28 November

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.

© Fábio Cunha

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)

Sébastien Marot (FR)
Sébastien Martor curator of the exhibition Agriculture and Permaculture: Taking the Country's Side
Sébastien Marot is a philosopher and writes extensively on the genealogy of contemporary theories in architecture, urban design and landscaping. With a Master degree in Philosophy and a PhD in History, he is a professor at École d'Architecture in Paris-Est, a guest lecturer at EPFL (Enac) and Harvard's Graduate School of Design (in a programme about the Countryside, led by Rem Koolhaas and AMO). He’s author and editor of several books, and also collaborator in re-editions with critic reviews. He edited Le Visiteur (from 1995 to 2002) and Marnes (since 2010) and is the author of several books such as Sub-Urbanism and the Art of Memory (AA Publications 2003), the critical re-edition The City in the City: Berlin , The Green Archipelago of Ungers and Koolhaas (Lars Müller 2013).
Carolyn Steel (UK)
Arquitecta, professora e escritora sediada em Londres, Carolyn Steel estudou na Universidade de Cambridge. Desde então tem leccionado e dirigido cadeiras de projecto nas Universidades de Cambridge, Metropolitana de Londres e Wageningen. Foi quem fundou o estúdio do Programa da Escola de Economia e Ciência Política de Londres. Steel tem-se dedicado ao pensamento da reacção entre gastronomia e a cidade e o seu livro Cidade Esfomeada: Como é que a comida molda as nossas vidas (2008) ganhou reconhecimento internacional e o seu conceito de “sitopia” (sítio da comida) é reconhecido de uma forma alargada na comunidade de arquitectos e alimentação.  
Colin Moorcraft (UK)
Since the 70s, Colin Moorcraft has been writing on environmental issues, and their technological and design implications. Author of "Must the Seas Die”, he was guest editor in 1972 of special edition of Architectural Design (AD) dedicated to the theme of that year's RIBA conference "Designing for Survival".
David Holmgren (AU)
David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator of the permaculture concept following the publication of "Permaculture One" (1978), being globally recognised as a leading ecological thinker, teacher, writer and speaker that promotes permaculture as a realistic, attractive and powerful alternative to dependent consumerism. Key publications include Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (2002), Future Scenarios: How Communities Can Adapt To Peak Oil and Climate Change (2009) and RetroSuburbia: the downshifter's guide to a resilient future (2018).
Joëlle Zask (FR)
Joëlle Zask is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Aix-Marseille. Expert in social philosophy, she studies the conditions of a shared democratic culture. In addition to articles she is the author of several books, the most recent of which are La démocratie aux champs (Ed. la Découverte, 2016), Quand la place devient publique (Le Bord de l'eau, 2018) and Quand la forêt brûle (Ed Premier Parallèle, 2019).
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