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the portfolio of Suzanne Estelle Ernst MLA, BLA

Fez, Morocco:

Fez River Revitalization Project

The City of Fez Department of Water and Power (RADEEF) is currently implementing a new system which will channel the city’s water sewage towards two treatment plants. Thereby, eliminating the release of backwater into the Fez River and allowing it to regain its potential role as a public amenity. If rehabilitated, its impact will be inordinately salient to the unique urban context of Fez. Indeed, the medina’s intra-mural population not only lacks public open spaces, but is also experiencing a rapid deterioration of its environment due to over-densification and aging public infrastructure. In support of its current initiative, the RADEEF commissioned Bureau E.A.S.T to propose a rehabilitation plan for the river as well as acupunctural

interventions along the banks of the medina. This strategic plan addresses the ecology of the river as well as the social and economic concerns of the city at two scales, the city scale and the site scale. Based on an in-depth analysis of Fez’s urban and ecological context, the project at the city scale (City of Fez including the Ville Nouvelle and the medina) provides a master plan with recommended measures for improving regional water quality. Depending on soil geomorphology, levels of water pollution, adjacent urban fabric and ecological systems, different rehabilitation tactics are purposefully located, such as canal restorers, constructed wetlands, bank restoration and storm-water retention ponds.

Site 1

R’Cif Plaza

cable en inox en tension, affaise légerement triangles de pergola en tension, affaise légerement connection en acier 20 cm

cable en acier 1-2 cm

poteaux en acier 20 cm cable en acier 1-2 cm connection en acier triangles fait en materiaux sois de bois teck, l’inox, cuivre, du cuire

pierre de taza fondation de beton 1m

sable compacté

50 cm


gradins arbres fiscus pour ombrager pergola pour ombrager poteaux en acier 20cm peut fonctioner come element luminaire banc en pierre de taza calpinage en pierre de taza 3,00m

The R’cif sits above a portion of the river that was paved over when Morocco was still a French protectorate. As the Medina's main intermodal hub, the site is one large paved surface occupied by cars, motorbikes, donkeys, and buses. Fortunately, the city is now in the process of eliminating vehicular access into the R'cif so that it may become a major public plaza and a critical threshold for the new pedestrian river axis. Programs in the new R'cif Plaza include but are not limited to an amphitheater, outdoor cafes, a native garden that doubles as a storm water infiltration zone, gateway forecourts, street vending, a farmer's market, pick-up and drop off, and a zone to hire and load donkeys.


fondation de bêton

6m 6,00m


6,00m 24,00m


Site 2

Andalous Playground

Currently a parking lot, the Andalous site was once the place where hides from the Chouarra Tanneries were laid out to dry. Chromium deposits from decades of use are therefore presumably leaching toxins into the ground and into the water table. The Fez River Project proposes removal of the soils at the Andalous site for ex-site phytoremediation and the importation of clean soils. The site will become the Medina’s first playground. Containing a constructed wetland, these passive recreation areas will aid in the cleaning of the river, provide wildlife habitat and a place to educate the public about riparian ecosystems.

Site 3

Chouarra Tanneries Predicated on removing a major point source of pollution and on revitalizing an embattled industry, the Chouarra Tanneries will become the Chouara Leatherworks + Gardens providing training and information to would-be leather entrepreneurs from artists-in-residence. The space will also provide showrooms for the Medina’s craft community. The central Tannery will become a public botanical garden and plant nursery for propagating riparian plants to be planted along the river. The gardens with an adjoining café will become a space of respite from the bustle of the Medina. ILLECEBRE VERTICILLE








Harvard GSD:

Strings: Al Qattara Studio, Al Ain, UAE

String theory engages the fundamental description of nature, as a way to define all matter and natural forces. Within the Al Qattara Oasis, strings are created by connecting a series of points of interest throughout the site. Each string formation represents the needs of the various users and social groups who live and work in and around the oasis. The tensions and vibrations associated with class, race and gender are used to connect, isolate, define and shape a sequence of unique open spaces throughout the oasis in order to meet the distinct needs of the various user groups.

This project began by looking at the distinct edges within the Al Qattara site in an effort to discover potential residual spaces that could be used both for development and to create a variety of public open spaces to be used by surrounding residents, locals and the students of the art college slated to be built. By isolating and carefully analyzing individual site elements, trees, shrubs, agriculture, and roads, their various patterns and edge conditions; unique and often intimate areas were discovered throughout the Oasis.

typologies of space

residual space

Initially the purpose of the study was to identify edge conditions and to find potential areas for development, but upon further exploration, and through information gathered in

conversation with the various individuals connected to the project, it became clear that there are many social, gender, and cultural divides at both the site and city scales that need to be addressed. By creating connections between existing pathways, unique landscape features, and historic buildings scattered throughout the site, a series of ‘strings’ are created; porous bands that work to connect and draw elements together throughout the site. The strings work to connect the landscape to the local dimension. By using the elements found within the site, walls, built structure and landscape; spaces are defined, exposed, and hidden to those who wander through the area.

