Fionn Byrne teaches at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. His research focuses on the relationships between nature, aesthetics, and ethics, using speculative design to challenge dominant environmental narratives.
The persistent interest in Byrne’s work is to better understand the ethical obligations of the design fields. He contends that all design decisions involve value judgements, that any acts of building in the world are political, and that question of social justice must always be raised when we seek to modify our physical environments. As a professor of landscape architecture, he is fascinated by the near universal implicit need to act for ecological betterment when designing with nature – yet in a world suffering significant environmental challenges, he believes it to be important to question our deeply held assumptions about the values in and of nature. Through this process we can articulate a diversity of ethical positions relative to our obligations to nature. It is in this pursuit that Byrne conducts design research which draws speculative propositions that aim to challenge an observer’s preconceptions and foster critical dialogue.
Prior to joining the faculty at UBC, Byrne served as the Daniel Urban Kiley Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Byrne has also taught at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto and at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.