rheomode

…………………………the research base of jon goodbun

HT6 The Ecological Calculus

The Ecological Calculus

Dr Jon Goodbun

HT6 seminar at Bartlett, UCL, MA Architecture


In order to understand our place in the world today we need to understand the nature of systems – ecosystems, social and cultural systems, technical systems, spatial systems, material systems, biological systems: systems which in their dynamic and networked assemblages operate as what has been called world systems. The global economy is a mangled nest of interconnected complex systems. Our bodies and minds are a part of this, and are sympoietically produced within this, even whilst they are also constantly autopoietically re-producing their own conditions of emergence: this is the double internality of the human condition. Everything that we make, do and think changes the nature of these systems, and of ourselves, in subtle and not so subtle ways… sometimes reinforcing, sometimes undermining, sometimes transforming, sometimes bifurcating existing systems. One characteristic of complex systems’ behaviour is that they are hard to predict, hard to plan… and yet we have to manage under that condition, and we have to make choices and value judgements even whilst we lack a total cognitive mapping of our current or future possibilities. Thus every ecology (ecology is another word for a nest of complex systems) is always a political ecology. And it is in the nature of our thinking to not really understand them, to not intuitively grasp complex systems. As architects, urbanists and designers we study and co-produce important parts of these systems. The production of space – material and cognitive – is a key part of the constant reproduction of these world systems.
In this seminar we will review a series of key texts drawing upon ecological theory, cognitive science, science and technology studies and explore their often complex co-development with thinking about architecture and cities.


Each week we will approach these texts through a given dialectical frame:

affordance/abduction

entropy/order

empathy/alienation

analogue/digital

pattern/matter

planning/emergence

which together outline a new ecological calculus: an epistemology of pattern and perception.


Dr Jon Goodbun trained as an architect, and is a researcher, practitioner and educator at the RCA (MA Environmental Architecture), the University of Westminster (Msc Advanced Environmental Design), and the Bartlett (MArch). His research focuses on the intersection of ecological theory, cybernetics, cognitive science and urbanism. He is experimenting with informal teaching with Rheomode and Derailed. Recent publications include Scarcity: Architecture in an Age of Depleting Resources (Wiley) and Design of Scarcity (Strelka). He can be found online at www.rheomode.org.uk and twitter: @jongoodbun

Filed under: ecology, research, teaching

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