enable other forms of engagement. Within the project, I focus on how Bateson explored questions related to the technological and the ecological in relation to a meta-order (the cosmological), as evident through his theories about nature, change, mind, information, language, story, and problematic conceptual maps (‘root metaphors’). I work with archival and textual material to explore Bateson’s critique of Eurocentric forms of knowing and doing formulated through his multiple complex political, cultural, and intellectual relationships to the ‘South’, both theoretically and more concretely through his anthropological and psychiatric research. This theoretical inquiry is supplemented by a series of public discussions and workshops that set the framework for a different form of ‘storytelling’ to take place on questions related to the technological condition, decoloniality and practice setting up the possibility of foregrounding a different set of stories that link technology and design in other ways. This inquiry can contribute in transformative ways to the growing body of work focusing on technology and plurality within the ongoing ecological transformation agendas.

Links: Bauhaus University WeimarAcademia | ResearchGate

Simon Sadler

University of California Davis

Project Advisor

I teach history and theory of architecture and design at the University of California, Davis, where I am a Professor in the Department of Design. My publications include Archigram: Architecture without Architecture (MIT Press, 2005); Non-Plan: Essays on Freedom, Participation and Change in Modern Architecture and Urbanism (Architectural Press, 2000, co-editor, Jonathan Hughes); The Situationist City (MIT Press, 1998).

Like Bateson, I am a British emigre in California, and I am assisting the project’s visit to the state where Bateson lived and worked. I approach Bateson in relation to my longstanding interest in neo-avant-garde attempts to affect culture at large, and also from my perspective as current chair of a design department, to ask whether Bateson’s ideas assist the design discipline’s attempts to restore “sanity” to itself and its world—thus continuing design’s historical, quixotic efforts at reform. This research group’s proximity to institutions which have pursued such conscious, holistic purpose—including the Bauhaus, the Royal College of Art, and the University of California—makes it a compelling setting for my inquiry.

 

Links: UC Davis Academia

Ben Sweeting

University of Brighton

Principal Investigator 

I teach architecture and design at the University of Brighton, where I currently focus on introducing research literacy for postgraduate design students. My own research work is situated between the fields of architecture, systemic design, and cybernetics, with interests in foundational ethical and methodological questions.‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎  ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎  ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎  ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎  ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎  ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎‎ ‎  ‎ ‎‎

My work within the project looks to help locate Bateson’s ideas with respect to architecture and the built environment. My intentions in this are twofold: (1) I see Bateson’s ideas as offering ways in which to expand and deepen architectural design’s modes of responding to ecological crisis beyond mitigating its own negative impacts; while (2) bringing Bateson’s ideas into the context of the built environment centres the challenge of how these ideas may become enacted in ways that are not reductive. My approach includes relating Bateson’s concepts to more fully established exchanges between cybernetics and architecture, such as in the work of Gordon Pask, and developing renewed readings of Bateson’s theoretical work that explore affinities with the built environment.

Links: University of Brighton | Radical Methodologies Research GroupResearchGate 

Claudia Valverde

University of Stuttgart

Research Associate

I am a doctoral researcher at the Cluster of Excellence IntCDC (Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture) at the University of Stuttgart. From 2014 to 2022, I served as a graduate and undergraduate lecturer at the Double Degree Program of Universidad de Las Americas-NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano), Faculty of Architecture and Design, in Quito-Ecuador.‎ ‎

From 2019 I was co-initiator of the Digital Fabrication Laboratory (FAD-LAB UDLA). I am also co-founder of the KAJKAO project, a social entrepreneurship that seeks to use cocoa agricultural waste to produce bio-based materials, currently being developed in Ecuador and Singapore. I was born in 1986 in Quito-Ecuador, and completed my BA in Architecture from Universidad Central del Ecuador and a first-level Master’s degree in Industrial Design for Architecture from the Polytechnic of Milan.‎ My role in the project is to collaborate on the design, fabrication, and monitoring of co-life prototypes. These installations are the material test of aesthetics’ role in environmental matters within the built environment. I am passionate about enhancing design results by combining systems thinking with contemporary theories, methods, and instruments related to computational design and digital fabrication. This is enriched by user-centered and circular design approaches. I believe that better design solutions can be addressed with a comprehensive approach to the project that leads from design to construction through high-technology tools.

Hanane Behnam

University of Stuttgart

Research Associate

I am a doctoral researcher at the Cluster of Excellence Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture (IntCDC) at the University of Stuttgart since November 2022. I was born in 1992, graduated with a BA degree in architecture engineering at Dr. Shariaty University in 2015, and majored in architectural technology—bionic design—at the University of Tehran in 2018. I work on responsive architecture, bio-digital design, and sustainable design through systems of intelligent technologies and materials in building design, intending to achieve optimal results in future architecture. I am interested in inquiries into the varied nature and practice of computation in architectural design and the ways in which design meaning, intentions, and knowledge are constructed through computational thinking, representing, sensing, and making.