shelter, protection, privacy Limited access is provided into contained spaces at the oasis level through the lower floors of the proposed campus buildings. These spaces provide a necessary sense of intimacy and privacy that is important to individuals in this culture who are less apt to the use of public open space. The project is divided into 4 dimensions; the urban, the local, the campus and the individual. Each dimension offers a different experience within the site and a varying series of private, semi-private and public spaces. The Urban dimension offers commercial, recreational and cultural activities within a large open area at the heart of the oasis, drawing a wider public into the site for cultural events, markets, festivals, theatre and dining. Visitors are led along the edge of the site and into sheltered open spaces through a series of buildings and canopies that wind around the edge of the oasis. Gardens and public spaces are both hidden and exposed along the journey through the site. Natural enclaves hidden below the date palms are unveiled through a series of discrete visual connections as well as sudden openings. Some spaces, such as “She Zones”,

and children’s areas remain completely hidden, offering security and protection to these user groups who, due to cultural beliefs, may not be seen in public places frequented by men without the accompaniment of a chaperone. Access to these spaces is controlled and can only be accessed through the women’s dormitory. This provides women and children with the security needed so that they too can be free to enjoy the benifits of outdoor, public open space. These areas provide a place for women to gather socially outside of the home. The arrangement of the site leads people from a more dynamic and vibrant public space, the cultural heart of the oasis, to the more quaint and sheltered cumpus spaces, and finally to the dormitories located at the edge of the residential development. The goal of this proposal is to encourage interaction between the public, the Emerates, who live outside of the oasis and who currently have little need or desire to use this space, the students attending the Al Qattara oasis campus and the surrounding residents, mostly ex-patriots, who work and live around the edge of the of the oasis.

A++ Publication:

The Post in Post-Communist Budapest Post-communist Budapest may be understood as a cityscape in transition, a constellation of enduring relics from the golden days of urban renewal at the turn of the twentieth century, to the collectivist architecture and urban spaces of modern socialist design, and finally, the proliferation of pilgrimage sites, consumerist meccas, as the city has established notoriety as the shopping mall capital of Europe. One common link between these variegated layers of the city are the street bollards that connect and define the entire urban center. Looking at the copious presence of these bollards within the city of Budapest, I propose a succession of interpretive strategies and interventions in an attempt to uncover the ambiguous nature of post-communist urban space while unfolding new potentials and approaches to re-invigorating the public sphere with play and vibrancy.

The ‘Demszky posts’ spaced roughly a meter apart can be seen row upon row throughout Budapest. They are named after the current mayor, the first and only mayor of post-communist Budapest, Gabor Demszky. Within the City’s area of 525 square kilometers there are over 30,500 posts concentrated mostly within the city centre. Marking the boundary between vehicular and pedestrian space, their overwhelming numbers go almost un-noticed due to their monotonous character and ubiquitous presence throughout the streets. The mayor’s intension when implementing the installation of these posts into the city fabric was to prevent the intrusion of vehicular parking on pedestrian space. Instead, these posts themselves act as vertical intrusions into the pedestrian realm creating a feeling of enclosure, if not encagement,

The repetitive and mundane characters of these landscape elements and their paternalistic quality recalls the tendency for the homogenization and de-individualization of space during the era of socialist architecture and urban design. Following the Second World War, “the [socialist] city was imagined as a highly controlled organizational structure that provided little space for unsanctioned memories and pasts… it disregard[ed] ordinary people’s relationship[s] with place” (Sezneva, 49) Recalling the memory of the city’s socialist past, and the history of secret agents, the posts stand silently guarding and governing the actions of the pedestrian. In keeping with the idea of invisible surveillance and while maintaining the existing bollards, the following interventions

will draw on three principles, stimulation, security and identity. In this attempt to re-invigorate and infuse the existing public sphere with energy and vitality, it is the ground plane that is altered, denoting space, redefining the character of the place and diffusing the obtrusive nature of the posts. The posts are given new meaning and importance through strategies of both concealment and exposure.

“If city streets look interesting, the city looks interesting; if they look dull, the city looks dull.” - Jane Jacobs.

Camouflage - Invisibility

Looking to camouflage as a technique to achieve invisibility, in hopes of minimizing the overwhelming presence of these posts and in particular, Razzle Dazzle, the complex patterning used on ships during the First World War, the ground plane rather than the posts, suddenly becomes the defining element in the landscape. Concentric circles and irregular patterning drawn on the paving surfaces help to break up the vertical of the posts. Color can also be used as both a camouflage technique and as a way to give these elements new meaning and function within the city. Through the use of color, the bollards can become objects of reference, their linear expanse becoming a tool to aid pedestrians with orientation and navigation through the city, and its various districts, and landmarks.

Definition - Creating Space and Stimulation Public squares and plazas in Budapest are surrounded, their edges defined by endless rows of posts. The spaces within these squares are often spiritless and bland, and as a result suffer from neglect and vandalism. By dressing the ground plane using floral patterning reminiscent of embroidery, an important craft and tradition throughout Hungary’s long history, the square is re-defined and given a sense of importance as it is delineated from the sidewalk edge. The reflective silver posts meld into the landscape becoming vertical extensions of the floral patterning, ever present but invisible.

Safety – Security

Currently the posts do have a function within the city, to provide safety and security to pedestrians, but the numbers of these objects leave them ineffective and even dangerous. Time and time again, people are seen accidentally walking into the bollards that are placed in the center of the sidewalks to denote vehicular entrances and service areas. By accentuating posts critical to the safety of pedestrians, at crosswalks, and at the various car entrance and delivery areas found throughout the city, pedestrians are able to distinguish these spaces where additional attention should be given to vehicular traffic. Both the ground plane where pedestrian and vehicular traffic meet and the posts that are meant to define those areas will be colored providing a clear delineation between pedestrian and vehicular space and the points at which they meet.

Harvard GSD seminar and exhibition:

DirtyWorks: Improving informal settlements

Motion of Matter Publication:

Beyond the Ordinary: The Works of Janet Echelman Janet Echelman’s epic and monumental sculpture, She Changes completed in 2005 in Porto, Portugal, is a culmination of her broad experiences and explorations as an artist. Since the beginning of her career, Echelman’s artistic expression has been in a constant state of evolution and transformation, shaped by her experiences and observations while living and working in various different cultural milieus. Despite the sheer scale and materiality of her world renowned netted sculptures, the methodology and philosophy behind the creation of these current works can be traced back to her early career as a self-taught painter. In an interview with Echelman in June 2008, it became clear as she spoke of her life and her art, that some of the most significant shifts in her works could be traced back to a series of events and chance encounters with several remarkable individuals that she met throughout her travels and adventures around the world, most specifically to the time that she spent in Asia as a young painter.

