Project

Panarchic Codex®

Goal: Positing the potential for developing urban and peri-urban resilience to wildfires through the creation of complex adaptive architectural, material, and information systems that mimic the biochemistries, behaviours, and relationships of fire-adapted flora and fauna species, and the ecosystems they form.

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Project log

Melissa Sterry
added 4 research items
Integral to the reproductive processes of the biota of several forest, shrub, and grassland biome-types, wildfire ignites some 3,400,000km2 of Earth’s vegetated surface annually (Willis et al, 2017). Though a highly complex phenomena coupled with not one, but several Earth systems, human actions are both directly and indirectly changing wildfire frequencies, intensities, severities, and behaviours, and to the detriment of both environment and society. Nowhere is this felt more so than the wildland urban interface, which home to roughly 1/3 of the nation’s populous and 40% of its housing stock, is the fastest-growing land-use type in the conterminous United States. A place where fire-averse architectures meet increasingly fire-prone lands, loss of lives, properties, and livelihoods to a series of wildfire complexes of proportions unprecedented in living memory have rendered there an urgent need to reconsider the challenge of living with wildfire as a vital landscape process. The product of a transdisciplinary study which converged state-of-the- knowledge from fields as diverse as the fire, ecological, and wider Earth sciences; information, communication, computing, and related technologies, both digital and biological; evolutionary, smart and living materials, architectures, and urban systems; philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and policymaking, this thesis presents a new wildland urban interface paradigm modelled on the biochemistries, behaviours, and systems of fire-adapted flora and the fire regimes they form. Migrating biomimetics from the level of species to systems, relying not on generic notions of nature and its workings, nor assumptions more generally, but on rigorous interrogation of the interplay between biotic and abiotic processes from the molecular to landscape to planetary scale, and across both human and geological timescales, several original theoretical and technical architectural and urban concepts are discussed, together with their possible applications and implications both within and beyond the wildland urban interface. Integrating insights from local and global indigenous and ancient fire cultures, the findings conclude that not merely is a reconciliation of human and non-human systems at the interface of fire-prone wild and urban lands possible, but therein resides potent ecological, social, and technical potentialities that merit further research in the years ahead.
Integral to the reproductive processes of the biota of several forest, shrub, and grassland biome-types, wildfire ignites some 3,400,000km2 of Earth's vegetated surface annually (Willis et al, 2017). Though a highly complex phenomena coupled with not one, but several Earth systems, human actions are both directly and indirectly changing wildfire frequencies, intensities, severities, and behaviours, and to the detriment of both environment and society. Nowhere is this felt more so than the wildland urban interface, which home to roughly 1/3 of the nation's populous and 40% of its housing stock, is the fastest-growing land-use type in the conterminous United States. A place where fire-averse architectures meet increasingly fire-prone lands, loss of lives, properties, and livelihoods to a series of wildfire complexes of proportions unprecedented in living memory have rendered there an urgent need to reconsider the challenge of living with wildfire as a vital landscape process. The product of a transdisciplinary study which converged state-of-the-knowledge from fields as diverse as the fire, ecological, and wider Earth sciences; information, communication, computing, and related technologies, both digital and biological; evolutionary, smart and living materials, architectures, and urban systems; philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and policymaking, this thesis presents a new wildland urban interface paradigm modelled on the biochemistries, behaviours, and systems of fire-adapted flora and the fire regimes they form. Migrating biomimetics from the level of species to systems, relying not on generic notions of nature and its workings, nor assumptions more generally, but on rigorous interrogation of the interplay between biotic and abiotic processes from the molecular to landscape to planetary scale, and across both human and geological timescales, several original theoretical and technical architectural and urban concepts are discussed, together with their possible applications and implications both within and beyond the wildland urban interface. Integrating insights from local and global indigenous and ancient fire cultures, the findings conclude that not merely is a reconciliation of human and non-human systems at the interface of fire-prone wild and urban lands possible, but therein resides potent ecological, social, and technical potentialities that merit further research in the years ahead.
Melissa Sterry
added a research item
Keynote talk titled, ‘Wildfire in the Wilderness: Wildfire, Ecology, and Us’ presenting how human societies have embraced different fire cultures over time; how and why wildfire behaviour is changing; and how mimicry of pyrophytes presents compelling new opportunities in mitigating the risks that wild and urban fires present.
Melissa Sterry
added 7 research items
Integral to the reproductive processes of the biota of several forest, shrub, and grassland biome-types, wildfire ignites some 3,400,000km2 of Earth’s vegetated surface annually. Though a highly complex phenomena coupled with not one, but several Earth systems, human actions are both directly and indirectly changing wildfire frequencies, intensities, severities, and behaviours, and to the detriment of both environment and society. Nowhere is this felt more so than the wildland urban interface, which home to roughly 1/3 of the nation’s populous and 40% of its housing stock, is the fastest-growing land-use type in the conterminous United States. A place where fire-averse architectures meet increasingly fire-prone lands, loss of lives, properties, and livelihoods to a series of wildfire complexes of proportions unprecedented in living memory have rendered there an urgent need to reconsider the challenge of living with wildfire as a vital landscape process. The product of a transdisciplinary study which converged state-of-the-knowledge from fields as diverse as the fire, ecological, and wider Earth sciences; information, communication, computing, and related technologies, both digital and biological; evolutionary, smart and living materials, architectures, and urban systems; philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and policymaking, this thesis presents a new wildland urban interface paradigm modelled on the biochemistries, behaviours, and systems of fire-adapted flora and the fire regimes they form. Migrating biomimetics from the level of species to systems, relying not on generic notions of nature and its workings, nor assumptions more generally, but on rigorous interrogation of the interplay between biotic and abiotic processes from the molecular to landscape to planetary scale, and across both human and geological timescales, several original theoretical and technical architectural and urban concepts are discussed, together with their possible applications and implications both within and beyond the wildland urban interface. Integrating insights from local and global indigenous and ancient fire cultures, the findings conclude that not merely is a reconciliation of human and non-human systems at the interface of fire-prone wild and urban lands possible, but therein resides potent ecological, social, and technical potentialities that merit further research in the years ahead.
