This seminar examines the concepts and buildings that characterize the discourse on posthuman architecture over the past decade, asking whether architecture as a discipline has demonstrated a capacity to move away from its 500 years of anthropocentrism. A controversial term since its inception in the 1970s, the term “posthuman” is widely used to refer to work that embraces non-humans, from machines to multiple species. It is a term that is also criticized for its failure to acknowledge its racialized undertones within the environmental discourse. Other terms that address posthuman architectural programs include non-human, animal, multi-species, and feral: terms whose capacity to describe an inclusive and biodiverse approach to architecture we explore. The trajectory of the term is dedicated to mapping the new landscape of architecture for multiple species in projects and texts. The bulk of the seminar is devoted to describing the reality of building for multiple species and focuses on developing wall sections through LIDAR-based digital twins of case study buildings. We analyze built work that manifests the hybrid entanglement envisioned by posthumanism, but more critically, we interrogate its facture: how is the analogous habitat constructed? How is duration, maintenance, and other time-based process inscribed in building cladding? How do you represent scales that are typically too small for human consideration? The course is conceived as a workshop-style seminar in which students develop research, writing, and analysis of existing examples of multi-species architecture. The framework for this questioning will be provided by literature reviews and case studies in which students develop a familiarity with LIDAR scanning, point-cloud models, and their manipulation in Rhino and Revit. Time-based analysis integrates data from sensors. Our hypothesis is that the digital twin, and recent speculation on the digital twin city, harbors new potential for fostering biodiversity support as feral surfaces for the city. This research is envisioned within the framework of a new publication, building on my 2013 Routledge anthology Architectural Theories of the Environment: Posthuman Territory. In the short term, students build research skills and cultivate critical thinking, while in the long-term students establish a habit of design that seeks space for multiple species in contemporary architecture.

All Semesters

Spring 2023
Feral Surfaces and Multi-Species Architecture: Rethinking Posthuman Territory
Ariane Lourie Harrison