Shifting After examining Echelman’s earlier works and the various reviews written about her paintings, direct parallels between her painting techniques and sculptural works became evident. In October 1993, New York based painter and critic, Stephen Westfall described Echelman’s works as “transparent paintings” providing a sense of movement and creating a “luminous, energetic free floating space… In each of these paintings,

the viewer’s gaze is drawn into the receding space of a landscape horizon line and then snapped back to the surface by concrete actions – cultural scapes: rather than expressively intensified natural landscapes.” Fifteen years later, these very descriptions of her paintings, can be directly associated with her more recent sculptural works. Her poetic yet monumental netted structures are seemingly fluid and weightless as they float through the air, interacting with the subtle forces of nature and the elements found within their surrounding sites. The sculptures shift and sway in the wind, in a constant state of flux as they become one with the surrounding landscape,

disappearing and re-emerging with the changing hues of the sky, their shadows enlivening the groundplane and the structures in their midst.

For Echelman, the medium of netting has been an exploration with legs, a way of drawing planes in space that have the ability to bend, to morph scale and form. The events that led to her shift from painting into the realm of sculpture remain an intriguing part of her story. In an article by Margaret Agusta in 1993, the paintings of Janet Echelman are described as a “layering of experience and […] multiple realities, the layers of memories and

experience at any single moment” . This statement as much a description of her paintings, seems also to encapsulate Echelman’s career; it is an elucidation of her development as an artist, as she continues to build and grow with each additional experience becoming a new layer in a complex weaving of knowledge and new found awareness borne from her observations and encounters. It is precisely this merging of experiences that has led to the shaping of Echelman’s highly evocative sculptural works that not only capture the spirit of place, but also express the stories and traditions of the people who inhabit these places. Throughout her career, more than her materials or methods of creating, Echelman’s artwork has been guided by the importance of site-context, the physical anthropology of place, and its political and cultural histories.

Using the distinct visual language and materials of the places that she builds for, she creates an intricate weaving and layering of cultural and historical elements, tying each sculpture to its historical setting, its inhabitants and the surrounding landscapes.

Listening Janet Echelman is a person who possesses an innate sense of curiosity and openness to the unknown. Her ability to find beauty in the ordinary, her openness to people, to diverse customs and traditions have led her to explore new places and cultures around the world and have invariably shaped her thinking and modes of working over the years. Beginning her career in Bali, Indonesia in 1988, Echelman was able to immerse herself in this highly visual culture where everything was communicated through oral tradition, language and

vision. This was unarguably central to the development of her career, transforming the way in which she observed her surroundings; it was here that she learned to listen, and to look, something that she credits for the very foundation of her being as an artist. While living in Bali, Echelman was fortunate to encounter American artist Robert Rauschenberg as she was hired to work for Rauschenberg as his regional coordinator for the Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange (R.O.C.I). As part of her work, Janet traveled with the artist throughout Malaysia. Throughout their travels, Echelman had the opportunity to observe Rauchenberg while he worked, his way of seeing the world, the pictures that he would take and the objects that he would collect in order to define and express the essence and visual culture of a place. She learned a great deal during this time, her awareness was heightened, changing her way of observing the world. Though it did not have an immediate effect on Echelman’s work, her eventual shift to sculpture years later can be directly attributed to one definitive experience with Rauschenberg. In preparation for an exhibition curated by Rauschenberg himself, Echelman stretched three

of her paintings onto stretchers and had them framed. Having had seen the triptych hanging loose before the exhibition, Rauschenberg expressed his preference for them when they were unframed and able to respond to the air currents of the gallery. While hanging loosely, the paintings had the potential to become something more dynamic, able to move with the air currents within the gallery. Floating freely as Rauschenberg had initially experienced them, the paintings would have become interactive within the space. It was not until nearly a decade later, in a moment of sheer happenstance while working in India, that Echelman would move away from painting and into the realm of sculpture, she later remembered Rauschenberg’s words realizing that they had finally resonated and had a profound influence on her work. Knotting In 1996, Janet Echelman received a Fulbright lectureship to paint and teach in India. As part of the arrangement, she would produce work for a series of exhibitions in Bombay, Calcutta and Ahmedabad. Living in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the time, she shipped all of her painting supplies and set off

for Mahaballipuram where she immersed herself daily in learning the ancient local tradition of working with bronze sculpture while she waited for her own supplies to arrive. The bronze foundry where she worked was located just one block from the ocean, so every evening just before dusk Echelman would walk to the beach to go swimming. There she would observe the Tamil fishermen bringing their nets in to shore each evening. As her time in India passed, Echelman received no word of her painting supplies. Beginning to worry about what she would do for the upcoming exhibitions, Echelman continued her experimentation with bronze casting. Her evening swim became a daily routine. It was here on the beach at dusk as she watched the fishermen bringing their netting in to shore, as they had done every evening, that she had an epiphany that would finally bring illumination to the insights given to her by Robert Rauschenberg nearly a decade earlier. She could use netting as an alternative way to make volumetric space without weight or mass, as a medium to create dynamic and interactive artwork. With rough sketches and twelve small bronze pieces that she had created during

her time working in the foundry, Echelman returned to the beach the following day and asked some of the fishing families to help knot nets in the shape of her drawings. Together they hand-knotted cotton nets and placed them in a colored dye-bath. Echelman took sari material that she had collected from the local market and the mosquito netting that she had been sleeping under, and with her simple line drawings then went to speak to the local tailors to ask them to stitch the various materials together into her desired forms. Working alongside the Muslim tailors and Hindu fishermen in the village, Echelman produced the Bellbottoms Series marking an integral shift in her works. This was her first collaborative effort and the beginning of her explorations with netting and sculpture.

