HOME Ground Up Journal | Issue 08
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Ground Up Issue 08
6 MAKING HOME IN THE UNFAMILIAR 12, 68, 88 EYES AS BIG AS PLATES 14 FINDING OUR ROOTS IN FOREIGN SOIL 18 RISE: A GUIDE TO BOUNDARY RESISTANCE 24 AMERICAN STRANGERS / STRANGER AMERICANS 28 INHABITING TERRITORY 34 LAVA LIFE 40 END CREDITS 42 BEYOND CARICATURE
GRACE MITCHELL TADA KAROLINE HJORTH & RIITTA IKONEN MEGAN JONES SHIOTANI ALEXANDRA MEI KEVIN BERNARD MOULTRIE DAYE & BRENDA ZHANG YASMINA EL CHAMI KARL KULLMANN JUSTINE LAI FANG LEE
50 WURSTER DISPATCH
BRENNA CASTRO CARLSON
52 DESIGN FOR DIGNITY
56 DOE LIBRARY
57 HOME | LAND
62 THE STRUCTURE OF FEAR 69 AGRIACT 72 SONIC TRANSMISSION ARCHIVE 73 SELECT IMAGE 74 ON FEMALE EXISTENCE IN THE HOME 82 TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS 85 HOME BIOME 90 SEE NO EVIL, FEEL NO EVIL 92 MAMAD
NATE KAUFFMAN JOEL AUSTIN CUNNINGHAM CAROLINE PARTAMIAN & ETHAN PRIMASON MISCHELLE MOY MAYURI PARANTHAHAN JEFF CHEUNG ROBERT UNGAR ISABELA DOS SANTOS BEN GITAI
96 MODEL SPACE
100 BOUNDARY MONUMENTS OF THE US-MEXICO BORDER
108 HEARTWOOD: THE POWER AND TIMELESSNESS OF HOME 112 99 PLACES 116 HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY 118 WILDERNESS DEFINED 122 A LITTLE HOUSE IN MESSOLONGHI 126 GHOST SPACES 130 LIFE AFTER DARK 135, 148, 152 SELECT IMAGES 136 A NEW VISION FOR THE BIRTHPLACE OF BERKELEY 145 AFTERWORD
DAVID MEYER PETER COMEAU CHIP SULLIVAN JULIA PRINCE SOFIA TEKTONIDOU ALEXA ABURTO & VINCENT AGOE AUSTIN BAMFORD ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN ARCHIVES CHRISTOPHER MCLEOD CORRINA GOULD
URBAN SPEECH TWO HOMES, A PORTRAIT LANDSCAPE I FIND MY HOME IN... THE PRIMARY DWELLING MOBIUS STRIP REDEFINING THE CENTRE OF SHENZHEN
MENAT ALLAH EL ATTAMA DANIEL DOMINGUEZ & GENE STROMAN SAM GEBB JOSHUA S. GEVERTZ XUAN SHEN
FOREWORD COVER IMAGE: Adjacency Diagram, Wurster Hall, 1958 Donald Olsen Collection, Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley | Selected by Chris Marino
This sketch locates Ground Up’s point of origin in the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning in Wurster Hall at UC Berkeley. The image itself is seductive—our home as an “H”-shaped stack of academic disciplines. Yet, the ways we use the building today are radically different from the simplistic order suggested in this diagram. Fundamentally—as with all drawings—it flattens time and space, simplifying a dynamic, lived experience. Home. The following projects and essays expand upon and complicate the word—from the house to the territory, from the gut to the cosmos, through time, across scales, transcending place and space. Home resists fixed definitions. It is mutable, plural, and layered. Home is not simply a point on a map. It represents people, stories, and gritty, deep history. Given current events, the theme of Home felt timely, both for this journal specifically and for the world more broadly. We anticipated receiving outwardly-focused commentary; instead, we were flooded with submissions offering deeply personal perspectives on global issues. These articles and images perform a balancing act by introducing a level of intimacy to the political—a quiet counterpoint to our anxious political reality. If home is the lens through which we imagine the world—as individuals, as nations, as a global community—then conceptions of home have agency in shaping new worlds. We are in a transitional moment for our collective home as natural disasters, droughts, wildfires, and sea level rise upend entire communities. At moments, the weight of this change presses urgently upon us. California’s devastating wildfires of recent years displaced thousands. This de-homing was temporary for many evacuees but devastatingly permanent for others. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away from the flames, the windows of Wurster Hall were shuttered against thick curtains of smoke—particulate matter composed of ephemera from other homes, a humbling reminder of the fragility of our own. Traditional definitions ignore this very fragility and still conceive of home as a house: static, private, and immutable. But like the cover image, simplistic interpretations, while seductive, fail to acknowledge a disparity of experience in a world constantly in flux. It’s time to audit our given definition, and reconceive of home to include evolving social, political, and climatic paradigms. It’s time for quiet observation. It’s time for radical design. Issue 08 is our start.
MAKING A HOME IN THE UNFAMILIAR Designing for asylum seekers
GRACE MITCHELL TADA
In 2015, at the height of the alleged refugee crisis, at a former NATO military base in a rural area in the northeastern region of the Netherlands, bus after bus pulled in, people spilling out of their doors. The former base, located in the village of Ter Apel, had passed into the hands of the Dutch Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and now housed individuals seeking asylum. Its employees were overwhelmed by the volume of people coming to their charge. They did not have enough existing shelter, so people resided in situations that varied from intentional apartments and temporary modular buildings to former airplane hangars. Of the people streaming off the buses, some stayed in Ter Apel. Others were assigned elsewhere, necessitating another bus ride. Several years later, as COA’s communications adviser Jacqueline Engbers described that moment, we stared down an unbending road lined by a row of brick apartment buildings, erected after the height of the “crisis.” I tried to imagine an influx of buses and the corresponding flow of people. Now, the road was empty, bleak; it was two days shy of the shortest day of the year and nearly dark at four in the afternoon. Across the road and behind a chain-link fence stretched rows of grey-green airplane hangars. “People used to live in those,” Engbers said. A small group of boys, around 10 to 12 years old, pedaled by us on bicycles. They cycled through the entry gate, a lighted Christmas tree shining through the window of the security room behind them. “That’s unusual, that age here,” Engbers commented. The apartments next to us were designated for people who hadn’t been granted asylum status; they would have to leave the country. Usually, families were assigned to another center in a different town that specifically accommodated school-age children with denied applications. For whatever reason, several families were now waiting here, in Ter Apel.
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The COA asylum seekersâ€™ center (left) is located approximately two miles from the village center of Ter Apel (right), separated by a large highway.
Waiting. It’s waiting that occupies the time of everyone living in the center, regardless of status. Upon arrival to Ter Apel, individuals are assigned one of four statuses: those who just arrived in the Netherlands, who often stay for one week; those who applied for asylum and are awaiting their appointment and asylum response verdict; those who must leave the country because of denied asylum status, labeled as “freedom restriction” individuals; and unaccompanied youth. No matter their status, everyone is privy to the same vastness of time that stretches inside every day as they await the response that dictates their next steps. It’s a special kind of hell, having left one home to find another in a new and unfamiliar land, unclear how long they will call this present makeshift one home—or if they even can. Of what does a home comprise? If a home is considered that which is permanent and stable, how can home be realized at Ter Apel, where temporariness is inherent to an asylum seeker’s stay? The designers of the COA Reception Center carefully considered how responses in the material environment could address these questions. What they delivered stands as a thoughtful congregation of homes—even when, for most of those who live there, more than a home, it’s a waiting ground, inhabited in transit. The endless, flattened landscape of the Netherlands is delineated, stereotypically, by long, straight canals edged by compact, boxy homes. Ter Apel is no different, but, unlike Amsterdam, where apartments rise several stories and are wedged horizontally across the land, Ter Apel is notably sparse. A single long canal, filled with muddy orange water, lines one side of the town, while a perpendicular canal stretches along another side. Homes radiate from the canals, their density thinning as they move from the town’s center, transitioning to the surrounding farmland. The air hangs with the scent of cows indoors for the winter. White sheep dot the landscape. Here in the province Groningen, most of the land is agricultural. Ter Apel does not embody the imagined landscape of a “refugee” influx. What may come to mind are tents lining urban canals, spontaneous settlements under overhead subway tracks, and unadorned apartments stacked at a city’s periphery. In Ter Apel, whose population does not exceed 9,000 people, there is none of that. Just beyond the town’s center, where
the canal passes below the highway, a sign that rises from the ground reads “Refugees.” An arrow points away from town, in the direction of the COA Reception Center. If it seems a curious location for the Dutch headquarters for asylum seekers, it is. The location came by convenience. The former NATO site was purchased by the Dutch government in the 1990s and was subsequently acquired by COA. It’s here where every application for asylum in the Netherlands is processed. While having long served as a reception center, its current incarnation was not opened until 2017—not quite fast enough for the 2015 European crest in migrants. Construction for the new center began in 2015, having been sparked by desires for a higher quality, more sustainable center. COA selected five contractors to present proposals. BAM Construction and Technology was selected based on quality and execution of their proposed design. They subsequently selected the architects and landscape architects responsible for executing their component parts: urbanists and architects De Zwarte Hond and landscape architects FELIXX. BAM committed to finishing the project in three years; they finished in half the time, by the spring of 2017. The apartments were ready to become homes. It seems nearly inconceivable to design social housing on the pillars of safety, livability, and manageability, but these were what guided COA’s redesign. Limited budgets are what typically guide projects of this kind. But the ringleaders at COA did not want the typical to befall their own center. To realize the concept, COA first had to address economics. COA acknowledged that their initial inclination toward sustainability necessitated a higher initial investment per asylum seeker than “conventional” means and materials. If the center was to meet its cost model, lower maintenance and operating costs would be required. Accordingly, they created a cost model that fully accounted for investment, operation, and maintenance costs—twenty-four years of them, as that was how long the center was projected to last.
