Footnotes on Climate: A Reading List on Architecture and Climate Change

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The urgency of climate change—its emerging, far-reaching effects on life on Earth—demands a matching urgency in thinking about how to address those effects architecturally, progressing existing work in areas like resiliency, adaptability, carbon footprints, materials use, and eco-friendliness. But such a moment also asks that we think more broadly about how we conceive of “climate” in the first place. As thinkers like Paul Edwards have noted, it is primarily through models, sensing technologies, visualizations, and collations of data that we have come to know climate—it is, in other words, a thing we assemble. Historical and epistemic, we shape it using inherited ideas about air, ocean, rock, ice, weather, and other environmental conditions that have long shaped our engagement with the natural world and each other. Knowing that climate is a constructed notion, how might we rethink it and its attendant implications for our broader understandings of the world and our ways of building and being in it?

This reading list is offered not as a survey of the field or even a syllabus of sorts, but as a collection of documents (historical and contemporary, scholarly and speculative, governmental and activist, scientific and science-fictive) that ask us, each in its own way, to consider again how climate intersects with architectural ideas. These entries are largely drawn from our recently published volume Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary, and are loosely categorized according to a set of themes that emerged in the process of editing the book. The wide-ranging intelligence of the book’s contributors—and their still further-ranging interests in the histories, theories, and practices that confront the problem of climate— is gathered here in the form of footnotes, offered in anticipation of thoughts, conversations, and texts yet to come.