Integral Intelligences: Practising Personal Sustainability

April 13, 2009


© Marilyn Hamilton PhD CGA



This article illustrates the twelve intelligences identified in Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive (Hamilton, 2008) through the work of architect Teddy Cruz. The author discusses Cruz’s socially responsible architectural practice in terms of each intelligence and demonstrates how he transcends and includes traditional, modern and post modern mindsets into an integral evolutionary paradigm.





 “As we try to define robust R&D for urban sustainability, when does it get personal??” Good question!!, I noted at the beginning of the Elevate 09 Conference.


Bringing the twelve intelligence lenses from my book, Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive (Hamilton, 2008) my job (for a wrap-up panel) was to listen, observe, reflect and reframe Elevate 09’s presentations on sustainable real estate, land use and economic development. This, February 2009 gathering of developers, architects, planners, policy makers, lawyers and business professionals marked the inauguration of University of Colorado’s Initiative for Sustainable Development, sponsored by the LEEDS School of Business and the Colorado Law School. I had my trusty note-taking sheets (Appendix A) and duly made observations from each panel on Regulating and Developing for Sustainability in this “century of the city” (Pierce, Johnson, & Peters, 2008). And while we were all intensely committed to our academic, regulatory and planning roles, the person who energized the answer to the question above, was architect Teddy Cruz. I have used him as an exemplar to illustrate what these intelligences can look like in a living practitioner.  (Note that I have placed square parentheses

[I#] relating to each intelligence and each chapter mapped from Appendix A in the narrative that follows).


Personal Practise of Integral City Intelligences

Currently, Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts at University of California, San Diego, Teddy is known for his architecture of social responsibility [I8], derived from his experience in the water shed of the Tijuana River, which flows north out of the cultural chaos of Mexico into the socially structured zones of San Diego.


Teddy’s curiosity and deep respect for the natural and human ecologies enliven both his commentary and his visuals of the ecosphere [I1], which has called him to notice emergent life in the interstitial zones influenced by the river wetlands, the tidal flats, the estuary flows, the international border and the human migrations. Originally from Guatemala, he has a genuine empathy with the newcomer, with ecological invasions, political clashes and ambiguous spaces. He sees the degradation of the environment reflected in social and political degradation and vice versa.


Teddy gives voice to the value of emergent complexity [I2] – not with aesthetic judgment at the rough and ready changes that continually surprise, but with delight in the co-existence of contradictory conditions like the San Diego gated community whose existence depends on immigrant housekeepers, child minders and landscape workers, crossing the border from Mexico.


Cruz sees new life and new possibilities because local conditions on both sides of the border are being radicalized [I2]. On the north side of the international divide people are the invading species, pixilating the carefully zoned American landscape with their lively Latin routines of daily work, travel, art and home life. On the south side of the same crossing, Cruz admires the ingenuity of repurposing building materials like garage doors imported from San Diego suburb renovations, that become the primary exterior cladding for buildings made entirely of garage doors!! What is the role of architect in such a fluid time and space?? [I9] It is the designer who sees the possibilities for modular steel frames that enable the shapeshifting of devalued, atypical land spaces, and the evolution of building clusters imagined as an unfolding series of purposes, with plural dimensions and a variety of co-designing users.


Teddy Cruz is a master of complex adaptive design – he negotiates ambiguity at multiple scales [I3]. He sees the potential for nests of whole systems to serve both individual and collective needs – whether that be a tradesman, his family, his shop, a neighbor’s retail store or the meeting space for the street [I6, I7]. Consider: a building with ground floor living rooms, transmuting into a 2nd floor home, with a working garage underneath it, and a father-in-law flat behind, bordered by living quarters for a brother’s new family and artisan shop.


Cities who talk about density, too often offer it as a clinically static benchmark of urban life. Teddy, on the other hand, considers density merely a resulting condition of negotiating shared intention, social responsibility and economic opportunities. [I4, I11] Density for him becomes flexible and fluid. For Teddy, regulation ought not to lock in density as a permanent condition but keep the social condition responsive and adaptive, so that density is a healthy and intelligent result of active participation in urban life. [I2, I4]


Listening to and watching Teddy Cruz’s story of intelligent design, is an entertaining, breathtaking, provoking and challenging experience. Don’t expect to sit still because he invites you to examine your assumptions. [I9] How can you use the natural conflicts that come up about land use to enable creativity to flourish? Why shouldn’t the house/workplace dweller be an active participant in street/city design? What politics of zoning assure hardening of the legislative arteries? When will we embrace the fact that all resources have a natural flow and lifecycle – whether they be human resources or natural resources or recycled window frames? [I4]


Teddy says, “My education came out of phenomenology in the ’80s [I5], and it stressed that we all engage in the reality of the world through our perceptions [I6] and interpretations [I5, I8} of that reality. At the same time I feel the poetics in architecture remain too isolated from the politics of the construction of the city. [I5, I8] And somehow many of these images should be bridges to reconnect the poetic and the political.” (Sokol, October 2008)

