Dr. Dulmini Perera


Since March 2020, I have been a scientific staff member in the Theory and History of Modern Architecture Deartment at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. I work in the broader field of architectural history and theory, systems research and design methods. In my research and teaching, I focus on the complex interrelationships between ecological issues and questions of technology.

I completed my Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong on the topic Architectures of Coevolution: Second-order Cybernetics and Architectural Theories of the Environment, c.1959-2013 (2017), in which I explored the emergence of an alternative modern ecological discourse. My work was funded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council Fellowship and supervised by professors from the University of Hong Kong (Prof. Eunice Seng) and the Technical University of Delft (Prof. Arie Graafland). Since then I have been expanding my research on complex systems, ecology and design through various research projects.

Since 2018, I have been establishing an experimental design practice focussing on how design research can help to find better ways of dealing with the complexity of design problems. While all design problems are understood as »wicked problems«, I focus on systems characterised by structural instabilities, or systems in crisis, where this wickedness (»mess«) is most visible. In this context, »mess« also acts as a word which describes »difference« in a broader sense. »Differences« then appear as contradictions or paradoxes that are rejected by many; this in turn hinders individuals in their search for creative solutions. My work suggests that a renewed understanding of »play« can contribute to a productive understanding of said »differences«. Experimental research projects such as Fun Machines (2018), Institute of Utmost Environmental Justice (2019) and After Work (2021) are part of this project. Based on the developing research, I am currently working on a book with the working title Mess and Method. In 2021 I was awarded the Heinz von Foerster Award by the American Society for Cybernetics.

Outside Germany, I have worked on research and teaching projects in various countries such as Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Myanmar, New Zealand and the Netherlands. I am an external research member of the Prototyping Social Forms research group at the Synthesis Center Arizona State University, a fellow member of the Cybernetics Society Great Britain (CybSoc), a member of the Systemic Design Association (SDA), the Cumulus Association and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and also a member of the editorial board of the Delft Architecture Theory Journal FOOTPRINT, in addition to other honorary memberships in Germany and my home country of Sri Lanka.


