Sustainable Architecture Assemblages

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This chapter is structured in three parts that use different entry points to approach sustainable architecture as a condition of a material assemblage that combines concepts, buildings, structures, educational and professional practices, political and financial conditions, global technologies, local techniques, friendships, alliances, weather conditions and apparatuses of capture. Part 1 provides a thinking device for discussing architecture’s lively matter beyond the straitjacket of sustainability guidelines and questions the Siamese birth that ties sustainability to development. In Part 2, Waterbanks—PITCHAfrica case study—unfolds the complex assemblage of sustainable architecture operations in Africa. In Part 3, both authors reflect on the architecture knowledge assemblage within which their alternative professional and educational practice emerged. Can their experimentations with ATOPIA and SARCHA be understood as ‘sustainable’ architecture practices? To formulate differently the chapter’s main question: Can ‘sustainable’ architecture be produced only within a different mindset that generates another type of practice and education?

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This essay seeks to try to decipher key mechanisms of our major global governance systems. Here I confine myself to the global political economy and its governance mechanisms, aimed largely at helping the former work better and unconcerned with issues of social justice. One key outcome of this combination of political economy and governance mechanisms is the increased expulsions of people, places and smallholder economies from what we might refer to as the mainstream economy. This is a process that began in the 1980s in much of the world and is present even in countries with high growth rates. The fact that this period also saw unexpectedly high concentration of benefits in a robust 20% at the top of the income structure invites an interrogation of what we have come to designate as global governance.1 My question is global governance for whom?
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Does technological innovation to improve the efficiency of energy-using products and systems lead to lower energy consumption and hence reduced environmental impacts? The answer given by economists since the mid-19th century is ‘no’. This is because there are direct ‘rebound’ or ‘take-back’ effects caused by energy efficiency improvements that lower the implicit price of energy, often leading to greater consumption. Also there are secondary or indirect effects of reducing energy costs through efficiency in that consumers may buy more products and/or choose, larger, more powerful, more feature laden models. Thus just promoting technical innovation to increase energy efficiency is unlikely to lead to reduced energy consumption and emissions. Other policies such as taxation or regulation are required.As well as setting the theoretical arguments concerning innovation and energy efficiency the paper outlines results from an empirical research project, ‘People-centred eco-design’, which seeks to identify the key influencing factors on consumer adoption and effective use of energy efficient products and systems. In particular it aims to identify how consumers may avoid (or mitigate) rebound effects and how manufacturers, service providers and government might design and promote such products to achieve their optimal environmental benefits.
The very spread of the word "design" from daily objects to cities and ecosystems, is taken here as a symptom of an interesting switch in the theory of action that has been typical of modernism. The paper review five connotations of the verb "to design" and analyze them as an alternative to the notion of "construction" and "fabrication". It then presents the work of Peter Sloterdijk has a crucial contribution to the philosophy of design. It shows especially how Sloterdijk' notion of explicitation allows to reconsider materiality (a materiality to which design has always been sensitive) but freed from naturalization as well as from the balancing act between form and function. Finally, it offers a challenge to the design theorists for inventing the tools that could allow this philosophy of design to "draw together" matters of concern.
In Vibrant Matter the political theorist Jane Bennett, renowned for her work on nature, ethics, and affect, shifts her focus from the human experience of things to things themselves. Bennett argues that political theory needs to do a better job of recognizing the active participation of nonhuman forces in events. Toward that end, she theorizes a “vital materiality” that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as theeffect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces. She suggests that recognizing that agency is distributed this way, and is not solely the province of humans, might spur the cultivation of a more responsible, ecologically sound politics: a politics less devoted to blaming and condemning individuals than to discerning the web of forces affecting situations and events. Bennett examines the political and theoretical implications of vital materialism through extended discussions of commonplace things and physical phenomena including stem cells, fish oils, electricity, metal, and trash. She reflects on the vital power of material formations such as landfills, which generate lively streams of chemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can transform brain chemistry and mood. Along the way, she engages with the concepts and claims of Spinoza, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Darwin, Adorno, and Deleuze, disclosing a long history of thinking about vibrant matter in Western philosophy, including attempts by Kant, Bergson, and the embryologist Hans Driesch to name the “vital force” inherent in material forms. Bennett concludes by sketching the contours of a “green materialist” ecophilosophy.
