The Closed World of Ecological Architecture
“The Closed World of Ecological Architecture,” The Journal of Architecture, 10:5 (2005), 527-552.
This article explores how and why imagined and real environments in space came to serve as models for ecological design of earthly landscapes and buildings in the 1970s. It claims that life in space came to represent the peaceful, rational, and environmentally friendly alternative to the destructive, irrational, ecological crisis down on Earth. Spaceship management aimed narrowly at the biological survival of astronauts, an ethic which also came to dominate ecological design proposals on board Spaceship Earth. The result was a design programme which was at the expense of a wider aesthetic and social understanding of the human condition. The article reviews the work of leading ecological designers of the period, such as Ian L. McHarg, John Todd and the New Alchemists, Alexander Pike and John Frazer, Brenda and Robert Vale, Ken Yeang, Phil Hawes, and others. It situates their projects in the perspective of ecological research methods of the period and puts forward an understanding of their thinking in the context of space exploration. Today’s challenge is to escape the intellectual space capsule that ecologists have created for environmentally concerned architects.
Updated version published as “Ouroboros Architecture” (2016)