Designing Resilience

8th May

10am – 11:30

The narrative of sustainable development is based on the normative idea of shaping a  civilization in political, social, ecological and economical equilibrium without limiting the  opportunities for future generations. Intrinsically linked to this is the belief that growth and  economy can be reconciled with the potentially conflicting demands of ecology (Boehnert  2018). Accompanied through the diagnostics of the Anthropocene, the term resilience has  gained popularity to describe adaptive capacities and survival strategies (in materials,  organisms and societies) in order to endure crises (Grove 2017). While resilience is referred to  as the attempt to partially replace an optimistic notion of progress, it seems to embody an  opportunistic stance towards the manageability of crises (Halpern 2017). Are sustainability  and resilience opposites, subsets or complementary? With regard to materials, artifacts, and  entire socio-economic systems, design is challenged to take this into account (Lee 2016;  Cowley et al. 2018). 

Boehnert, J. (2018). Design, Ecology, Politics: Towards the Ecocene. London: Bloomsbury.

Cowley, R. et al. (2018). Forum: resilience & design, Resilience, 6:1, 1-34.
Grove, K. (2018). Resilience. London: Routledge.
Halpern, O. (2017). Hopeful Resilience. Hopeful Resilience - Architecture - e-flux

Lee, A. J. (2016). Resilience by Design. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

Johanna Weggelaar, Atelier Luma, Arles
Atelier Luma, an Undisciplined Laboratory
Atelier Luma is a think tank, a production workshop and learning method of the Luma Foundation, based in Arles, South of France. Atelier Luma aims to map the ecosystem of a territory by exploring its historical, cultural, environmental, social and economic layers. Unexpected connections between raw materials, production processes and uses emerge, offering fertile grounds for new research projects. Atelier Luma is working at the interface of fields of expertise, making it porous for exchange. It acts as a connector and a translator, gathering networks of experts and practitioners and applying a holistic approach to understand systems behind things. The biomaterials developed from local resources are not an end goal but a way to transform production processes, to change user’s behaviour and to redistribute value. Biomaterials are building blocks for new societal models and alternative economic practices. Design is used as a tool for transition for building resilient communities and landscapes.

Sénamé Koffi Agbodjinou, L'Africaine d'Architecture, Lomé
Redefining a New Cosmo-Ethics of the Inhabitation of the World
The traditional African house is the projection on the ground of complex social structures and systems of thought in the form of a renewed tangle of principles remarkably ordered ones realizing a true "vernacular algorithm"! The fundamental ethic that this seems to support has been shaken up at the same time as the building by the invasions and their systematic razing of particularisms and all devices allowing mobilization. But colonization was only the first movement of imperialism and the privileged ground for its prototyping; it thrives on the relay of industrial lobbies locked on the international style.
With the aim of restoring the vernacular, we have summarized those principles of organization that similarly structure the ancient installations and black African communities into eight (8) concepts. However, we can establish a correspondence between the 8 concepts and contemporary stakes : gestation = Sustainability / anthropomorphism = Responsibility / differentiability = Equality / gyration = Equilibrium / fractal = Democracy / panoptic = Solidarity / totality = Inclusion / Unity = Cohesion. Considering that there is an inextricability of principles those principles would thus participate in the African spirit, of a single movement whose modality could be to inhabit it. We will call this ethic of inhabiting put in meaning : a cosmoarchitecture.
The cosmoarchitecture will be a new contract of kinship proceeding from an anthropocentrism not split from totality! Thus, it weaves with its environment. All living things are sheltered in it. Throughout, the idea of solidarity across generations runs through it, and that actions taken today must leave room for maneuver in the future... It does not introduce a break in the habitation of the world... not even that, in modernity, of existing (in the sense of an earthly stay) from the maternal womb and the grave. In a sense, it invites a more general, fundamental consideration of inhabiting it: a way of being in the world that goes far beyond the realm of housing, although the conditions of installation and functional logic prefigure it.
Foreshadowed by traditional society, cosmoarchitecture is a modality of the "World System" which opposes the "modern" civilizational approach to human installations.
Ideally, cosmoarchitecture would thus engage, by its means, the "living together" in its most contemporary acuity.

Joanna Boehnert, Loughborough University
This Economy is Anti-Resilient: Post-Covid Design Economies for Care
In an ideal world, designers would create ways of living to meet human needs and desires without undermining the climate system and contributing to the sixth extinction event. In the political system we inherited, designers work within an economic context that harnesses our skills to reproduce unsustainable conditions. Unsustainable practices are also the context of corona virus. Virulent ideologies and modes of governance have resulted in ways of organising eco-social relationships have enabled zoonotic diseases to endanger individual lives and entire economies. Political systems governed according to individualist assumptions have proven to be incapable of organising effective public health responses. The same broken ideology is propelling accelerating climate change and other converging eco-social crises. This economy is anti-resilient. The capitalist political economy obscures its most virulent dynamics by situating resilience at the individual level. But all metasystems (including economic systems, public health and ecosystems) rely on the wellbeing of all parts of the system to determine the wellbeing of the whole system. Governments and social institutions that situate prosperity as arising from individual achievements and successes reward exploitative activities and undermine our collective resilience. Coronavirus has revealed how dysfunctional extractive ideologies and modes of governance are for public health. Resilience is enabled at a structural level before it becomes matter of personal coping strategies. No-one is safe until social structures are built on the foundational understanding that safety is a collective condition. This is a foundational contribution of ecological knowledge. Meanwhile, as COVID transforms daily life throughout the world, new sensibilities and even new belief systems are emerging. These dangerous times are already catalysing new political realities. Designers have a role to play in shifting the current trajectory. A reconstruction of priorities depends on a redirection of the political economy of design.

Moderation: Michelle Christensen, TU Berlin / Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF)

Panel Speakers

Johanna Weggelaar
Sénamé Koffi Agbodjinou

Joanna Boehnert
Michelle Christensen (Moderation)