June 20 – 24, 2011
Teachers: Michael Pawlyn, Robert Somerville
What should our built environment be like if it is to be genuinely sustainable?
Taking our inspiration from nature to address this question points us towards all that can be learned from the amazing innovations and creative coping strategies that organisms have developed to minimise their use of resources – the world of biomimicry. But looking to nature can also remind us of the value of using local resources that require minimal amounts of processing and energy inputs. Both approaches can have a role in creating healthy, beautiful, and resource-efficient living or working spaces.
This course invites participants to find out more about exciting new and traditional approaches to building and to reflect on their own understanding of what makes for sustainable architecture. Participants will also be involved in developing outline designs for enterprise incubator units (planned as part of new initiatives on the Dartington Hall Estate) which will embody the best of green thinking in architecture.
Michael Pawlyn will describe a number of design projects that have applied biomimicry to achieve factor 10 or even factor 100 increases in resource efficiency. The schemes will reveal some of the advantages to be gained from studying natural forms, systems and processes and using these to generate new design solutions that transcend conventional approaches to sustainability.
The projects that Michael will describe include the following:
He will also discuss some examples of overlaps between biomimicry and vernacular building methods and how these can be reinterpreted in contemporary design solutions.
Robert Somerville will inspire participants to look more closely at the environment where they live and work and to recognise the potential for making buildings in the context of origins of materials. This emphasis is on the sources of raw materials,, the hands-on processes and our participation within natural environments. Robert’s talk will include building with earth, stone, lime and wood. He will give examples of homes that have been built this way at low cost and discuss how this approach could work on a larger scale to enable communities to create their own sustainable and affordable homes.
Toni Spencer will invite participants to take a step back and explore aesthetics. In particular she will look at how to meet the ‘un-desirable’. Using illustrations and group exercises Toni will draw out ecological principles such as ‘waste’ as nourishment, the richness of the margins and the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi as a starting point for contemporary aesthetics. By again looking to wholeness within natural systems, this session will open up innovative approaches to ‘style’ that draw on aspirations for beauty, and allow for the messiness and provocation of the existing built environment. “It ain’t what we see it’s the way that we see it”
Michael Pawlyn set up Exploration in 2007 to focus on environmentally sustainable architecture inspired by nature. From 1997 to 2007 he worked with Grimshaw Architects and was instrumental in the design development of the Eden Project. He was responsible for leading the design of the Biomes and proposals for a third major climatic enclosure. He initiated and developed the Grimshaw environmental management system resulting, in December 2000, in the company becoming the first firm of European architects to achieve certification to ISO14001. He has lectured widely on the subject of sustainable design in the UK and abroad and in 2007 was elected as a committee member of ‘The Edge’, a think-tank dedicated to addressing important political, social and professional issues. He has been commissioned by RIBA to write a book on Biomimicry in Architecture, due out in 2011.
Hear from Michael on TED Talks, Using nature’s genius in architecture
Robert Somerville has a degree in Architecture from Cambridge University and a distinction in Building Technology with the Chartered Institute of Building. Robert worked for two London Boroughs in the1980’s as a Building Surveyor, employing conventional building systems. His love of the English countryside led him to volunteer at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, and it was there that he experienced the sights, smells, sounds and joys of pre-industrial construction using local natural materials. For the last 20 years he has lived in South Devon, working alongside skilled craftspeople as a designer and builder…and part of the renaissance of traditional materials and crafts in the U.K.
Toni Spencer is an artist, educator and facilitator. Her career started within the design industry: as interior designer, maker, art director and trend forecaster and as part of the founding editorial team of international design and lifestyle magazine Wallpaper*. During her years as design editor there, in the midst of success and the power to decide which designer, architect or material was ’in’, she followed a deep awakening to the urgent need for a more ecological culture. Having shifted her practice, recent work includes time as a lecturer and course leader in Eco Design, at Goldsmiths College; work as a freelance consultant and most recently was on the faculty at Schumacher College. She is an Associate of Embercombe, is involved in the Transition Towns movement and is an Associate of Encounters. As an avid forager, Toni brings her passion for the wild and the marginal in to all aspects of her work. She has a BA in Fine Art, and a MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice, a Permaculture Diploma.
£750 Course June 20 – 24, 2011
All course fees include accommodation, food, field trips and all teaching sessions.
This course is the second part of a two part series on Bio-Inspired Design.
How Would Nature Do That? Bio-Inspired Design, taught by Tom McKeag will run June 13 – 17, 2011. Click her for further details. Participants can attend both weeks consecutively at the all inclusive price of £1450.
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