What Is Energy and How (Else) Might we Think about It?

Kiel Moe | Sanford Kwinter

Energy and design are currently imprisoned within a narrow framework of commonplaces, moral mediocrity, and outright error. Yet the platitudes that ensue from it continue to claim the attention of both the discipline and the fields of urbanism and design. The history of thought about energy however is anything but this simple or boring. It may be said to carry many of the greatest challenges to a nuanced and rich contemporary imagination, a resource that offers immense inventive possibility to design speculation.

This book will approach the central laws of physics, particularly those of thermodynamics, as the central development of our age. These universal propensities pose profound challenges to both classical models of thought and to traditional approaches to form: from classical equilibrium theory to asymmetry, control theory, entropy, information and irreversibility. The book’s hope is to foster a new ethos in design methods and new directions for practice that address the actual capacities and behaviors of the world we live. Through a variety of short texts on subjects from the history of the sciences and philosophies of energy as well as an array of examples of current work and historical phenomena, this book positions energy not as ameliorating appendage but as a central instigator of radical, difficult and sometimes deliriously inventive new modes of practice and thought for current and future generations of students.

© Actar Publishers

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With contributions of Michelle Addington, Pierre Belanger, Luis Bettencourt, Manuel De Landa, Nicholas De Monchaux, John May, Olafur Eliasson, Mark Waisiuta, Iñaki Ábalos, Sanford Kwinter and Kiel Moe.

With bibliographic appendix
A technical yet wild re-history of energy, dynamics and thermodynamics, with excerpts from: Alfred J. Lotka, Howard T. Odum, Ilya Prigogine, Erwin Schrödinger, Michel Serres, Freidrich Nietzsche, Andre Bejan, Karl Popper, Eric Schneider, among others.