Integral Architecture for Human Hive

In the Human Hive, we need truth, beauty and goodness to sustain our capacities and encourage creative impulses. It is not always easy to find them in cities designed from pre-modern, modern and post-modern design principles. Someone who is committed to changing that is Mark Dekay, Director of Graduate Studies, School of Architecture, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Read his invitation to new students at

Here is a key part of Mark’s message:

“… what we are up to at UT … is a rich discussion; here is one important component that outlines this new “post-postmodern” approach that I call Integral Design:

Across the curriculum, it is important to recognize that there are at least four fundamental and non-reducible perspectives on architecture and that all are critically important:

1) Technological Design (It, objective).
From this perspective, design is about doing more with less and fully understanding the empirical behavior of things, such as maximizing energy performance, materials and structural efficiency, LEED criteria, carbon-neutral design to reduce global climate change, how crowds behave in public spaces, and so on.

2) Systemic Design (Its, inter-objective).
From this perspective, design is about complex systems organization based on principles of ecosystems, ecological services, and the fitness of design to ecological and social contexts, such as the social organization of a client’s organization, the construction and finance industry, and so on. It is about life-cycle cost, designing for change, and cradle-to-cradle thinking.

3) Cultural Design (We, inter-subjective).
From this perspective, design is about conveying collective meaning (through the language of design), such as human relationships to nature as mediated via design, and about the cultural and intellectual context of design forms and ideas. It is about the theory behind every design choice and what it all means.

4) Experiential Design (I, subjective).
From this perspective, design is about an individual’s level of awareness & ethics, and about how one experiences design as a rich, multi-faceted phenomenological event. It considers intentions, human development, how to communicate to the listening of others, aesthetics, and enrolling people in a vision.

That leaves not only lots of room for many types of contributions, but also the outlines of the critical pieces that must be included for effective solutions. It is easy to see that architecture in the 21st century cannot just be understood or designed from one of these perspectives. Leaving one or more out (as did pre-modernism, modernism and post-modernism) is leaving out a huge and important perspective.

So, we are then working to develop approaches to architecture that honor and touch each of these important perspectives, each of which constitutes a previously isolated worldview.”

About the Author:

HI I am the Founder of Integral City Meshworks Inc. and Chief Blogger. Working with cities and eco-regions, I ‘meshwork’ or weave people, purpose, priorities, profits, programs and processes to align contexts, grow capacity and develop strategies for sustainability and resilience in the Integral City. You can read more details about me here

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