In Dialogue with Nature: Architecture for the Post-Anthropocene
XJTLU, ARC304, FYP Studio 2019-20 | Tutored by Claudia Westermann
Works by Zuo Annan, Shi Xiongzhe, and Yao Yiming
In the 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, in one of the most memorable scenes at the beginning of the film, director Stanley Kubrick tells us that the dawn of man occurred with the discovery of tools (Kubrick and Clarke, 1968). Thinking objects as tools, specifically to defend and to attack, marks the beginning of technological invention and the transition from ape to human. The Dawn of Man scene reflects Darwinian theories of evolution. The focus on struggle, competition, and death as part of evolution is in line with the emphasis made by Darwinists. According to Darwinian theories, human beings are necessarily always in a struggle with their environment. We have not lived with nature but against nature. Consequently, the activities of human beings have gradually grown into a significant geological, morphological force. A new era has emerged. It has been named the Anthropocene.
The studio brief suggests that it is possible to shift attitudes and to reconceptualize our relationship with nature and the creatures that are part of it. The brief also proposes that architecture could play an important role in re-formulating our relationship with nature. Architecture could work as a performative framework that shifts the relationship of human beings with nature from ‘in struggle’ to ‘in dialogue’ with nature. Developing architecture for the Post-Anthropocene, students were guided by the tutor in their approaches to research as a means to develop strategies for addressing complex architectural tasks.