Jacob Mans is an architect and educator focused on understanding the feedback loops between building-scaled technical systems and large-scaled social and ecological systems. As architects and architectural researchers, we often describe these systems, and study them independently from one another. The reality is that architecture collects, channels, and distributes energy and materials across these immense, powerful and interconnected socio-technical systems. He believes architecture should ask questions and engage in critical inquiries that affect immense change rather than prioritizing research on the incremental improvement of preexisting architectural questions. Within a socio-technical research framework, a building can no longer be the sole scale of response to the question of building.
Jacob’s architectural research and practice focuses on developing high performing socio-technical partnerships that can redefine the design of more resilient systems. He is currently conducting design-research projects on affordable housing and economic development with the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada (w/ Idle No More); on the development of valued-added manufacturing processes to better utilize low-quality Minnesota wood resources (USFS and Savanna Pallets); and, on the development of trans-scalar academic, community, and private sector convergence practices through the design development of the RISE (Resilience through Innovation in Sustainable Energy) platform (w/ INESI, UPR, and the emerging RISE network).
He actively facilitates this work through both his teaching and service. In the spring of 2017, he led a studio with Anoka County to design/build a set of learning pavilions for their Heritage and YMCA programs focused on Minnesota wood resource and construction techniques. In the fall of 2017, he coordinated the “Decolonizing Design” lecture series focused on issues of the marginalization of non-dominant cultures within the design community. In the spring of 2018, he coordinated a catalyst workshop at the UMN to develop partnerships between the university and communities from Puerto Rico, OCN, Micronesia/Minnesota, and the Twin Cities homeless community. Building on the relationships established the catalyst workshop, he subsequently help to coordinate Puerto Rico RISE(ing) the 2018 RISE Convergence Workshop: Projects, Priorities, and Partners Informing an Action-based Research Network.
Jacob works to solve real problems affecting social, environmental, and economic conditions largely unmet by the architectural profession. Design done in this way is not limited to buildings or landscapes, but rather it is needed to imagine, find solutions to, and to visualize the larger, more critical, issues that we face as a global community today.