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A sign near Ter Apelâ€™s train station directs asylum seekers to the COA center.
Having earmarked costs to preserve the longevity of the center, the design process proceeded to address safety and livability. Integral to COA’s vision is the recognition of each asylum seeker’s responsibility and autonomy. This includes providing a “high level of privacy” for each individual; varied, recognizable spaces; and outdoor areas emphasized as living environments and that are safe and easily maintained. The center is explicitly “not inferior to the quality of the facilities as is generally the practice in the Netherlands,” the same report requires, noting that “the quality of the environment influences the behavior of the user.” THE APARTMENTS Two-hundred and forty-two apartments, as well as sixteen accessible apartments, supply housing for a total of 2,000 individuals. Each apartment houses eight people, with the exception of the accessible ones, which house four. Most rooms are double occupancy, with some reserved for single
occupancy. “It’s a privilege,” Engbers says of the single rooms. But it’s also necessary in a context where people are often burdened by nightmares, which can disturb others sleeping in the same room. Apartments are outfitted with a single communal kitchen and bathroom. Solar panels deck the rooftops, timers stop hot water flow after seven minutes, motion-activated LED lights shut off automatically when rooms are not in use. Ceilings are lined with material to absorb sound. Privacy is essential and glass is implemented judiciously: many of the women, for instance, may not remove their headscarves if they are visible from the outside. Cleaning is a responsibility of the residents and, for many occupants (60 percent of whom are single men), it is an unfamiliar task, yet vital in order to maintain the lifespan of the buildings. Surfaces are smooth to enable easy cleaning and repainting and made from “demolition proof” material so they can weather use.
The apartments at the COA center are organized into neighborhoods, each with a central green and distinguishing features, such as patterned brickwork.
The center is comprised of eight neighborhoods that each harness outdoor space to create community. Individuals are assigned to neighborhoods according to their reception status and their physical proximity creates a certain unity. Public outdoor areas, architectural and otherwise, encourage this sense of community. They are also important because, in many residents’ cultures, the outdoor space is as important as the indoor. Multiple outdoor spaces facilitate interaction and prevent crowding in one place, which can cause children to become afraid. Covered galleries and stoops overhanging front doors, which face the central courtyards, allow people to sit outside in areas surrounding their own home. Parents typically watch their children playing in their neighborhood’s central play area from the laundry rooms, which are centrally located to maximize visibility. Per COA’s stipulations, the buildings’ aesthetic maintains a certain sobriety in conjunction with their high-quality appearance. The two-story apartment buildings and their interiors must be identical. Exteriors, however, must have distinctive details to enable easy recognition both by children and those who have graver issues on their minds than trying to remember which apartment building is their own. Variation includes tone choices, colors, brickwork, door design, and staggered facades. The brick facades, chosen because they can last for decades without maintenance, show subtle differences in the patterns on building exteriors. LANDSCAPE Echoing the architectural variation of each neighborhood, landscaping is unique to each neighborhood. Mounds and small hills in the central green of each neighborhood vary, as do the playgrounds that occupy each. Signs in the shape of Miffy characters, a ubiquitous Dutch children’s cartoon by author Dick Bruna, mark each area. Though variance exists, the landscape is more unifying than not, governed by the resounding requirements that stipulate simplicity for easy maintenance and safety. Design choices demonstrate the key understanding that inhabitants come from places far from the Netherlands. Many do not know how to swim, so there is no open water. Plants cannot include
thorns or poisonous fruits or leaves, as many asylum seekers are habituated to foraging their local flora. There are no dense groves of trees, which can restrict visibility, and no hidden corners. The entire center is lined by a fence, whose purpose is to protect asylum seekers from “undesirable persons” outside, rather than keep asylum seekers inside. Asylum seekers may come and go as they please, but must pass through security— again, for their own protection. The landscape also accounts for the evolution of the center. The fencing that separates the freedom restriction individuals (the only fencing on the premises, other than that which surrounds the entire center) is flexible according to the number of neighborhoods occupied by those individuals. Paths throughout the center are brick, rather than concrete or asphalt, so that they may be removed without disturbing the ground in case another building were to be constructed at that place. Every design choice at Ter Apel is governed by a requirement. It can seem perfunctory, manipulative, or simply cold, but each has the intention to make people feel at ease. They allow people to have privacy and feel comfortable and safe. Thanks to all the intention, the design is successful—often, people do not want to leave. Yet, I asked, must the sobriety and regulation of the site be so overbearing? Could there be a way to achieve the aims of the center while allowing for individuals to make some kind of a mark of their own? Doing so may even yield fruitful ends in the face of the interminable waiting. Results may be inconsequential, but the door would be open for something more.
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Eyes as Big as Plates Â© Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen ABOVE Tuija, Finland 2012 RIGHT Niels, Faroe Islands 2015
Ground Up Issue 08
FINDING OUR ROOTS IN FOREIGN SOIL MEGAN JONES SHIOTANI
Topaz, a bleak 600-acre parcel 146 miles from Salt Lake City in the heart of Utahâ€™s Great Salt Lake Desert, was one of ten sites used for the forced internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. For three years, one month, and twenty days, this arid salt flat became a dense prison cityâ€”at the time, one of the largest cities in Utah.
Topaz was abandoned upon its closure in 1945. Only microbial soil crusts, greasewood scrub, and minute lichen communities can survive in this desiccant soil. These microorganisms have wrapped themselves around a dense carpet of urban internment remnants, road and foundation infrastructure, construction waste, and discarded objects with origins from across the nation and around the globe. Internees created gardens, parks, and community spaces within the camp landscape using rocks from nearby foothills and sculpted sand around barracks walls. The traces of these attempts at making this wasteland feel like home remain perfectly preserved in the acerbic substrate. While this pivotal chapter in the history of American xenophobia is often dismissed in contemporary political discourse, the ground conditions at Topaz today still memorialize the legacy of Japanese-American internment. INTERNEE PERSONAL ITEMS: Ornamental plate INTERNEE PERSONAL ITEMS: Tree planting at Topaz High baseball field
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Topaz became home to more than 9,000 citizens who were incarcerated because of their ancestral heritage. Its occupants were a disparate and cosmopolitan community of Americans who were seized from their family farms and from their neighborhoods in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area and implanted into this barren desert basin.
