Presented as a manifesto in 2020, the Bauhaus of the Seas was first devised as a situated vision that responded to the New European Bauhaus challenge posed by the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, in September 2020.
Such a vision incorporated an understanding of the climate crisis as a global, complex hyperobject emerging from human exceptionalism of generations schooled in the dichotomy of humans vs nature. Only an interdisciplinary, intergenerational and interspecies movement that addresses the sheer complexity and scale of the problem will allow us to enact meaningful change.
In response to this challenge, this vision evolved towards a New European Bauhaus mobilisation around the most definitive global natural space and the most critical shared space in the EU and the world: the seas, oceans and other water bodies.
In 2021, this continental-wide mobilisation began gathering researchers and entrepreneurs, designers and architects, artists and thinkers to share ideas and proposals for this movement, in the context of the New European Bauhaus initiative. Such gatherings included a one-day conference in Lisbon and a two-day, co-design event in Venice.
Created from that mobilisation, the Bauhaus of the Seas Sails consortium was created and in 2022 was granted EU funding under the 2022 call for the development of the first New European Bauhaus ‘lighthouse demonstrators’. Coordinated by the Interactive Technologies Institute of the University of Lisbon’s Instituto Superior Técnico, this consortium was awarded €5 million under the Grant agreement ID: 101079995. Officially launched in Lisbon at the start of 2023, the Bauhaus of the Seas Sails consortium encompasses 18 academic, cultural and territorial partners located in 7 cities and regions across 4 aquatic ecosystems.
In September 2023 consortium partner representatives will gather in Oeiras for a three-day event named Reading The Ocean. In addition to a full schedule of work sessions and workshops, this event will include two public programmes that address of the project’s 7 drop typologies of demonstrator pilots: Ocean Literacy.
Beautiful, Sustainable, Together
Situated at the crossroads between art, culture, inclusion, citizenship, science and technology, the Bauhaus of the Seas Sails consortium and project brings the European Green Deal to our coastal areas by calling for a collective effort to imagine and build a sustainable, inclusive, and beautiful future. Its strategic objectives map the New European Bauhaus’s three core values: Beautiful, Sustainable, Together.
Beautiful By responding to our needs beyond the consumerist and material dimensions, the Bauhaus of the Seas Sails fosters a grassroots co-design movement that through an intergenerational, intercultural and interspecies approach profoundly enriches our experiences. That is, the way we eat, rest, learn, socialise, cooperate, interact and live with the natural and built environment. By reframing beauty as a quality concerning the wellbeing of ecosystems, it aims to develop a new aesthetics grounded on materials and designs that are both non-extractive and regenerative.
Sustainable By reinforcing the role of coastal cities and their broader ecosystem in terms of regenerative approaches inspired by natural cycles that replenish resources and protect biodiversity, the Bauhaus of the Seas Sails aims to reduce pollution (e.g. plastic/chemicals) and regenerate aquatic ecosystems (including in rivers/estuaries, seas, and ocean). Its approach leverages digital (e.g. circular and regenerative) and decentralised technologies (e.g. blockchain and decentralised autonomous organisations – DAOs), while deploying innovative forms of adaptation and behaviour change in relevant domains, such as tourism, cultural heritage and food chains.
Together By demonstrating the inclusive potential of a co-design approach that is from the onset intergenerational, intercultural and interspecies, the Bauhaus of the Seas Sails brings together young and older communities of locals, visitors and migrants. It is these communities of humans and non-humans that will inform and inspire the project’s lighthouse pilots. These pilots and their respective demonstrators have been designed to integrate existing development plans of the consortium’s cities/regions. Acknowledging that digital technologies are capable of generating epochal effects to scale and progress towards sustainable development, the Bauhaus of the Seas Sails takes advantage of the increasing role played by interactive applications, value chains created through blockchain technologies or digitally mediated participation via social networks in enhancing quality of life, intercultural dialogue and civic participation.
The Bauhaus of the Seas Sails intends to promote the design of complex interactions between human and more-than-human agents. It does so by reconceptualising the agenda of design, moving its drivers from fixing to caring, growth to nurture, certainty to contingency. It enables designers, architects and engineers to think about assemblages instead of systems and to change the outcome of design from extinction to precarious flourishing. The design of these interactions generates the emergence of a new aesthetics and, most decisively, a critical awareness of design’s history, contemporary practice and future possibilities. Ultimately claiming designing beyond humans as a way to sustain our future.