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From Autobahn to Bioregion

[Above: for CRIT, Mumbai may look a mess – but the city enjoys ‘high transactional capacities’] The big Audi that collected us from Istanbul airport contained nearly as many electronic control units (ECUs) as the new Airbus A380. The Audi, and similar high-end cars, will soon run on 200 million lines or more of software […]

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Transition Dogville

In Lars von Trier’s 2003 film Dogville (below) there is almost no set. Buildings in the town are represented by a series of white outlines on the floor. Dogville was a to-the-limit exercise in what von Trier calls ‘pure cinema’ – a commitment to use only real locations, and no special effects or background music, when making […]

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Old Growth

[Photography courtesy of  Marc Adamus] Here follows the talk I gave last week at the Global Design Forum in London.   “Last week I went a restored paper mill in a tiny village in the middle of Sweden. I was there (*) to meet a bunch of people who’ve been given a uniquely challenging task: make the bedroom and […]

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Why Bill Gates Needs To Listen To More Gamelan Music

Ritual as Feedback in Bali  The unique social and ecological nature of regional watersheds was the focus of a mesmerising presentation by Stephen Lansing at last month’s poptech conference in Iceland. His key point: Bali’s subak water management system is a “coupled social-ecological system”. Balinese farmers have been growing rice in terraces since at least the eleventh century. […]

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Love vs Power In Iceland

For some Icelanders, in a country whose inhabitants have survived 1,100 winters without central heating, the environmental costs of aluminium smelting are worth paying if the alternative is a return to a life in grass-roofed huts. To many, that choice does not feel far-fetched. Andri Snær Magnason’s grandfather, for example, worked continuously on the land and sea […]

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Oil-Powered Thinking

Last week the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (which has a new director, Martin Roth) staged a conference about Design & Risk. (The videos are online here). Its keynote speaker, the eminent sociologist Ulrich Beck, was on the committee of experts that, last year, persuaded Germany to abandon nuclear power and go for renewables by […]

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Design In The Light of Dark Energy

[ This text is a shortened version of my talk at last month’s conference in Philadelphia on Architecture & Energy; proceedings of that event will be published as a book later this year. Whilst preparing the talk, and this text, I also prepared this Reading List for Mr Monti. ] When the new Italian Prime […]

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From Milk To Superfoods: Supping With The Devil?

I’d be surprised if many readers of this blog work for the fracking industry. Those charming people spend a lot on lobbying and public relations, sure – but their main aim in life is to remain obscure. But food and drink? The branding, the packaging, the communications, the stores, the promotions, the trade shows, the […]

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From Druids, to Biorefineries: Innovation In A Small Nation

How best do you help a resilient economy emerge in a region that has one foot in ancient ways and traditions – its other in the world of global universities and nuclear power? North West Wales has the ingredients to be one of Europe’s most resilient regions. Its valuable assets include a lot of relatively […]

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