Re-use aesthetics and the architectural roots of ecological crisis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


A circular economy could be implemented in the building industry without making a difference to how buildings look and feel. Yet, for many of the projects presented in this volume, it matters not just that material is re-used but that this re-use is experienceable. In what ways do the aesthetic qualities of re-use relate to the environmental agenda that they reflect? Is this “just” an aesthetic, or something more? In this essay, I outline an expanded reading of the ecological relevance of architecture, where the aesthetic qualities of buildings are understood to make a difference in their own terms, for good or ill. I draw on the work of anthropologist and cybernetician Gregory Bateson (1904-1980), who identified one of the root causes of ecological crisis as Western culture’s hubristic tendency to see humans as separate from, above, and in competition with their environments and each other. I argue that this hubris is implicitly reinforced through the conventional built environment, such as where buildings imply sharp distinctions between human and ecological worlds. I suggest that the aesthetic qualities of re-use in architecture may play a role in countering hubris by cultivating sensitivity towards ecological patterns and one’s situatedness within them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe pedagogies of re-use
Subtitle of host publicationThe international school of re-construction
EditorsDuncan Baker-Brown, Graeme Brooker
ISBN (Print)9781032650623, 9781032665511
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Not yet published


Dive into the research topics of 'Re-use aesthetics and the architectural roots of ecological crisis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this