Integral to the reproductive processes of the biota of several forest, shrub, and grassland biome-types, wildfire ignites some 3,400,000km2 of Earth’s vegetated surface annually. Though a highly complex phenomena coupled with not one, but several Earth systems, human actions are both directly and indirectly changing wildfire frequencies, intensities, severities, and behaviours, and to the detriment of both environment and society. Nowhere is this felt more so than the wildland urban interface, which home to roughly 1/3 of the nation’s populous and 40% of its housing stock, is the fastest-growing land-use type in the conterminous United States. A place where fire-averse architectures meet increasingly fire-prone lands, loss of lives, properties, and livelihoods to a series of wildfire complexes of proportions unprecedented in living memory have rendered there an urgent need to reconsider the challenge of living with wildfire as a vital landscape process. The product of a transdisciplinary study which converged state-of-the-knowledge from fields as diverse as the fire, ecological, and wider Earth sciences; information, communication, computing, and related technologies, both digital and biological; evolutionary, smart and living materials, architectures, and urban systems; philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and policymaking, this thesis presents a new wildland urban interface paradigm modelled on the biochemistries, behaviours, and systems of fire-adapted flora and the fire regimes they form. Migrating biomimetics from the level of species to systems, relying not on generic notions of nature and its workings, nor assumptions more generally, but on rigorous interrogation of the interplay between biotic and abiotic processes from the molecular to landscape to planetary scale, and across both human and geological timescales, several original theoretical and technical architectural and urban concepts are discussed, together with their possible applications and implications both within and beyond the wildland urban interface. Integrating insights from local and global indigenous and ancient fire cultures, the findings conclude that not merely is a reconciliation of human and non-human systems at the interface of fire-prone wild and urban lands possible, but therein resides potent ecological, social, and technical potentialities that merit further research in the years ahead. Chapter Overview: Concluding the five-part case studies series, the proposed WUI building codes, collectively known as the Panarchic Codex, represent the convergence of insights from multiple fields of interrogation, of which the foci has been the fire regimes and the behaviours and ecologies thereof, as documented both within parts I – IV, and throughout the wider body of the thesis. These codes are intended as a point of departure that will inform yet further research into the potentialities of aligning anthropogenic architectural and urban systems to the functioning of the ever-evolving landscapes, and ultimately, Earth Systems to which they are integral. Their name a nod to the Codex Atlanticus, conceptually, the codes constitute three architectural ‘Pyro Moirai’ [fire fates], wherein, from the outset, materially, structurally, and informatically, the lifecycle of a building is synced with its pyro-environment. Though an integral part of this thesis, the codex has been designed to work as a stand- alone tool for use in architecture and planning workshops that will be attended by researchers and practitioners alike. Therefore, though paradigmatically it is a thing apart from the Californian Fires Codes of present, its format and section headers have been informed by the structure thereof. Further ways in which the codex will be utilised to continue the research initiated within the study programme include that of a thought-provocation piece within presentations, podcasts, and other on and offline media, discussions, and debates.
Integral to the reproductive processes of the biota of several forest, shrub, and grassland biome-types, wildfire ignites some 3,400,000km2 of Earth’s vegetated surface annually. Though a highly complex phenomena coupled with not one, but several Earth systems, human actions are both directly and indirectly changing wildfire frequencies, intensities, severities, and behaviours, and to the detriment of both environment and society. Nowhere is this felt more so than the wildland urban interface, which home to roughly 1/3 of the nation’s populous and 40% of its housing stock, is the fastest-growing land-use type in the conterminous United States. A place where fire-averse architectures meet increasingly fire-prone lands, loss of lives, properties, and livelihoods to a series of wildfire complexes of proportions unprecedented in living memory have rendered there an urgent need to reconsider the challenge of living with wildfire as a vital landscape process. The product of a transdisciplinary study which converged state-of-the-knowledge from fields as diverse as the fire, ecological, and wider Earth sciences; information, communication, computing, and related technologies, both digital and biological; evolutionary, smart and living materials, architectures, and urban systems; philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and policymaking, this thesis presents a new wildland urban interface paradigm modelled on the biochemistries, behaviours, and systems of fire-adapted flora and the fire regimes they form. Migrating biomimetics from the level of species to systems, relying not on generic notions of nature and its workings, nor assumptions more generally, but on rigorous interrogation of the interplay between biotic and abiotic processes from the molecular to landscape to planetary scale, and across both human and geological timescales, several original theoretical and technical architectural and urban concepts are discussed, together with their possible applications and implications both within and beyond the wildland urban interface. Integrating insights from local and global indigenous and ancient fire cultures, the findings conclude that not merely is a reconciliation of human and non-human systems at the interface of fire-prone wild and urban lands possible, but therein resides potent ecological, social, and technical potentialities that merit further research in the years ahead. Chapter Overview: Having discussed the underlying paradigmatic principles of a tri-part pangenical approach to architecture and urban design in the wildland urban interface of the western U.S., this chapter explores the codification potentialities, both present and possible future, through discussion, scenarios, and speculations.
Melissa Sterry
added an update
The Panarchic Codex™ open access website, featuring the thesis in digital format, together with podcasts, interviews, research updates, and details of upcoming events, including online lectures, can be found at:
#wildfires #fireregimes #firescience #wildlandurbaninterface #WUI #architecture #urbandesign #planning #policymaking #futures #complexsystems #systemstheory #biodesign #biomimetics #biomimicry #biotechnology #smartcities #naturalhazards #resilience #resiliencetheory
 
