energy and design

Speed? What Speed? Prisoners of Speed, by Ivan Illich (Part 3 of 3)

In 1996, Ivan Illich (above) agreed to speak at Doors of Perception in Amsterdam on the theme of  ‘speed’. The philosopher-educator surprised us by bringing along two fellow speakers: Sebastian Trapp, a field biologist, and Matthias Rieger, a musicologist. Their contributions are as  fresh today as when we heard them in Amsterdam – so we are running […]

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Speed? What Speed? The Falcon, by Sebastian Trapp (Part 1 of 3)

Reflecting on the ways that swallows move about the earth reminded me of the time, in 1996, when Ivan Illich agreed to speak at Doors of Perception in Amsterdam. Our theme that year was ‘speed’. The philosopher surprised us by bringing along two fellow speakers: Sebastian Trapp, a field biologist, and Matthias Rieger, a musicologist. […]

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Flyways

              As an artefact, the swallows’ nest is not exactly the Taj Mahal. It’s a ramshackle structure, made of mud pellets and straw, that’s stuck crookedly to the wall. But it seems to suit them well – or rather, the surrounding habitat does. I’m sad. The family of swallows that spent […]

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Love vs Power In Iceland

For some Icelanders, in a country whose inhabitants have survived 1,100 winters without central heating, the environmental costs of aluminium smelting are worth paying if the alternative is a return to a life in grass-roofed huts. To many, that choice does not feel far-fetched. Andri Snær Magnason’s grandfather, for example, worked continuously on the land and sea […]

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The Hidden Costs of Tiger Water

This jequitiba tree in Brazil moves hundreds of gallons of water up into its canopy every day. It does so without pumps, without electricity, and without recourse to the concrete reservoirs and sewage treatment plants on which most modern cities depend. The jequitiba is a joyous marvel to behold, of course – but it would […]

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Mr Icarus: Meet Mr Gatherer

All credit to the brave persons from Silent UK for sharing with us their spectacular photographs from the top of Europe’s tallest building, the Shard, in London.I’m especially grateful because their images provides me with a terrific opening slide for a workshop in Turkey at a conference called Ekodesign. (See the subsequent story, above). I’d […]

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Oil-Powered Thinking

Last week the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (which has a new director, Martin Roth) staged a conference about Design & Risk. (The videos are online here). Its keynote speaker, the eminent sociologist Ulrich Beck, was on the committee of experts that, last year, persuaded Germany to abandon nuclear power and go for renewables by […]

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Design In The Light of Dark Energy

[ This text is a shortened version of my talk at last month's conference in Philadelphia on Architecture & Energy; proceedings of that event will be published as a book later this year. Whilst preparing the talk, and this text, I also prepared this Reading List for Mr Monti. ] When the new Italian Prime […]

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A Reading List for Mr Monti

As an exercise, I thought I’d share with you (and Mr Monti) the best writers on my reading list – in the order I’ve read them, not in chronological order. 1. TOM MURPHY – DO THE MATH If you suspect, but cannot prove, that modern life simply does not add up, you’ll love Tom Murphy’s […]

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