infrastructure & design

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 […]

Also posted in art & perception | Leave a comment

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 […]

Posted in infrastructure & design | Leave a comment

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 […]

Also posted in mobility & design, most read | Leave a comment

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 […]

Also posted in most read | Leave a comment

Design and Energy: Thirteen Great Writers

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

Also posted in Handouts & Lists, most read | Leave a comment

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 […]

Posted in infrastructure & design | Leave a comment

What Makes A Change Lab Successful?

The UK government’s digital services platform,, 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. is a revolutionary web operation that governments around the world are beginning to notice. Twenty four UK government departments […]

Also posted in most read | Leave a comment

The Ecozoic City

Over the ages we’ve invested huge amounts of effort and energy to keep cities and nature separate. What would it mean if that were about to change?  The writer Thomas Berry described as the ecozoic the “reintegration of human endeavours into a larger ecological consciousness”. The ecozoic, Berry believed, would supplant the Anthropocene age, that […]

Also posted in most read, place & bioregion | 2 Responses

Healing The Metabolic Rift: Designing In Social-Ecological Systems

The term metabolic rift describes the alienation between humans and nature that opened up with the growth of the the modern economy. Could the growth of bioregionalism, and research into ‘social-ecological systems’, be signs that the rift may be healing? And if so, what are the opportunities for design to contribute?  [Picture: The Stockholm Resilience […]

Also posted in metrics & data, most read | 2 Responses