Melissa Sterry
added a research item
Integral to the reproductive processes of the biota of several forest, shrub, and grassland biome-types, wildfire ignites some 3,400,000km2 of Earth’s vegetated surface annually [1]. Though a highly complex phenomena coupled with not one, but several Earth systems, human actions are both directly and indirectly changing wildfire frequencies, intensities, severities, and behaviours, and to the detriment of both environment and society. Nowhere is this felt more so than the wildland urban interface, which home to roughly 1/3 of the nation’s populous and 40% of its housing stock, is the fastest-growing land-use type in the conterminous United States. A place where fire-averse architectures meet increasingly fire-prone lands, loss of lives, properties, and livelihoods to a series of wildfire complexes of proportions unprecedented in living memory have rendered there an urgent need to reconsider the challenge of living with wildfire as a vital landscape process. The product of a transdisciplinary study which converged state-of-the-knowledge from fields as diverse as the fire, ecological, and wider Earth sciences; information, communication, computing, and related technologies, both digital and biological; evolutionary, smart and living materials, architectures, and urban systems; philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and policymaking, this thesis presents a new wildland urban interface paradigm modelled on the biochemistries, behaviours, and systems of fire-adapted flora and the fire regimes they form. Migrating biomimetics from the level of species to systems, relying not on generic notions of nature and its workings, nor assumptions more generally, but on rigorous interrogation of the interplay between biotic and abiotic processes from the molecular to landscape to planetary scale, and across both human and geological timescales, several original theoretical and technical architectural and urban concepts are discussed, together with their possible applications and implications both within and beyond the wildland urban interface. Integrating insights from local and global indigenous and ancient fire cultures, the findings conclude that not merely is a reconciliation of human and non-human systems at the interface of fire-prone wild and urban lands possible, but therein resides potent ecological, social, and technical potentialities that merit further research in the years ahead.
Melissa Sterry
added a project goal
Positing the potential for developing urban and peri-urban resilience to wildfires through the creation of complex adaptive architectural, material, and information systems that mimic the biochemistries, behaviours, and relationships of fire-adapted flora and fauna species, and the ecosystems they form.