Posts filed under ‘Articles’

Science as a Vacation: A History of Ecology in Norway

Science as a Vacation: A History of Ecology in Norway,” History of Science, 45:4 (2007), 455-479.

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In the late 1960s the University of Oslo became an influential hotbed for ecologically informed policies and philosophies. This article discusses the way in which a group of ecologists came to engage the founder of Deep Ecology Arne Næss, the co-author of The Limits to Growth (1972), Jørgen Randers, the Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development Gro Harlem Brundtland, and the famed peace researcher Johan Galtung. Their ecological views grew out of a culture in which nature was understood not as a place of work but in terms of outdoor vacationing.

May 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm 1 comment

Buckminster Fuller as Captain of Spaceship Earth

Buckminster Fuller as Captain of Spaceship Earth,” Minerva, 45:4 (2007), 417-434.

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Buckminster Fuller’s experiences in the Navy became a model for his ecological design projects and suggestions for the global management of ‘Spaceship Earth’. Inspired by technocratic ideas of the 1930s, Fuller envisaged, in the 1970s, an elitist world without politics, in which designers were at the helm, steering the planet out of its environmental crises.

May 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

Graphic Language: Herbert Bayer’s Environmental Design

Graphic Language: Herbert Bayer’s Environmental Design,” Environmental History, 12:2 (2007), 254-279.

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Environmental debates are greatly indebted to artistic communication. This article discusses the work of the former faculty member of the German Bauhaus school, Herbert Bayer, who introduced modernist imagery in relation to globalization, conservation values, and maps dealing with environmental concerns in the United States. His Romantic defense of environmental design demonstrates that the humanist legacy of modernism has made more constructive contributions to the history of environmental debate than its critics have been willing to admit. Bayer’s global humanism and environmental designs created a visual language of colors, images, symbols, and dynamic illustrations that aimed at harmonizing human relationships with the natural world.

May 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Biology and the Bauhaus

Biology and the Bauhaus,” Tate etc., 6 (Spring 2006), 48-55.

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May 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

Bauhaus at the Zoo

Bauhaus at the Zoo,” Nature, 439 (23 Feb. 2006), 916.

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This article argues that modernist designers in the 1930s found inspiration in the life sciences.

May 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

The Closed World of Ecological Architecture

The Closed World of Ecological Architecture,” The Journal of Architecture, 10:5 (2005), 527-552.

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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)

May 23, 2011 at 11:59 am Leave a comment

The Bauhaus of Nature

The Bauhaus of Nature,” Modernism/Modernity, 12:2 (2005), 229-251.

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This article examines the history of architecture based upon ecological principles. The point of departure is the architectural debate in London in the 1930s in which former faculty members of the Bauhaus school engaged with ecologists with regards to the methods of designing in harmony with nature. László Moholy-Nagy, for example, developed a design methodology inspired by the ecologist Raoul H. Francé which sought to copy nature’s workshop. This “bio-technique” (or bionics) became the methodology for his design in London and later for the New Bauhaus school in Chicago. Berthold Lubetkin was inspired by similar ideas in his design of the penguin pool at the London Zoo. The geometric order of the pool reflected promising new mathematical research tools in biology, as well as a social concern for the health and evolutionary survival of the human species. Some of the same concerns were apparent in the visionary ecological design for the film Things to Come (1936) written by H. G. Wells. Inspired by the Bauhaus style of architecture and city planning, the film portrayed an environmentally friendly ecotopia based on the science of human ecology. This article offers a history of architecture inspired by social studies of science and patronage methodology.

May 23, 2011 at 11:55 am Leave a comment

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