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Systems architecture: a new model for sustainability and the built environment using nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science with living technology
Armstrong R. Artificial Life16 (1):73-87,2010.Type:Article
Date Reviewed: Mar 14 2011

Despite the current focus on sustainable architecture, and despite the labeling of some contemporary practices and buildings as “green,” Western architecture is not eco-friendly. We still build as we did in Victorian days, conquering and subduing nature instead of cooperating with it. Spiller, an architect and the director of the Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research (AVATAR) Group, theorizes that the poor environmental performance of modern architecture is due to a fixation on creating immutable objects instead of creating dynamic, adaptable systems.

Spiller and Armstrong, the paper’s author, hosted a multi-disciplinary conference in 2009 at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London to discuss built environments from a systems architecture point of view. Architects met with nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science practitioners to present and discuss alternative perspectives. At the seminar, Spiller and Armstrong proposed a new framework for evaluating sustainability that examines the flow of energy and information between natural and built environments through the lens of complexity science. They project the development of new materials and techniques that would allow the linking of the two environments through specific hubs.

This paper summarizes Spiller and Armstrong’s foundational principles, and then chronicles the 2009 conference. The narrative is barely more than conference minutes, but it covers such interesting material that it stays lively. Anyone involved in architecture should appreciate the paper, but it would also be of interest to anyone trying to start multi-disciplinary research of any sort.

Reviewer:  Bayard Kohlhepp Review #: CR138893 (1107-0774)
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