Jour fixe-Vortrag: Brook Muller

| Vortrag – WS 2014/2015 |

Brook Muller, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR – „A Machine is a Watershed for Living In“

Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart, Campus Weißenhof: Neubau 1, Hörsaal 301

20.01.2015 | 19:00 – 20:30

„A Machine is a Watershed for Living In“ (Reconstructing Architectural Horizons)

Preamble (excerpt from book Ecology and the Architectural Imagination): By focusing design expression on natural systems processes augmented by the human hand, through timely engagement of ecological methods, models and metaphors, architects through their collaborative efforts can expand ideas of the performance of the city. A deeply ecological architectural intervention is one that creates more diverse urban habitat frameworks, filters and cleanses stormwater in order to improve biological conditions in compromised waterways, fortifies the connective ecological tissue of neighborhoods and regions, and in other ways supports broader, regenerative landscape processes. To engage these possibilities is to excite the architectural imaginary, accept a higher level of unpredictability, and invite heightened aesthetic speculation.  

Focus of Talk (excerpts from recent essay „A Machine is a Watershed for Living In“): The metaphor of the machine is inescapable in conceptualizing a deeply environmentally responsive architecture of the city. Trajectories of urbanization, increased densities and compromised ecological function demand that we enlist architectural machines to perform a different manner of work, that they shape richly variegated space while synchronizing building and (urban) landscape processes; the very ensemble that provides interior comfort facilitates broader scale ecological function.  If energy efficiency provided the impetus for the first generation of sustainable architectures and carbon the current one, we now add water: its radically more efficient use, the decentralization of collection and supply (as is taking place within the realm of energy), the amelioration of impacts of climate change such as sea level rise and increasingly severe storm events and stormwater surcharges, and the need to contend with the significant problem of non-point load pollution. These pressures open up the possibility of architectures as blue infrastructures where everyday elements of buildings such as roofs, facades and foundations are to also operate as overlapping and redundant surfaces, rainscreen purifying facades, micro-hydro systems, oxygenating filters, holding basins and runnel distributors.  A „building“ assembly harvests stormwater by incorporating „wetland“ green roofs that provide habitat while offering significant cooling benefits to interior spaces. It performs tertiary treatment, makes this water available as thermal mass, greywater and seismic dampening, and returns it to the larger system in a cleansed manner in support of aquatic habitat and other urban ecologies. Hard-surfaced urban discontinuities, the high degree of control provided by the built environment, offers much needed behavioral predictability in a time of climate change. For example, timed release of water could be directed to newly constructed surface wetlands adjacent to and part of project development. This helps regulate hydroperiods during increasingly dry springs so as to enable macroinvertrebrates that rely on seasonal regularity to complete their life cycle histories. A pollinator prey base is reestablished, and cooled and oxygenated overflows are released to nearby urban riverways for the benefit of aquatic species. Honoring the journeys of migratory birds alighting along riparian corridors of cities and those of fish making their way through urban waterways to the ocean, a site-constrained project is hemispheric in the magnitude of its ambition.

Brook Muller
Acting Dean, School of Architecture and Allied Arts; Associate Professor, Architecture Department; Director, Certificate Program in Ecological Design; Core Faculty Member, Environmental Studies Program; University of Oregon, Eugene, OR (
bmuller(at)  Brook Muller is Acting Dean and Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. He directs the Graduate Certificate program in Ecological Design and is a participating faculty member with the University’s Environmental Studies Program, Environmental Humanities Collective and Sustainable Cities Initiative. Brook’s research bridges design theory and environmentally responsive practice and focuses specifically on the contribution of site scale architectural development to broader scale urban ecological health. He pursues these interests through scholarship, public outreach, and collaborations with faculty and students in architecture, landscape architecture, environmental studies, philosophy, business, and planning, public policy and management.

From 1993–1996, Brook worked with Behnisch Architects in Stuttgart, Germany, serving as co-project leader on the IBN Institute for Nature Research, a European Union pilot project for human and environmentally friendly building. With Blackbird Architects, Brook was project design team leader on the Van Atta Design Studios in Santa Barbara, CA, winner of a American Institute of Architects/Boston Society of Architects National Honor Award for Sustainable Design (1999) and the Honor Award (first place) entry in the Great Central Valley „Housing the Next Ten Million“ International Design Competition (1999). With professional ecologist Josh Cerra, Brook wrote the briefs for the „Integrating Habitats“ international design competition (2006–2008), considered by Metropolis Magazine to represent a „breakthrough in the annals of design competitions.“ In 2009, he was awarded the Campus Compact Award for Civic Engagement in Sustainability. Brook is the author of Ecology and the Architectural Imagination (Routledge 2014).

Mit freundlicher Unterstützung von Armstrong DWL, FSB – Franz Schneider Brakel GmbH + Co KG, Nimbus Group GmbH und der Architektenkammer Baden-Württemberg