infrastructure & design

A beehive is not a factory: Rethinking the modular

I was invited to write the Preface to Rethinking The Modular: Adaptable Systems in Architecture and Design edited by Burkhard Meltzer and Tido von Oppeln. As the book has just been published, here follows my text: Back to the Present Trumpeted as ‘the most significant innovation in beekeeping since 1852’, the Flow Hive  was pitched […]

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Are positive stories enough?

“The world is in dire need of a narrative adjustment; that’s why we write” (Hamid Dabashi) Since How To Thrive In the Next Economy was published in the autumn, my 29 conversations about the book have prompted all kinds of feedback. One question has cropped up repeatedly: In a world filled with melting ice caps, war, species extinctions, and economic peril, […]

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Laboratory for Microclimates

Under what circumstances would we become mindful stewards of living systems, not just their expoiters? The Dutch artist Annechien Meier re-connects us – viscerally, and emotionally – with our social and ecological surroundings. [Above: De-paving begins in Arnhem. Photo: Laboratory for Microclimates] Human beings are clever in many ways, but our attention is easily distracted from the support systems that […]

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Housing Without Building

The family of swallows that spent the summer in the eaves behind my office here in France have headed south for the winter. Soon, as Christmas beckons, they’ll reach their destinations: Botswana, Namibia or South Africa. After just two months gorging on insects, they’ll begin the epic journey back. The strongest among them will make […]

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Cloud Commuting

A two-year project in Belgium proposes new relationships between people, goods, energy, equipment, spaces, and value. Its design objective: a networked mobility ecosystem  The signs on the small van describe the services it supports: Taxi; Pick-up; Delivery; Assistance; Vendor; Security; Rental. Seven functions, one vehicle. As imagined in a project in Belgium called Mobilotoop the van, when […]

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Energy: Thriving On Five Percent?

In Sharing Energy In The City, EDF and the the French National Research Agency (ANR) have challenged designers to rethink the production, harvesting, distribution, use, exchange and consumption of energy in our everyday life. They asked me to submit this text as fuel for the discussion. The modern city has been shaped by the availability […]

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Design and Energy: Thirteen Great Writers

Including a physicist, a mathematician, an actuary, an ecologist, a stoic, and a Druid.

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Paranoid But Pretty

In his new show at the German Architecture Center (DAZ) Matthias Megyeri has developed a design language for the artefacts of protection and security in public space. Megyeri poses the question: does protection have to be inconsistent with harmony and beauty? His answer is a family of padlocks, chains, fences, and razor wire that he […]

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What Makes A Change Lab Successful?


The UK government’s digital services platform, gov.uk, has won the Design of the Year award – and if I were running a big IT consulting firm grown fat on big government contracts, I’d be worried. Gov.uk is a revolutionary web operation that governments around the world are beginning to notice. Twenty four UK government departments […]

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