Performance Niche: An Ecological Systems Framework for Technology and Design

Jun 14, 2017

This paper explores the notion of niche as ecological function, a view of performance with the potential to push design considerations beyond the system boundary of a site and to understand how to best leverage technology and site construction, beyond site response, to perform in a larger ecosystem boundary. Thinking of buildings not only as consumers but also providers of ecological services involves defining a niche, understood as the performance void or ‘recess’ in a specific ecosystem to be occupied or replaced by the introduction of a building into an environment.

The use of ecology as a metaphor in the design disciplines may be a productive catalyst for new collaborative ways of conceptualizing the relationship of architecture to the environment.

This paper returns to the original science of ecology to examine how the concept of niche can trigger renewed thinking about the ecological performance of buildings. Real and speculative examples from practice and academia are presented to illustrate the concept.

keywords: Niche, Performance, Interconnected, Independence, Ecological

Michelle Laboy (Northeastern University)
Presented at: 
ARCC 2017 Conference – Architecture of Complexity (Salt Lake City, UT)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC)
University of Utah

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