INTERNEE PERSONAL ITEMS: Tree planting at Buddhist temple
WRA ISSUE REMNANTS: Barrack screen
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INTERNEE PERSONAL ITEMS: Barrack gardens
WRA ISSUE REMNANTS: Coal and lumber
RISE A guide to boundary resistance
Home to eight generations of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe since the mid1800s, Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana was settled by tribe members who sought refuge after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. A forested wetland, the land was high ground and covered in bald cypresses, palmettoes, roaming chickens, cows, and rabbits. Here, the tribe cultivated a rich culture of fishing, making, and gardening unique to their life on the island, which was completely isolated from mainland Louisiana. The tribe was dependent only on the natural resources surrounding them until the state built the road connecting to the mainland in 1953.1 Today, that road is surrounded by high water on either side, rising just a few inches above the Louisiana wetlands for roughly 2.5 miles. On the island itself, the former high ground has been filled with water pockets big enough to fish in. While the water seeps in so much that the edge of the island is unidentifiable, the single story houses rise higher and higher on wooden stilts and concrete platforms. Since the 1950s, the island has lost 98 percent of its land from a combination of sea level rise, severe storms, lack of sediment deposition, and land subsidence. The oil industry on Louisiana’s coast has exacerbated these problems by dredging over 9,000 miles of canals and digging about 50,000 oil wells. Additionally, the dams and levees built for the state’s coastal protection plans add to the island’s fragility, because until recently, Isle de Jean Charles had not been included in such plans. The combination of land loss and constant flooding of their single road to the mainland has forced many families of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw to leave the island for better access to food, schools, and businesses. Once a home for 300 residents at the peak of the tribe’s population, the island is now inhabited by fewer than 60 people.2
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The state of Louisiana predicts that Isle de Jean Charles will be inaccessible by 2050 and completely submerged by 2100. In response, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development granted the island community $48 million in 2016 to resettle their their home home farther farther inland. inland.3 The community has been called the first “climate refugees” in the US, a label describestheir theircurrent current situation nothing of that describes situation butbut sayssays nothing of their 4 their actual culture identity island. also does does not actual culture and and identity on on thethe island. ItItalso encompass the Native American community’s view that their resettlement is an act of agency over their island’s fate. In addition to determining their next home and future plans, the Map of the current state-owned water bottoms surrounding the Isle de Jean Charles, nearby oil wells, wells and anddredged dredgedcanals. canals.
community will still maintain ownership to the island after they Laska of of the theLowlander LowlanderCenter, Center,who whohas hasbeen beena leave. Shirley Laska a partner with community in process, this process, saidthe that the partner with thethe community in this said that tribe’s tribe’sgoals mainare goals are toa avoid a state of buyout of their and main to avoid state buyout their land andland to bring to bring tribe back together one5place. By defining the tribethe back together in one in place. By defining their their own own resettlement, togetherfarther fartherinland inland and resettlement, the the tribetribe cancan livelivetogether return to their island whenever they desire to visit. However, the tribe’s ownership is not indefinite. Once the will become become aa“state‘statewater completely submerges the island, itit will waterbottom.” bottom.’According Accordingto to federal Louisiana owned water federal and and Louisiana
The Guide for Boundary Resistance outlines how each characteristic can be distorted to effectively challenge the Army Corps’ OHWM and the property boundary it imposes. By explaining the nature of the water mark, who delineates it, and their process of marking it, the guide intends to give transparency to the act of boundary-making. Additionally, it provides a set of actions for shifting this boundary, imagining a cultural and generational undertaking of weekly and monthly actions that will ultimately transform the community’s island. The community’s acts would be seasonal, done on a monthly basis to coincide with the state surveys of the water mark that happen every couple of years. With this guide, the community could resist against the encroaching boundary that the Army With this the keep community couldtheir resist the Corps lays guide, down and their island ownagainst after their encroaching boundary that the Army Corps lays down and resettlement. keep their island their own after their resettlement. In addition to these small-scale interventions, the project In addition these small-scale interventions, the project zooms out totofind possible island forms if these actions played zooms out to findonpossible islandBased formson if these actions played out strategically the island. the spots known to out strategically on the ononthe known to have the best fishing, theisland. currentBased homes thespots island, and the have the best fishing, current homes on landforms the island, address and the island cemetery and the marina, these future island cemetery and marina, future These landforms address possible desired goals of the these community. forms don’t possible to desired goals of the community. forms don’t attempt save the entire island from risingThese sea levels, instead attempt to save the entire island from rising sea levels, instead
Scale models of water mark characteristics that the Army Corps of Engineers uses to delineate property boundaries.
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state law, the state owns “all land that is navigable and below high water in the winter winter season.” season.”6 State water bottoms are also open to re-lease to private entities. As this wetland area is prime for the oil industry, it is very possible that it will be turned over to the same oil and gas companies that originally fractured the island. This will happen when the Army Corps of Engineers determines that the boundary between land and water is high enough for the island to become a state-owned water bottom. In reality, this boundary moves constantly with the water as it ebbs and flows. Yet the Army Corps has compiled a set of physical characteristics to determine a line on the map labeled the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM), the division between private land and state-owned water bottoms. Due to the physical nature of this boundary, the water mark can be challenged and the tribe could still maintain ownership of their land. The boundary is defined by a series of physical characteristics, such as the “presence of litter and debris” or the “destruction of terrestrial vegetation.”7 This means that the boundary can be redesigned.
Example page from the guidebook, explaining how to combat “change in plant community” and “destruction of terrestrial vegetation,” physical characteristics used to establish the Army Corps’ property boundaries.
Example images of each water mark characteristic found on the island.
they use community knowledge and understanding of the land in order to maintain ownership and access to their waters.
The Guide to Boundary Resistance is not a project of preservation, but a project of autonomy. Sea level rise comes with little choice for the coastal communities on its front lines. These lands are saved only for their cost effectiveness for the state’s coastal protection plan, which receives $1 billion annually. For Isle de Jean Charles in particular, the Native American community’s land has been cut up by oil dredging, forgotten by the state’s coastal protection, and will be marked as state property when they leave. By looking closely at the arbitrary boundary line however, the community can resist and take part in their island’s future.
2 Isle de Jean Charles Website; Can't Stop the Water, dir. Rebecca Marshall Ferris and Jason Ferris, prod. Kathleen Ledet, October 13, 2013, https://www.cantstopthewater.com; Last Stand on the Island, dir. Evan Abramson and Carmen Elsa Lopez, 2013, https://www. laststandontheisland.com.
1 "The Island," Isle De Jean Charles Website, https://www.isledejeancharles.com. Site published by the Tribal Members.
3 "Isle De Jean Charles Resettlement Project," State of Louisiana Department of Community Development, https://www.isledejeancharles.la.gov/about-isle-de-jean-charles. 4 Coral Davenport and Campbell Robertson, "Resettling the First American 'Climate Refugees'," New York Times, May 2, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/us/ resettling-the-first-american-climate-refugees.html. 5 Shirley Laska, telephone interview by author, October 3, 2016.
7 "Ordinary High Water Mark Identification," letter from Don T. Riley, December 7, 2005, The guidebook also considers today’s Native American culture, in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Regulatory Guidance Letters, vol. 05, series 05, accessed 24,maintain https://www.usace.army.mil/missions/civil-works/regulatory-program-andcommunity they knowledge use community and knowledge they use ofand community the understanding landin in order knowledge toofmaintain the andland understanding inMarch order to of2017, the land in order to maintain suggestingtheyausecommunity that is understanding already active shaping permits/guidance-letters/. ownership and accessownership to their waters. and access toownership their waters. and access to their waters. Louisiana’s coastal landscape and culture. Through their Guide toalong Boundary The Resistance Guide to Boundary is not aboundary, project The Resistance Guide of preservation, tois Boundary not a project but Resistance aof project preservation, isofnot a project but a project of preservation, of but a project of persistentThe action the imposed their identity autonomy. Sea level autonomy. rise comes Sea withlevel littlerise choice autonomy. comes for with the Seacoastal little levelchoice rise communities comes for the with coastal onlittle communities choice for theoncoastal communities on as the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe is saved strengthened andeffectiveness its front lines. These lands its front are lines. savedThese only for lands its their front arecost lines. effectiveness only These forlands their forare cost thesaved state’s only for their for the cost state’s effectiveness for the state’s coastalre-established protection plan, coastal whichprotection receives $1plan, billion coastal which annually. receives protection For$1Isle billion plan, de Jean which annually. Charles receives ForinIsle $1 de billion Jeanannually. CharlesFor in Isle de Jean Charles in continuously as they shape their own land. particular, the Nativeparticular, Americanthe community’s Native American particular, land hascommunity’s been the Native cut upAmerican land by oilhas dredging, been community’s cut up byland oil dredging, has been cut up by oil dredging, Social structure is thus derived through landscape practices forgotten by the state’s forgotten coastal protection, by the state’s and coastal forgotten will beprotection, marked by theas state’s state and will coastal property be marked protection, whenas state andproperty will be marked when as state property when they leave. By looking they closely leave. atisthe By arbitrary looking closely boundary they at the line By arbitrary however, looking boundary closely the community atline thehowever, arbitrary the boundary community line however, the community and conversely, the landscape formed by leave. the social structure can resist and take part caninresist their island’s and takefuture. part can in their resist island’s and take future. part in their island’s future. and communal identities embedded within it.
