Ecologies of Architecture

The Ecologies of Architecture (æ) is a neo-materialist research group of the Theory Chair at TU Delft Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment. It promotes a non-reductionist and transdisciplinary approach to architecture by insisting on the entanglement and irreducibility of the three ecologies, namely the environment, the psyche and the collective. The æ distances itself from anthropocentrism, rethinks subjectivity and ethics in terms of ‘inhuman’ forces within the human, emphasises heteropoiesis as the organising power of transversal onto-epistemologies, and explores the political ramifications of these processes for the discipline of architecture. Architecture does not represent culture but is a mechanism of culture, the ‘collective equipment’ traversing a set of nested temporalities (long duration). Its ambition is not to merely cater for the current needs, but to invent a new collectivity, an as yet nonexistent ‘people to come’.

The æ goes against the grain by reversing the proverbial tendency of privileging (homeo)stasis over and above metastable dynamisms. The material-discursive reality extends to the incorporeal domain. For the æ, architecture starts from the existential Territory (Umwelt) that expands towards the domain of Universes of values (subjective ideas). The energetic and semiotic Flows, that sustain it, expand towards the ever-proliferating machinic Phylum (objective ideas). The æ relies on cartography to transform the theatre of representation into the order of desiring-production. There lies a (r)evolutionary potential in creating the ‘new’, defined as the circulation of de-territorialised Umwelten and de-coded flows that resist the facile co-option by the hegemonic capturing or overcoding. The concept of ‘agential materiality’ prevents regression into pernicious reductionism of the sensible to the intelligible, of the unconscious desiring to the apperceptive volition, and of singular significance to linguistic signification.

By shifting the focus away from the usage and utility of technical objects, the æ adopts a way of thinking which no longer considers technology and culture apart. Technicity as a mode of existence circumvents the myopic fixation on invariant properties and functional attributes in favour of the temporal evolution of technical objects. Such a genealogical approach not only accounts for what the built environment will come to be, but also speculates on who will become alongside it. In a nutshell, it is not only about the why, what and how of architecture, but also on the who, who with and for whom. The former is related to environmental manipulations, the latter to transversal-ecological speculations. The æ addresses the problem of niche constructionism along the vector of subjectivation-individuation where belonging is derivative of becoming.