El mundo como artefacto. Tomás Maldonado en el foco del diseño medioambiental (1996-1972)
Other Titles: 
The World as an artefact. Tomás Maldonado in the spotlight of environmental design (1966 - 1972)
Keywords: 
diseño ambiental
arte concreto
metodología proyectual
tipología
industria cultural
contracultura
Environmental Design
Concret Art
Design methodology
Tipology
Cultural industry
Counterculture
Issue Date: 
2017
Publisher: 
Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra
ISSN: 
1138-5596
Citation: 
Medina-Warmburg, J. (Joaquín). "El mundo como artefacto. Tomás Maldonado en el foco del diseño medioambiental (1996-1972)". Ra. Revista de Arquitectura. 19, 2017, 25 - 38
Abstract
Años antes de que Paul Crutzen acuñara el término “antropoceno” para denominar el actual periodo geológico caracterizado por la actividad transformadora del planeta por parte los humanos, el diseñador Otl Aicher –el fundador de la legendaria Hochschule für Gestaltung en Ulm– había hablado del mundo como proyecto, “The World as Design”. Si en sus inicios la HfG Ulm había retomado el ideal del Gesamtkunstwerk moderno, ligando la continuidad y unidad de la obra de arte integral a una coordinada producción industrial de las “buenas formas”, en los años sesenta del pasado siglo, ante la creciente degradación del medio ambiente, la búsqueda de la totalidad del diseño encontró un nuevo paradigma en el “diseño ambiental” (environmental design), resultante del giro epistemológico provocado por los enfoques científicos de la ecología, la cibernética o la semiótica. El teórico del diseño Tomás Maldonado lideró aquellos debates, estableciendo nexos intelectuales entre Ulm, Princeton y Milán.
Years before Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen characterized the current geological period on earth as the “Anthropocene Era” due to the transformative domination of the planet by humans, designer Olt Aicher –the founder of the legendary Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany– had already coined the term “ The World as Design”. Although these concepts might seem to be a unique response to the conditions that currently prevail on our “ Small Planet” ( Richard Rogers), the fact is that they are not new at all. The modern vanguards were noted for their attempts to develop an allencompassing, comprehensive architecture, arousing early suspicion of a totalitarian element. By the advent of postmodernism, if not earlier, the modern quest for a Gesamtkunstwerk in which coordinated industrial production would ensure the continuity and unity of the world of “good forms” seemed to have become irretrievably obsolete. However, environmental urgencies once again demanded a full understanding of the increasingly artificial physical surroundings, thereby reviving a modern conception of the entire world as an artifact. This article aims to make a contribution to a history of planetary visions and environmental approaches that is worthy of study. For this purpose, it addresses the critical position defined by Argentine born design-theorist Tomás Maldonado between 1966 and 1972. In those years new scientific approaches such as cybernetics, ecology, semiotics, and system theories triggered an epistemological turn in the expanding design disciplines, offering a rational common base for the interdisciplinary methodology of a comprehensive “environmental design”. In his analysis of design disciplines in regard to their approaches towards the human environment Maldonado also included political and social concerns, as evidenced in his book Design, Nature and Revolution. Toward a Critical Ecology ( New York 1972, first published in 1970 in Italy as La speranza progettuale). The article focusses on the connections between the various contexts that originated this book, written in Ulm, Princeton, and Milan, in order to gain deeper knowledge of Maldonado’s design philosophy within the international debates on “ environmental design” and “ existing landscapes”. Maldonado’s notions of human condition and human environment are certainly still relevant to a world increasingly designed and determined simultaneously by scarcity of resources as well as by expanding globalization and digitalization.

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