The guidebook also The considers guidebook today’s alsoNative considers The American guidebook today’sculture, also Native considers suggesting American today’s aculture, Native suggesting Americana culture, suggesting a community that is already community active inthat shaping is already Louisiana’s community active in coastal shaping that landscape is already Louisiana’s active andcoastal culture. in shaping landscape Louisiana’s and culture. coastal landscape and culture.
This project suggests aThrough design practice founded on identity social Through their persistent actiontheir along persistent the imposed Through actionboundary, along their persistent thetheir imposed action boundary, as along the the theirimposed identityboundary, as the their identity as the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe is strengthened Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe and continuously is strengthened re-established is strengthened re-established and continuously re-established engagement and critical community knowledge. The actandtribe ofcontinuously as they shape their own as they land.shape Socialtheir structure own as land. they is thus Social shape derived structure theirthrough own island. thus landscape Social derived structure throughislandscape thus derived through landscape landscapepractices architecture here is neither ais practices stylistic nor economic and conversely, practices the and landscape conversely, formed the landscape by andthe conversely, social is formed structure thebylandscape the and social is structure formed byand the social structure and embedded communal within identities it. embedded communal within identities it.advocacy. embeddedIt within it. endeavor;communal rather,identities it is one of providing agency and assumes the expertise ofa design the local community, the ones who This project suggestsThis project practice suggests founded a This design on project practice socialsuggests engagement founded a design onand social practice critical engagement founded and on social criticalengagement and critical community community The ofknowledge. landscape The architecture act ofneeds landscape knowledge. here isand neither architecture The act a stylistic of landscape here is neither architecture a stylistichere is neither a stylistic call the island theirknowledge. home, andactputs forthcommunity their goals nor economic endeavor; nor economic rather, it endeavor; is one of norproviding rather, economic it agency is endeavor; one of andproviding advocacy. rather, agency it is It oneand of advocacy. providing agency It and advocacy. It through the design of the ground. In of sothe doing, it promotes assumes the expertise assumes of the the localexpertise community, assumes thelocal ones thecommunity, expertise who call the ofthe the island ones local their who community, call the island the ones theirwho call the island their and puts forthshaping home, their needs and puts andforth goals home, needs and theand puts design goals forthofthrough their the ground. needs the design and In goals of the through ground. the Indesign of the ground. In the act ofhome, forming and land astheir athrough social endeavor, one doing, it promotesso thedoing, act ofit forming promotes and the so shaping act doing, of land forming it promotes as a and social shaping theendeavor, act of land forming one as a social and shaping endeavor, land one as a social endeavor, one that couldso reunite a community and resist against arbitrary that could reunite a community that could reunite and resist a community against that could arbitrary and reunite resist jurisdictional aagainst community arbitrary boundaries andjurisdictional resist againstboundaries arbitrary jurisdictional boundaries drawnboundaries across lands called drawn home. across lands called drawn home. across lands called home. jurisdictional drawn across lands called home.
Possible island forms that could Possible be ultimately island forms achieved that could using Possible bethe ultimately guidebook, island forms achieved thatusing couldthe beguidebook, ultimately achieved using the guidebook,
Possible island forms that couldaccording be achieved using the guidebook, according according to the community’s desires. to the community’s according desires. to the community’s desires.to the community's desires.
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6 "Unofficial General Guidelines for State Claimed Navigable Waterways," PDF, Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State Land Office; Matthew K. Mersel and Robert W. Lichvar, A "Guide to Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) Delineation for Non-Perennial Streams in the Western Mountains, Valleys and Coast Region," PDF, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and ERDC, August 2014.
AMERICAN STRANGERS STRANGER AMERICANS KEVIN BERNARD MOULTRIE DAYE & BRENDA ZHANG
At a time in United States history where—once again—the question of borders and citizenship take center stage, Stranger Americans / American Strangers examines who we define as strangers, familiars, aliens, or citizens. Designers of the built environment are uniquely positioned to ask these questions since we participate in both the social and physical construction of place. Domesticity, then, is the framework from which we question estrangement—whether through a sociopolitical, cultural, ecological, or ontological lens—and posit how we can familiarize that which has been made into the Other. Stranger Americans / American Strangers suggests that the way we conceptualize non-human beings is a process of our estrangement from the non-human. This re-manifests in how we treat our human strangers. Ultimately, through visualizing space for coexistence without hierarchies, this line of inquiry presents radical spacemaking as a familiarizing mechanism. With Stranger Americans / American Strangers, we position domesticity as the root of a spatial practice that defines the way we think of ourselves, our nation, and the civilization we claim as our own. This project identifies the White House—1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, in Washington DC, USA—as the symbolic and literal expression of American ideas of domesticity. The use and structure of the house reflect and reinforce attitudes about what a family should look like, live like, include, and exclude. Social norms are embedded in the separation of the West Wing, the president’s domain and the power center of the White House, from the East Wing, traditionally housing the office of the First Lady. The Residency Villa, the family unit of
the house, is located between the two, positioning domestic work as a literal division in the American Home. First Lady Hillary Clinton remains the singular exception, insisting on an office in the West Wing. It is also no accident that the White House takes the form of a Neoclassical plantation mansion, a popular typology among white Southern landowners of the day. This is an implicit acceptance of slave-owning as the ultimate manifestation of the American Dream. Initially designed by an Irish slave-owning immigrant and built through enslaved and undocumented labor between 1792 and 1800, the White House continues to represent, through successive physical alterations, a history of sociopolitical change. The thirty-two solar-thermal panels installed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, removed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, and replaced by President Barack Obama’s photovoltaic cells in 2010, reflect changing attitudes towards sustainable energy. Similarly, First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2009 vegetable garden reflects growing national concerns of health and nutrition. In the following drawings, we imagine future iterations of home in the White House, in which basic assumptions about human domesticity and superiority are upended by the ascension and inclusion of the Other. Starting from the current day, we move thirty-six US presidential terms into the future as the boundaries that separate the White House from everyone (and everything) else disappear. In the end, we are left with a Capitol so inclusive that what was familiar is now strange—and what was estranged is familiar again.
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SIX TERMS FROM TODAY, the White House is no longer home to only the president’s family. In 2040, with both a Congressional majority and technological advances in security, the President opens the Executive Grounds, replacing vehicular driveways with covered pedestrian walkways to encourage public engagement. The overuse of Neoclassical motifs is a design concession to an aesthetically conservative public.
The President repurposes luxury apartments from former presidential real estate endeavors into transitional housing— for formerly incarcerated people, unhoused people, and people seeking asylum—and permanent Section 8 housing for the DC metropolitan area. Looming large behind and above the North facade of the White House, the two towers unmistakably declare the presence of another (an Other) American.
SIXTEEN TERMS FROM TODAY, the White House is no longer home to only humans. In 2080, the President commissions a series of modifications to the White House complex to include animal and plant habitat. Species of Greatest Conservation Need (as defined by the DC Wildlife Action Plan) in the DC metropolitan area are fast-tracked for housing development. The chimney swift (Chaetura pelagica), as one example, was first protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which decreed that neither birds nor their nests could be removed from chimneys without a federally-issued
permit. They now raise their young in a series of purpose-built chimneys atop the White House complex roofs. A new wildlife corridor runs from the former Lafayette Park, directly underneath the White House, through the former National Mall and into the Potomac River. Meanwhile, the White House continues day-to-day operation, elevated by concrete and steel above gradually regenerating critical habitatsâ€”from Northeastern floodplain forest to coastal plain swamp down to intertidal shore.