With the fall of communism, there is a risk that democracy either falls into the pattern of seeking unanimity and a lack of struggle over issues, or into a pattern of seeking conflict based on identity or other non-useful characteristics so easily grapsed by the far right. Mouffe argues instead for a third way - agonistic pluralism. This respects that politics needs adversaries, but not adversaries who consider one another enemies.
The most immediate impact of scarcity on architecture is the insufficient supply of building materials. As Jon Goodbun and Karin Jaschke explain, this requires an engagement with more than the direct influences on the exhaustion of natural resources. Looking beyond the conventional capitalist model of flows driven by ‘the market’, they look at how new ideas on materialism are demanding a radical revision of the relationship between matter and social, economic and political forces.
In this groundbreaking editorial and curatorial project, more than 100 writers, artists, and philosophers rethink what politics is about. In a time of political turmoil and anticlimax, this book redefines politics as operating in the realm of "things." Politics is not just an arena, a profession, or a system, but a concern for things brought to the attention of the fluid and expansive constituency of the public. But how are things made public? What, we might ask, is a republic, a "res publica," a public thing, if we do not know how to make things public? There are many other kinds of assemblies, which are not political in the usual sense, that gather a public around things--scientific laboratories, supermarkets, churches, and disputes involving natural resources like rivers, landscapes, and air. The authors of "Making Things Public"--and the ZKM show that the book accompanies--ask what would happen if politics revolved around disputed things. Instead of looking for democracy only in the official sphere of professional politics, they examine the new atmospheric conditions--technologies, interfaces, platforms, networks, and mediations that allow things to be made public. They show us that the old definition of politics is too narrow; there are many techniques of representation--in politics, science, and art--of which Parliaments and Congresses are only a part. The authors include such prominent thinkers as Richard Rorty, Simon Schaffer, Peter Galison, Richard Powers, Lorraine Daston, Richard Aczel, and Donna Haraway; their writings are accompanied by excerpts from John Dewey, Shakespeare, Swift, La Fontaine, and Melville. More than 500 color images document the new idea of what Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel call an "object-oriented democracy."
It has been described as a "tame longing without any particular object" by Schopenhauer, "a bestial and indefinable affliction" by Dostoevsky, and "time's invasion of your world system" by Joseph Brodsky, but still very few of us today can explain precisely what boredom is. A Philosophy of Boredom investigates one of the central preoccupations of our age as it probes the nature of boredom, how it originated, how and why it afflicts us, and why we cannot seem to overcome it by any act of will. Lars Svendsen brings together observations from philosophy, literature, psychology, theology, and popular culture, examining boredom's pre-Romantic manifestations in medieval torpor, philosophical musings on boredom from Pascal to Nietzsche, and modern explorations into alienation and transgression by twentieth-century artists from Beckett to Warhol. A witty and entertaining account of our dullest moments and most maddening days, A Philosophy of Boredom will appeal to anyone curious to know what lies beneath the overwhelming inertia of inactivity.
Obra teórica de una sociología de las asociaciones, el autor se cuestiona sobre lo que supone la palabra social que ha sido interpretada con diferentes presupuestos y se ha hecho del mismo vocablo un nombre impreciso e inadecuado, además se ha materializado el término como quien nombra algo concreto, de manera que lo social se convierte en un proceso de ensamblado y un tipo particular de material. Propone retomar el concepto original para hacer las debidas conexiones y descubrir el contenido estricto de las cuestiones que están conectadas bajo la sociedad.
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