  • Dulmini Perera (2023) Design fictioning of a second-order kind: Futures of Work, Run away cybernetics, possibilties of redirection (Forthcoming)
  • Dulmini Perera (2023) Contra-innovation (Forthcoming)
  • Dulmini Perera (2022) Annetta Pedretti vs. a world out of time:Explorations in Cybernetics, Design and Futures in ISSS annual Conference, advances in systems Science and Systems practices
  • Dulmini Perera and Tony Fry (2022) Second Order Design Fictions in End times, TripleAmpersand online journal, The new centre for Research and Practice, tripleampersand.org/uses-second-order-design-fictions-end-times-conversation/
  • Dulmini Perera (2021) Cautionary Tales of a Whacky Kind: On the Uses of a Design Imagination that Avoids Consensus, Journal of Architectural Education, 75:2, 325-328,  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10464883.2021.1947712
  • Dulmini Perera (2021). After work: questions concerning transition imaginaries towards a post-work society and the use of second-order design fictions as frames that resist consensus in Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design( RSD 10) 2021 Symposium. Delft, The Netherlands, https://rsdsymposium.org/after-work-questions-concerning-transition-imaginaries-towards-a-post-work-society-and-the-use-of-cautionary-tales-as-frames-that-resist-consensus/
  • Dulmini Perera. (Ed.). (n.d.). After Work:A Series of Cautionary tales https://www.uni-weimar.de/projekte/afterwork/. (experimental formats) 
  • Dulmini Perera. (Ed.). (n.d.). Designing Interactive Card-Kits Introducing Tomás Maldonado's Work. Critical Ecology Matters. https://www.uni-weimar.de/projekte/criticalecologymatters/.(experimental formats)
  • Perera, Dulmini und Stavros Kousoulas. “All is In-Formation: Architecture, Cybernetics, Ecology.” Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal, Issue#28, Sommer/Frühjahr, 2021. https://doi.org/10.7480/footprint.15.1
  • Stavros Kousoulas and Dulmini Perera, “Five Points Towards an Architecture In-Formation, ” All is in Formation: Architecture, Cybernetics, Ecology, FOOTPRINT 28 (Spring/Summer 2021), 3-8. https://doi.org/10.7480/footprint.15.1.5663
  • Dulmini Perera, “Towards a Playful Architecture: Crisis, Sense Sense-Making and Questions Concerning Method,” in Architectures of Life and Death: The Eco-Aesthetics of the Built Environment ed. Andrej Radman and Stavros Kousoulas (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2021), 189-205.
  • “Wicked Problems, Wicked Humor: Fun Machines as Strategy” in FORMakedemisk Research Journal of Design and Design Education, January 2020. https://doi.org/10.7577/formakademisk.3378
  • “Wicked Problems and Humor Machines.” in OZ Journal, bearbeitet von Olivia Ashbrook and Tara Bray, Kansas: Kansas State University, 2019. http://www.ozjournal.org/journals/tocs/v41.html
  • Graafland, Arie und Dulmini Perera, eds. Architecture and the Machinic: Experimental Encounters of Man with Architecture, Computation, and Robotics . Dessau: Anhalt University Press, 2018. https://www.deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de/item/3PB5OABMD3V75CAQNOYWNPRDD3QWUAPL
  • Perera, Dulmini, “ Architectures of Coevolution: Second-order Cybernetics and Architectural Theories of the Environment,  c. 1959-2013.” Ph.D. diss., University of Hong Kong, 2017.
  • “Beyond Autopoiesis: Embodied Cognition in Francisco Varela and the Case of the Barefoot Architects.” in Production Sites: Resituating the Culture of Architectural Knowledge, bearbeitet von Sophia Psarra und Sandra Löschke, 26-27. London: Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, 2015.
  • “Rethinking Reflexivity in Design Studios: Selves in Design to Design of Selves.” in 19th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics Proceedings Volume II, bearbeitet von Nagib Callos und Shigehiro Hashimoto, 382-387. Florida; IIIS, 2015.
  • “Revisiting the U-Machine: Gordon Pask and Stafford Beer’s Adaptive Controllers and Post-humanist Design Epistemologies (1955 -1965).” in Critical and Clinical Cartographies International Conference Proceedings, bearbeitet von Andrej Radman und Stavros Kousoulas, 25-38. Delft: Jap Sam Books, 2014.