I will contribute to the project by conceptualizing and designing the prototype in response to Bateson’s theories, supervising its fabrication, and observing the climate of these prototypical interventions using environmental sensors, which include measuring the temperature, moisture, and other pertinent environmental factors. This data will be used to track pollination activities and the overall well-being of the plants. Prototyping and codesign of various prototype elements for species comfort supports the preferences of various species, which leads to biodiversity support. I believe that innovative computational tools, processes can help to create socially meaningful responses to challenging design problems.


Links: IntCDC University of StuttgartLinkedIn

Joanna Boehnert

Bath Spa University

Co-Investigator

I am a senior lecturer at Bath Design School, Bath Spa University and a Future Observatory Innovation Scholar on the AHRC funded project “Transition Templates: Pathways to Netzero” working with Livework. I am the author of Design, Ecology, Politics: Towards the Ecocene (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Within the project I work on making key Batesonian concepts accessible and usable in the context of design for learning, social change, and sustainable transitions. A multimodal research process will be conducted to investigate sense-making across Bateson’s three ecologies: the self, the social, and the environmental. The three ecologies concept helps theorise change across domains in transition work on issues of complexity. Using visual methods, the research aims to reveal how Bateson’s ecological lens can inform contemporary design practice. By illustrating concepts such as epistemological error, extended mind, double bind, theories of logical types, meta-communication, etc. across the three domains, the work will make ecological ways of knowing tangible and actionable. This work will reflect Bateson’s own interest in theories of mind drawing on insights from when things go wrong – with a focus on learning from trauma and crisis – along with associated psychiatric disorders. The work builds on my long standing engagement with ecological theory that describes Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind as central to an ecological turn over the past five decades in social and cultural theory and, more recently, in design theory. These ideas can be foundational to a yet to be implemented ecological turn in normative design practice. 

Links: BlogTwitter | Livework

Marie Davidova

University of Stuttgart

Co-Investigator

I am a systemic, urban and architectural designer, design researcher and educator. My research focuses on cities’ transition towards post-Anthropocene conditions with a more-than-human perspective. Within my practice,  codesign and collaborative work is used for prototypical urban interventions. These project ideas are publicly shared via DIY recipes, urban gamified approaches, citizen science apps, and community events.

My role in the project is to develop Batesonian ideas in real life through full-scale prototypical interventions with more-than-human interconnectedness. Our team will contribute with prototyping and codesign of different aspects of the prototype. We will install responsive wood insect hotels or other species habitats. The hotel uses wood’s material properties for generating different climatic chambers, which supports the preferences of diverse species, and thus supports biodiversity. The hotel is equipped with a pollinators’ garden for the pollinators in the insect hotel. These installations will host several environmental sensors, such as a moisture meter, humidity meter, temperature meter, etc., providing data for climate monitoring of pollination activity and the wellbeing of the plants. The prototype will be marked with QR codes leading to Spot-A-Bee citizen science application for monitoring the bees and using the images for future image recognition and similar structures’ DIY recipes for public engagement.

Links: IntCDC University of StuttgartSystemic Approach to Architectural Performance| ResearchGateLinkedInTwitter

Jon Goodbun

Royal College of Art

Co-Investigator 

My research interests explore architecture in relation to cognition and the environment. My 2011 doctoral thesis – The Architecture of the Extended Mind – made a specifically spatial and architectural contribution to Gregory Bateson’s conception of an ecology of mind and an ecological aesthetics, expanding conceptions of empathy and exploring the concept’s rich history in Young Hegelian aesthetic theory and the origins of the architectural concept of space, while drawing upon and extending three significant contributions from the Marxian tradition concerning cognitive mapping, the production of space, and the production of nature. I co-wrote the €1M Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment EU HERA research project, which resulted in several publications including The Design of Scarcity (Strelka, 2014), and my work has been published widely in the Journal of Architecture, Architectural Design, Architects’ Journal, Architecture Today, CAN, AJAR, e-flux and Radical Philosophy, most recently thinking about Green New Deal narratives.

In this project I have two main research goals. Firstly to lead the research group through a series of dialogues that explore the concepts developed by Gregory Bateson, and their relevance to helping architecture and design find a role in social and environmental movements today. I will also conduct archival work looking at Bateson’s engagements (both critical and affirmative) with questions of socio-ecological planning, and some of the teaching methods and materials he used to create a learning context for growing ecological wisdom.

 

Stefanie Huthöfer

Bauhaus University Weimar

Research Assistant

I am a research assistant at the Chair for Theory and History of Modern Architecture at the Bauhaus University Weimar since June 2023. I was born in 1986, and I have BA degrees in business administration and architecture, where I explored ideas related to post-growth, questions concerning technological practice and public participation. I have explored these ideas furthur in different contexts of practice, such as the work I did at the planning office Luxgreen Climadesign for the KFW, reconceptualizing the redevelopment of existing buildings through considering energy parameters based on insights gained by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection, funded research project, “Maggie.” In January 2023, I completed my master’s in architecture at the Bauhaus University Weimar, where I was looking at the application of earth construction (Lehmbau) in urban housing in order to explore the technological and cultural questions related to the material and its broader applications within the German context. By using my current material practice while sharpening and linking my research to Batesonian ideas, I plan to expand my research on technology, material practice and public participation within the context of Germany and explore ways this research can contribute to current transformation discussions.

