Eric Hunting on Adaptive ‘P2P’ Architecture (5): Conclusions

With this contribution, we conclude our presentation of a very important overview that examines the present and future of architecture in a world which must become sustainable.

Here are the conclusions of this study by Eric Hunting:

There is clearly great potential in adaptive architecture, not only in terms of collaborative community development but also in terms of discrete architecture and housing. Though most of the cultural knowledge associated with traditional community development has been lost across the Industrial Age, we see that some of the adaptive characteristics of past vernacular building technologies has been retained or rediscovered in some contemporary building systems, thanks largely to Modernists obsessions with modularity and -ironically- the dream of industrialized housing.

There are definitely very important functional limitations in the contemporary technology of adaptive architecture but in many ways they far surpass older vernaculars in the ease and speed of potential evolution. Though many of the possible technologies still remain too underdeveloped for practical use, what we have at-hand today does seem suited to potentially supporting three different scales of experimentation and exploration of peer-to-peer community development. With Pavilion Architecture and Living Structures we have the possibility for very low cost community experiments at a co-habitation scale based on communal pavilion structures or repurposing a variety of commercial and industrial buildings. With Container Module systems and perhaps rudimentary purpose-built Modular Unit Architecture as well as contemporary wood Post and Beam and T-Slot structures we can explore this at a co-housing or village scale. And with purpose built Functionally Generic Architecture based on conventional commercial construction, we can, in combination again with the Living Structure approach, take this to a truly urban scale with ‘microcities’ or prototype arcologies. It would seem the only practical obstacle to such experiments is people, given that the true start of any such project is accumulating enough people with the necessary skills and freedom of mobility to attempt such projects.

Of course, one could argue that many such experiments are already underway around the world, being imposed by situation onto the various communities of refugees and destitute of the world compelled into creating communities ad-hoc without the benefit of any of these more sophisticated technologies. It would seem, then, that there is great value in such purposeful experiments not only as a means of exploring the social science of collaborative community development but also in the cultivation of methods and technologies that can be be shared with these new accidental communities, giving them means of improving the odds of survival and quality of life for those forced into such experiments by fate and social indifference/injustice.

We have the means, even with so much knowledge lost and with such nascent recent technology, to recapture much of the cultural skill set of community we once sacrificed for the transient benefits of the Industrial Age. The real technology for this is the software we carry with us in our minds and cultures. It has only been waiting to be re-expressed in new physical mediums. The Modernists may have never dreamed of such things as they explored what they thought was a future of modular technological building efficiency but which was, in reality, a rediscovery of a mode of living most ancient and very, fundamentally, human.”

More information from the author at erichunting at

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