Writing is a part of my process. Words help clarify ephemeral thoughts, bringing solidity, logic, and continuity to my objects and creations.


The following essays are thought experiments and not necessarily representative of my personal political opinions.


If we cannot explore extreme ideas through dialogue, we cannot improve upon the mold of what exists today.

Towards a New Biomimicry:

Designing Death and Joining the Ecological Cycle

May 30, 2013


The biggest focus in design today is an emphasis on reducing “environmental impact.” During the Industrial Revolution, people began to see the after effects of large-scale manufacturing, massive resource extraction, and chemical evolution. Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis, released in 1927, pits the heavenly eternal garden against the hell of the industrial city – a bright sunny pasture of infinite fruits versus the smoke, noise, and explosions in a robotic factory. Amidst these two opposing sets, a virtuous woman is cloned into an evil character intent on destroying the world. Nature versus Man versus Machine. Today, we continue this debate.

We Are Not Special:

Learning to Live in a Hybrid City

October 15, 2014


A follow-up to the 2013 paper I wrote titled “Towards a New Biomimicry: Designing Death and Joining the Ecological Cycle,” in which I criticized humanity’s egocentric way of thinking, this paper stems from the same critique of the human species – our egomaniacal sense of self-importance above all else. Too many solutions to a problem we are exacerbating propose technological, political solutions, when the underlying issue is an ideological assumption that dates as far back as the oldest philosophers. While not the oldest philosopher, Descartes summed up this position most succinctly: “I think, therefore I am.” Our brains have enabled us to feel far superior to other living organisms. Are we, in fact, superior?

Nothing is Absolute:

But Not Everything is Relative

November 8, 2014


When a central position is not available, or greatly under-resourced, neither side wins. The world is more complex than black and white, red or blue, top down or bottom up; our solutions should take this into consideration and refuse to simplify, overgeneralize, and segregate.

Post Earth Manifesto:

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

December 13, 2014


Based on the supposition that our world is so socially, politically, and industrially intertwined, interdependent, and complicated that no single solution can remedy the downward spiral in which we spin, this Manifesto re-examines the basic principles upon which a new start can be made. The only solution left us is a renewal, learning from our mistakes and getting a clean slate with which to build a better base and flexible growth structure, our history becoming education versus obstinate tradition.

Viewing and Assessing Domestic Shelter Design

Through Transition and Growth

December 14, 2012


In a digital world where prestige and income are directly related to the visual nature of architectural publications, designers’ portfolios, and the image-based, graphic-based craft of conveying architecture, domestic violence (DV) shelters are one of many typologies that disappear from priorities. There is a growing field in many design/builds all around the world – architects making a difference in locations with limited resources by providing a sense of structure. These projects are typically paired with beautiful photographs reminiscent of National Geographic photo spreads contrasted with stylized buildings meant to serve those people. In a DV shelter, the images resulting from the design generally should not and cannot be publicized for confidentiality and security reasons. When both financial and portfolio incentives are stripped from a project, it seems that these are the buildings that suffer, and suffer in silence.

Copyright 2015 Emily Singer Yen