Dr Simone Ferracina is the founding director of Exaptive Design Office (EDO) and a Senior Lecturer in Architectural Ecologies at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), the University of Edinburgh. His research and teaching investigate the technical infrastructures, theories, and methodological approaches required to move architectural discourse and practice beyond extraction, ecocide, and environmental injustice; and to challenge narrow disciplinary and economic understandings of authorship, habitation, use, and value. He is interested in the conceptualisation, production, and circulation of building materials, with a particular focus on reuse and repurposing.
His monograph Ecologies of Inception: Design Potentials on a Warming Planet (Routledge 2022) begins from the tabula rasa as a figure of potentiality to develop a philosophy of design grounded on acts of reclamation and care. Other key publications include Œ Case Files Vol.1, the first in a series of books on experimental and transdisciplinary design research (punctum books 2021), several chapters in edited volumes, and the co-edited Unconventional Computing: Design Methods for Adaptive Architecture (Riverside Architectural, 2013). His projects and writings have been published in Volume; 306090; Thresholds; Kerb; Continent; Palgrave Communications; The Architectural Review; Inflexions: A Journal of Research Creation; Architecture Design Theory (Ardeth); and Vesper: Journal of Architecture, Arts, and Theory; among others. He sometimes writes book reviews for Landscape Research, and has peer-reviewed papers for Architecture and Culture;Open Philosophy; Drawing Matter Journal; She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics and Innovation; the Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism; Edinburgh Architecture Research (EAR); and Architecture Design Theory (Ardeth).
Simone holds a Diploma of Architect (USI AAM 2003) and a PhD in Philosophy, Art & Critical Thought (EGS 2020). His work has been exhibited and presented internationally, including the Design Council’s Design for PlanetFestival, the V&A, the Greenhouse Center for Environmental Humanities, the Low Carbon Design Institute, Genova BeDesign Week, the Venice Art Biennale, NYU Gallatin, the Trondheim Biennale, and the Tallinn Architecture Biennale.
At ESALA, he is the Programme Director for the Master of Architecture, and co-convenes ESALA Climate Action, a student and staff group aiming to promote dynamic responses to the climate emergency in the School’s pedagogies, operations, research, and community practices. Prior to joining ESALA, he was a researcher in Living Architecture at Newcastle University and, for over a decade, a project manager and project architect at Richard Meier & Partners Architects in New York City, with award-winning projects in Italy, Czech Republic, and Taiwan.
Simone supervises PhD students, has taught design studios at UG and PG levels, and contributed lectures for theory courses in architecture (Architectural Theory, ARCH10002) and landscape architecture (Situating Landscape Architectural Theory, ARCH11272). From 2018 to 2023, he was Course Organiser and Studio Leader for Architectural Design 3: Explorations (ARCH10001), also co-leading a studio in Architectural Design 4: Tectonics (ARCH10003). He also supervised Architecture Dissertation (ARJA10002) students and contributed to Academic Portfolio (ARCH10005). Since 2023, he is the Director of the Master of Architecture, and the Course Organiser for the Modular Studio Pathway (Architectural Design Studio C, ARCH1108; Architectural Design Studio D, ARCH11090; Architectural Design Studio B, ARCH11096; and Architectural Design Studio G, ARJA11003). He is also a Cohort Lead, and the Course Organiser for Design Report (ARCH11069) and Academic Portfolio 2 (ARJA11001).
Simone’s research, articulated through writing, teaching, and architectural practice, investigates the technical infrastructures, theories, and methodological approaches required to move architectural discourse and practice beyond extraction, ecocide, and environmental injustice; and to challenge narrow disciplinary and economic understandings of authorship, habitation, use, and value. He is interested in the conceptualisation, production, and circulation of building materials, with a particular focus on reuse and repurposing.
His monograph Ecologies of inception: Design Potentials on a Warming Planet (Routledge 2022) problematizes the still-prevailing modern paradigm of design practice: the technical tabula rasa, a tendency to begin from scratch and use raw, amorphous, and obedient materials. Instead, the philosophy of design developed in the text prompts—through a variety of case studies, thinkers, and disciplines—a collective reconsideration of value, dissociating it from the projects and signatures of any one author or generation. As an alternative, the book introduces a nodal and exaptive paradigm for design: a conceptual and methodological toolset for engaging the durational and anthropocenic materiality of the third millennium, and for radically prioritizing practices of maintenance, reuse, care, and co-option. This approach, which is inspired by (and builds upon) evolutionary biology, technological disobedience, queer use, adaptive reuse, experimental preservation, and improvisational practices such as collage, adhocism, bricolage, and kit-bashing, refuses to reduce pre-existing material substrates to abstract lists of properties or featureless lumps, encountering them on their own terms—as situated individuals and co-authors.
Simone is currently collaborating with radical architect Alessandro Poli on a book that will revisit and critically assess the project Zeno, a Self-Sufficient Culture, which Poli first developed between 1972 and 1980 in the context of the research on Extra-Urban Material Culture at the Faculty of Architecture in Florence, and which he first exhibited with Superstudio at the 1978 Venice Biennale.