chris-abel

The Extended Self

Winner of the International Committee of Architectural Critics 2017 Bruno Zevi Book Award

In his wide-ranging study of architecture and cultural evolution, Chris Abel argues that, despite progress in sustainable development and design, resistance to changing personal and social identities shaped by a technology-based and energy-hungry culture is impeding efforts to avert drastic climate change. Drawing upon research from philosophy, psychology and the neurosciences, the book presents a new approach to environmental and cultural studies that will appeal to a broad readership searching for insights into the origins of the crisis.

The Extended Self by Chris Abel

Chris Abel is an award-winning writer, theorist and teacher of interdisciplinary studies of architecture, culture and identity formation. A graduate of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London (1968), and the University of Sydney (PhD 2012), he first achieved international prominence with a ground breaking series of essays published in Architectural Design and other journals in the 1960s and 1970s. In his essays he explored such subjects as self-organizing urban systems and computer-based methods of architectural production, anticipating many cutting-edge developments in design theory and building technology.

Since 1978, when he began living and teaching in different countries, his critical and theoretical writings have also broadened further, covering urgent problems of sustainable development as well as questions of personal and cultural identity in a fast-changing world. In addition to numerous essays and books of architectural criticism and interdisciplinary research, his recent theoretical works include The Extended Self: Architecture, Memes and Minds (2015), the featured book above. A third and expanded edition of his collected essays, Architecture and Identity, was published in 2017 and was also shortlisted for an award.

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His approach to design teaching has been equally innovative. From his work in the 1970s with the Architecture Machine Group at MIT (the forerunner of the Media Lab), where he created ARCHITRAINER, an interactive computer program simulating architect-client dialogues, through his experiments in the 1990s with then little-known rapid prototyping technologies for his Biotech Architecture Workshop at Nottingham University (UK), to his Vertical Architecture STudio (VAST) at the University of Sydney and elsewhere, he has consistently pursued a research-based approach to design teaching.

He now lives in France in the Val de Marne close to Paris, where he is currently working on two new books, including a further development of his radical theory of the extended self, to be published early next year.

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