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postgraduate thesis: Architectures of coevolution : second-order cybernetics and architectural theories of the environment, c. 1959-2013

TitleArchitectures of coevolution : second-order cybernetics and architectural theories of the environment, c. 1959-2013
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2017
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Perera, S. V. D.. (2017). Architectures of coevolution : second-order cybernetics and architectural theories of the environment, c. 1959-2013. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractThis dissertation offers a historical and theoretical analysis of Heinz von Foerster’s Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and its little-known, yet pivotal role, within the broader postwar history of environmentalism. It provides a critical examination of the work carried out on self-organizing systems at the BCL and its related publications while correlating it with educational experiments, design projects and similar philosophies from the same period. The dissertation proposes that Heinz von Foerster and the constellation of researchers that came together at the BCL from fields as diverse as cognitive sciences to arts and architecture need to be reconsidered as progenitors of a coevolutionary approach towards the theorizing of the environment. Conservation oriented models of environmentalism to this date uses first-order cybernetic notions of information feedback loops and machines in a positivistic way to trivialize the environment in order to maintain. In contrast, coevolutionary logic premised on second-order cybernetic theories invites change and deals with complex, far from equilibrium conditions that characterize living systems. At the core of coevolutionary logic are explorations of the concept of learning within the broader context of system/environment frameworks. In short; environmentalism maintains, coevolution learns. The study traces how information theoretical concepts premised on BCL’s experiments on the bio-logic of self-organizing systems were appropriated by figures such as Serge Chermayeff (coevolution=community), Gordon Pask (coevolution=conversation), Ranulph Glanville (coevolution=freedom), and Francisco Varela (coevolution=interbeing) within the context of the broader ecological frameworks. Collectively their projects placed more emphasis on finding alternative ways to problematize the environment as opposed to solving environmental problems making their work more influential within the context of education, more specifically architectural education. Through mapping these intertwining histories the contribution of this dissertation is threefold: to map out this vital discourse historically; to place the second-order cybernetic project within the broader history of environmentalism in architecture; and to demonstrate the significance of the extended field of postwar laboratory networks as sites of continuing relevance to architecture's search for alternative heuristic models that are better suited to problematizing the environment in the Anthropocene.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectCybernetics
Environmental aspects - Architecture
Dept/ProgramArchitecture
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/249220

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorSeng, MFE-
dc.contributor.advisorWong, WS-
dc.contributor.advisorLau, SSY-
dc.contributor.authorPerera, Senanayaka Vithanalage Dulmini-
dc.date.accessioned2017-11-01T09:59:50Z-
dc.date.available2017-11-01T09:59:50Z-
dc.date.issued2017-
dc.identifier.citationPerera, S. V. D.. (2017). Architectures of coevolution : second-order cybernetics and architectural theories of the environment, c. 1959-2013. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/249220-
dc.description.abstractThis dissertation offers a historical and theoretical analysis of Heinz von Foerster’s Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and its little-known, yet pivotal role, within the broader postwar history of environmentalism. It provides a critical examination of the work carried out on self-organizing systems at the BCL and its related publications while correlating it with educational experiments, design projects and similar philosophies from the same period. The dissertation proposes that Heinz von Foerster and the constellation of researchers that came together at the BCL from fields as diverse as cognitive sciences to arts and architecture need to be reconsidered as progenitors of a coevolutionary approach towards the theorizing of the environment. Conservation oriented models of environmentalism to this date uses first-order cybernetic notions of information feedback loops and machines in a positivistic way to trivialize the environment in order to maintain. In contrast, coevolutionary logic premised on second-order cybernetic theories invites change and deals with complex, far from equilibrium conditions that characterize living systems. At the core of coevolutionary logic are explorations of the concept of learning within the broader context of system/environment frameworks. In short; environmentalism maintains, coevolution learns. The study traces how information theoretical concepts premised on BCL’s experiments on the bio-logic of self-organizing systems were appropriated by figures such as Serge Chermayeff (coevolution=community), Gordon Pask (coevolution=conversation), Ranulph Glanville (coevolution=freedom), and Francisco Varela (coevolution=interbeing) within the context of the broader ecological frameworks. Collectively their projects placed more emphasis on finding alternative ways to problematize the environment as opposed to solving environmental problems making their work more influential within the context of education, more specifically architectural education. Through mapping these intertwining histories the contribution of this dissertation is threefold: to map out this vital discourse historically; to place the second-order cybernetic project within the broader history of environmentalism in architecture; and to demonstrate the significance of the extended field of postwar laboratory networks as sites of continuing relevance to architecture's search for alternative heuristic models that are better suited to problematizing the environment in the Anthropocene. -
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshCybernetics-
dc.subject.lcshEnvironmental aspects - Architecture-
dc.titleArchitectures of coevolution : second-order cybernetics and architectural theories of the environment, c. 1959-2013-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineArchitecture-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2017-
dc.identifier.mmsid991043962784203414-

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