Our Artificial Nature: Design Research for an Era of Environmental Change

The exhibition's title over a surreal landscape cut by a black wall and rectangular doorway

Our Artificial Nature daylights the cultural, social, and technological processes emerging within design discourse in response to the environmental imperatives of our time. The in-progress research of the Center of Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) core and affiliated research faculty at the GSD provides a window onto the often-invisible mechanics of the built environment that allow us to see, analyze, and design our future world in new and yet-unimagined ways. The collective body of work explores the challenging space between empirical and cultural information, scalable systems and local relevance, and data and design.

The exhibition calls attention to design practice as the creation of the artificial and the imagination of our constructed environment in a moment when our designed and natural worlds are fused. In this context the built environment accounts for 39% of global carbon emissions  and our concept of our environmental change is shifting from a bucolic organic system to be dominated or restored toward an entangled system of biological, cultural, and technological processes. This quiet, hopeful thread of design research, emerging from the multiplicity of 21st century design narratives, strives for positive environmental impact. It addresses the present ecological paradigm by embracing degrowth as much as growth, and process as much as artifact in the deployment of design for the meaningful transformation of our shared world.

On the tenth anniversary of the Center for Green Buildings and Cities, the exhibition aims to situate the emerging research within a history of design for environmental change and solidify a dialogue around a new paradigm for environmental design. Positioned outside the framework of technological optimism and pessimism, Our Artificial Nature showcases our role as creators of the artificial, and designers of synthetic processes that engage continuously-becoming artifacts and environments informed by networked structures – from grounded, situated, and analog systems of knowledge to artificial intelligence and data-rich systems of information.

Exhibition Credits
Sarah M. Whiting, Dean and Josep Lluís
Sert Professor of Architecture
Ken Stewart, Assistant Dean and Director
of Communications and Public Programs

Exhibition Curation and Design
Elizabeth Bowie Christoforetti, Assistant
Professor in Practice of Architecture

Curatorial and Design Assistant
Pablo Castillo Luna (M.Arch II ‘23)

Clara He (MArch I ‘24)
Ana Merla (MDE ‘23)
Dhruv Mehta (M.Arch II ‘23)
Luke Reeve (MDE ‘23)
Kat Wyatt (MLA ‘23)

Exhibition Materials, Construction, and
Our Artificial Nature owes special thanks to
the previous exhibition, Multihyphenate, for
lending us its waste. The design and
material construction of this exhibition
involves the re-use of 12 sheets of plywood,
and 54 metal studs.
We are grateful for the talents and care
provided by the exhibitions team for this
collaborative exploration into the future
potentials and layered meanings of re-use
in the design of our built environment.

Ali Malkawi,
Founding Director of the Harvard Center
for Green Buildings and Cities
Professor of Architectural Technology at
the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Peter Howard
Robert Marino
Samantha Sarafin

GSD Exhibitions Team
Dan Borelli, Director of Exhibitions
David Zimmerman-Stuart, Exhibitions

Installation Team
Ray Coffey, Jef Czekaj, Anita Kan, Sarah
Lubin, Jesus Matheus, and Joanna Vouriotis

GSD Communications and Public
William Smith, Editorial Director
Joshua Machat, Assistant Director,
Communications and Public Affairs
Kyra Davies, Assistant Director
of Digital Media
Chad Kloepfer, Art Director
Paige Johnston, Associate Director
of Public Programs
Raquel Rivera, Public Programs
Matt Smith, Assistant Director,
Multimedia Production

Graphic Design
Chris Grimley, SIGNALS

Vendor Partners
Sharon Gioioso, ICL Imaging
Peter McAuliffe, DPM Construction
Dan Weissman, Lam Partners