Animal Architecture is an online project broadly concerned with the role of ecology and biology in architecture.
…is a project about what it means as an animal to make and delineate space.
…is a project about the fashion, obsession, and fetishism of nature.
…is not a project about the homes, holes, caves, nests, hives, burrows, or tunnels that animals already architect.
…is a project devoted to bridging the humanist divide between “us” and “them.”
…is a project born from the belief that the history of Architecture is a humanist history and guilty of relegating all other species of life to the status of second-class beings. What makes us so special anyway?
Some principles and definitions of Animal/Architecture:
What is an Animal?
As Derrida would claim, “Human” is merely the name that a particular section of the animal population has given itself the right to give itself. In a similar vein, “Animal” is the term we give to anything that is not us, human that is. Therefore this website will never take “Animal” literally or at face value; and more often than not, will interpret it in its broadest sense. So when we talk about Animal we’re talking about everything from squirrels, and cats, to mitochondria, bacteria, and ecosystems in general.
What is Architecture?
Just as “animal” has been broadened so will “Architecture.” With Architecture we’re getting at more than just the brick-and-mortar version of human production and thinking more about systems of organization.
Animal Architecture, in a very simple and general sense follows some basic patterns. Almost across the board we can say that animal architecture is:
- Highly Structurally Redundant (bone, termite hills, swallow nests)
- Relatively Unplanned (ant tunnels, bee hives coral reefs)
- Dynamic, requiring constant upkeep and maintenance
- Generally Inefficient in its use and distribution of materials
- and follows simple structural logic ie. Material at hand, + force of gravity + method of construction = form. We can see this in conk shells, oyster reefs, termite hills, and yes, beaver dams.
This Website, Animal/Architecture:
Will cross the human/animal divide by demonstrating, discussing, and exploring the intersection — the at times literal edge between humans and everything else around them. Architecture, as our historical defense against outside forces will be the fulcrum to open this debate. What happens when we no longer view ourselves to be separate from the world around us? Keep checking back to see what we find out.
Animal Architecture is a online project founded and curated by E.M. (Ned) Dodington. Ned (website and web-cv can be found here) has a Masters Degree in Architecture from Rice University, Houston TX, an Art History Degree from Carleton College. While at Rice University working on his Masters in Architecture, Ned studied ecological design strategies and management with an eye towards the built environment. This evolved into a philosophy regarding the role of biology in design, as well as different ways to expand and explore the edge between humans and surrounding “others” (non-human animals, the earth). His written and design work has appeared in AD Magazine, Texas Architect, Manifold, Plat, Bracket (“On Farming” and “Goes Soft”) and yearly publications from both Rice and Columbia University. He has written for The Architectural League in New York, Manifold Magazine, Arts and Culture Magazine, the Houstonist and has been invited to jury reviews at Rice, Pratt and Columbia. His built work, including an IV-drip supported hanging garden, has been shown at the Lawndale Art Center and in Minnesota; he’s been awarded the Technos international traveling fellowship, the Mitchel Travel Fellowship an RDA Houston Initiative Grant and Presidential Citation for civic work from the AIA, Houston.
Comments can be directed to his attention at (animalarchitecture at gmail.com). He appreciates links, stories, projects and helpful tips.
Jon LaRocca is a founding partner of Animal Architecture and maintains a role as an emeritus contributor. Jonathon LaRocca received his Masters of Architecture degree from Rice University in 2007. He completed his undergraduate education at Cornell University in 2003, earning a Bachelor of Science in Design & Environmental Analysis. He was a 2006 Margaret Everson Fossi Fellowship and 2007 Rice Design Alliance Initiatives for Houston Grant recipient, and spent time traveling to Australian urban farms for research as part of those awards. As a designer, he is committed to using a broad-based and diverse set of social science and design methodologies to understand how the planning, design, and management of the built environment affects individuals, groups, organizations, and communities, and how this knowledge can feed the imagination to generate innovative design solutions to pressing social and cultural issues. Through his work on sustainable design and development, he is also committed to examining and developing designs that contribute to the health of the environment as well as those inhabiting it.