Explore, Understand and Create
Systemic design (SD) optimizes an entire system as a whole, rather than its parts in isolation. SD is iterative, recursive and circular, requires creative, curious, informed and critical systems thinking and doing, yielding radical resource efficiency. Systems mapping, design thinking, footprint assessment, network analysis, test planning, prototyping, fabrication, social experiments and outdoor experiences empower students as change agents for sustainability.
Coping with Change and Complexity
Climate change as a major societal challenge is hugely complex and interwoven with various ecological and socio-economic systems. Solutions to tackle challenges such as climate change are systemic by nature. Transitions to enhance resilience require Systemic Design approaches based on systems thinking and creativity, using inter- and transdisciplinary methods.
Systemic Design for Sustainability
Systemic Design (SD) combines systems thinking and design for the understanding of complex systems. Systemic Design for Sustainability provides tools and techniques to (re)create regenerative systems that continuously restore, renew or revitalize their resources and energy. SD is a holistic approach for addressing complex challenges; it should combine quantitative and qualitative methods with creativity techniques in a holistic way.
Systems Types and Scales
Systemic Design addresses socio-technical-ecological systems from a whole-systems-view: from materials to products to built infrastructure to communities, services. landscapes and entire economies.
This encloses circular flows from the extraction and growth of natural resources, the production/distribution/use of energy, industrial design of products, architectural design of buildings, engineering of roads, restoration of river beds, urban design of cities, landscape planning, and design of services, experiences and communication.
How can such diverse systems be looked at as a whole?
The View from Above
When confronted with complexity, it often helps to take a bird eye’s view – to zoom out, get a structural overview, and zoom in on the actual point of most influence, of leverage, for solving the problem. Systemic Design provides methods and techniques to zoom out and identify structure and leverage in complex systems
Systemic Design Labs experiment with innovative didactics, themes, study disciplines, systems boundaries and place settings. Experiences and evaluations are continuously shared, discussed and published in order to advance education on creatively addressing complex sustainability challenges.
Systemic Design Labs is a teaching project running from 2018 to 2020, funded by ETH Innovedum, and hosted by IRL-PLUS of D-BAUG.