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THIRTY-SIX TERMS FROM TODAY, the White House is no longer home to only biological life. In 2160, the President opens the Executive Grounds to refuse, waste, debris, stuff, gadgets, junk, clutter, trash, and doodads through the ObjectOriented Ontology Act, which accords rights to objects in addition to subjects. In a crowded planet, the nationâ€™s capital expresses accountability by functioning as landfill, storage facility, archive, and lost-and-found. Scheduled structural retrofitting serves as an opportunity to lift the original roof of the Executive Residence and East Wing, adding another floor
for objects to be stored, archived, and found. The modernist glass facade adds literal transparency to the national symbol. The East and West Wings exist in a new state of dynamism, not because something has been done, but because nothing has. The form of the White House shifts additively and subtractively in lieu of maintenance by humans, which artificially freezes physical environments in a curated state. Instead, left on their own, the stuff of the world finds in the White House a place to call home.
AS NATURE AS CONFLICT AS CAPITAL YASMINA EL CHAMI
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Home as nature as conflict as capital
YASMINA EL CHAMI TOP: The "model" village of Douma, overlooking the sea BOTTOM: Rachaya in the valley LEFT: Violence in Bhamdoun
This series of photographs traces the changing notion of "home" within the Lebanese context, through time and space. The history of inhabitation of the territories today called Lebanon is a history of the slow encroachment of the built on the natural, of the conquest of capital over topography, no longer in harmonious symbiosis. The evolution of the urban runs parallel to the socio-political history of the territory and transpires through the rise and fall of the mountain, once a home, then a traumatic absence, today a resort.
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OPPOSITE: Terrace houses in Deir el Qamar LEFT: Civil war remnant in Aley RIGHT: Modernism and real estate in Beirut
TOP: The mountain is the city BOTTOM: Swiss resorts in El Arz RIGHT: Ridges of power in Tarchich
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LAVA LIFE Homesteading in Kilauea’s active rift zone
Like a basalt iceberg, the Big Island of Hawai‘i conceals most of its unfathomable bulk beneath the Pacific Ocean. As measured from seafloor to summit, one million years of accumulating lava assembled the largest mountain on Earth. Not overnight, but still the blink of the Earth’s eye in geological time. With a blink of our own eyes, we can easily overlook the tick of geological time through the present. Rock climbers understand this through the phrase “Geological Time Includes Now,” which basically serves as a reminder to look out for falling rocks. If we link the falling rocks that climbers see with the erosive and seismic processes that geologists surmise, we gain some measure on geological time. Like the compounding eruptions that built Hawai‘i, we comprehend it as an incremental progression of many observable events that add up over a very long timeframe. But for our inner clocks, this remains abstract. It is more revelatory to fathom the story of Hawai‘i in terms of biological events. In the time that the Hawaiian hot spot has been manufacturing volcanic islands in profound isolation, just 15 species of bird found this lost archipelago and made it their home. And those founding specimens didn’t arrive featherby-feather or bone-by-bone, like innumerable stones falling into an eroding canyon. They landed as whole birds, with really big gaps in between arrivals. On average, one gravid female (or even less likely, a breeding pair) made landfall from across the vast and empty ocean about every one million years.
We might imagine that one evening in the mid Pleistocene, a disheveled finch is ushered in on a typhoon to nest. Then, for an entire geological age, the horizon offers up no other avian castaways. As both the island and the colonizing bird’s descendants evolve into new shapes and species, the horizon remains silent, dispensing only occasional seeds, insects, and 365 million sunrises. One morning in the late Holocene, the birds bear witness as a weathered twin-hulled voyaging canoe slips into frame on a rare westerly wind. To this new ground, the Polynesian landing party conveys a precious cargo of sweet potato and taro tubers. Half a million sunrises later—with the island now five feet taller—a pair of His Majesty’s Ships drop anchor in a sacred cove. Soon, mongooses, coffee trees, and fire ants make landfall. As the course of biological and geological events converge towards the present day, life forms and lava flows continue to create the island in real time. The flow map of the island is steeped in streaks, as viscous lava slowly pushes new routes down the mountain, thickening the ground as it goes. Human settlement patterns have traditionally yielded to these veins, revealing a lava-nomadism that underpins the ancient story of inhabitation on the Big Island: packing down and retreating when the flow changes course, and then gradually re-inhabiting the new ground once it cools and hardens.
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Indeed, so integral is lava to everyday life that its geomorphology is expressed in ancient Hawaiian language. Pāhoehoe is a solid lava sheet with a billowy glassy surface that often twists into ropy forms. ‘A ‘ā lava is a jumble of broken basaltic blocks that create a rough rubbly surface. A kīpuka is a remnant oasis of green cradled between converging lava streams. In Hawaiian, kīpuka also generally means island, so these oases are essentially little islands within a big island.
Kalapana Gardens was the first subdivision to be hewn from the southern flanks of Kīlauea. Taking its lead from the nearby village of Kalapana, the subdivision was named after a priest of Pele, the volcano deity. All told, 740 lots were platted from a 160 acre ‘ili (a traditional local division of land) named Makanihalulu. By the early 1980s, mainland transplants and some local Hawaiians had crafted about 120 homes in this idyllic seaside setting. And then in 1983, the largest and longest eruption of the rift zone in half a millennium began. While lava initially streaked downhill to the ocean, a shift in direction trapped flows behind a horst (fault ridge) running parallel to the coast. With the outflow blocked, lava pooled laterally, burying houses, gardens, and streets under fifty feet of solid rock, eliminating the back sand beach, and pushing the coastline out by 1,000 feet. By late 1990, after just three decades on the ground, Kalapana Gardens was wiped off the map. Virtually wiped, that is. Although every familiar landmark that once grounded collective memory was gone, one key vestige of the settlement endured: the original subdivision parcels remained un-molten and legally intact. Even though the survey pegs lay buried somewhere beneath 50 feet of basalt, land ownership automatically projected vertically to the newly thickened surface.
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From the 1960s, humans came to the Big Island in increasing numbers in search of cheap land. Runaway speculation spurred the release of 80,000 lots in a little over a decade, which at the time equated to about one lot per island inhabitant. Taking full advantage of sight-unseen paper-investors, the land rush clustered on and around Mount Kīlauea’s volcanically active East Rift Zone.
Here, the stubborn intransience of modern land title is revealed in sharp contrast to traditional Hawaiian approaches to inhabiting a fluid landscape. Geometrically rigid parcels did not feature in the topographically derived system of traditional land division, where large wedge-shaped territories called Ahupua‘a ran from the coast to the highlands. Ahupua‘a provided access to a diversity of resources and provided room to relocate in the advent of lava flows. When the coast shifted, the territory did too (unlike today, where the State, rather than the local land owner, annexes any new ground created in the ocean). But real estate is far less flexible, and so, barely a decade after the lava stopped flowing, Kalapana Gardens was put right back on the map. But because the original plan was drawn onto now buried ground, the resurrected subdivision pays no heed to the lay of the new terrain. The result is a radically crumpled projection of parcels and rights of way onto a wildly amorphous lavascape. Here, where a straight street once ran, a rough track now squirms within the confines of a road easement, soon dissolving at the foot of an impassible lava shelf. There, where backyard games once reverberated within a fenced suburban lot, the deeply lobed terrain now renders mere traversal a workout. Into this barest of frameworks, homesteading has recently begun with simple shacks that touch the ground lightly. With one eye on Pele, an eclectic mix of shipping containers, old buses, tiny homes, flat-pack pole huts, and prefabricated greenhouses serve as human landing pods. As the pāhoehoe continues to crack and settle, each pod is like a life raft: self-sufficient because there are no utilities; self-made because it would be so easy to overcapitalize in an uninsurable risk zone; and self-discovered, because it takes a particular type of lava-pioneer to willingly inhabit this basalt desert. It is one thing to subsist in a lifeboat on a black sea of stone. But how do you make a home on solid rock? How do you put down roots in a place with no soil? By terraforming. By stepping down from the landing pod and incrementally adapting the terroir. By contemplating the lay of the new land and looking for niches. Here, bolstering a small kīpuka with a stone fence to windward, so that hardy vegetables such as sweet potatoes might germinate. There, scraping channels in the rock to funnel precious rainwater
to an ingenious gravity-fed cistern. And everywhere, forging paths between neighboring shacks that follow topographic desire lines, not rigid road easements from another time. In the process of reciprocal human-landscape adaptation, we inadvertently become attached to our setting. When we step down from our floating houses and commune with the ground, we begin to cultivate meaning in our milieu. We adorn it, we rake it, we fashion found materials into elaborate symbols that convey our emergent sense of place in it. When we start to nurture gardens on the pāhoehoe—and transform from astronauts to stewards—that is when we know we are truly grounded. The residents of Kalapana Gardens Mark II may set out with the best intentions to stay light, but the pull of ground’s gravity is compelling. So persuasive, in fact, that it outweighs the gnawing recognition that with lava actively disgorging into the ocean just two miles down the coast, Pele will one day revisit her priest, Kalapana. Perhaps next millennium, perhaps next week; the inner workings of the Earth’s mantle remain so enigmatic to science that they might as well be divine providence. This gives pause for thought.
