Building a treehouse in Tzoumerka!

Full video available here

Last Easter, Yorgos (husband and studio partner) oversaw the construction of a treehouse in Tzoumerka. We have just received this wonderful video from BOULOUKI, the collective responsible for the workshop, and we are very proud and happy to share it with you all. Design-build workshops -once well planned- can become incredible tools for learning. Well done BOULOUKI and well done to all the students and craftsmen who participated.

​“Shelters” project combined two workshops in tandem in the neighboring mountain refuges of Tzoumerka, during 1-6 of May 2019. The first one titled “Rearranging the traditional wood-fired oven” was about constructing an oven in the mountain refuge of Melissourgoi, using local stone, bricks, clay, pumice stone, lime and salt, as building materials. In the mountain refuge of Pramanta, the workshop was about using timber as the main material in order to “Introduce a tree-house in Tzoumerka”. During both workshops, apart from the site work and hands-on experience guided by 4 experienced masons, the 20 participants had the opportunity to attend a series of lectures and presentations given by reputable professors and teams related to the field of construction and commons.

Date: 01/05/2019 – 07/05/2019 Sponsors: Dalkafoukis Oikos, Stergiou ABEE, Mpougias Stones, Mr Bill

What philosophers think about COVID19 measures

The disproportionate reaction to what according to the CNR is something not too different from the normal flus that affect us every year is quite blatant. It is almost as if with terrorism exhausted as a cause for exceptional measures, the invention of an epidemic offered the ideal pretext for scaling them up beyond any limitation.

The other no less disturbing factor is the state of fear that in recent years has evidently spread among individual consciences and that translates into an authentic need for situations of collective panic for which the epidemic provides once again the ideal pretext. Therefore, in a perverse vicious circle, the limitations of freedom imposed by governments are accepted in the name of a desire for safety that was created by the same governments that are now intervening to satisfy it.

Giorgio Agamben: The Invention of an Epidemic 26/02/2020

We must be careful not to hit the wrong target: an entire civilization is in question, there is no doubt about it. There is a sort of viral exception – biological, computer-scientific, cultural – which is pandemic. Governments are nothing more than grim executioners, and taking it out on them seems more like a diversionary manoeuvre than a political reflection.

Jean-Luc Nancy: Viral Exception 27/02/2020

(…) I think that we should try to separate levels and distinguish between long-running processes and recent events. With regard to the former, politics and medicine have been tied in mutual implications for at least three centuries, something that has ultimately transformed both. On the one hand this has led to a process of medicalization of politics, which, seemingly unburdened of any ideological limitations, shows itself as more and more dedicated to “curing” its citizens from risks it is often responsible for emphasizing. On the other we witness a politicization of medicine, invested with tasks of social control that do not belong to it – which explains the extremely heterogeneous assessments virologists are making on the nature and gravity of the coronavirus. Both these tendencies deform politics compared to its classic profile (…) But once again, with regard to absolutely legitimate concerns, it is necessary not to lose our sense of proportion. It seems to me that what is happening in Italy today, with the chaotic and rather grotesque overlapping of national and regional prerogatives, has more the character of a breakdown of public authorities than that of a dramatic totalitarian grip.

Roberto Esposito: Cured to the Bitter End 28/02/2020

The measures taken in Italy are not therefore, as one of my favourite philosophers, Giorgio Agamben, argues, the result of the despotic instinct of the ruling classes, who are viscerally passionate about the “state of exception” (…) I am often surprised how often many philosophers need to be reminded of something that, paraphrasing Hamlet, sounds like: There are more politics in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 

