German Government Think-Tank Supports Fringe Change Agents

Good news from Germany: A ‘global transformation of values has already begun’. It’s proving tough to leverage changing attitudes into sustainable behaviour – but a transition to a more sustainable society ‘would be welcomed by a significant part of world society’.

In a 400-page report called World in Transition: A Social Contract for Sustainability, the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WGBU), the heavyweight scientific body that advises the German Federal Government on ‘Earth System Megatrends’, reviewed a wide-range of values surveys. A significant majority of the German population, it found, views growth and capitalism with scepticism and ‘does not believe in the resilience of Read More »

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Venice: from Gated Lagoon to Bioregion

Computer rendering by Christian Kerrigan.

Rachel Armstrong, who develops synthetic biology applications for the built environment, believes it could be possible to grow an artificial limestone reef underneath Venice using ‘metabolic materials’ – photosensitive protocells, engineered to be light averse. Her idea is to stop the city sinking into the soft mud on which its foundations are built – and to do so in a way that respects its non-human inhabitants.

Armstrong’s approach sounds like science fiction – but it’s informed by the ways living systems actually survive in hostile environments. When algae, shellfish and bacteria search for new territories and nutrients, for example, they sculpt the materials of their surroundings. Armstrong describes these as Read More »

Posted in most read, place & bioregion, sustainability & design | 1 Response

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 code. As a comparison, the avionics and onboard support systems of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner run on fewer than seven million lines.

That makes modern cars highly intelligent, right? Well maybe, and maybe not. Suppose the owner of such a two ton vehicle drives a mile down the Read More »

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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 a film.

I was reminded of Dogville during a this year’s Transition Conference in London. There were talks and workshops, of course, but our main task was Read More »

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How To Manage a Constellation

The map below is of the Baltic Sea. Over the last hundred years its ecosystems have been poisoned almost to death by outputs from a multitude of industries and farming activities in the nine countries that surround it. These deadly flows are shown on the  complicated chart below: Read More »

Posted in place & bioregion, [no topic] | 4 Responses

Old Growth

[Photography courtesy of  Marc AdamusHere 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 bathroom products sold globally by a famous home furnishing giant – – sustainable.

When I say that their task is “challenging”, think of it this way.  Read More »

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Bill Moggridge

Devastating news reaches me that Bill Moggridge has died.

Many readers here will know that Bill Moggridge had been director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, since 2010, and this was the latest chapter in an illustrious and history-changing career. The Museum has just posted a fine tribute to Bill’s life and work here. Read More »

Posted in learning & institutions | 3 Responses

Top Down Nature

A huge urban master plan in southen France gets serious about nature as a project. In Bordeaux 55,000 (above) the city of Bordeaux (CUB) has invited five multidisciplinary teams to develop projects, during a a six month “competitive dialogue”, that will explore ‘how best to transform 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) into natural areas’. Read More »

Posted in infrastructure & design, place & bioregion | 2 Responses

What Is, Or Is Not, A ‘Green Job’ ?


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