Cultivating the Habits of Coolth

Abby Mellick Lopes
Stephen Healy
Front cover of book

This chapter extends upon the book's discussions of habit to the process of adapting to anthropogenically induced global warming. We reveal the role of designed practices, products and infrastructures in habituating urban populations to a changing climate. Our central concern is the ‘world within the world’ design has helped to create. In the rapidly densifying city, atmospheric commons are shaped and reshaped by human design; climate change is lived and felt in hostile heat islands and polluted, particulate-laden city air. Design offers a critical perspective on the dynamics that have shaped the city and organised the civic practices of its inhabitants. This ontological capacity is a second order agency rarely considered in the contexts in which design is most powerfully deployed to shape the materiality of the city. We apply ‘defuturing’ (Fry, 1999) as a critical deconstructive mode of reading to point to the designing relations shaping city atmospheres, infrastructures and modes of habituation. Our focus is the constellation of designing relations inaugurated by cooling technologies. At the same time as answering a primal need, cooling technologies also dehabituate us to the increasingly volatile conditions of our common world. In response, we seek to resuscitate the concept of ‘coolth’ as a critical term describing the experience and sensation of feeling (temperature) cool. We claim that designing for coolth cultivates habits of practice far better attuned to a warming world, recognising that climate-aware modes of dwelling must be both cultivated and habituated by design.

Suggested citation

Mellick Lopes, A. & Healy, S. 2021. Cultivating the Habits of Coolth. In (eds) Hawkins, G. & Bennett, T. Assembling and Governing Habits. Routledge.