a research practice working at the intersection of architecture, technology, art and ecological pedagogy

AD: The Scarcity Report

I am very happy to announce that I have recently been given approval to guest edit (with Jeremy Till and Deljana Iossifova) an edition of the Wiley journal Architectural Design (AD), by commissioning editor Helen Castle. The issue has the working title ‘The Scarcity Report’.

I have attached below the main sections of the book proposal, which may be of interest – both for the actual proposal, but also as information for other potential guest editors, regarding the proposal process. There were sections concerning my previous publications and biography, which I have removed (as they are located elsewhere on this site). I have also removed some details regarding indicative contributors, as I am now in the process of approaching likely suspects. The proposal was ‘anonymously’ refereed and reviewed by Neil Spiller, Susannah Hagan and Anne Thorpe, all of whom made very useful suggestions, and were generally positive.

AD: The Scarcity Report

Guest Editor: Jon Goodbun with Jeremy Till and Deljana Iossifova

1. Proposed Title:

The preferred title is The Scarcity Report. The word ‘report’ is intended to indicate that the publication is a direct summary of a pressing issue and, in the manner of an official report, will provide pointers as to how address the global condition of scarcity. It also refers to the seminal publication “Limits of Growth” which was conceived of as a report to the Club of Rome.

2. Full name of guest-editor and affiliations:

Jon Goodbun

University of Westminster Senior Lecturer

EU HERA funded SCIBE (Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment) researcher

Jon Goodbun will be supported by an editorial advisory group led by Professor Jeremy Till and Dr Deljana Iossifova, also at the University of Westminster, who are the lead researchers in a major EU research project based around issues of scarcity and creativity in the built environment.

3. Outline of definition of theme:

We are today in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ of social, political, economic and ecological dimensions. The full extent and severity of our current conditions are yet to be determined, but one thing seems certain – our foreseeable futures will not be like our recent pasts. Leading analysts of all the major resource domains – water, food, material, energy and finance – all tell us that our global industrial growth models driven by the irrationality of financial market speculation are taking the planet to the brink of a series of chronic scarcities. Some of these are determined by real natural limits in terms of diminishing quantities of mineral resources. Other scarcities are based upon our problematic mis-management of natural flows of resources such as water, timber and food (both animals and agriculture). Many others still are simply based upon the socially and geographically uneven  development and distribution of these flows, with a transfer of real metabolic value from the poor to the rich areas of the globe. In parallel to these metabolic inputs, industrial economies are also externalising – in a generally catastrophic manner – all kinds of waste sinks. Again this is characterised by an uneven development, typified by flows of waste from rich to poor regions. In all of these cases, existing systemic stresses are expected to transform and intensify in unpredictable ways as a result of climate change and ecosystem shifts. Scarcity, both actual or constructed, has been largely suppressed as topic in recent debates, which have centred around the more emollient term ‘sustainability’. However, there is a rising interest in scarcity as potentially the central feature of societal change in the coming decade.

Architectural, urban, planning and design research has multiple forms of engagement with these issues, from developing new forms of analysis of global flows and scarcities, to specific local and global design based responses. In all cases, a full engagement with these issues has the capacity to completely reconfigure design practices in new, radically post-sustainable, directions The Scarcity Report will make a major contribution to these developments, and will be welcomed by architectural and design practitioners and theorists, and by activists and entrepreneurs more broadly.

4. Outline of treatment:

The Scarcity Report will be organised according to three axes: design research, concepts of scarcity, and ecological scale. Overall there will be an equal weighting between the brute ecological and economic facts, design theory, and practical design case studies.

The three sections will in turn be broken into three categories, as follows:

Design Research:

This section will explore the way that designers have employed various strategies to analyse, document or design under conditions of scarcity:

a: design theory and future scenario planning

b: design research as analysis and explanation of existing conditions, promoting ecological literacy.

c: design research as proposing and testing solutions: design strategies, activism, case studies

Concepts of Scarcity:

This section will look at the ways in which scarcity presents itself:

d: natural scarcity

e: social scarcity

g: architectural/design scarcities

Ecological Scale:

This section will show how scarcity is addressed at three different scales:

h: local

i: regional

j: global

5. Selling Points:

1: The Scarcity Report discusses a topic that is too pressing to overlook, but which has been very under-theorised. It will be the first major publication to address the issue.

2: The Scarcity Report transforms the contemporary discourse around ecological design, defining a distinctly post-sustainable position. This will mark the publication as a new direction for theoretical and practical debate.

3: The Scarcity Report will be the first time a collection of leading theorists, designers, researchers, projects and activists have been brought together in one publication (for example John Thackara, Ezio Manzini, Michael Braungart, Erik Swyngedouw, Jeremy Till). This will be significant and referred to.

4. The Scarcity Report extends a new strand of ADs that are addressing important global issues.

5. The Scarcity Report will make explicit connections between the background theory and design action

6. Typical profile of readership:

The Scarcity Report will be read across architecture, planning, landscape, product and systems design, by educators and students, activists, young practitioners and small practices within and beyond design, The Scarcity Report will also provide an importance reference within the ‘sustainability’ discourse, for community groups, policy makers and thought leaders.

9. Description of reason for publishing:

Whilst there has been work done on systems design, by contributors such as John Thackara, Ezio Manzini, and Michael Braungart, this thinking has been focused more at product design, and is not at all well disseminated in architecture. Students are however now demanding it. Equally, new forms of design activism that are starting to emerge in architecture schools, and new forms of systems analysis that can only come out of a basis in urban and landscape theory (Jon Goodbun), is of increasing interest to designers at large. The new forms of critical geography based on concepts such as urban metabolism, and urban political ecology (Erik Swyngedouw, David Harvey etc) are of great and growing interest to students and researchers across architecture, planning and design. This publication is the first time that these three areas have been brought together, together with a set out of the basic facts concerning global resource flows.

The  material will also provoke a self-reflexive consideration of the forms of practice and professional organisation in architecture and design (Jeremy Till), and so will provide the means for young practitioners to position themselves in new ways as activists, researchers and entrepreneurs.

10. Indicative Table of Contents:

Editorial/Introduction: Jon Goodbun

Ecological and Economic facts: including The Socio-Ecological Production of Scarcities, Supply Systems, Metabolism, Resilience and (Urban and Regional) Planning

Post-Sustainable Design Theory: including Design Activism, Rethinking forms of design practice and education, Peak Resources and Strategic Design, Future Scenario Planning as design research, Ecological Literacy

Case Studies: various global examples across scales

Filed under: ecology, research

One Response

  1. Simon Ward says:

    Excellent work, Jon

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