Inside The Architecture of Closed Worlds, Or, What Is The Power of Shit?
Keywords:closed worlds, technology, sustainability, uncertainty, architectural representation
This article reviews The Architecture of Closed Worlds, Or, What is the Power of Shit? Published in 2018, Closed Worlds is an aggregation of written and visual material covering over four years of research by its author, Lydia Kallipoliti, on the subject of closed worlds. Through combining studies in the fields of spatial design, biology and technology, Kallipoliti establishes closed worlds as a new typology of interior space that internalises architecture and the environment in a technologically dependent, synthetic naturalism.
Based on an extended review of Kallipoliti’s multiple works on the subject, this essay unpacks the key contributions of Closed Worlds to our knowledge of sustainable design: from establishing the origin of closed worlds in the NASA space program of the 1960s; to demonstrating their adaptation to an idealised architecture of
environmental resistance in the 1970s; to their contribution to absurd environmental policy in the 1980s. Using writing and drawings to demonstrate the flaws of closed worlds in the built environment, Kallipoliti establishes a platform for critical reflection on sustainability and rejects the idealisation of green thinking in design.
By addressing the concept of loss in closed worlds, in the form of shit, Kallipoliti argues that uncertainty rather than sustainability has the phenomenal potential to instigate change.
Rather than rejecting the concept of, or the need for, environmentally conscious design, Closed Worlds problematises the field of existing ideas to assess the credibility of ethical claims. By using factual examples of real projects, Closed Worlds questions principles that have been institutionalised in an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of well-intentioned but ultimately misguided ideals. In the face of mounting environmental catastrophe, this book is poignant, as it advocates for the need to address complexity, rather than efficiency, by looking directly at the uncertainty of the natural environment and asking hard questions about real problems of survival.
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