3 | Module Three | Arch 8561 2022

The Perspectives of Ecologically Based Design

“Real security, in other words, is inseparable from issues of energy policy; education; public health; preservation of soils, forests, and waters; and broadly based, sustainable prosperity.” |  David W. Orr”

“Sometimes innovation isn’t enough, the system must be totally transformed to respond to extreme disturbance. A system can become over-mature, calcified and slow to change in the face of disturbance. Resilient systems embrace disturbance, using it to ensure periodic transformation.” | The Meadowcreek Project

It is argued that the development of regenerative systems is the most promising method for ensuring a sustainable future – not merely conserving critical natural resources, but even enhancing them over time.” | John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies

Workshop Activities: Reflections + Exercises


[tr][th]Step[/th] [th]Action[/th][th]Activity[/th] [th]Note                                                                                                        .[/th][/tr]

[tr][th][/th] [th][/th][th]THEORY + PRACTICE REFLECTIONS[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td]  A[/td] [td]REVIEW [/td] [td]Videos, Readings, Slide Shows Below ↓[/td][td][/td][/tr]

[tr][td]  B[/td] [td]WRITE[/td] [td][btnsx id=”19827″][/td][td]A description of how to write your Theory + Practice Reflection is here[/td][/tr]
[tr][th][/th][th][/th][th]PROJECT EXERCISE[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td]  C[/td] [td]COMPLETE[/td][td]No Exercise[/td] [td][/td][/tr]

[tr][td]  D[/td] [td]UPLOAD[/td] [td]No Upload[/td] [td][/td][/tr]

[tr][th][/th][th][/th][th]CLASS RESOURCES[/th][th][/th][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19943″][/td][td]Instructor Special Uploads[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19818″][/td][td]Miro Reflection Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19819″][/td][td]Miro Project Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td] [td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19861″][/td][td]Miro Instructor Board[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19352″][/td][td]Thurs 2:30-5:30 PM CST | ID: 950 4480 4169 | Pwd: 5nkFYc [/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td][btnsx id=”19848″][/td][td]Takes you to the Student Share Google Drive Folders[/td][/tr]

[tr][td][/td][td][/td][td]All ‘Out-of-Class’ Activities (Theory Reflections and Project Exercises) are due by 12:00 Noon Thursday, on the Day of the Module Class [/td][td][/td][/tr]


This Weeks Workshop 

This week we’ll explore the perspectives of Living Design. Living Design’s greater purpose is to inspire a world centered on fostering the profound beauty of life, in all of its forms.

Video + Readings
About 7-8 Hours Total | 2.5 Hours of Video + Reading / About 4.5 Hours for Contemplation + Writing

This Module covers (2) Living Design Elements: Perspective + Prototype

Part 1: The Meta-Perspective of Living Design

This section: About 1 hour | 25 Minutes of Video /  About 3/4 Hour for Notes, Absorption + Contemplation

Living Design is a holistic perspective for engaging the world in a way that gives more than it takes. It is comprehensive, process oriented and based in living systems thinking. It draws from a wide range of talented living thinkers. Living Design is a system comprised of Story, Perspectives, Approach, Prototypes and Indicators. There are Five perspectives that are part of Living Design’s pattern of life in this order: Sustainability, Resilience, Regeneration, Inclusion and Wellness. The following two videos that exemplify the Living Design meta-perspective.

Video:  The Pattern of Living Systems, Michelle Holiday  | 16:58 Minutes
In this TEDx talk, brand specialist Michelle Holiday provides a great example of using a pattern approach to systems thinking and dealing with complexity.  She takes the complexity of our societies’ story and blends it with the complexity of biology, evolution and living systems. The pattern she derives is not spatial, nor is it communicated as a graphic, she maps it out through language.  

Her talk is a great start to this module on perspectives by connecting the living systems dialogue to the world of business professionals. Holiday provides her own perspective on the issue through the lens of human relations, and thus illustrating the breadth of people embracing a living systems point of view. 

Video:  Systems Theory – Systems Awareness  | 8:14 Minutes
Systems Thinking places substantial emphasis on how we perceive the world around us. Our perception of the world around us determines the relative accuracy of our mental models and ultimately our capacity to act effectively and sustainably. 

Video Excerpt – 9:26 to 16:33:  Systems Thinking in a Digital World | 5:07 Minutes
As identified in the “Systems Awareness” video, systems thinking places great emphasis on how we see the world. In this video excerpt, Peter Senge discusses the Humberto Maturana’s and Francisco Varela’s Santiago Theory of Cognition: Living systems are cognitive systems, and living as a process is a process of cognition. This statement is valid for all organisms, with or without a nervous system. As Peter Senge would say, “the essence of the Santiago Theory is that human beings do not perceive their reality. That’s a dangerous over-simplification …”

WATCH 9:26 TO 16:33.
the video automatically starts at 9:26. Manually stop it at 16:33. 

Part 2: The Living Design Perspectives


The Sustainability Perspective

This section: About 50 minutes | 18 Minutes of Video /  About 30 Minutes for Notes, Absorption + Contemplation
Sustainable Design’s goal is to eliminate negative environmental impact completely with skillful, sensitive design | Endure (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Video: 2006 Interview with David W. Orr | 18:24 Minutes
David Orr is one of the pioneers in sustainable design. He is a political scientist, environmentalist and professor at Oberlin College. David has a solid understanding of design and a long history of acting as a non-profit developer creating tangible, living design examples.


