In recent posts we’ve been discussing art and science as related to ecology. Art and science are two concepts that are generally considered to be binaries-terms in opposition to one another. Yet we are interested in creating hybrids between these two, exploring relationships in which art and science are fused together in our design methodology.

Hybridity refers to a mixture in which the constituting parts are not just combined but thoroughly distributed amongst one another. Hybrids maintain characteristics from their original elements yet form distinctly unique conditions and relationships. Initially a biological or agricultural term, hybridity has also become a philosophical term espoused to linguistics and more broadly, globalization—not just referencing recent forms of globalization but focused on the way in which civilizations have mixed throughout human development. (See Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Globalization and Culture: global mélange, 2004). Hybridity itself has become a mix of both science and culture.

The hybridization of art and science within an ecological design methodology has the potential to create innovative relationships not otherwise possible when starting from either condition on its own. Akin to the classic form versus function tug-of-war that permeated design methodologies throughout the 20th century, hybridity suggests form AND function, creating no distinction between the successes of one ideal versus the other.

In our design methodology of built environments, we strive to create as little distinction between the art and science of our proposals, believing that one is integrally tied to the other—beauty is analogous to the organization of natural processes. Just as art is a process of creation through the properties of its medium, design of the built environment can use properties of natural processes as the medium for formal expression. Not only does this fuse the performative characteristics of design to the formal characteristics, it also suggests that the design process may be more closely linked to the actual construction process. Just as art is the creation—the final product, a hybridized design methodology may move beyond just an a priori representation to become the actual final creation. As form and performance are more closely tied together, design becomes less focused on the final form than on a process, constructed and natural.

Thus, we seek to combine the scientific understanding of natural processes with their formal exhibition into an artistic composition that reflects an intentional vision. This is the form of ecology.

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Andrew Watkins

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