Architectures, Natures & Data: The Politics of Environments
Estonian Writers' House, Tallinn
04.21.17 – 04.22.17
April 21–22, 2017
Estonian Writers’ House, Tallinn, Estonia
Two themes stand out prominently in discussions, projects and strategies that are at the forefront of contemporary urbanisation. It is, on the one hand, the question of ecology, where the city and architecture are reconceptualised in “green” terms, such as sustainability, resilience, metabolic optimisation and energy efficiency. On the other hand, there is the cybernetic question, where the futures of architecture and urbanisation are staked upon the pervasive use of digital communication, interactive technologies, ubiquitous computing, and the “big data”. Moreover, these two questions have become increasingly intertwined as two facets of a single environmental question: while real-time adjustments, behaviour optimisation and “smart” solutions are central to urban environmental agenda, the omnipresent network of perpetually interacting digital objects constitutes itself as a qualitatively new environment within which urban citizens are enfolded. But, as digital networks become our “second nature,” we also hark back to the models derived from the “first nature.”
There is growing pressure on architects, urbanists and planners to deliver ecological and techno-informational solutions, with (self-)monitoring of citizens “behaviour”, optimisation of the buildings “performance” and smoothing of urban “flows”, along with the respective substitution of democratic politics by automated governance models. As such, it is ever more important to interrogate the historical, theoretical, methodological and epistemological assumptions beneath the above set of processes that can be described, following Michel Foucault, as environmental governmentality.
These questions will be explored under three thematic strands, focusing on the promises and perils of optimised urban ecosystems, the question of architectural turn to nature, and the relation between “Big data” and urban subjectification.
The conference is supported by Faculty of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts; Cultural Endowment of Estonia; European Research Council Advanced Grant “Rethinking Urban Nature”; Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (Hasartmängumaksu Nõukogu).