The Resilience Perspective

This section: About 40 minutes | 14 Minutes of Video /  About 25 Minutes for Notes, Absorption + Contemplation
Resilient Design
includes the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and maintain / regain functionality + vitality | Adapt (Adapted from the Resilience Institute)

Narrated Slide Deck – Designing Resilience: It’s all in the Blueprint, Bruce Mau | Time: 9:40 Minutes
“The ability to visualize a future condition and organize, inspire and galvanize people to go there is the first and most important potential of design” Bruce Mau

In this narrated slide deck, Bruce Mau lays out the need for expanding our thoughts on the scope of design and ways in which to imagine that expansion. As you watch and listen, think about your practice today and compare it to his perspective. What do you see? The Resilience perspective offered is solid, however genetic engineering, which is embraced in this presentation is generally not accepted as appropriate technology within the Living Design meta-perspective. Genetic engineering is a powerful technology that breaks the rules of evolution. Therefore it carries inherent risks the may or may not be visible today. It warrants the use of the precautionary principle.

Video: The Stockholm Resilience Centre: 7 Principles for Building Resilience | 3:09 Minutes
This short video maps out (7) principles for Resilience through the lens of ecology.


The Regenerative Perspective

This section: About 1 hour | 23 Minutes of Video /  About 45 Minutes for Notes, Absorption + Contemplation
Regenerative Design’s
output is greater than or equal too the input, with all outputs viable + all inputs accounted for | Rejuvinate (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Video Excerpt: 2013 Bioneers Speech on Living Buildings and Regenerative Future, Jason McLennan | 23:33 Minutes
Jason McLennan, founder of the Living Building Challenge discusses the Bullitt Center Design and the carrying capacity approach taken around the design of the building. The Case study starts at about 5:35 and the discussion on carrying capacity starts at 8:50.

The Inclusion Perspective

This section: About 3 hours | 70 Minutes of Video /  About 2+ Hours  for Notes, Absorption + Contemplation
Inclusion Keywords: Integrated, Cohesive, Diverse, Systemic and Fair | Integrate

How Economic Inequality Harms Societies: TED Talk, Richard Wilkinson | 16:54 Minutes
We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.

“How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion”: Peggy McIntosh at TEDxTimberlaneSchools | 18:26 Minutes
If you are not fully awake to social privilege, this is a powerful presentation. If you are one of those that are privileged, it will be outside of your conscious perspective and you are likely to be completely unaware the phenomenon.

Margaret Heffernan: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work | 15:47 Minutes
Organizations are often run according to “the superchicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn’t what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It’s a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: “Companies don’t have ideas. Only people do.

Does money make you mean? Paul Piff | 16:35 Minutes
It’s amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there’s good news too.

The Wellness Perspective

This section: About  3/4 Hour  | 18 Minutes of Video /  About 1/2 Hour for Notes, Absorption + Contemplation
Wellness Keywords: Thrive; Multi-dimensional vitality | Thrive

Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index | 17:19
Statistician Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation’s success by its productivity — instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn’t have to cost the earth). Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised.


Templates are distillation of information that present their information as a clear, actionable and bounded definition, structure or pattern for use in design, solutioning and problem solving.

Template: Perspectives
The Five Living Design Perspectives are Sustainability, Resilience, Regeneration, Inclusion and Well-ness. The five Living Design Perspectives offer a view, direction and vision for designers, teams and projects. Projects typically select at about three of the five perspectives for organize the project around. Regardless of the perspectives selected for any given project, all perspectives should all be given consideration. If at possible, appropriate aspects of all perspectives should be included in the development of the design program and solutions.

Each Perspective has it’s own focus, but simultaneously contains the other perspectives.

In practice, design and planning projects typically select perspectives that fit their context, values and needs. A good rule of thumb is to select (3) Perspectives creating a Perspective Set comprised (1) Primary and (2) Secondary Perspectives. At least (1) Expansive and (1) Concise Perspective should be included in a Perspective Set.  Advanced projects may decide to include all five and even add more. This would constitute a “Living Design” perspective.

Living Design Perspectives Types:

  • Type A: Expansive – Sustainability, Resilience, Regeneration
  • Type B: Concise – Inclusion, Well-being

Examples of project Perspective Sets:

  • Example One
    Primary: Sustainability
    Secondary: Inclusion + Resilience
  • Example Two
    Primary: Inclusion
    Secondary: Regeneration + Well-being

Template: The Pattern of Life

The Pattern of Life is comprised of all 5 of the Living Design Perspectives. It is based in ecological succession of ecosystems, but is also applicable to the extended timeline of life on Earth. When applied to projects, it represents a form of Biomimicry.


Template: Top 5 Professional Skills for Living Designers (no priority)

1. Curiosity, Motivation, Desire + The Capacity for Deep Discovery
Motivation, Desire, Curiosity + The Capacity for Deep Discovery

2. Immediate Knowledge and Patterns + Fast Access to Information
Immediate Knowledge and Patterns + Fast Access to Information

3. Project Appropriate Ideas + Fast Proof of Concept
Project Appropriate Ideas + Fast Proof of Concept

4. Professional Empathy + Connective Communication, Systems Thinking, and Interdisciplinary Skills
Professional Empathy + Connective Communication, Systems Thinking, and Interdisciplinary Skills

5. Grit: Passion and Enduring Persistence + *Personal Agency w/ **Self-Efficacy
Grit: Passion and Enduring Persistence + *Personal Agency w/ **Self-Efficacy

*Control over one’s Thought Process, Motivation, Emotion and Actions
**Belief in Capacity to Succeed at Tasks

While this TED talk is focused on K-12 education, it applies equally to professionals and practice.

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