The Anthropocene and the Historical Index of Architecture


  • Joerg Gleiter TU Berlin



Architecture theory, Architecture philosophy, semiotics


In the world of science, the term Anthropocene is widely recognized as the term used to describe the current epoch in the Earth’s geological time scale in which human activities are affecting the Earth system on a scale far beyond natural, geological forces. And architecture is at the center of it. For, on the one hand, human development and architecture are closely linked, for, on the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear today that architecture has been a major project for reshaping the Earth from the very beginning. Along with devices, tools and machines, architecture is the cultural technique with which the “deficient human being”, in order to compensate for his lack of natural abilities, must intervene in nature with the aim of creating an environment that meets his changing and unchanging needs.

Today, however, man’s success story seems to turn into a disaster story, the “architecture of good intentions” seems to turn against man, even though he originally had the best of intentions when he followed the biblical mandate to subdue the earth with his devices, tools, machines, and architecture.

From an anthropological perspective, therefore, a different definition of the Anthropocene is emerging. The Anthropocene is the age in which the dialectic between man’s well-intentioned intentions and the destructive consequences for the Earth system clearly emerges. What becomes visible is that the relationship between architecture and the environment, or between humans and the Earth system, is inherently fractured and contradictory, and that this contradiction is constitutive of human existence. It follows that the Anthropocene requires a critical questioning of the dialectic of human and system earth inherent in culture.


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How to Cite

Gleiter, J. (2022). The Anthropocene and the Historical Index of Architecture. European Journal of Creative Practices in Cities and Landscapes, 5(1), 39–49.