New Materialism

Royal College of Art Sculpture School Howie Street, London 25th November 2011: 1200-1700

Design Ecologies: the ill-defined niche

The ill defined niche begins with the provisional premise that our environment is composed of a multiplicity of ill-defined ecological niches, each of which is a potential home for living and non-living forms. Through an understanding that objects cannot be fully explained in terms of their material constituents and the energy within them, objects seems to be something over and above the material components that make it up, but at the same time it can be expressed only through the organization of matter and energy. This paradox allows burgeoning design practices to go beyond shaping geometry, to shaping the internal structure of material. But in that case, what is the connection between the empirical ground, the contingent material support of human thinking, and the abstract ‘designer’ that is the condition for a ‘whole’ of thought?

Humans have become the dominant driver of almost all natural processes in the biosphere. Anthropogenic changes are leading to a reshuffling of species assemblies from local to global spatial scales and, additionally, novel organisms created in laboratories enter ecosystems. It is expected that these changes are leading to new behaviours of ecological systems and ‘ecological novelty’ is becoming widely acknowledged.

Accompanying the symposium is the launch of the peer-reviewed journal Design Ecologies 1.2, published with intellect books, which is to ascertain the consequence of fitting a design project with our environment. The overall aim of this research is to profoundly re-define and re-shape thinking in design.

To subscribe to the peer-reviewed Design Ecologies Journal, please go to the following link:,id=197/


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To book tickets:




1200  Ideation                      

Dr. SHAUN MURRAY (Architect) Eniatype:


1245     Ecological Design Visions           

Visionary thinking on methodologies of communicating an architecture along  with new models and ecological contribution.

NIC CLEAR, (Architect) University of Greenwich:


Coffee Break


1400    Notational Design Visions             

Notational systems used as a communication tool have made the  composition of design an activity like the composition of fiction: the activity  of communication.

 Dr. KARIN SONDERGAARD (Performance) School of Architecture, The Royal  Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark

Dr. KYELL YNGVE PETERSEN (Performance) IT Copenhagen


1445      Instructional Design Visions           

There are many kinds of relationships between participant and environment  within context, design and communication. An extremely important one is  who communicates with whom and who instructs whom.

DONALD SMITH (Artist/ Curator) CHELSEA space:


1530    Aesthetical Design Visions           

Aesthetic experience is one of the most common ways to value our environment. Whether it is having a walk in the park, cycling through a country lane, or just sitting in your garden, we can appreciate the aesthetic qualities. We could go on to say that we should be developing environmental sensitivity through aesthetic experience.

Dr CHRIS SPEED (Digital Architecture) University of Edinburgh 


NORBERT SCHOERNER (Photographer/ Filmmaker)

(Live Stream from Pinewood Studios, UK) TBC


1615    Discussion

Through original design exploration, this symposium proffers a critical vision towards the built environment. These conceptions challenge the everyday thinking in design by offering a transdisciplinary framework for design production.


1700    Journal launch and drinks

Design Ecologies 1.2 the unprimed canvas

Issue includes:

Timothy Morton:

Yorgos Loizos:

Benedict Singleton:

Kjell Ynvge Petersen

Claudia Westermann:

Mathew Emmett:

Michael Dean, Weitoa Li:, Tim Thornton:, Anne Carina Volkel, Elizabeth Anne Williams, Kevin Green, Wei-Chung Chuo

Erik Swyngedouw has been involved in some of the most interesting work in thinking about cities as sites of political struggle over the control and management of resources. Here are two useful essays that introduce different aspects of his work. For more on this, I recommend the book ‘In the Nature of Cities: Urban Political Ecology and the Politics of Urban Metabolism’, edited by Nikolas C. Heynen, Maria Kaika, Erik Swyngedouw


The Political Economy and Political Ecology of the Hydro-Social Cycle