most read

5% health: The risk of catabolic collapse and peak fat in modern health systems, what to do about them, and how design can help

I was emboldened, upon arriving at the Mayo Clinic ‘s Centre for Innovation last week, to learn that people with deep domain knowledge do not make the best innovators. I concluded that I was therefore well-qualified to warn one of the top academic medical centres in the world, each of whose 60,000 staff knows more […]

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Iceland: eaten alive, or growing to live?

“Who needs oil when you have rain?” The ad for Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national energy company, dominates this month’s Icelandair magazine. It sits alongside other ads that feature wild spaces, rugged outdoor clothing, and all-round natural purity. The message is not disguised: Iceland is blessed by massive amounts of clean energy. The true picture on the […]

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From Powerpoint to Permaculture

When I arrived at Angsbacka, the site in Sweden of last weekend’s first Future Perfect festival, an alarming array of leaflets was on offer in the foyer : ‘Shamanic De-Armouring’; ‘How To UpGreat Your Life’ or ‘Reach The Temple of your Inner Beauty’; ‘The Journey to Bliss’; ‘A Cellular Dance of Oneness’. My first reaction […]

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Life is a Picnic in The Fertile City

If you’re in Paris before 24 July a spectacular exhibition called The Fertile City: Towards An Urban Nature is well worth a visit. The show’s OTT poster does not over-promise. The exhibition explores nature in the city from multiple perspectives: historical, social, cultural, botanical, ecological. Two narrative sequences overlap: an “immersion in the urban-vegetal world”, […]

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The high-tech permaculture metabolic engine greenhouse

[Stop Press: Polydome has been shortlisted for the 2012 Buckminster Fukller Challenge] A few years ago urban farming in developed cities was a fringe topic that few designers or architects thought much about. There were exceptions: we tried hard [but failed] to build a prototype of Natalie Jeremijenko’s Urban Space Station at Designs of the […]

Also posted in food systems & design | Leave a comment

How to make systems thinking sexy

[The following is based on the author’s keynote at the Buckminster Fuller Challenge awards in New York on 8 June. He was also on the 2010 jury of the Challenge.] We will not transition successfully to a restorative economy until systems thinking becomes as natural, for millions of people, as riding a bike. That’s a […]

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From ecstasy to exergy: Running out of easy copper

Built in 1978 by German steel company Krupp, the giant Bagger 288 was designed for open mining trenching. It took more than five years and $100 million to design and manufacture. It can move more than 76,000 cubic meters (~2,700,000 cubic ft) of coal, rock, and earth in a day. Why would anyone need to […]

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Open: a survival issue

[A new book from the Dutch publisher Bis, Open Design Now, includes essays, cases and visuals on various issues of Open Design. The book contains practical guidelines for designers, design educators and policy makers to get started with Open Design. It also includes a preface, contributed by me, that is reproduced here]. In 1909, Peter […]

Also posted in transition and resilience | Leave a comment

A smooth journey

Two images have preoccupied me in recent days. The first one [below] was taken in a lounge at Paris airport. I remember being struck by the intense design effort that had been made to create a controlled and insulated environment. On the tv screen were images of the popular revolt that is unfolding, bloodily, in […]

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