7 February 2013

Small, local, open and connected: resilient systems and sustainable qualities

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How do we design a resilient socio-technical system, asks Ezio Manzini in Design Observer.

“Let’s look to natural systems; their tolerance of breakdowns and their adaptation capacity (that is, their capability of sustaining over time) may give us direction.

As a matter of fact, it is easy to observe that lasting natural systems result from a multiplicity of largely independent systems and are based on a variety of living strategies. In short, they are diverse and complex. These diversities and complexities are the basis of their resilience – that is, of their adaptability to changes in their contexts.

Given that, it should be reasonable to conceive and realize something similar for man-made systems. The socio-technical systems that, integrated with natural ones, constitute our living environment should be made of a variety of interconnected, but (largely) self-standing elements. This mesh of distributed systems, similarly to natural ones, would be intrinsically capable of adapting and lasting through time because even if one of its components breaks, given its multiplicity and diversity, the whole system doesn’t collapse.”

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