We a v i n g With the publication of her Bellbottoms Series, new opportunities began to develop for Echelman. In 1998, she received an invitation to participate in a sculpture exhibition at the Museum of the Center of Europe in Vilinius, Lithuania. Uncertain of what she could create for such an event, Echelman was hesitant to accept the invitation. Little did she know at the time, but her decision to participate in this event would steer her away from her work as a painter and lead her further into the exploration of threedimensional sculpture. Upon arrival to Vilnius, her hosts introduced her to various factories, ateliers and workshops, where industrial netting and clothing were made. Of all of the places that she visited, and of all the people that she met, it was a little old lady who crocheted lace doilies that inspired Janet the most. There was something that Echelman found intriguing about this woman who had survived two World Wars. Sitting side by side in the woman’s kitchen with lace tied to the back of a chair, Echelman learned to adapt her knowledge of net-knotting and was taught various weaving patterns to create lace doilies. The collaboration

between these two women resulted in Echelman’s 17-foot-tall sculpture ‘Trying to hide with your tail in the air’.

between these two women resulted in Echelman’s 17-foot-tall sculpture ‘Trying to hide with your tail in the air’. True to regional culture and tradition, the three-dimensional sculpture of hand-knotted industrial nets and steel, was shaped using the regional patterns of Lithuanian lace. These patterns combined with the netknotting techniques that Echelman had previously learned in India produced a much stronger form of netting allowing for an expansion in the breadth and scope of her sculptures. The artist later returned to India to make a commission for an Indian foundation. There she worked to teach the fishermen these new techniques that she had learned in Lithuania. Echelman attributes this sharing of

knowledge and techniques between cultures as “a cultural hybrid”, an alternative response to globalization, “where one keeps the specificities of character associated with place, yet crosses cultural boundaries.”

She has continued her relationship with these Indian fishermen throughout the years and they have continued to work with her in the creation of numerous large-scale sculptures that have been displayed at various galleries and exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. Te c h n o l o g y As she continues her explorations with netting, Janet Echelman’s most recent sculptures are being built in the landscape, emphasizing relationships within the natural environment, engaging with fluidity of movement and adaptation.

Creating work that is able to move and change over time, sculptures that can respond to and amplify the currents of air and water and the changing path of sunlight, is what breaths life into Echelman’s works. As the complexity and scope of her works continues to grow, collaboration has become a crucial component in her design process. Still relying on her co-operations between the fishermen in India that she met so many years ago, Echelman’s works have also developed a heavy reliance on new technologies and digital design methods. She can no longer continue the monumental task of preparing and building these sculptures without the aid of other design professionals. Echelman now works side by side with architects and engineers who are able to insert her diagrams and sketches into 3-D site models where scale and form can then be analyzed, experimented with, and altered according to the surrounding site context. A computer software program has been specifically written for her work, permitting the stress points of the netting to be analyzed and adjusted accordingly. Each finite element is modeled enabling the team of engineers and architects

to accurately design and adjust the netting dimensions to ensure the integrity of the overall structure. Echelman enjoys exploring the possibilities of her works with the broad range of professionals that she now works with. The merging and sharing of ideas between architects, landscape architects and engineers help to expand the initial ideas into possibilities beyond her expectations. Bringing the background and expertise of these individuals together, allows Echelman to really push the envelope, often steering her work into new and unexpected directions, transforming initial concepts into innovative and unforeseen physical realities. Expanding Whether through her early paintings or her later sculptural works, Janet Echelman has demonstrated an intrinsic ability to capture and express the various cultures and traditions of the places and people that she discovers along her journeys. Like the rich layering of imagery, textures, paint and ink seen in her early works, her sculptures too are conceived through a form of layering, an accumulation of ideas and insights. Shaped by their surrounding contexts, these sculptures are built

upon, and molded from a culmination of experience and knowledge gained through Echelman’s diverse encounters. It is the artist’s ability to see beyond the ordinary, to find both wisdom and beauty in the everyday that distinguishes her works and makes them so captivating.

Rougemont, Switzerland

VWA - Rougemont, Switzerland:

Rue du Village temporary traffic calming solution

Weekend in Rougemont:

Yellow Snails

New York POP Park Competition:


Hen PARK brings life and vitality to an otherwise desolate parking space. The space provides a dynamic and transparent shelter for the hen while offering a place for interaction between passing residents and the chicken. The flexibility of the edges allows each individual owner to create their unique Hen PARK construction contrasting with the monotonous and strict linear form of the parking space. The structure of the installation provides an opportunity for the owner to co-inhabit the sheltered space with the chicken. Hen PARK will use the POP Park event as an ideal showcase for the value of the chicken, demonstrating the possibilities for co-inhabitation of chicken and man in one of the worlds most least likely settings, the bustling metropolis of New York City. Seemingly incongruous in an urban setting, thechicken is a highly efficient creature. access to healthy foods, Hen PARK encourages New York residents to leave a space in their heart and in their designer handbags for the soft, fluffy and productive companion, the chicken. Chiwawas step aside,

a loyal companion, the chicken can provide up to 300 eggs a year on a minimal maintenance cost of just pennies a day. Since prehistory, eggs have been considered a valuable source of food and one of the most versatile ingredients used in cooking. In a city suffering from an epidemic of obesity and poor nutrition, Hen PARK reintroduces the chicken and the egg into our daily lives providing a continuous and daily source of nourishment. NOURISH With the ongoing efforts in New York to combat hunger and poor nutrition among residents and to increase access to healthy foods, Hen PARK encourages New York residents to

