Co-designing in love
: towards the emergence and conservation of human sustainable communities

  • Gonzalo Salazar Preece

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This work is part of a wider personal and eco-cultural wondering about how to restore and conserve the pleasure of living aligned with the ecology of life. There is a growing concern that one of the biggest challenges we have is to generate sustainable communities. Based on this, the research particularly deals with the following two questions: What is ecological design? And, how does Ecological Design both emerge from, and contribute to, the constitution and conservation of human sustainable communities in our Western-European culture? The research proposes that the only way to understand the practice of ecological design is by dealing with the broader dynamics of human ecology—or, ultimately with what it means to be a human being. Based on a systemic, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach, the research first explores the phenomenological and bio-cognitive dynamics that generate an ongoing, embodied–ecological epistemology of the human-Nature relationship, thereby overcoming the modern dualism of mind-body and man-nature. It suggests that design ineluctably takes place in this embodied-ecological domain—particularly, in an ongoing eco-cultural network of interactions. Then it explores the emotional basis of human intentionality and behaviour and, based on the work of the biologist Humberto Maturana, proposes that human beings exist in a dynamic interweaving of languaging and emotioning in an eco-cultural medium. This is synthesized through the notion of conversation. The research claims that to design is to converse. Based on this, the research then explores biological and philosophical accounts of the emotion of loving. By exploring basic elements of a synthesis of the ecology of loving, the research suggests that this emotion is the only one that allows the emergence and cultivation of intimate socio-ecological relationships. Accordingly, it also argues that loving is the foundation of environmental ethics and ultimately, the practice of ecological design. The research also explores the conscious sense and practice of homing (or home-making). It argues that homing and loving are interdependent; they form a circular causality—homing-in-love. The research suggests that homing-in-love is what we do when we design ecologically. Finally, the research explores a general framework that may contribute to the process of recovering the vital dynamics of homing-in-love in a global age. In a four-month ethnographic investigation of three Western-European ecovillages, the research explores particular designed platforms of conversation as examples of the practice of ecological design from which more sustainable manner of homing are emerging and being cultivated.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsChilean National Scholarship Program for Graduate Studies – President of Chile Scholarship
    SupervisorSeaton Baxter (Supervisor)


    • Ecological design
    • Human ecology
    • Love
    • Environmental ethics
    • Environmental philosophy
    • Sustainable communities
    • Home
    • Design
    • Ecovillages

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