AccScience Publishing / JCAU / Volume 6 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.36922/jcau.1335
Cite this article
Journal Browser
Volume | Year
News and Announcements
View All

From burrow to bungalow: The role of storytelling in regenerative architecture

Rolf Hughes1*
Show Less
1 Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Campus Sint Lucas, KU Leuven, Ghent, Brussels, Belgium
Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism 2024, 6(2), 1335
Submitted: 19 July 2023 | Accepted: 29 August 2023 | Published: 13 March 2024
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Regenerative Architecture)
© 2024 by the Author (s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( )

Regenerative architecture requires interdisciplinary knowledge instruments to help us reconceive research from post-anthropocene perspectives, initiating new conversations about how we creatively engage our world. In this paper, the author — a writer, prose poet, and professor of artistic research — explores the contribution of storytelling as a practice within artistic research to regenerative architecture, a form of architecture for which the ecological and ethical implications of each design decision are foremost. It argues, through a reading of Kafka’s last short story, The Burrow, that the current focus on maintenance and sustainability may be insufficient; we need, like Jack in the tale “Jack and the Beanstalk,” to explore the problem of survival on a higher level. Artistic research can help us navigate uncertainty, develop toolsets, integrate practices, and extend the concept of experiment. Artistic researchers develop knowledge-making through unconventional concepts, creative methodologies, and alternative practices that accompany and engender unique sensibilities, patterns of thought, and knowledge formats. Bringing established knowledge practices into dialog with non-conventional perspectives, such research provokes new mode(l)s of knowledge that serve regenerative architecture’s need for “worlding” narratives. Inviting us to think anew through remaking the world materially and relationally, the paper argues that storytelling allows us to mediate emergent encounters and alternative epistemologies. It summarizes the salient elements of narrative craft, provides examples of regenerative themes in different cultural narratives, including two Chinese folk tales, offers a reading of Franz Kafka’s The Burrow from a regenerative architecture perspective, and adapts Kafka’s story into a contemporary setting through an original short story — a fable for the consequences of ignoring ongoing signs of crisis. The paper, which is illustrated by the author’s original artistic images throughout, is a contribution from a foremost proponent of language-based artistic research, a practice that combines creative and critical writing. By enfolding creative and critical approaches to regenerative architecture, the paper demonstrates how stories can provide compelling models of ethical and political complexities that engage interdependencies within the ecological realm.

Creative and critical writing
Artistic research
Speculative fiction

Anderson, P. T. (2007). There Will Be Blood. [Film]. Los Angeles: Paramount Vantage.


Armstrong, R. (2023). Architecting zoë: On haunting homes and sacred eco-materiality. In: S Bergmann, K Rigby and PM Scott (eds.). Religion, Materialism and Ecology. London: Routledge, p. 29-47.


Armstrong, R., & Hughes, R. (2022). I, Holobiont - E-flux. Available from: digestion/487067/i-holobiont [Last accessed: 2023 Jul 12].


Armstrong, R., & Hughes, R. (2023). Xeno: The Tale of a Misfit. Available from: [Last accessed: 2023 Dec 10].


Armstrong, R., Hughes, R., & Vershinina, A. (2023a). Xenomorphic Energy: Necromantic Orchid (XENO). Available from: [Last accessed: 2024 Jan 09].


Armstrong, R., Hughes, R., & Vershinina, A. (2023b). The seductive choreography of space: Learning regenerative design strategies from (cyborg) flowers. Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism, 5(4), 1006.


Burroway, J. (2019). Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. 10th ed. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press


Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring [Book]. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Cocker, E., Daus, C., & Séraphin, L. (2023). Practice Sharing II, Research Catalogue. Available from: https://www. [Last accessed: 2024 Jan 09].


Crutzen, P. J., & Stoermer, E. F. (2000). The anthropocene. In: L. Robin, S. Sörlin and P. Warde (Eds.). The Future of Nature. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 479-490.


Gattupalli, A. (2023). What is Regenerative Architecture? Limits of Sustainable Design, System Thinking Approach and the Future in Arch Daily. Available from: https://www. is%20the%20practice,harmony%20with%20the%20 overall%20ecosystem [Last accessed: 2024 Jan 09].


Hughes, R. (2018). “Beyond” and “Promised Land” (Two Short Stories) in Visionary II: A Science Fiction Anthology. London: British Interplanetary Society.


Hughes, R. (2023). Utopia in the Rear-View Mirror. New York: ParSec [Digital Magazine]. Available from: https://www. 6152-p.asp [Last accessed on 2024 Jan 09].


Hughes, R., & Monk, J., (Eds.). (2003). Hybrid Thought. Milton Keynes, UK and Stockholm, Sweden: Department of Telematics, Open University/Metamorphosis-Centre for Writing and Performance Research.


Kafka, F. (2017). In: M. Hofmann (trans.). Investigations of a Dog. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation.


Morley, D. (2007). The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Poetry Foundation. Poetry Magazine. Chicago: Poetry Foundation. Available from: https://www.poetryfoundation. org/foundation/about [Last accessed on 2024 Jan 09].


Polanski, R., (Director). (1974). Chinatown [Film]. Los Angeles: Paramount Pictures.


Psihoyos, L., (Director). (2009). The Cove [Documentary]. Los Angeles: Roadside Attractions.


Seuss, D. (1971). The Lorax [Book]. New York: Random House.


Van Sant, G., (Director). (2012). Promised Land [Film]. New York: Focus Features.


Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no competing interests.
Back to top
Journal of Chinese Architecture and Urbanism, Electronic ISSN: 2717-5626 Published by AccScience Publishing