leave a space in their heart and in their designer handbags for the soft, fluffy and productive companion, the chicken. Chiwawas step aside, a loyal companion, the chicken can provide up to 300 eggs a year on a minimal maintenance cost of just pennies a day. Since prehistory, eggs have been considered a valuable source of food and one of the most versatile ingredients used in cooking. In a city suffering from an epidemic of obesity and poor nutrition, Hen PARK reintroduces the chicken and the egg into our daily lives providing a continuous and daily source of nourishment. RECYCLE Hen PARK is created from easily found and recyclable materials. The structure and elements found within the box in its carrying form, are reconfigured during the installation to create a flexible and dynamic space shared by the chicken and its owner. The sunflower not only a decorative addition to the installation, also provides a continuous supply of food for the chicken. chicken will also eat its own eggshells as its source for calcium necessary

for its continued egg production. PLAY Though Hen PARK doesn’t encourage kids to play with their food, it will encourage them to play with the animal that provides them with it. Many experience a disconnect between the food they eat and its origins. The chicken becomes a means of educating children and adults alike about where their food comes from while teaching them valuable lessons in the need for the daily care of another living creature. INTERACT Hen PARK brings life and vitality to an otherwise desolate parking space. The space provides a dynamic and transparent shelter for the hen while offering a place for interaction between passing residents and the

chicken. The flexibility of the edges allows each individual owner to create their unique Hen PARK construction contrasting with the monotonous and strict linear form of the parking space. The structure of the installation provides an opportunity forthe owner to co-inhabit the sheltered space with the chicken. Hen PARK will use the POP Park event as an ideal showcase for the value of the chicken, demonstrating the possibilities for co-inhabitation of chicken and man in one of the worlds most least likely settings, the bustling metropolis of New York City. Seemingly incongruous in an urban setting, the chicken is a highly efficient creature.

Independent Study:

Blurred Landscapes: Megachurches and the role of the ordinary in the Garden of Eden in collaboration with Antonio Petrov, DDes

With the emergence of an increasing number of suburban developments throughout the United States, there is a heightened sense of placelessness and isolation that has become prevalent in modern culture. Seeing both an opportunity and a need to provide a means for connection and spiritual guidance, the Megachurch has become an increasingly relevant entity within these communities, offering a place for gathering and respite from the everyday struggles of life. Through its strategic embrace of the common, the ordinary; the Megachurch continues to draw parishioners of all denominations, ages and backgrounds. Traveling through cities throughout the Southwestern United States, the aim of this independent study was to explore the territory between church and landscape, namely the way in which the landscape is used to dematerialize the threshold between inside and outside, the everyday and the spiritual. Merging into their surroundings, the Megachurch extends into the city and surrounding territories, working to bring together

local residents, and providing them with a space for gathering and community. The blurred landscapes of the Megachurch formulate a dialogue between defined boundaries and shape a spatial porosity that is both familiar and stimulating to the worshipper. How does the notion of the ordinary support the accessibility of spiritual reflection for everyone, in everyday inconspicuous environments? Garden and Spirituality “We human beings are governed by a chameleonlike urge to blend in with our surroundings– to “camouflage” ourselves within our environment. We need to feel at home, and to find our place in the world. “ Neil Leach                                                                             There is no question that since the beginning of time, gardens have been associated with the Gods and religion. The first gardens were not made, but rather discovered, spiritual spaces; gardens of the gods. A clearing in the forest, a valley opening up in a barren mountain side, an island in a remote

Garden Grove Community Church, Garden Grove.

lake- made pleasant by a belt of trees, flowering, fragrant, and bearing fruit.1 There is something inherent in human nature that since the beginning of time has drawn us to find spirituality within the landscape. The Garden of Eden is said to be the place where the first man and woman lived after they were created by God. In this garden, God provided them with every seed bearing plant, and every fruit with seed in it, every living creature that moved on the ground, for food. This was the garden of paradise. The word “paradise” derived from the old Persian ‘pairidaeza’, meaning enclosure, was later transformed through its Greek translation and became understood as a ‘kingly or sumptuous and extravagant park’.2 This new meaning of “paradise” was later adopted to describe the Garden of Eden and the heavenly kingdom. Only then was the garden considered unfit for the common man, a heavenly kingdom, the dwelling of saints. The discrepancy between these ideas of paradise can be found when comparing the edict of the Megachurch to that of the “traditional” church. Where the Megachurch focuses on participation and (domestic) familiarity among its worshipers, the worshiper in the “traditional” church is rather a

subordinate of the church and its clergy. It was within the Garden of Eden that man first became aware of himself, and it is within Nature that man is capable of achieving serenity and spirituality. It is the apple tree, not the manicured topiary that ties man to Nature. Through the landscape and through the ordinary, the Megachurch has managed to blur the boundaries between the everyday and the spiritual, the city and the church, creating a place of connection for its worshipers. This very place depends on the perception and the awareness of all senses, and provides a sense of richness to the experience of the worshipper. The Megachurch and its landscape formulate a dialogue between defined boundaries and shape a spatial porosity that is both familiar and stimulating to the worshipper. 1 (Moore, C.W. and W. Mitchell and W. Turnbull Jr. 1995). The Poetics of Gardens. Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press.)

