Agriculture and Architecture: Taking the Country’s Side
The environmental predicament the world is now facing (climate change, peak oil, mineral and metal depletion, soil erosion, fresh water scarcity, biodiversity collapse, etc.) seriously challenges the ways in which human societies have developed since at least the industrial revolution. Our ways of procuring and managing basic resources (particularly food) but also of inhabiting and organizing territories (architecture and urbanism) will necessarily be deeply affected, and are key issues if human societies are to prepare themselves for the highly problematic decades ahead.
In this context, our core hypothesis is that agriculture and architecture (which emerged as the twin fairies of the Neolithic Revolution some 10 000 years ago) form a nexus, and that their respective concerns, after two centuries of progressive divorce and estrangement, should indeed be closely reconnected (i.e. rethought in conjunction to each other).
Are metropolises really the “manifest destiny” of humankind? Is the environmental predicament calling for more concentration and incorporation? Or is it conducive to some kind of urban exodus? By and large, what might be the principles and ethics of design in such a condition? Such are some of the issues we will discuss with our guests: David Holmgren, Australian co-founder of the permaculture concept, author of Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002) and RetroSuburbia: the Downshifter’s Guide to a Resilient Future (2018), Carolyn Steel, British architect and writer, author of Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives (2008), Colin Moorcraft, British architect and writer on environmental affairs, author of Designing for Survival (Architectural Design, 1972), and Joëlle Zask, French philosopher, author of La Démocratie aux champs (2016).
This is a period of rapid worldwide urban expansion, with enormous and growing costs in terms of irreversible depletion of fossil fuel and mineral resources, and widespread environmental degradation. Climate change is just one aspect of a deeper challenge. Cities are physically parasitising the rest of the world – the local and global “countryside”. This makes no long-term sense. How can we reconcile cities with their local, global and internal countrysides – to improve long-term human prospects? Should we dream of joining Elon Musk and his happy crew of potential Martian colonists in abandoning our damaged home planet for the opportunity to trash another celestial body?
Colin Moorcraft (UK)
This exhibition highlights permaculture as a significant attempt to address the existential crisis faced by complex societies that we conventionally call civilization. In this speech, David Holmgren shows how the concept was formulated at the crossroads between civilization and wilderness in Tasmania, a place recognized as seminal in the emergence of the modern environmental movement. The co-originator of the concept of permaculture uses personal anecdotes to illustrate how “action is on the edge”.
David Holmgren (AU)
3-day pass – 40€
Moderated by Sébastien Marot
18:00 Presentation by David Holmgren (video conference)
18:45 Coffee Break
19:00 Presentations by Carolyn Steel, Colin Moorcraft and Joëlle Zask
19:45 Short conversation
20:00 Drink & Talk* (Room 1)
In a more informal format we gathered guests from the various sessions to confront ideas and perspectives on the theme with the speakers from this session.