Layering the Built Environment – A Cybernetic Perspective

In March 2023, we visited The School of Cybernetics at the Australian National University in Canberra. Across a day of sharing research, work and ideas, we recognised how aligned cybernetic approaches are to the ideas behind Integrative Briefing. Layering, pace and change, concepts that originated through Frank Duffy’s (DEGW) work and built on by Stewart Brand are useful lenses to explore the built environment as part of a cybernetic system encompassing humans, technology and environment relations. This was observed through the System of a Sound installation which was on display at the school, and a version is also accessible online. In this guest blog, Josh Andres, discusses cybernetics and the System of a Sound installation.

The built environment, with its architectural structures, infrastructures, and embedded technologies, can be framed as a cybernetic system comprising the interdependency between humans, technologies, and the surrounding natural environment in complex ways.

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The Power of Hindsight

Chris Alcock reflects on changes in the nature of environments for living, learning and working, the foregrounding of user experience and how we might approach briefing for the built environment.

Why is it that we rarely appreciate the power of “incremental change”?  John Worthington (co-Founder of DEGW) describes change in two forms – seismic and incremental. The former is immediately recognisable and demands action, the latter a slow, creeping evolution of ideas and innovation that in isolation seem unremarkable but in combination are profound in hindsight. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated seismic change of the first order. But do we realise that our astounding ability to respond to it has in fact been the result of incremental change in our attitudes and experiences of work and workplace over time?

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