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Design in the Anthropocene: Intentions for the Unintentional

Part of the Springer Series in Design and Innovation book series (SSDI,volume 12)


The contribution of this research lays on the participation on the ongoing discussion for redefining design agency in the Anthropocene. To be able to response to its complexity the authors propose thinking of Anthropocene as an open-ended process. The authors suggest that ‘Design in the Anthropocene’ empowers spontaneous processes by articulating and by making them perceivable. The authors consider that design should focus on process and framing intentions for the unintentional. Design is empowering the ongoing spontaneous processes; visualizing processes to be accessed and experienced by people as well as providing new connections between existing processes for collaborations. It is perceived that designers respond more effectively to the overwhelming complexity by taking in account concurrent multiplicity and future realities. Design interventions armed with this posture and simultaneously making it accessible to be experienced by residents and visitors, have the ability to uncover and communicate latent potentials intrinsic to the site and its wider context. To support this point of view we explore different landscape architectural projects, underlying our perception of their design process. These projects exemplify attitudes towards the unintentional and give us insight concerning how design can play a role in mediating the collaborative work for living together in the Anthropocene. Deriving from the projects, a set of values and design proposals that fit ‘intentions for the unintentional’ are made. Minimum interventions are meaningful when either impact the way people think and experience the landscape as a source for wellbeing, or when they influence natural processes to exceed previously regimented expectations. The most effective would be when both happen simultaneously. Interaction with processes that happen beyond our control might make us more aware, humble and careful.


  • Design process
  • Natural processes
  • Landscape architecture
  • Anthropocene
  • Unintentional
  • Minimum intervention
  • Framing
  • Beyond control

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-61671-7_26
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Fig. 1.

(Museum Joaneum website, accessed 28/06/2020)

Fig. 2.

(Landezine website, accessed 28/06/2020)

Fig. 3.

(Reef Design Lab website, accessed 28/06/2020)

Fig. 4.

(Gilles Clement website, accessed 28/06/2020)

Fig. 5.

(Atelier Delyon website, accessed 28/06/2020)


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Correspondence to Pierre IJ. Oskam .

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Oskam, P.I., Mota, J.A. (2021). Design in the Anthropocene: Intentions for the Unintentional. In: Martins, N., Brandão, D. (eds) Advances in Design and Digital Communication . Digicom 2020. Springer Series in Design and Innovation , vol 12. Springer, Cham.

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