Ecophenomenology in an Architecture Design Pedagogy: Architecture, Earth, Ethics

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Humans are destroying the earth - the wellspring of our survival. Why? Rather than engaging with the primordial reality of Nature, humans have developed abstract epistemological systems that have profoundly mediated our ontological interactions and ethical relations with the lifeworld. Science has too often reduced alive, animate Nature to dead matter contingently propelled by blind force ordered by efficient causality, a mythology that in worshiping ‘objective facts’ sanctions neutrality. Many technologies have translated scientific ‘rationality’ into artifacts which objectify Nature and abet the economic imperatives of capitalism which plunders the earth for production and consumption for the sake of greed. We live in a world alienated from THE world, where we interact almost exclusively with humans, in human made environments and with human-made technologies. This has created a profound schism between our intellectual convictions and our sensory perceptions, between mental concepts and bodily percepts - between mind and body. As ecology focuses on devastated environments, ecophenomenology - ecological thinking informed by the philosophy of phenomenology - focuses on human consciousness desensitized to Nature by epistemic regimes that have engendered a radical human-Nature separation which ex/implicitly underpins unethical behaviors that lead to earth destruction. In the 21st century world of architecture, anthropocentric aesthetic ideologies colonized by the candy of engineered pleasures dominate the wonder of Nature which though omnipresent often remains ghostlike to design consciousness. Ecophenomenology in this architecture design pedagogy is focused on opening a path away from the ‘false consciousness’ of human-mirrored aesthetics, to designing in direct sensuous reality. This is a course in organic architecture which explores body, subjective, existential, lived and primal space versus conceptual, geometric, mental or virtual space. It attempts to ‘reanimate’ design by engaging the soul of the designer in the spirit of the earth in order to develop an ethics in aesthetics which questions Western architecture’s relation to nature in the current paradigm of capitalist-led, techno-dominated architectural thinking - necessary in a world of ecological destruction.
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Macklin, Andrew
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