Cultural inscription through the power of participation: The Individual, the Sublime and Landscape Systems Throughout the history of the evangelical church in North America, architecture has been used to formally express the symbiosis between religious, social and cultural adaptations. Over the last 200 years, churches in the United States have undergone a continuous series of physical and ideological transformations stemming from meetinghouses, to tabernacles, auditorium structures, worship centers, multipurpose and fullservice churches and finally to the Megachurches of today. The church first began to engage with the landscape with the development of the revivalist and tent churches in 19th century where people were drawn from their everyday environments to worship and to experience the church within the raw landscape of nature,

outside of the city. Today, Megachurches have evolved into large scale, cultural entities. Addressing new demographics, these churches grow and dematerialize into ordinary spaces, blurring socio-cultural and physical boundaries by camouflaging their large-scale structures, becoming a part of the everyday, a part of the (domestic) ordinary. The horizontal agglomeration of the church in sprawled environments is not just an ideological belief system; it is also a strong network of social structures. It is between urban and suburban, these in-between, middle-ground non-places, that Megachurches have found their place for growth and prosperity.  It is here that the landscape therefore becomes vital and active, as a way to  blur the boundaries between territory- church and the city (suburbia, ex-urbia, edge city), suggesting a fluidity of space as

the worshiper moves from the reality of everyday life into a place closer to God. What is the role of the landscape in the dialogue between reality, the individual and the sublime? How are the convergence of unpredictable natural forces outside and the predictable domestic spaces inside suggesting a fluidity of space, matter and use in an active dialogue between natural systems and human participation? In 1873, Claude Monet depicted early modernity in ‘Boulevard des Capucines‘ as a visual document expressing the new conditions of society within the city. In his painting, the individual is depicted as an anonymous dot within an anonymous crowd, blended together into a singular undifferentiated mass of brushy gray tones and dots, reflective of the alienation of the modern subject. There is no symbolism, nor signs of a social differentiation, the individual blends into the landscape. In the nineteenth century the art world engaged with the landscape as a realm of fantasy, vision of nature, and the natural as a registration of the world. Landscapes functioned as systems of signs illustrating change with an understanding of the

Claude Monet, Boulevard des Capucines, 1873

Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey in the Oak Forest, 1809-1810

immediately perceivable world that was permeated by the spirit and the presence of God. In Caspar David Friedrich’s Abbey in the Oak Forest, the artist arranged the trees to signify the verticality of the German gothic cathedral. Friedrich systemized, organized and orchestrated nature to produce a spectacle of the sublime where senses of the unearthly converged with landscape systems signifying the transcendence to which the passage and the procession refer.

The human relationship to the landscape within the spiritual context is an important aspect of the power of participation within the Megachurch. It is each individual that makes up the Megachurch- the role and importance of the individual is clearly emphasized at these churches- that every person has an importance- a role, a place, and an important function within the church. The individual, in a procession through the territory, engages with the landscape and the building while transitioning from the exterior into the

interiorized reality of the Megachurch. The conscious transition from the outside into the inside constitutes a symbolic transition for the individual into a holistic whole of the church. Passages:  Landscape, City and the Individual “A garden holds within itself the entire gardens we can find all the serenity that man is capable of achieving.”                                                                               Ferdinand Bac

How are interior and exterior landscapes– supporting the ordinary spiritual experience through notions of the sublime, the Garden of Eden, and the immaterial? How does it support the ordinary and its accessibility of spiritual reflection for everyone, in everyday inconspicuous environments? As the worshiper moves through the landscape and towards the church, he is guided further from everyday life into the realm of the church. Pristine almost sublime landscape exteriors in resort like campuses displace the worshippers from their existing reality; they are removed from the reality of everyday life, as they step into a place closer to God. With the design of the Megachurch it appears that the landscape design has come to replace the sublime notion of the “traditional” vertical church. The outside establishes the vertical connection forming symbolsin-space, while the interior becomes horizontal enabling the worshipper to fully engage in the activities and the mission of the church without feelings of imposed or vertical unearthly religiousity. Passages, as transitionary elements of spiritual familiarity synthesize exteriors into interiors, the city into

the landscape, and the individual into a new meaning of “paradise”. Walter Benjamin’s arcades project depicts the interior of the early modern society. Benjamin looked at the passage as a synthesis of market place and salon. In a sense, the Megachurch utilizes these same principles of the passage, becoming the market place of ideas, ideologies and ambiences. Megachurches have been designed within a  Garden of Eden  framework in order to create this passage while the architecture, through open glass façade auditoriums, engages with the ensemble. Benjamin describes the interior as a provocative typology that attracts the exteriority of the city and the landscape deep into the inside of the passage space as a means to create a new sense of a public space inside. What connects the Megachurch to the city and the territory is the landscape itself, which becomes the

transitional space– the passage. The city itself constitutes the space that exists between the Megachurch and its environment– the passage, the inbetween or the spaces of the many determine the new spatial practice of the church. The Megachurch take ownership of the in between space and expands into the territory that shapes the fabric of the city, the suburb and the edge (city). Tinted glass is used to create a conscious transition (passage) between exterior and interior, symbolizing the instant where the individual identifies his own selfmirroring in the glass in a conscious moment of leaving the known reality into the imaginary realm of the church. The individual sees himself in the tinted glass of the entrance door and becomes an active, identifiable, rather than anonymous participant within the large Megachurch and its “natural” environment. In this

Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA moment of self-reflection, as one enters the church, the individual, through self-reflection, both becomes part of God’s mission and the surrounding environment, he is an identifiable member, recognized by God as someone who plays a role in the church. Similar to ‘traditional’ churches, the door of the Megachurch plays a symbolic role as a transitory element from reality to the ‘sublime’. The red door, once a signifier of the sanctuary of the Catholic Church, and reminiscent of the blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of our sins, has since become tinted glass providing a moment of selfreflection and empowerment to the individual rather than confirming them as subordinates of the unearthly. Religion finds a solution, a way to integrate the spaces of multitude and non-proximity into a unifying paradigm. The human morphology of religion itself materializes with

the production of symbolic and unifying (metaphoric) umbrellas under which the heterogeneous individual assembles itself. Megachurches have gone through a series of transformations from total interiors to a complete embrace of the surrounding landscape and territory. The aim of our research was to investigate various Megachurch typologies and to explore the notion of de-materialization; the way in which the landscape becomes a threshold between territory and the built environment. The Megachurch and its spatial organization is based on notions of interaction. Upon arrival to the site, the individual is drawn into this space of interaction through the use of spatial compression and release engaging with both the territory, the architecture and the surrounding landscape. The passageway, as a means of procession through the landscape, helps to facilitate a conscious transition from the exterior into the ‘spiritual’ interior, from city into the ‘spiritual’ landscape, and from a conscious moment of selfconfrontation or self-reflection into a shared experience. The aim of this study was to analyze the way that the Megachurch is successful in making notions of the sublime accessible to the worshipper as he passes through