Sergio Benvenuto: Welcome to Seclusion 2-III-2020

(…) we have been able to determine the “interests” of our immune systems by constituting exceptions in nature, including through the Semmelweis method of hand washing and vaccinations. Our kind of animal does not have biological epochs at its disposal in order to perfect each intervention. Hence, we too, like nature, make coding errors and mutations in nature, responding to each and every exigency in ways we best can. As Nancy noted, man as this technical-exception-maker who is uncanny to himself was thought from very early on by Sophocles in his ode to man. Correspondingly, unlike nature’s time, humans are concerned with this moment, which must be led to the next moment with the feeling that we are the forsaken: those who are cursed to ask after “the why” of their being but without having the means to ask it. Or, as Nancy qualified it in a personal correspondence, “forsaken by nothing”. The power of this “forsakenness” is unlike the abandonments constituted by the absence of particular things with respect to each other. This forsakenness demands, as we found with Deleuze, that we attend to each life as precious, while knowing at the same time that in the communities of the forsaken we can experience the call of the forsaken individual life which we alone can attend to.

Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan: The Community of the Forsaken: A Response to Agamben and Nancy 08/03/2020

Article retrieved from: http://www.journal-psychoanalysis.eu/coronavirus-and-philosophers/?fbclid=IwAR2QUL59u_fxVE6plJ7-lBVPueB4G4qznQwODefxELVoCN2pLEVOQ2E2YWs

Stephen Downe’s quick tech guide for creating online work sessions and courses

Schools and Universities keep closing because of Covid19 and a shift toward online learning practices becomes increasingly more relevant. Therefore, I am re-posting Stephen Downe’s guide for creating and coordinating online work sessions and courses. I take this opportunity to encourage academics worldwide to introduce interactive tools for inter-communication and exchange with students. Students can create blogs in weebly, wix, wordpress or tumblr (they worked great for architectural and urban design studios for us at NTUA). Messenger and Slack can be valuable for online revisions as well. I know its crazy to have to prepare all this last minute, but please don’t be discouraged: however grim the cause of this sudden need, I promise you it is worth the try.

Studio One

Image available here

(…) alternative teaching model called Studio One (Offered at University of California (UC) Berkeley’s Department of Architecture in the College of Environmental Design), which seeks to facilitate new dynamic links between architecture and other disciplines based on the interplay between fundamental research, design exploration, and practical application (…) At the core of this class is the study of biological structures and the development of bio-inspired construction principles for architectural design(…) he curriculum itself is designed to mediate between education and research. Aside from gaining basic knowledge within their own fields, the students also gain experience outside of their comfort zones by learning from other disciplines (…) In the first semester, students work individually or in small groups. In the second semester, the students join forces and build one project together as a team (…) the class is also supported by a wide network of academic research institutions as well as professionals inside and outside the building industry (…) With its partners, Studio One is contributing to a newly-formed, campus-wide teaching and research initiative called Design Innovation from Nature (…) the key idea behind biomimetics or bio-inspiration is not the imitation of natural forms and shapes but the transfer of functional principles to technological applications (…) To implement these biomimetic concepts, the students approached the work in the class from two directions as defined (…) The first, called “biology push”, relates to a bottom-up approach. The second is referred to as “technology pull” and describes a top-down process. While the term “biology push” describes a development that is initiated from basic knowledge in biology, “technology pull” refers to the aim of solving a certain technical problem in order to improve an already existing design solution or process.

Students worked on 4 separate case studies drawing from the study of natural forms: an Insect-Inspired Lightweight Facade; a Plant-Inspired Kinetic Facade Shading System and two research pavilions (2017, 2018)

Schleicher, S., Kontominas, G., Makker, T., Tatli, I. & Yavaribajestani, Y. (2019). Studio One: A New Teaching Model for Exploring Bio-Inspired Design and Fabrication. In Biomimetics (Basel) 4(2), 34. doi: 10.3390/biomimetics4020034

Bes, the Italian system for measuring well-being

Image available here

The Italian initiative (2010) on a multi-dimensional framework to measure equitable and sustainable well-being” (Bes is the acronym in Italian) is among the experiences quoted by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It was developed by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat), together with the National Council for Economics and Labor (CNEL). In 2018 Istat published the 6th edition of the Annual report on well-being (Istat 2018) that contains information at national and regional level on 130 indicators that are considered to be able to represent this complex phenomenon. Measuring well-being can be seen as a three steps process:

  • the first step concerns the development of a shared definition of progress in the Italian society, by identifying the most relevant dimensions of well-being;
  • the second step relates to the selection of a set of high-quality statistical indicators that are representative of the different domains;
  • the third step consists in communicating the results of this process, informing citizens of indicator values, trends and differences among different groups of population.

