Guillermo Sánchez Sotés, Christiane M. Herr, and Thomas Fischer

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (Sotés) | Southern University of Science and Technology (Herr & Fischer)

We investigate cross-disciplinary appropriations of natural scientific theory in architecture with a focus on the theory of autopoiesis, developed by the Chilean neuro-biologists Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, and Ricardo Uribe in the early 1970s. Since its inception, this theory has been applied to phenomena beyond biology, most notably in sociology by Niklas Luhmann and, based on that, in architecture by Patrick Schumacher. So far, Schumacher’s appropriation of the theory of autopoiesis in architecture has led neither to a broader, structured discourse nor to a coherent critique, begging the question: What are the merits of Patrick Schumacher’s appropriation of the theory of autopoiesis from the perspective of academic architectural research? To address this question, we employ the method of discourse analysis as well as a purpose-developed analytical framework, aiming to show patterns of language use, merits, and respective benefactors of natural-scientific theory appropriation in architecture and design. We are particularly interested in the extent to which reasoning and language use of academic research may inform architectural practice and vice versa, and we hope that our findings are also applicable in other contexts where strangely obvious-yet-vague connections between design and natural-scientific theory are drawn.

KEYWORDS: autopoiesis, appropriation, purpose, discourse, discourse analysis

Citation Data

Author(s): Guillermo Sánchez Sotés, Christiane M. Herr, and Thomas Fischer
Year: 2022
Title: What to Make of the Appropriation of Autopoiesis in Architecture?
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 193
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 20 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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