Dr Simone Ferracina is the founding director of Exaptive Design Office (EDO) and a Lecturer in Architectural Design/Detail at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA), the University of Edinburgh. His research and teaching interrogate alternative design potentials, technical platforms, and modes of architectural authorship—with a focus on reuse and repurposing. At ESALA, he 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.
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 Edinburgh Architecture Research (EAR), among others. Key publications include the monograph Ecologies of Inception: Design Potentials on a Warming Planet (Routledge 2022) and ŒCase Files Vol.1, the first in a series of books on experimental and transdisciplinary design research (punctum books 2021), alongside chapters in Experimental Architecture: Designing the Unknown (Routledge 2019) and Liquid Life: On Nonlinear Materiality (punctum books 2019), and the co-edited Unconventional Computing: Design Methods for Adaptive Architecture (Riverside Architectural, 2013). He sometimes writes book reviews for Landscape Research, and has peer-reviewed papers for Architecture and Culture, Open Philosophy, She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics and Innovation, and Ardeth.
Simone holds a Diploma of Architect (USI AAM 2003) and a PhD in Philosophy, Art & Critical Thought (EGS 2020). His work with the Experimental Architecture Group (EAG), has been exhibited and performed internationally, including at the Venice Art Biennale, NYU Gallatin, Trondheim Biennale, and Tallinn Architecture Biennale. With EAG, he has lectured and led workshops at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona, the University of the Underground in Amsterdam, and the TTU Academy of Architecture and Urban Studies in Tallinn. In 2022, he developed, with EDO and six Radical Harvest alumni, the installation Cumulo (Heap/Cloud)at Genova BeDesign Week, in the courtyard of Marcantonio Sauli’s palace in Genoa, Italy.
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 has taught design studios at UG and PG levels. Since 2018, he is the Course Organiser for Architectural Design 3: Explorations, where he also leads Radical Harvest—a studio unit on the reactivation and repurposing of low-value and discarded materials. He supervises PhD and UG dissertation students, and co-tutors, with Moa Carlsson in the Architectural Design 4: Tectonics course, the No Blank Slate unit, which develops, in collaboration with local stakeholders, design responses for vacant and at-risk buildings in Scotland.
Simone’s research, articulated through writing 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 that can be easily and effectively manipulated, facilitating a seamless and faithful embodiment of intentions. 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 developedbetween 1972 and 1980 in the context of the research on Extra-UrbanMaterial Culture at the Faculty of Architecture in Florence, and which he first exhibited with Superstudio at the 1978 Venice Biennale.