Soft Infrastructures for a Neo-Metabolism

Thomas Mical
University of South Australia
Associate Professor of Architecture

Designers’ universal impulse to naturalization deals today with reframing new approaches towards soft vs. hard biourban structures. Operative infrastructures generate organic creative futures, and oppose informal, serendipitous, innovative, and risky soft systems urbanism to hard design determinism. The emergency of a Biourbanism soft systems approach contrasts several Metabolist principles and practices, especially those favouring hard infrastructural platforms as fixed systemic cores and conduits. Biourbanism – a conceptual process of creative assemblage generating soft infrastructures – think of the hard-soft and risk-innovation couples, as ecologies. In this way, Biourbanism flourishes between multiple forces, modernities, and ecologies, by retrofitting urban situations where hard infrastructures are incomplete, ruined, or even lacking. It can integrate hardware, software, freeware, and wetware creatively through a thinking design of landscape, architecture, and urbanism, that has to operate also methodologically on multidisciplinary networks, and that can be called neo-Metabolism. Among its unconventional potentialities there are biourban acupuncture, nomadism, multi-effect linkages, biopolitical tactics.

Finally, Biourbanism has a revolutionary capacity within the biopolitical issues of identity and control, as soft systems can still bind and cage; and this challenges with responsibility its idealism and optimism.

Keywords: Biourbanism, Neo-Metabolism, Ecologies, Architecture, Soft Infrastructure, Soft Natural Systems, Informal Urbanism, Risk, Biopolitics.

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