Teddy’s urbanism has been described as “bricollage”.  Philosopher Andy Clark proposes that “our minds are a kludge (or bricollage) of different kinds of intelligence … some … arise out of decentralized and parallel processes; others from centralized and sequential ones.” (De Landa, 1995). Teddy seems to be a natural meshworker – one who facilitates self-organizing hierarchies and hierarchies of self-organization  (Hamilton, 2008). [I10] He crosses boundaries, enabling the co-existence of differentiated wholes (or holons), so that healthy integration and complex emergence can happen.[I10] He is not merely a networker, or replicator but a catalyst to self-organizing design. He walks into the center of conflicts like zoning bylaws and lending requirements and discovers the new intelligences that come from transcending and including old structures so that new processes and patterns can happen. He demonstrates the mutually beneficial values of pixilated land use zoning, economic micro-loans, and an aesthetic fabric that emerges from peoples’ involvement in stitching together the co-design of their urban life. Teddy dances on the margins where the exchanges between the old traditional ways, the modern strategies and the socially responsible approaches recombine into living systems energized by hope, action, engaged culture and growing social capacity.[I12]



In the “century of the city” (Pierce et al., 2008), architect Teddy Cruz makes urban sustainability personal, by living all twelve of the Integral City intelligences in a totally evolutionary way. [I12]. He exemplifies the highest leverage point for changing a system, identified by systems pioneer, Donella Meadows (Meadows, 2008). He not only creates the conditions for changing mindsets, he transcends old paradigms through his personal commitment to bridging the poetic and the political. In doing so he seems to live by the Integral City Master Rule: Take care of yourself, Take Care of Each Other, Take Care of this Place (Appendix A).  Teddy Cruz showed us how to do this at Elevate 09, by sharing his passion, his calling and his challenge for all to co-create personal sustainability design practice.




De Landa, M. (1995). Homes: Meshwork or Hierarchy?  Special: Home issue. Retrieved Dec. 4, 2004

Hamilton, M. (2008). Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive. Gabriola Island BC: New Society Publishers.

Meadows, D. (2008). Thinking in Systems. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Pierce, N., Johnson, C., & Peters, F. (2008). Century of the City. New York: The Rockefeller Foundation.

Sokol, D. (October 2008). Repositioning Practice: Teddy Cruz (Publication. Retrieved March 18, 2009, from Architectural Record:


Appendix A

Session:__________________Presenters: _________________Date______________________


Integral City Evolutionary Intelligences ©2009


  1. Ecosphere




  1. Emerging




  1. Integral – 4 maps

Map 1                      Map 2                             Map 3                           Map 4


4q8L                       Nested Holons               Social Holons             CAS Change 8L              


  1. Living




  1. Inner





  1. Outer

      8. Storytelling





      7. Building

  1. Inquiry




  1. Meshworking




  1. Navigating




  1. Evolutionary



Session:__________________Presenters: _________________Date______________________


Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive: Chapter Intelligences & Rules


Chapter 1: Ecosphere Intelligence

1.        Honour the climate and geography of your city.

2.        Steward the environment.

3.        Add value to the earth space.

Chapter 2: Emerging Intelligence

1.        Survive so holons serve each other’s existence.

2.        Adapt to the environment.

3.        Create a self-regenerating feedback loop, by interconnecting human regeneration cycles so that they replenish the environment.

Chapter 3: Integral Intelligence

1.        Map the territory integrally (horizontally through four quadrants, vertically through eight plus levels of development, diagonally through its change states, and relationally through its nested holarchies and fractals of complexity).

2.        Create and sustain an integral mapping system at the highest sustainable level of complexity, that is appropriate to the capacities of city management.

3.        Learn from and update the maps annually or more often.

Chapter 4: Living Intelligence

1.        Honor the dance of life cycles in the city.

2.        Integrate the natural cycles of change within the city.

3.        Learn how to zoom in and out at different scales to dance with the fractal patterns of the city.

Chapter 5: Inner Intelligence

1.        Show up and be self-aware, present, mindful.

2.        Notice the city intelligences and map them integrally.

3.        Grow leadership in heart, mind, soul.

Chapter 6: Outer Intelligence

1.        Manage personal energy.

2.        Seek bio-physical wellbeing for self and others.

3.        Nurture healthy leaders.

Chapter 7: Building Intelligence

1.        Manage life sustaining energy for all.

2.        Design from the center, at all scales for all holons.

3.        Build structures that integrate self-organizing creativity with hierarchies of order.

Chapter 8: Story Intelligence

1.        Respect others.

2.        Listen deeply.

3.        Speak your story, and enable others to speak theirs, to co-create communities of integral practise.

Chapter 9: Inquiry Intelligence

1.        Ask what’s working (and not) and co-generate a vision for the city’s contribution to the planet.

2.        Create an integral city and community plan.

3.        Implement and manage the plan appropriately at all scales in the city.

Chapter 10: Meshworking Intelligence

1.        Catalyze fractal connections within the human hive.

2.        Build communication bridges across silos, stovepipes and solitudes.

3.        Enable meshes and hierarchies that transform, transcend and transmute capacities.

Chapter 11: Navigating Intelligence

1.        Select the future destination of the city based on its vision.

2.        Design and implement integral dashboards, using integral indicators of wellbeing for the city.

3.        Notice outcomes and make course corrections to enable progress naturally.

Chapter 12: Evolving Intelligences

1.        Expect the unexpected.

2.        Pay attention to the rules.

3.        Enable emergence and resilience by transcending and including integral capacities at Level 8 and beyond.


Master Rule:

Take care of yourself.

Take care of each other.

Take care of this place.