Edition 28

Decentre: Designing for coexistence in a time of crisis

Cover for Decentre: Designing for coexistence in a time of crisis

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The tragedy of the story of Frankenstein's monster lies in his abandonment, not his creation. It feels like we are living in an eco-horror story.

We are experiencing a crisis of coexistence. The volatile state of the world prompts the question: how will we weather this storm? Bushfires, drought, mass extinction, global heating, oceanic acidification, superstorms, pandemic, colonisation: this is a crisis which forces us to confront our ecological entanglement. We encounter the destructive lineage of ideas and institutions that had conceived of humans as detached, special and centred.

As co-creators of our environment we understand that the forces that shape us are equally shaped by us. Human-centric development has caused great violence to the land and other beings. The Anthropocene has introduced a crisis of agency.

Ian McHarg argued that landscape architects "must become the stewards of the biosphere". But perhaps this position lies in the tradition of human-centredness? Bruno Latour contends that "the sin is not to wish to have dominion over nature, but to believe that this dominion means emancipation and not attachment."

In Kerb 28, we look through a broad lens toward ideas, practices and knowledges that better enable coexistence. What role can design play in imagining and embracing forms of agency that will allow us to co-inhabit earth with non-humans?