News –

We shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us

July 2021 

We are working with the Cultural Evolution Society to help communicate research on how human and other animal cultures evolve, and how this impacts on our futures at a time when our cultural activities are causing rapid and drastic, social and physical changes.

About the research

Just as buildings are shaped by people and then shape how human culture develops, our human culture is shaped by languages, symbols, artefacts, tools and technologies that are constantly evolving, being adapted and passed down from one generation to the next and from one society to another. With the exception of languages, the same is true of many other animals.

A chimpanzee using a stick to retrieve food from a hole in one of two artificial termite mounds at Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Credit: AFP

This field of study is inherently transdisciplinary, multicultural and inclusive. Through its universal and non-western perspective it aims to support human and ecosystem flourishing at the planetary scale.

The hardy Inuit cultures have survived in Greenland by inventing and developing essential tools and implements that have been adapted and refined over generations, and which are in still in use today.

The image for cultural evolution is a tree with overlapping and interconnecting branches, which reminds us of the famous book by Christopher Alexander, The city is not a tree, and the ‘semi-lattice structure’ that includes overlapping patterns, knowledge and experience. 

We are also reminded of the ten thunders that James Joyce used in Finnegan’s Wake and the way each ‘thunder’ beckons the fundamental and often destructive impact of technology on our lives. This ‘creative destruction’ is central to the myth of later stage capitalism and described in Marshall Mcluhan’s seminal (and wonderfully designed) book – War and Peace in the global village

The commission follows two of our previous evolution-themed projects:

Do get in touch if you would like to be kept informed about the project.