What is Moving Boundaries?
“Every organism is in one sense continuous with its environment across the boundary of its skin, exchanging matter and energy.”
– James Gibson
Our buildings, neighborhoods, and cities directly impact our health and well-being. This basic fact is appreciated increasingly across the full range of professions involved in design and maintenance of the built environment. At the same time, we know little of how the relationship of persons and environments works in detail: how exactly our experience and behavior, emotions and engagement in the community are shaped by the built environment.
A number of scientific disciplines have been called to help us fill this gap, including most notably the disciplines allied under the umbrellas of neuroscience and cognitive science. Encounters of scientists and design professionals produce an exciting new frontier of human knowledge, and they lead to new understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the designer.
Moving Boundaries is an interdisciplinary international initiative seeking to disseminate this new understanding by means of education and advocacy. The initiative operates at the interface of the just mentioned scientific disciplines and such design disciplines as architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and interior design. Based in San Diego and La Jolla, California, which is the home of the venerable Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA), connected by an active network of collaborations with kindred schools of design around the world, Moving Boundaries is poised to curate a global community of students, professionals, and organizations that share our vision and values.
Our groundbreaking summer course and workshop, titled Moving Boundaries: Human Sciences and the Future of Architecture, held in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain) and Porto (Portugal), will bring together over twenty-five distinguished international speakers: scientists and architects, historians and philosophers, who will illuminate multiple facets of the impact of the built environment on human health and well-being. The geographical situation of this course is not accidental since one of our goals is to investigate how impacts of the built environment are grounded in the local culture. Unique atmospheres of Galicia, Porto and the Minho region will give us ample opportunity for such study. The course will feature numerous tours, field trips and workshops, in which we will uncover the rich cultural heritage of both regions, illustrating sustainable and resilient relationships of the person, community, and place.
What is more, the settings of Santiago de Compostela and Porto — both medieval cities and vibrant urban environments — feature an impressive array of ancient and modern architecture designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Fernando Távora, John Hejduk, Nicholas Grimshaw, Manolo Gallego, Rem Koolhaas, David Chipperfield, Carlos Seoane, and Peter Eisenman. Both regions are well known for their distinctive vernacular craft, linguistic, musical and culinary traditions.
The program will provide each participant with numerous opportunities of interaction with some of the best minds in architecture, urban design and science — during classes, roundtable discussions and workshops, but also during many social events planned over these two weeks. We will learn together, from one another and from the unique environment of this course, gaining the strength for transforming architectural education and practice the world over.
In its larger aspirations, Moving Boundaries is designed to serve as a platform for collaboration between educators and scientists, practitioners and students of architecture, as well as with institutions of design, research and learning. Our initiative is animated by ideas and creations of such notable architects as Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvaro Siza Vieira, Louis Kahn, Alvar Aalto, Carlo Scarpa, Luis Barragan, Balkrishna Doshi and Juhani Pallasmaa, and also by such innovative thinkers as Maurice Merleau-Ponty in France and John Dewey in the United States. Collective legacy of these individuals demands that we view design from an uncompromisingly humanistic perspective, committed to personal flourishing, and centered on the individual’s physical health and psychological wellness.