Recent dialogue around humanity’s position relative to its environment has provided a framework for understanding environmental factors as objects and entities unto themselves, granting them the status and abilities ascribed to objects; namely, the ability to exert force on other objects. These non-human objects range widely in character from climatic things like climate change and pollution, to global phenomena like coronavirus, to social phenomena like racism and trauma. These entities don’t just exert force in their environment - they have an agency that finds affordance in human architectures, and they can author and impact human spatial conditions. These experiences, by nature of their non-human authors, infrastructuralize non-anthropocentric conditions within the otherwise anthropocentric space of the built environment. The construction of these non-anthropocentric infrastructures is subtle, omnipresent, and virtually unmitigated by human intent.
Continued failure to acknowledge the authorial powers of non-human objects handicaps humanity’s ability to confront issues of environmental degradation and socio-economic violence. Architecture’s tendency to interpret the world purely through the lens of the human oikos relegates things like climate change and social inequity to the role of disaster. While this is an accurate and important designation for the mobilization of social, political, and economic responses, it limits the scope with which architecture can approach the issues. If architecture is part of the technology that constitutes the human oikos, and if non-human entities are currently authoring architectural space, then architects are positioned to interrogate and reorient the instruments which produce disastrous effects in the lived experiences of people. This is distinct from (and as necessary as) the work of healing and protecting people within the framework of the human oikos. Architecture can operate from a position of ontological flatness to seek new, less harmful forms of common ground with non-human entities.
Since architecture is significantly culpable for making the anthropocentric framework seem isomorphic in the actual world, the responsibility of the architect in regards to non-human entities is two-fold. Firstly, the architect can validate the need for non-human cooperation through work that upends anthropocentric frameworks. Secondly, the architect should experiment with mitigatory infrastructures that reframe the entrance of non-anthropocentric conditions into the built environment.