A day of two halves: book writing this morning and then swing dance teaching at the Idler festival this evening, with some hair engineering in the middle.

Enabling systems to self learn

I have about ten days to finish the first draft of the two chapters I am writing for James and my book on regenerative design for structural engineers. Today I was writing one of 12 principles for thinking about regenerative design. This one is about enabling systems to self-learn, adapt and evolve.

As ever, with regenerative design, we are thinking about how to enable healthy system qualities to emerge. It is difficult to write about because for one thing we are not talking about directly doing something ourselves, but thinking about how to set the conditions for a certain desirable quality to arise. The second is it doesn’t always feel close to structural engineering. But with our writing, we are not attempting to fully resolve the picture, rather to show what the arguments are and how they might intersect with structural engineering.

The question I keep coming back to to guide the writing is, how can we move away from seeing the design of buildings as the ends in itself, and instead as the means of creating a society that thrives within ecosystem boundaries.

In the built environment context, this idea of self-learning in the system could manifest itself as communities being better able to design and adapt their own buildings. And that that process can put them in greater harmony with their supporting ecosystems. The barriers to this process I wrote today were:

  • A design process that starts too late and stops too soon
  • Specialist knowledge not being distributed in the system
  • Lack of local systems knowledge
  • Discomfort with uncertainty
  • The challenge of hearing our nature responds to our plans.

Tomorrow I will be writing about how design can enable the emergence of a healthy socio-ecological system structure.

Hair Engineering

I have a phenomenal amount of hair. When ever I get it cut, it renews at an astonishing rate. You could say it is an abundant natural system. I am impressed with how tall she was able to make it. You could say I have a High Barnet.

Idler Festival Day One

For the first time in two years it feels great to be back teaching at a Festival. This time it is back with my friends at the Idler, for their Idler Festival at Fenton House.

This evening I was second on the bill, teaching a group of about 30 a solo taster Charleston class. On the playlist:

Around the World (Daft Punk)/I’ve Got That Tune (Chinese Man)/A Cool Cat in Town – Aerophon Mix (Tape Five)/Booty Swing (Parov Stelar)/Lone Digger (Caravan Palace). Link here to playlist.

Halfway through the class I spotted someone who had been there in the classroom when I had my first swing dancing classes 18 years ago.

I was happy to see my friend, dancer Constructivist collaborator, Peter Ayres. Looking forward to spending more time together on the Idler lawn over the next two days.

Three more classes tomorrow.