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Constructing Ecosystems: Material Cultures - Scaping bioregional architecture. Building relationships between land, materiality and agency.

Master dissertation studio 2024-25
Supervisor(s) Jan Wurm
Campus BXL
Language EN
Studio or individual? individual
Max number of students? 3


Description of the project

The “Constructing Ecosystems” series of master dissertations allows for research through design and making, merging traditional skills with systems thinking to develop spatial narratives that link architectural interventions with the micro and macro scales of ecosystems. The 2024/25 focus is on bioregional architecture, exploring how land, materiality, and agency intertwine within a bioregion, defined as an area with interconnected plant, animal communities, and natural systems. This concept bridges Nature and Culture, fostering ecological stewardship and regenerative design.

Belgium, part of the Atlantic bioregion, faces habitat fragmentation and intensive agriculture. It has 55,000 native species and around 35,000 farms. The country is divided into 11 ecological regions, each with distinct fauna and flora. The project follows regional resources through their production, processing, and assembly, integrating traditional and modern techniques to foster regional regeneration.

The project phases include:

  1. Semester 1: Researching and mapping a selected region’s communities, resources, and processes, engaging with stakeholders, and presenting findings.
  2. First 5 weeks of Semester 2: Developing a regional material culture, focusing on specific materials and value chains, and prototyping.
  3. Remainder of Semester 2: Designing a 35 m² tiny house to demonstrate regional material culture and regenerative practices.

Deliverables include a bioregion map, material culture inventory, design drawings, incl/ an axonometric house view, a script or visual narration, a material culture logbook and a final dissertation booklet. Students are encouraged to submit their projects for the “New European Bauhaus Rising Stars” category in 2025.

Literature List

1 Charles, L., Dodge, J., Milliman, L., & Stockley, V. (1981). Where you at? A bioregional quiz. Coevolution Quarterly, 32, 1.

2 Peter Berg and Raymond Dasmann ‘Reinhabiting California’ in Cheryll Glotfelty and Eve Quesnel (Eds.), The Biosphere and the Bioregion: Essential Writings of Peter Berg. London; New York, 2015.

3 Bioregioning, Future Observatory Journal Issue 1, April 2024 https://fojournal.org/

4 Daniel Christian Wahl, Designing Regenerative Cultures, 2016

5 Kirkpatrick Sale: Dwellers in the Land, 200056

6 John Thackara, Bioregioning: Pathways to Urban-Rural Reconnection, She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2019

7 Material Cultures – Material Reform: Building for a Post-Carbon Future,  2022

8 Paul Hawken, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, 2021

9 Material Cultures, Circular Biobased Construction in the North East and Yorkshire, 2021

10 Billy Fleming, Design With Nature Now, Lincoln, 2019

11 Wearne S, Hubbard E, Jónás K & Wilke M (2023) A learning journey into contemporary bioregionalism. People and Nature.

12 Hubbard E, Wearne S, Jónás K, Norton J & Wilke M (2023) Where are you at? Re‐engaging bioregional ideas and what they offer geography.

13 Capra F, Luisi PL. Frontmatter. In: The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

14 Dowling, R., Lloyd, K., & Suchet-Pearson, S. (2017). Qualitative methods II: ‘More-than-human’ methodologies and/in praxis