Porte Rouge, Notre Dame Entry Grace Community Cloud Gate, Chicago Porte Rouge, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Entry Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA, Cathedral, Paris,Rouge, Church, Sun Valley,Cathedral, CA, Porte Notre Dame Paris,Church, Entry Grace Porte Rouge, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Entry Grace Community Sun Valley, CA, Co Cloud Gate, Chicago Gate, Chicago the interior of the church through the Diller & Scofidio, the Megachurch landscape, andCloud to observe the way landscape and into the city. forms a dialogue between its defined in which the landscape is utilized to boundaries and its spatial porosity dematerialize the threshold between In the  Critique of Judgement, creating a de-materialized threshold inside and outside, the everyday and Immanuel Kant designates the between the inside and the outside. the spiritual. We traveled by plane to sublime as the second aesthetic Denver, Colorado where we rented category following beauty.  For Kant, Methodology a car and drove through Colorado, the observer receives pleasure from Our initial research and observations Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, his perception of the limitation of through the use of aerial photography Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. his power when faced by nature. He and readings led us to select a number We visited the various Megachurches, further explains that the delight in of Megachurches found throughout that we had preselected based confronting a ‘superior force’ can be suburban and urban developments on our initial research, and that transferred into abstract imagination. in the Southwestern United States.  we felt were relevant to this study. Megachurches and their landscaped We found this regionLasespecially Though ofUmbrella these churches Jon Jerde, Vegas Fremont Street, some Christo, Project Jon Jerde, Las Vegas Fremont environments focus on the existence of interesting due to the dramatic growth vary dramatically in scale, character imprecise and imaginary boundaries, of the Megachurch in andStreet, the environments where they Jon Jerde,phenomenon Las Vegas Fremont Christo, Umbrella Project engaging in an active dialogue with this area and because of its warm are situated, we hypothesized that the user. Most buildings make a clear climate, which enables the landscape we would find similarities in the way distinction between the unpredictable to become an integral part of in which they would occupy the natural forces outside and the everyday life and activities throughout landscape and their surroundings predictable domestic spaces inside. the year. Our goal was to examine in their attempt to engage and Somewhat like the Blur building by the territory between church and attract worshipers.  We analyzed

edral, Paris, Entry Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA, Cloud Gate, Chicago

Jon Jerde, Las Vegas Fremont n Jerde, Las Vegas Fremont Street,Project Christo, Umbrella Project Street, Christo, Umbrella

and documented the architecture, the landscape architecture and the space between that connects them. We also studied the territories that Yves Klein, Air Archtecture Friedrich, Wanderer Above the surround the Megachurches, the Leap into the Void, 1960 Mist, 1818 demographics of the area and the histories Leap of these developments. chtecture, into the Void, 1960, Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Mist, 1818 FeelingLeap that this research isVoid, key in 1960, Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Mist, 1818 htecture, into the order to understand the way in which the church and its landscape intersect and interact with their surroundings and the local residents.  We analyzed the way in which these spaces, inside and out are organized and the manner Map8 8State StateRoad RoadTrip Trip~ ~5,800 5,800miles miles in which they are used to encourage Map connection and interaction between worshipershow space is conceived o the Void, 1960, Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Mist, 1818 as a way to unify and create a sense of belonging for the individual, how the church is working to grow and expand into the city itself.  Meeting Map 8 State Road Trip~ 5,800 Map 8 State Road Trip ~ 5,800 miles Boulder


Colorado Springs

Las Vegas

Los Angeles

Lake Forest

Santa Fe

Sedona Arcosanti Phoenix Scottsdale Tuscon


Oklahoma City


Fort Worth


El Paso



San Antonio


M.O'Connell O'Connell(2000). (2000).History HistoryofofParadise: Paradise:The TheGarden GardenofofEden EdenininMyth Myth M. hampaign,IL., University IL., UniversityofofIllinois IllinoisPress. Press. ampaign, . MonasticGardens. Gardens.New NewYork, York,Harry HarryN.N.Abrams. Abrams. Monastic W. History Mitchell and The W. Garden Turnbull (1995).  The Poetics of Gardens. 00). of Paradise: of EdenJr., in Myth

with local parishioners and church officials we were able to discuss the history of these institutions, their growth and role within the surrounding community. By visiting various churches throughout the southwest we were able to compare and contrast the differences and the similarities in order to draw conclusions into the methods and functions of the church. During the course of our field study we documented our findings through written text, photographs, and sketches. With the increasing development of the suburb and the resulting isolation of the individual that has become so prevalent in modern culture, the Megachurch has found an important role as means of connection, both spiritual and for the collective society. It is for this reason that we believe that the phenomenon of the Megachurch is an extremely relevant, part of the American culture. Yet to be thoroughly studied, the Megachurch is becoming a powerful entity in shaping both the landscape and contemporary American city.

