Neuroscientist and architect are experimenters, both think spatiotemporally across scales. The Nervous Systems Initiative identifies areas of convergence, interest, and challenge to both disciplines, and through the lens of architecture and urbanism, asks new and different questions than neuroscience asks alone. For instance, while architects engage in an energy economy typically confined to the thermodynamics of materials and bodies in space, we expand that view to encompass the broader reality that every encounter between brain and environment – every thought, action, or decision – is a transformation of one form of energy into another. We are continuous with the world.
As cognitive, biology-based technologies – A.I., robotics, and virtual, augmented and mixed realities of the metaverse – infiltrate life and reshape architectural thought and production, the Nervous Systems Initiative introduces architects to the worlds of sensing, motion, adapting, and decision-making inherent to neuroscience, and provides a context for experimentation.
We are not interested in a prescriptive or positivist approach to design where science is used to justify what architecture should be or do. Nor is problem solving – fundamental to both architecture and neuroscience – our primary goal. At a time when new models for architectural thought and action are urgently needed our objective is investigative, speculative and integrative: to stake out an area of knowledge not previously recognized.
The climate crisis compels us to imagine other forms of human existence. The converging ecological, technological, and societal upheaval we confront, however, is immune to conventional thinking. The Nervous System Initiative releases siloed imaginations to tell a different story in a transdisciplinary platform for collaboration between architecture and neuroscience – among designers, researchers and theorists.