  • Invited lecture, Frictions, Fictions, ASC speaker series, 22 January 2023
  • Presenter and workshop co-hosting at Anticipation conference, Prototyping social forms 2: Enacting and sensing body, Anticipation conference, November 2022.
  • Discussant at Design for the Planet roundtable, hosted by Design Council UK and RSD, University of Brighton, October 2022
  • Organizer of RSD11 Focus track 'Different stories of design,' held online and at the University of Brighton, October 2022
  • Podcast session on Design research, produced by FH Bielefeld, August 2022. (forthcoming online)
  • "When a theoretical text is a bundle of issues and fictions:Reflections on the development of a didactic prototype for engaging the ideas of Tomás Maldonado" presented at Didactics of Architectural Theory conference, organized by Hochschule Oldenburg, 29-30 June 2022. 
  • 'politics is Broken' short intervention on topic presented at Challenging Times Hothouse 2022: The Case for a New political Imagination, organized by Madina Tlostanova and Tony Fry, Linköping University, Sweden. 11-13 May 2022.
  • 'There is Always Time for One More Story: Design Fictions and Questions of the South,' invited lecture at Colombo School of Architecture (CSA), Sri Lanka. 03 February 2022.
  • "Muddling through worlds of environmental justice: Wicked problems, difference, systemic tools” lecture presented at Research Seminar series fall 2021, organised by the  faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong, 30 September 2021.
  • (together with Desiree Foerster, Satinder Gill, John Maccalum, Muindi Manuel Muindi, Teoma Nacarato, Sha xin wei) “prototyping social forms, the process germ bank” a workshop based presentation at the GFM JAHRESTAGUNG 2021, Wissensökologie, organised by university of Innsbruck, 27 September 2021
  • "Second-order Design Fictions on Automation: on the uses of Second order cybernetics in a world characterised by cyberneticisation" presented at The Art and Science of the Impossible: The human experience, organized by International Society for Systems Sciences(ISSS), 11 July 2021.
  • "What comes after method?, play" presented at NERD_For 2021 Conference, organized by HAW Hamburg/ Centre For Design Research and Board of International Research in Design, 10 June 2021. 
  • Co-organizer of the event together with Ecologies of Architecture Group (TU Delft Theory), Design_Space: Technicities and the Built Environment, 09 June 2021, 16.00-18.30. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBiBAgxC5FM&t=2265s
  • Framing to Reframe: Rethinking the Role of “Meta-learning” Graduate Architectural Design Research, presented at European Association for Architectural Education (EAAE), position paper workshop, 23 April 2021. https://vimeo.com/558425998
  • “Educating design practitioners operating within systems characterized by structural instabilities on frames that lead to reframing the design work,” presented at Stories of Practice, 52nd Annual Conference of cybernetics Society, held in partnership with the ASC, 12 September 2020, https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cybernetics-society-annual-conference-21st-century-stories-of-practice-tickets-116720784007
  • “Wicked Possibilties, Difference” presented at Wicked Possibilities: designing in and with systemic complexity hosted by Ben Sweeting, Tom Ainsworth and Sally Sutherland, Radical Methodologies Research and Enterprise Group, University of Brighton, 15 July 2020. Link to short film: https://vimeo.com/466236425
  • “Change of Change and Environmental Justice,” lightning talk presented as part of The Existential Tool Kit for Climate Justice Educators, hosted by Racheal Carson Center, Organized by Jennifer Atkinson and Sarah Jaquette Ray, Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j931BqrfHg
  • “Institute of Utmost Environmental Justice: Wicked Problems, Systemic Tools, Global South” Paper für die internationale Konferenz Mapping For Change, Labor-K und VolkswagenStiftung, TU Berlin, Berlin, 16.-18. Januar 2020.
  • “Spectrometry: Rethinking Serge Chermayeff’s Spectrum Diagrams in the Context of Wicked Problems. ”Paper präsentiert auf der internationalen Konferenz New Instrumentalities , Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Madrid, 12.-14. Juni 2018.
  • “Living Networks: The Biological Turn in System Sciences and Architectural Theories of the Environment.” Paper präsentiert auf When Walls Become Membranes: Intersections between Architecture and biological sciences in the 20th century, Politecnico di Milano, Italy, 2.-4. May 2017.
  • “Afterlives of the Autopoietic Machine, 1972-2013: Autopoietic Theory in Architecture and its relevance to the Anthropocene.” Paper präsentiert auf Politics of Environments: Architectures, Natures and Data, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, Estonia, 21.-22. April 2017.
  • “The BCL Project: Technologists, Postwar Laboratory Networks and Environmental Histories of Architecture.” Paper präsentiert auf How to write Environmental Histories of Architecture , University of Sydney, Australien, 11.-12. März 2017.
  • “Beyond Patternism: Lessons from Biological Computer Laboratory, BCL (1960-1980).” Paper präsentiert auf der 12. internationalen Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA), Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom, 19.-21. November 2015.
  • “Compassionism: Conversing with Gaia in a Post-human World.” Paper präsentiert auf der internationalen Konferenz für Philosophy after Nature by Society of European Philosophy/Forum of European Philosophy, Universität von Utrecht, Niederlande, 03.-05. September 2014.