“Autonomy & Autodigestion” maps a counter history of “autonomy” in architectural production. Whereas the word autonomy is commonly linked to Emil Kaufmann, Rudolf Wittkower, Colin Rowe and most usually Peter Eisenman, the project will document alternative uses of the word “autonomy” as related to the recirculation of resources in urban environments and the function of the building stock as a digestive device.
While the word “autonomy” was interrogated in the 1970s as an ideational vehicle to reform the boundaries of disciplinary fields, it was also, during the same period, used to popularize an ecological and libertarian way of living and acting and to herald “autonomy” from the grid of supplies. In some cases, digestive autonomy harkened back to a grass-root mentality and a pastoral iconography, but also implied an existential separation of the individual from the centralized system of supplies.
Based on the word’s definition in biology, “autonomy” refers to a system’s organic independence and self-governance, a notion which was transferred to the building realm advancing the idea of the house as a closed system un-rooted from centralized authority. In the urban sphere, digestive autonomy is like a restored Garden of Eden and a real-time habitation experiment where architecture, systems theory and human biology blend in the hope of radical social reform.
The digestive autonomy timeline will not include utopian projects imagining new realities from scratch and replacing the existing city with a newer, different version. Rather, the timeline will focus on realized living experiments projecting material autonomy within the context of urban areas and thus contributing to the offspring of new economies and self-sufficient islands in the city, detached from the centralized grid of authority and control.
The illustrated wall introduction will document a larger disciplinary transformation in the twentieth century for self-management, citizenship participation in the making of cities and the rise of a new environmental autonomy in the form of a synthetic naturalism, where the laws of nature and metabolism are displaced from the domain of wilderness to the domain of cities and buildings.