In May 2018, the nearby community of Leilani Estates met a similar fate to Kalapana, and many residents lost their homes to the wrath of Pele. It is reasonable to question whether the subdivision of an active volcanic rift zone represents a failure of land use planning at the hands of short-term greed. Indeed, if sensible land suitability analysis were applied to this corner of Hawai‘i, no one would live there at all, despite the fact that Hawaiians did so for more than a thousand years.
All perils considered, Hawai‘i’s slow moving brand of nonexploding lava eruptions is actually one of the more considerate acts of God. Unlike tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, and wild fires, pending eruptions generally come with sufficient warning, so that while loss of property is inevitable (the US military once tried bombing a lava flow to redirect it, without success), loss of life is rare. The lava is so accommodating in fact, that under the ocean eruptions are silently laying the foundations for a new Hawai‘i. In time, the Pacific Plate will shunt the Big Island off the underlying magma hot spot. As volcanic activity ceases, the ocean will industriously begin reclaiming the mountain, as is already well underway with the northern-most islands and atolls in the Hawaiian Chain. It won’t happen overnight, but in a few million years, the Big Island will slip beneath the waves. By then, a brand new mountain will have emerged down the chain for lava pioneers of all shapes and sizes to find and settle.
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But if sensible land planning were applied universally, many of the most seductive settlements on Earth would not exist. Venice, Santorini, New Orleans, and Hong Kong are all severely compromised locales. Even San Francisco’s radical pact between grids, hills, and fault lines defies sense. While humans settle imperfect places for a range of reasons, ultimately they do so because they have resolved that the rewards outweigh the risks. They are gambling on the tick of Geological Time not Including Now, or the foreseeable future.
END CREDITS (Guilty by Reason of Race)
The work is a silent experimental animation, painted and scratched directly onto found 16 mm film. The original footage comes from Guilty By Reason of Race, a 1972 black-and-white NBC documentary about the forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Much of my artistic practice engages with the material remainders of this history and considers what is absent on site and in the historical record. This work loops the end credits, which consist of a single shot of a landscape understood to be the site of Granada War Relocation Center in Granada, Colorado, but virtually anonymous when cut from the original. Save for some sunlight through trees, the scene is empty. The buildings at these camps were not intended to be permanent, let alone historical. The film was purchased off eBay in a years-long search for relevant auctions. It is in brittle, middling condition for its age, and its faded color obscures the original image. By obliterating the credits and drawing, coloring, and etching new words and images, I carve out a response to explore intergenerational trauma, confusion, and anger. To sustain these strong emotions while working frame-by-frame is a test of endurance, even if the visible result is jittery and (paradoxically, comically) brief. I aim for an intimately scaled expression that will evoke and deepen the conversations that current generations have with this history.
Visit groundupjournal.org to watch End Credits.
BEYOND CARICATURE Heartlands of Singapore FANG LEE
“The capital of Singapore is Kuala Lumpur,” “Singapore is part of China”—these are some of the misguided statements I have heard regarding Singapore. While they are a sign of ignorance, they reflect a larger lack of understanding of the city-state and how it fits within the larger geopolitics of Asia. People tend to give names and generalize things they do not know enough about. It is no wonder that Singapore has been called “Disneyland with the Death Penalty”—as in William Gibson’s article of the same title that described the city as a clean dystopia after a brief visit in 1993,1 as well as in Rem Koolhaas’s Potemkin Metropolis, which talks about a doomed city “perpetually morphed to the next state” and assembled buildings resisting the formation of a “recognizable ensemble.”2 Singapore subverts expectations of what an Asian city should be. Through the Western gaze, the city has neither the chaos of Bangkok nor the squalidness of Hong Kong. With tinted lenses, people such as Gibson and Koolhaas go on to label the country a doomed Asian dystopia that does not fit into the Western narrative of Asia—too clean, too boring, and too devoid of life they lament. The recent exposition on Singapore by Charles Jencks was more fair, but even he could not escape from the temptation to call out crisis at what he states is the Generic Individualism of the city.3 On closer inspection, one realizes the allusions to the city have always centered around the financial and colonial ethnic districts, convinced that must be what the whole of Singapore is—“look at Chinatown!” However, beyond that, there exists another Singapore: blocks of public housing, affectionately referred to as Heartlands and known as Housing Development Board (HDB), compose themselves within
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Singapore’s landscape. Under the western gaze, the ordinary HDBs have been ironically sensationalized as soulless objects of modernity to make headlines. This is despite their status as one of Singapore’s most enduring architectural forms—given that over 82 percent of the population have been housed in public housing since the 1960s.4 In dismissing them as soulless objects, authors reduce the HDBs to caricatures of their physical forms, overlook their importance as architecture that is lived and experienced. HDBs exist beyond these caricatures—they are housing blocks that are imagined and inhabited at varying scales, from the humble family to that of a nation. Their familiarity within Singapore’s landscape, as well their concrete manifestation of Singapore’s growth since the beginning of independence to present day, is deeply ingrained in public imagination.5 This can be seen in the various arts and literary evocations of the HDB estates. Some romanticize the quietness amidst the buzz, as in Colin Cheong’s poem Void Decks:
people to stop giving birth after two children.8 In the posters, the “nuclear family unit”—a portrayal of the official ideal family—is made up of a man and woman with two children. As part of the campaign, measures such as lower priority for larger families on the waitlist for Housing and Development Board flats were included to discourage families from having more than two children. While the “Stop at Two” campaign is no longer relevant today because of falling birth rates, the HDBs continue to be an effective tool for the government to deal with the demographic issues of Singapore. Consequently, the possession and habitation of a HDB is closely intertwined with the family structures of Singaporeans. Some have even gone as far as to comment that “marriage is the gatekeeper to fertility,” in response to the conservative notions of family in population policies in Singapore.9 The purchase of a flat usually signifies the start of married life as many couples who are planning to get married apply for a flat together under the “Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.” Under the scheme, the Government of Singapore disburses a grant on
Across the blocks the neighbors watch each other’s light flick on to check routines by another’s timing when all agree that it is morning6 Others use it as a metaphor to lament Singapore’s rapid progress. It has been argued that those literary and cultural works by Singaporeans themselves intentionally censor the central city area, as it reflects a different side of globaloriented Singapore that does not evoke any sense of the local and historic.7 Taking inspiration from how the literary capture the spirit of HDBs, this essay examines the ways in which this housing is negotiated, occupied, and perceived on four different scales by the residents and the authorities. It looks at the scale of the family, the communal, the urban, and the national to challenge the stereotypes of HDBs and reveal qualities beyond physical forms—qualities which make them unique pieces of Singaporean architecture. FAMILY “Stop at Two” was a family planning campaign launched in the late 1960s to curb the post-war baby boom by encouraging Singapore family planning and population board poster, 1983
Aside from the “Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme,” there are also grants such as the “Proximity Housing Grant,” which encourages a married child to live near their parents—thereby forming close networks of support, such as allowing the parents to take care of their grandchildren or allowing the married child to take care of elderly parents. The conservative stance of the country on family stems from the society and ruling party’s deep belief in Confucianism. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister, wrote that: “Confucian societies believe that the individual exists in the context of the family, extended family, friends, and wider society, and that the government cannot and should not take over the role of the family.”11 While housing policies stemming from Confucian values have been criticized as typical of a “nanny” state, the legislation enables and aids in the provision of housing and formation of support networks through many stages of Singaporeans’ lives. Housing comes in the form of standardized flats varying in different categories-designed to accommodate different family types and structures. Each housing type comes with its own set of eligibility and rules to allow the best fit to its inhabitants. There are “3 room,” “4 room,” “5 room,” and “3Gen” variations, each having different floor areas and characteristics. For example, the largest of the variant, the “3Gen,” an abbreviation of "three generations," is designed to house multi-generation families in an approximately 115-square-meter space, and can only be sold to other multi-generation families.12 In a 3Gen flat, two master bedrooms with attached bathrooms encourage a sense of autonomy between the different generations of the family. However, the segregation of housing types promotes a narrow view of family and risks over-compartmentalizing and marginalizing certain groups, such as the LGBT community and singles under 35 who need a flat. This sterile division thus results in the general perception of public housing as cookiecutter and confined.