inside-outside : public housing sites in manhattan Within the Baruch, Lilian Wald and Jabob Riis Public Housing Projects on the Lower East Side of Manhattan there is extensive residual space bounded by over 75,550 linear feet of metal fencing. This space, if utilized, could become an important amenity for both the public housing and surrounding neighborhood communities. Inside Outside proposes the re-imagination of the mega-block and the public housing that lies within it. The mega-block becomes the boundary both defining and unifying a community rather than a divisive space of segregation, as it is currently understood. In homage to Robert Moses, the existing ground plane of the Baruch Public Housing Project will be completely demolished and re-envisioned. In order to improve movement and interaction between residents and user groups throughout the site, and to encourage spontaneous and creative activity, elements within the landscape will be re-organized and rebuilt. Existing site materials such as asphalt, concrete and steel from

the fencing will be recycled and re-used for resurfacing the ground plane, creating porous paving surfaces in order to improve on-site storm water management. The steel will be reconsolidated and used as an edging material between differing surface materials and will also be used to create retaining walls. As a measure to bring further diversity into the site and as a means to stimulate the economic and social vitality of the community, the existing residential buildings will be retrofitted with a glass tower extension where additional market rate housing, ground floor retail, services and amenities will be located. The money generated from these

developments will help with the continued maintenance of the site and will provide desperately needed amenities such as daycare, youth and senior’s centers, and affordable fresh food markets to support the surrounding neighborhoods. Color, texture and landform are used as tools to redefine the site and to create a new and defining overall character. The extensive use of plant species will provide swaths of color throughout the landscape and dramatic seasonal changes while encouraging the establishment of important wildlife habitats within the dense metropolis of New York. Because of the extreme environmental conditions due to the

location of FDR Drive and the Williamsburg Bridge wrapping around two edges of the site, this area is an idea space for the testing of plant materials and their resistance to extreme urban conditions. The Baruch site and areas along the East River will become an urban living laboratory for the testing and observation of plant species and their resistance to the harsh urban environment.These various initiatives for the Baruch housing project coincide with citywide initiatives announced by Mayor Bloomberg in 206 to improve the urban environment, they help to bring new importance to a place within the city that has been neglected and forgotten for so long.

mending fences

transforming an element of control and manipulation into a source for creative programming and economic sustainability

defining space : path - texture - landform - vegetation - color

F l o w : Using corridors to create movement and habitat within the city of Mumbai Mumbai is an Island city measuring 603.4km2. It is located on the Western coast of India, on the Arabian Sea. It is the largest metropolis in India and the sixth most populous city in the world with an estimated fluctuating population of 19 million people living and working within the limits of Metropolitan Mumbai. The influx of migrants into the city and the lack of affordable housing available for them, have lead to the massive development of informal settlements throughout the island. An estimated sixty percent of the population of Mumbai is living in substandard conditions within informal settlements; lacking clean water, utilities and sanitation. The city is one of the worlds ten top centers for commerce and home to Bollywood, the worlds largest movie producers. Mumbai is a city of extremes, while some live in luxury condtions in towers overlooking the city, others live with nothing but the clothes on their back. The city has been rated 163rd out of 218 cities world-wide on the Forbes Quality of Life Survey. Two major highways and two railway lines run through the city cutting a swath of disconnect between people, neighborhoods and districts creating islands within the island city. East–west connections are undermined by the large rail corridors, and the Western and Easern Express Highways, which cut through the

city from North to South. The city is facing an unprecedented population growth within its limited boundaries. Up to 4 million people are thought to commute into the city everyday to work. Currently the city has a vehicle density of 678 cars per square kilometer. The lack of flow of traffic is a clear demonstration that the public transportation networks are far exceeding their carrying capacity. The increasing rise in population and density of the city has led to the increased blurring between public and private space. Already congested vehicular traffic is forced to compete with pedestrians, social gatherings, recreational activity, housing and economic exchange that now encroach the transportation infrastructure. Because of disparate poverty and the shortage of housing, people will make use of space where-ever there is unprotected open space. The longer they go unchallenged for using this claimed space, the further they will continue to encroach the space, building spaces of habitatation for themselves. This blurring of boundaries is creating conflict between already heavy traffic and is dramatically affecting productivity and quality of life within the city. Pedestrians must deal with the continuous noise of car horns, the fumes of diesel fuel mixed with karosene not to mention the dangers of walking amongst traffic. 55% of all Indian pedestrians will become victims of road accidents at some point in their lives.

Though streets in most cities act as connectors, many of the streets of Mumbai lead to disconnect between people, neighborhoods and districts creating islands within the island city. These transportation belts combined with the geometry of minor west connections are undermined by the large rail corridors, and the Western and Eastern Express Highways, which cut through the city from North to South. These transportation belts combined with the geometry of minor roads leave the city as a whole disjointed, inhibiting a continuous experience of the urban fabric. During this time of rapid growth and redevelopment, there is not only a need to preserve existing open space but also an opportunity to re-imagine the layout of the city in order to increase quality of life conditions for the citizens of Mumbai. Existing and potential open spaces can be maximized and a new open space system can be envisioned for the future in an effort to increase the movement and flow of people and goods within the city. By creating an organized system of corridors through the city, direct physical connections can be made between open spaces, public transportation networks, economic districts, and centers for the distribution of daily amenities such as water. These networks would provide physical connections between city districts and hneighborhoods increasing the efficiency, flow and experience of pedestrian movement and providing pedestrians with safe

and unencumbered passage through the city. Due to the nature of Mumbai, its spontaneous growth and development, these corridors would also create opportunity for habitation, and for social and economic activities to occur according to the needs of the citizens of Mumbai. The linearity of these spaces and their connection to adjacent open spaces could also play an important role in the movement and storage of excess water during monsoon seasons and in the distribution of needed amenities to the urban poor who make up over sixty percent of the population. Like fingers, spontaneous activity along these corridors could eventually branch out connecting economic districts throughout the city and creating a new unified identity for the city of Mumbai. This study, was an attempt to guide the organization and layout of future developments within the city, namely those on the M.H.A.D.A develpement lands, encouraging future conectivity througout the city and its neighborhoods.


Everyday Landscape Explorations

March 2006 - Miskolc, Hungary: Honourable mention

Avas Archaeological Park Design Competition Istv谩n Szab贸, Eszter Durbak, Suzanne Ernst

New York, New York

November 2009 updated Portfolio  

sample of works

November 2009 updated Portfolio  

sample of works