 

Dulmini Perera

Bauhaus University Weimar

Principal Investigator 

I am a lecturer and researcher at Bauhaus University Weimar. In my research, I look at the complex systemic relations between ecological ideas and questions concerning technology within the context of architecture and design. Like Bateson, I believe the changes required in working with contemporary ecological problems cannot simply be brought about by better-articulating concepts but rather by developing forms of disseminating concepts that enable other forms of engagement. In my creative practice, I experiment with various dialogical and play models to explore alternative ways of engaging complex ideas.

Within the project, I focus on how Bateson explored questions related to the technological and the ecological in relation to a meta-order (the cosmological), as evident through his theories about nature, change, mind, information, language, story, and problematic conceptual maps (‘root metaphors’). I work with archival and textual material to explore Bateson’s critique of Eurocentric forms of knowing and doing formulated through his multiple complex political, cultural, and intellectual relationships to the ‘South’, both theoretically and more concretely through his anthropological and psychiatric research. This theoretical inquiry is supplemented by a series of public discussions and workshops that set the framework for a different form of ‘storytelling’ to take place on questions related to the technological condition, decoloniality and practice setting up the possibility of foregrounding a different set of stories that link technology and design in other ways. This inquiry can contribute in transformative ways to the growing body of work focusing on technology and plurality within the ongoing ecological transformation agendas.

Links: Bauhaus University WeimarAcademia | ResearchGate

Simon Sadler

University of California Davis

Project Advisor

I teach history and theory of architecture and design at the University of California, Davis, where I am a Professor in the Department of Design. My publications include Archigram: Architecture without Architecture (MIT Press, 2005); Non-Plan: Essays on Freedom, Participation and Change in Modern Architecture and Urbanism (Architectural Press, 2000, co-editor, Jonathan Hughes); The Situationist City (MIT Press, 1998), and numerous essays and articles on counterculture and design in California.

Like Bateson, I am a British emigre in California, and I am assisting the project’s visit to the state where Bateson lived and worked. I approach Bateson in relation to my longstanding interest in neo-avant-garde attempts to affect culture at large, and also from my perspective as current chair of a design department, to ask whether Bateson’s ideas assist the design discipline’s attempts to restore “sanity” to itself and its world—thus continuing design’s historical, quixotic efforts at reform. This research group’s proximity to institutions which have pursued such conscious, holistic purpose—including the Bauhaus, the Royal College of Art, and the University of California—makes it a compelling setting for my inquiry.

 

Links: UC Davis | Academia

 

Ben Sweeting

University of Brighton

Principal Investigator

I teach architecture and design at the University of Brighton, where I currently focus on introducing research literacy for postgraduate design students. My own research work is situated between the fields of architecture, systemic design, and cybernetics, with interests in foundational ethical and methodological questions.

My work within the project looks to help locate Bateson’s ideas with respect to architecture and the built environment. My intentions in this are twofold: (1) I see Bateson’s ideas as offering ways in which to expand and deepen architectural design’s modes of responding to ecological crisis beyond mitigating its own negative impacts; while (2) bringing Bateson’s ideas into the context of the built environment centres the challenge of how these ideas may become enacted in ways that are not reductive. My approach includes relating Bateson’s concepts to more fully established exchanges between cybernetics and architecture, such as in the work of Gordon Pask, and developing renewed readings of Bateson’s theoretical work that explore affinities with the built environment.

 

Links: University of Brighton | Radical Methodologies Research GroupResearchGate 

 

Claudia Valverde

University of Stuttgart

Research Associate

I am a doctoral researcher at the Cluster of Excellence IntCDC (Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture) at the University of Stuttgart. From 2014 to 2022, I served as a graduate and undergraduate lecturer at the Double Degree Program of Universidad de Las Americas-NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano), Faculty of Architecture and Design, in Quito-Ecuador. From 2019 I was co-initiator of the Digital Fabrication Laboratory (FAD-LAB UDLA). I am also co-founder of the KAJKAO project, a social entrepreneurship that seeks to use cocoa agricultural waste to produce bio-based materials, currently being developed in Ecuador and Singapore. I was born in 1986 in Quito-Ecuador, and completed my BA in Architecture from Universidad Central del Ecuador and a first-level Master’s degree in Industrial Design for Architecture from the Polytechnic of Milan.

My role in the project is to collaborate on the design, fabrication, and monitoring of co-life prototypes. These installations are the material test of aesthetics’ role in environmental matters within the built environment. I am passionate about enhancing design results by combining systems thinking with contemporary theories, methods, and instruments related to computational design and digital fabrication. This is enriched by user-centered and circular design approaches. I believe that better design solutions can be addressed with a comprehensive approach to the project that leads from design to construction through high-technology tools.