Landscape of energies: aesthetic knowledge for an ecological approach to design


Manuel Rodrigo de la O Cabrera

Juan Miguel Hernández León
Marifé Schmitz


Distinction, cum laude

Examining board
Francisco Jarauta (Pdte.)
Alberto Martínez (Secret.)
Michael Jakob
Manuel Borja-Villel
Francisco Burgos

Over the last few decades ecological practice has come to acknowledge a need for studying the multiple systems of interaction between the human being – inasmuch as it is a living species – and its environment. Spatial entities such as the geographic notion of landscape have been used to delimitate the territorial systems operated by society and to describe in detail specific fields of its physical, biological and cultural action. Ecology has thus managed to address the scientific knowledge of the territory as a human settlement, tracking its spatial patterns and analysing its complex functional structure.

In this context, the transfer of tools and instruments from the field of ecology to that of design has a tradition already going back more than fifty years. Increasingly more often, design makes use of parameters, inventories, formulas, indicators and technologies to give an environmentally sound response to contour conditions: for instance, taking advantage of the local climate for the optimisation of energy consumption or proposing land uses that avoid disturbing valuable ecosystems.

Yet in the present day some voices have arisen that, against the uncontested domination of purely positivistic approaches, are trying to draw attention to the fact that the principles of ecological thought go beyond mere quantitative control of biophysical processes. They point out that, in the early 20th century, ethology proved that the human being, as a conscious entity, invests itself into a relationship of intimacy with its environment that surpasses such perspectives: through the correspondences between perception and signification, between physical and psychological or between inside and outside, people embrace the entirety of their surroundings in an action of deep affective conciliation.

An exploration has been made of the line of opportunity that is opened when promoting what has been termed knowledge through the senses as an environmental strategy allowing to counter myths deeply rooted in social structures. The first step in this path would be an ecological exploration of the contribution of the aesthetic experience; that is, its consideration as a type of specific knowledge. It would be pertinent to further the idea of immersion into the landscape as an experiential, sensual and corporeal phenomenon and, from that point, to face the issue of social acceptance of what is new and transformed according to the values of the present day.