Despite that perception, the reality is that the interior of the housing units varies greatly in the ways in which people inhabit them, having dramatic differences on the inside despite the flats looking the same from the outside. In 2016, two Singapore permanent residents from Japan, Eitaro Ogawa and Tamae Iwasaki, documented the interiors of 50 HDB homes and published them in a book. To them, “the book is not about presenting nice home interiors, it is about how culture happens in our homes through the way we live.”13 Within the flats, simple gestures, such as the placement of religious altars or personal collections of objects, reveal much about the personalities of the inhabitants and the way they choose to interpret their flat. Residents often knock down walls to create open kitchens or partition the living room to form study spaces, interpreting the floor plan according to their needs and preferences. It can even be argued that the contrast given by the fixed orthogonal framework of a flat further reinforces the idiosyncrasies of its inhabitants. The notion of family operates on many levels in the HDB flats, from the level of policy-making to the ingenuity of the residents, who modify the flat to meet their needs. These acts go beyond the physical flat, which is mainly generic and functional. Instead, the flat functions as a neutral canvas, which builds upon the generic to enable the formation of close familial ties and expression of self. COMMUNAL Beyond the confines of the familial home, heterogeneity also permeates into the communal corridors of HDB blocks. Designed mostly for functional reasons of providing circulation, light, and views, the corridors of HDB estates are furnished to the most minimal standards with fluorescent tubes and pipes. Within these corridors that run along single-loaded slab blocks, the boundary between the personal and the collective is blurred though the residents’ acts of inhabiting the space. Firstly, through the porosity of thresholds—doors left open behind each unit’s grilled gates and windows are opened towards the corridor space. Secondly, through the unique placement of objects in the public space, left on display for anyone passing through. Lastly, through innovative uses of the space, which range from the most conventional—an extended storage space or a dry yard—to innovative, like breaking fast on Hari Raya, a traditional Malay festival. However, due to the proximity of
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the condition that applicants submit a copy of the marriage certificate within three months of purchasing a flat.10 The scheme also indirectly encourages early marriage as someone who is unmarried or divorced is only eligible to apply for flats under the “Joint Single Scheme” when they are aged above 35. Even then, the flat can only be purchased under the names of a single man and woman.
the space to the housing units, activities on this space easily become disturbances to the neighbors: “It is also partly the consequence of neighbor relationship—that is relationship that avoids intimacy, while simultaneously calling for a high level of mutual responsibility, especially in times of emergency. The result is a pattern of social relations that is extensive in the number of neighbors known, but only superficially.”14 Conversely, when the barriers to intimacy are overcome in some estates, the communal space becomes an extension of the community living along the corridor and neighbors help to maintain the space through mutual understanding. It is common to see senior neighbors seated on the corridors to chat, neighbors sharing excess plants and herbs planted along the corridors, or children of different families playing along those corridors. However, the narrow space of the corridor is sometimes not sufficient for fulfilling certain uses when a larger space is required. In those instances, the residents would use the void deck. The void deck is the most integral public and communal space within a HDB block. A shaded open space on the ground level, it is comprised of a series of columns or pilotis which allows for cross ventilation, like the single-load corridor. Positioned at the prime spot where lift lobbies and letter boxes are, the void deck acts as a transitory space that one must pass at the start and end of each day. The vast expanse of empty space also encourages its use for informal and formal gatherings, such as this short-lived waiting group described here: “On one occasion, two women were observed seated at the table with their preschool children running about them, while they waited for their husbands or older children to come home. A third woman with two children walked by, then went on to the shops in the next block, leaving her children with the other two women. Soon she returned with a loaf of bread and chatted for the next ten minutes. A school bus arrived. A schoolgirl paused by the group of women-one of them her mother.”15 It is also used as a space for day-long informal gatherings: old men would sit around playing chess, housewives would gossip, and kids would use it as a space to cycle around or play badminton. Lastly, the void deck, with its programmatic flexibility, is used formally as a ritual space for what would traditionally been held in a house, acting as an extension of the flat once again. We see this in its use for Malay weddings and Chinese funerals, with
the generic nature of the void deck fulfilling its role as a tabula rasa space for its residents to be adapted into a sacred and religious one. However, recent attempts to over-regulate the space, through prohibiting activities that cause disturbances such as soccer and skateboarding, risk undermining the open quality of the void deck. As observed, the open nature of the void deck and corridor allows for the residents to interpret the space and use them as extensions of their own home. In doing so, these communal spaces gain programmatic meaning and specificity, thereby transforming them beyond their built form. URBAN There seems to be a lack of discussion of the HDB blocks on the urban scale for various reasons. For some, the blocks are such a normal and typical sight that how it appears on the urban scale seems inconsequential. It can also perhaps be attributed to their discontinuity and disjunction against the more glamorous and iconic skylines of their siblings in the central district. Yet the transformation of each of the housing estates across the years, from mature ones such as Bishan to new towns like Punggol, seems to be most reflective of the change in Singapore’s landscape over the years. In the previous discussion of the familial and communal, the residents are treated as individual users of the HDB, however, when we zoom to the scale of the urban, the user takes the form of the residents’ committee, the representatives of housing estates, who interpret and inhabit the building on the urban scale. The way the typical block is interpreted takes place on different urban scales. Firstly, on a more micro level, the façade of the building functions as a grid that frames the lives of the residents in the block, displaying the void deck and corridor space to the passer-by, who gets a glimpse of the residents’ lives. Secondly, on a larger scale, the façade acts as a canvas for selected paint schemes which are voted for by the residents and refreshed every five years. While some paint schemes do not catch the eye, others go on to become representative of the estate— such as in the case of Rochor Centre. The blocks are painted in bright, eye-catching colors and have gained local enthusiasm since the announcement of its impending demolition to make way for an expressway. A local photographer known only as Nguan, who photographed the estate said, “I am envious of
its former residents, who got as close as you can to knowing what it’s like to live inside a rainbow.”16
Through functioning as a frame for viewing residents’ lives, as well as a canvas for paint schemes that expresses the identity of each estate, each HDB distinguishes itself from the other blocks. Together with massing variations that are mostly functional and not in terms of formal play—which is difficult in the context of affordable housing and fetishized by the western gaze—the blocks define themselves not as a generic landscape of sameness. Instead, they are dissimilar parts which form a coherent whole: a whole that is integral to Singapore’s urban landscape. NATIONAL Beyond physicality, HDBs exist as a construct deeply entrenched in the national narrative and identity of Singaporeans. In the late 1960s, 70 percent of the population identified HDBs as prideful symbols of national development.15 The organization responsible for building them, the Housing Development Board, was first started in 1960, briefly before the Federation of Malaya’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1963, and the separation of Singapore from the Federation in 1965. The short time frame between independence and the building of the first HDBs results in the close link between HDBs, nation-building, and national identity. One can observe the pride in urban renewal and nation-building in news reels from the 1960s, which detail the success of the first HDBs. In one of them, the narrator, Berita Singapura, declared: “Singapore must be one of the few countries in the world where the statutory board (HDB) satisfactorily Corridors and void decks as extensions of the familial home. Images courtesy of Nguan—nguan.tv
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Lastly, through the subtle variations of massing, each block is given an identity while remaining coherent to the larger whole. On closer inspection of larger housing estates, one can discern on the skyline the individual blocks but also subtle variations in the choice of roofing, color scheme and the variation in density from lowto high-rise. Together, the blocks create an urban ensemble and are simultaneously distinct and unified within the larger coherence of the city.
completed everything it set out to do in its first five-year plan. Yet this is what the Housing Development Board has succeeded in doing, and the evidence of their success stands eloquently in all parts of Singapore for all to see.”17 The notion of national identity was of special significance, as early Singapore was a melting pot of largely migrant population of various ethnic groups, that did not mix nor identify with the nation. It can be argued that the modernist approach to HDBs when it first began, where focus was on the provision of basic amenities, allowed for the creation of national identity not based on race and ethnicity, but on nationality. The generic was used strategically as means to unite the diverse population. This strategy is reflected in their built forms—the first HDBs were unadorned and composed of unrelieved plain-colored rectangles. This stands in contrast to the colonial approach detailed in the 1822 Jackson Town Plan, whereby populations lived in racially segregated districts and within their specific vernacular forms. The modern built forms of the HDBs resisted the formal arrangement of the Chinese shop house, the stilt typology of the Malay house, the vast expanse of the colonial bungalow; instead, pragmatically opting for an architecture that tended towards the universal and founded upon the ideals of modernism. In doing so, it allowed the creation of a specific national narrative and identity that transcends racial and ethnic lines.
