Research

  • The Responsive Environment: Aesthetics, Design, and Ecology in the 1970s
  • GRANTEE
    Larry Busbea
    GRANT YEAR
    2013

Paolo Soleri, Hexahedron, Arcology #28 from City in the Image of Man (MIT Press, 1970). Photograph by Cosanti Foundation.

This project considers the concept of environment as an historically and discursively specific construct that reconfigured the boundaries of architecture, art, and the human subject during the 1970s. No longer conceived as a stable Euclidean space containing discrete objects, "the environment"—at this time—came to represent a complex network of interactive forces, through which distinctions between natural and artificial systems, our interior lives and exterior surroundings, were blurred. Examining the mutually inflected and highly ambivalent production of technology theorists, ecologists, designers, architects, and artists, this book traces a series of urgent attempts to both comprehend and map the complex structures and patterns of this newly recognized environment—and, in the process, propose new types of material and perceptual spaces that do not simply "respond" to human needs, but reciprocally serve as catalysts for progressive human evolution.

Larry Busbea is associate professor of art history at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on the interactions of architecture, art, and critical theory in Europe and the United States after WWII. Critical essays and reviews have appeared in October, The RIBA Journal of Architecture, Design Issues, The Architect's Newspaper, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. His book Topologies: The Urban Utopia in France, 1960–1970, was published by MIT Press in 2007.