(…) a sample of 45,000 people aged 14 years and over, representative of the population resident in Italy (…) The results of the consultations identified a total of 12 domains (…) The 12 selected domains are divided into 2 typologies, 9 of them are defined as outcome domains: health; education and training; work and life balance; economic well-being; social relationship; security; landscape and cultural heritage; environment; subjective well-being; (…) the remaining 3 domains are defined as drivers of well-being: politics and institutions; innovation, research and creativity; quality of services.

Excerpts from: Bacchini, Fabio, Barbara Baldazzi, Rita De Carli, Lorenzo Di Biagio, Miria Savioli, Maria Pia Sorvillo, Alessandra Tinto. “The Italian framework to measure well-being: towards the 2.0 version.” Growth Welfare Innovation Productivity (GroWInPro) Working Paper (2019), available here

The Circular Economy Concept in Design Education

http://h2020repair.eu/

This is an experiment in the framework TU Delft led Horizon 2020 Project called REPAiR: two MSc courses were transformed to integrate aspects of different fields of expertise. Students were introduced to two resource flows that were previously identified as key flows by the local stakeholders: food waste, and construction and demolition waste and were expected to show a deep understanding of CE and its spatial implications

(…) incorporating the concept of CE in an integrative manner in urban design and planning courses is challenging because of its metabolic and complex nature (…) (1) the city is a complex, self-organizing system, where economy is an important factor, but not the dominant one; (2) the focus of CE approaches on the production side of the value chain and the under-representation of the need for sustainable consumption patterns as crucial aspect for the transition towards a CE; (3) the exclusion of land as a resource although it is one of the most valuable resources of regions; (4) the neglecting of infrastructure, both as a resource, but also as an instrument to steer circular policies; and (5) that the dominant approach ignores the importance of different scales for closing resource loops (…) overcoming these inadequacies requires the integration of expertise on resource flows and industrial processes.

Challenges of integrating practices of circular economy in education were overcome by collaboration with researchers in a situated environment that allowed: “an enhanced problem definition, a substantial participation of societal partners in education and an enhanced valorisation of student work via partner institutes.” Supporting course elements were also integrated such as lectures; workshops and tutor preparation. An overall of 200 students participated in the courses whose work was later evaluated as to the integration of CE principles and resources flows.

One clear effect of the integration of the CE concept into teaching was that the students understood that they needed to address challenges from a systemic perspective rather early into the design process.

References: Wandl, Alexander, Verena Balz, Lei Qu, Cecilia Furlan, Gustavo Arciniegas and Ulf Hackauf. “The Circular Economy Concept in Design Education: Enhancing Understanding and Innovation by Means of Situated Learning.” Urban Planning 4, no. 3, (2019): 63-75. DOI: 10.17645/up.v4i3.2147, full article available here

CLIC: Circular models Leveraging Investments in Cultural heritage adaptive reuse

Info derived from the website: CLIC’s is an EU funded program currently running between 10 countries and 15 different partners. Its aim is to implement a European model of circular economy and circular city-region centered on the regeneration of cultural and natural capital. CLIC is a trans-disciplinary research project whose overarching goal is to identify evaluation tools, implement; validate and share circular financing, business and governance models for systemic adaptive reuse of cultural heritage and landscape. Among its many objectives is to develop and test innovative governance tools; to analyze hybrid financing; and to contribute to the operalization of the management change of the cultural landscape. For more click here