|Editorial Introduction – Sustainable, Smart and Systemic Design Post-Anthropocene: Through a Transdisciplinary Lens|
Marie Davidová, Susu Nousala, Thomas J. Marlowe
Sustainability as related to the environment is now just over 50 years old. In that time, especially in regard to human artifacts such as architecture, it has largely focused on human priorities, and how they need to be modified to address or rectify environmental and ecological challenges. A new, post-anthropocene view suggests that it is also important to consider the environment as more than a backdrop whose state and appearance must be maintained, but rather as an actor in its own right, with its own interests, including the interests of the living non-human actors in the local ecology. This special issue seeks to explore this wider notion, and the editors view our introduction as an opportunity to present the journal theme, to introduce the authors and place its papers in context, and to welcome researchers and practitioners to explore this topic further.
Systems Changes Learning: Recasting and Reifying Rhythmic Shifts for Doing, Alongside Thinking and Making
Entering 2023, the Systems Changes Learning Circle completed in its fourth year of 10-year journey on "Rethinking Systems Thinking". In a contextural action learning approach, the Circle has elevated rhythmic shifts as the feature that both resonates with practitioners in the field, and fits with a post-colonial philosophy of science bridging classical Chinese thought with Western professional practices. This multiparadigm inquiry recasts and reifies the activities of doing (praxis), thinking (theoria) and making (poiesis). The facility with this approach is deepened through three levels: (i) educating of attention, orienting novices towards contrasting modes of thought; (ii) learning for co-relating, lending a way for practitioners to critically appreciate their situations, and (iii) learning for articulating, aiding mentors to guide groups productively through mutual learning style.
Evaluating the Impact of Preconditions for Systemic Human and Non-human Communities
This paper discusses and examines the concept of preconditions and their possible impact on any systemic supporting structures related to human and non-human ecological communities. Preconditions are defined and discussed in this work as phenomena that exist, seen or unseen, as part of the initial stages of a developing community system (for both human and non-human). Recent evaluations of cases and models have highlighted how preconditions may enhance or weaken developing support structures of any ecological community system. These observations and outcomes were based on several previous cases, with targeted literature reviews and field work. The research spans across several different disciplines, with a common emergent thread, based on insights afforded by an interdisciplinary approach. The impact of preconditions within systems of sustainable ecological community structures, are essentially virtual with emergent physical properties and outcomes.
The practical and ecological community implications of this work lie in the provision of better insights into the how, why, and what are the existing, dynamic conditions towards sustained, future community development. The impact on dynamic community evolution involves countless dynamic relationships. This work presents reviews, based on evaluations on a range of approaches to capture a sense of what occurs within these complex environments and the abilities we need to visualize and communicate these actions. These virtual, and ultimately physical, transitional states are very relevant when considering the impact of what are essentially, bottom-up relationships. This work highlights the importance and impact of preconditions within an ecological community, and the dynamics involved with achieving a sustained state or “equilibrium”, whilst attempting to absorb new conditions that the community may be encountering.
Post-Anthropocene_2.0: Alternative Scenarios through Nature/Computing Coalition Applicable in Architecture
Concepts of the Post-Anthropocene often depict dystopian futures where land is occupied by giant machines performing repetitive tasks and replicating and fixing other machines. This speculation amplifies what is to be today’s solution for the efficient management of available assets, supported by hardware, software, and Artificial Intelligence technologies. However, it also portrays a dehumanising future where Earth has totally been succumbed to the machinic dogma, and for which architecture is no longer made for people. In response to this unsettling scenario, an alliance between nature as a source of references and computing explaining its systemic logic is considered, offering a pathway to reharmonize architecture’s scope with the greater ecology. Moreover, semantic analogies are drawn between holistic models of physical space and nature’s operational and organisational principles developed since early modernism. This sums up to a paradigm shift that employs cross-disciplinary concepts, cultural knowledge, political ideologies, technology and computing altogether to respond to critical challenges of sustainable thinking for the Post-Anthropocene introduced in architecture’s core discourse.
Applying a Systemic Approach for Sustainable Urban Hillside Landscape Design and Planning: The Case Study City of Chongqing in China
Xiao Hu, Magda Sibley, Marie Davidová
Rapid urbanization has led some Chinese cities to extend to hillside sites with recurrent patterns of flattening sloping terrain to erect high rise buildings. This approach usually results in disturbing local ecosystems which protection is an important requirement towards achieving the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Studies examining the special patterns of urban extensions onto hills and the driving forces of behind the deterioration of environmental quality in cities are scarce. This paper aims to answer two questions; “What are the definitions and goals for sustainable landscape design for hillside urban extensions?” and “What are the real causes for the unsustainability of current urban hillside housing developments?” These questions will be approached, first through a literature review, and second through considering the case study of Chongqing Yue Lai eco-city and examining the limitation and remediation through the whole process of the land construction loop within the systemic approach. This article illustrates how sustainable urban hillside landscape design and planning can be achieved by balancing the priorities of four key stakeholders (government, developers, city dwellers, and local ecosystem). This calls for shifting from the central planning system dominated by local governments by including the equally important priorities of its citizens (human actors) and non-human actors (ecosystem).
Rethinking Sustainability: Mapping Microclimatic Conditions on Buildings as a Regenerative Design Strategy
Once humankind became aware of environmental problems, more opportunities were open for research and discoveries, which expanded the boundaries, and gave force to sustainability in architecture. However, in sustainability, any damage caused by human development is not considered, and in numerous cases, the term is misused. Many interventions are underpinned 'green' and 'sustainable' but are unable to provide any benefit to the environment. This misconception reflects the individualistic attitude that human development has concerning the planet. Therefore, considering the built environment as part of the natural environment can be beneficial in developing different strategies for producing sustainable and regenerative projects. Combining nature with architecture can help to trigger empathy and respect, generating new relationships between humans and nature. This paper will critique the misappropriation of the term sustainability and exhibit concepts of regenerative design, which will scaffold a conceptual framework of treating the building as part of the landscape. The relevance of the presented framework is that the building is thought of as a feature in the landscape that creates microclimatic conditions for various plant habitats, and it has the potential to become a tool to include regenerative principles in the urban context.