Kiel Moe: Climate change, architecture change

We must alter basic assumptions about architecture in order to address the key challenges of this century, Moe asserts.

December 10, 2019

Recorded on November 12, 2019.

Towards a New Architecture: Climate Change and Design is a series of lectures, discussions, and interviews by leading practitioners, educators, and sustainability advocates who describe the urgent need for change and sketch the outlines of new ways of thinking and acting as architects and landscape architects.

To address the salient environmental, social, and political crisis of our world, we need to change many of our basic theoretical and practical assumptions about what architectural design is and does.

In this video, Kiel Moe, Gerald Sheff Chair in Architecture at McGill University, approaches this issue via mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s theory of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, especially as it is evidenced in modern architectural production. “Architecture is not simply located; a building is not simply located,” Moe remarks as he pushes back against the framework of understanding architecture as purely terrestrial. He proposes alternate modes of reference that go beyond the Cartesian plane, which, he argues, fails to elucidate the political, social, and ecological dimensions of architecture, instead providing the disabling illusion that architecture exists as a single object in a frozen shape-space. 

The talk is followed by a discussion with Sanford Kwinter, professor in graduate architecture and urban design at Pratt University and co-author, with Moe, of the forthcoming book What is Energy and How (Else) Might We Think About it?.