Singapore’s first one dollar note
EPILOGUE In Darren Shiau’s novel Heartland, the old blocks of Ghim Moh were described as such: “Wing […] felt a warm glow whenever he saw the majesty of the four point blocks piercing the orange dusk sky and the lower blocks, old but graceful, rising proudly from the soil.”17 However, Singapore’s public housing is neither the romantic estate described in Shiau’s novel, nor the manifestations of Gibson’s Disneyland with Death Penalty or Koolhaas’ Potemkin Metropolis—the reality of HDBs transcends such gross caricatures. Instead, like the Malay Wedding and Chinese Funeral that occupy the same void deck space, the HDBs are much closer to heterotopias. Within the generic and neutral framework of their built architecture, thriving spaces are inhabited and interpreted in distinct, and sometimes unexpected ways, by their residents. This is enabled by social legislation, as well as the residents’ efforts at inhabitation. We see this on the familial scale, where the policies enable defined types of familial relations, as well as in the varied HDB interiors. On the communal scale, we see this in the wide-ranging ways that the void deck is adapted as an open space. On the urban scale, we observe the heterotopic qualities based on subtle variations in surface treatment and massing. The success of the generic form can be witnessed in the construction of a specific national narrative and identity. However, in recent years, there seems to be a deviation from its early ideals as an open structure, both physically and metaphorically. One such example is the Pinnacle at Duxton, a development near the central business district constructed after an international architecture competition. Built with gated roof terraces accessible only to the residents or those who pay and a gallery for VIP state visitors, the formally articulate and privatized architecture risks undermining the generic and open qualities of HDBs. With the proliferation of more individualized HDBs, I argue that there is a need to safeguard their generic and open qualities, which allow for the expression of sociological structures and individual idiosyncrasies, and transform these concrete structures into a humane modernism that forms an integral part of Singapore’s landscape.
Rochor Center was a housing estate that featured a rainbow-colored paint scheme. Image courtesy of Nguan—nguan.tv. ENDNOTES 1 Gibson, William. “Disneyland with the Death Penalty.” Wired. September 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2016. https://www.wired.com/1993/04/gibson-2/. 2 Koolhaas, Rem. “Portrait of a Potemkin Metropolis.” Edited by Malcolm Miles, Tim Hall, and Iain Borden. In City Cultures Reader, 22-25. Abingdon: Routledge, 2000. 3 4 June, 2016 By Charles Jencks. “Notopia: The Singapore Paradox and the Style of Generic Individualism.” Architectural Review. Accessed June 04, 2016. https://www. architectural-review.com/essays/campaigns/notopia/notopia-the-singapore-paradox-andthe-style-of-generic-individualism/10006923.article. 4 “Key Statistics.” Accessed December 1, 2016. http://www20.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10320p. nsf/ar2014/pdf/HDB_Key Statistics_13_14_d9_HiRes.pdf. 5 Yeo, Wei-Wei. “Of Trees and the Heartland.” Edited by Ryan Bishop, John Philips, and Wei-Wei Yeo. In Beyond Description: Singapore Space Historicity, 17-30. Abingdon: Routledge, 2004. 6 Cheong, Colin. “Void Decks.” In Void Decks and Other Empty Places, 1. Singapore: EPB Publishers, 1991. 7 Yeo, Wei-Wei. “Of Trees and the Heartland.” 8 Tong Hai, Ngiam. “It’s Dearer after Two.” The Straits Times, October 25, 1972. Accessed April 16, 2017. http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article/ straitstimes19721025-1.2.2. 9 Jones, Gavin W. “Population Policy in a Prosperous City-State: Dilemmas for Singapore.” Population and Development Review 38, no. 2 (2012): 311-36. doi:10.1111/j.17284457.2012.00494.x. 10 “Eligibility Schemes.” Accessed December 1, 2016. http://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/ residential/buying-a-flat/resale/eligibility-schemes.
11 Lee, Kuan Yew. From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, 1965-2000. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. 12 “Types of Flats.” Accessed December 1, 2016. http://www.hdb.gov.sg/cs/infoweb/ residential/buying-a-flat/new/types-of-flats&rendermode=preview. 13 Lijie, Huang. “A Peek into 100 HDB Homes.” The Straits Times. July 26, 2016. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/arts/a-peek-into-100-hdbhomes. 14 Chua, Benghuat. Political Legitimacy and Housing: Stakeholding in Singapore. London: Routledge, 1997. 15 Ibid. 16 Chia, Rachel, and Dominic Teo. “Long-time Residents Bid Goodbye to Rochor Centre: ‘Each Neighbour Is worth a Million Bucks’.” The Straits Times. May 19, 2016. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/long-time-residents-bidgoodbye-to-rochor-centre-each-neighbour-is-worth-a-million-bucks. 17 MacDougall, John A. Birth of a Nation: National Identification in Singapore. Vol. 16.6. Asian Survey. 1976. 18 Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore. “1965 HDB Flats (Berita Singapura).” YouTube. June 04, 2009. Accessed March 4, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VosvrTlw7c. 19 Shiau, Darren. Heartland. Singapore: SNP Editions, 1999.
Ground Up Issue 08
THE WURSTER DISPATCH
EDITED BY BRENNA CASTRO CARLSON The concept of empowerment, as applied to the landscape, is inextricably tied to community, to territory, to the reciprocal act of caring for the landscape, and to the stories we tell about place. This year’s LAEP Lecture Series (put on by the UC Berkeley Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning—the home of Ground Up—and coordinated by Professor Richard Hindle) brought professionals and academics to Wurster Hall to speak on the many manifestations of empowerment in the landscape. We spoke with the presenters about connections between the embodiment of empowerment in work and the home across scales. Edited selections from these conversations follow. IMAGES, LEFT TO RIGHT: Dorothee Imbert, nursery visit in Bruns, Northern Germany; Nadia Amoroso, draft 3D print datascape of Toronto density, produced with Devon Kleinjan; DesignJones LLC, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Walk; Anita Berrizbeitia and Judith Rodriguez, water cycle section, Cascade Garden, Roberto Burle Marx.
On visualizing a site far from home
On how we can create spaces that respond to the multitude of perspectives and experiences of the people that inhabit them
“We also did spatial mockups that were off site, we built models that were big enough that you could put your eyes in them, and we built digital models combined with montage so that you could see the qualities that you were after. To me, it’s an interesting concept—you’re trying to understand the relationship of void to mass to test out your design. You’re finding ways to project your mind into imagined space.” NADIA AMOROSO On mapping urban invisibles and our idea of place “For each city, especially San Francisco, a plethora of data is available. If you search for Open Data San Francisco (or Open Data Toronto, for example, especially the bigger cities), there is a repository of information that you can access and download, pertaining to property data, demographics, etc. Geographically-based data, such as population density, crime, or property values, should be available on the Web. Open Data platforms are usually a good source, as they tend to be curated by municipalities. Over the years, Open Data platforms have become quite rich and with more shapefiles, spreadsheet formats, and point data formats available. Taking this data and transforming it to create datascapes can be quite powerful. Before, there was a lengthy process to search and access city data. But now, you can get quality information in one platform. The numerical statistics are there, but now, you as a designer, have the power to visualize your story and showcase your position or argument in an influential way.”
“Design is communicative and its result is communicative. You have to do your best to understand who you are designing for. Of course, that is a very difficult question in a place like Central Park, which has millions of visitors every year. But if you think of a place that is much more localized, then you can really ask some important questions. Who are you designing for? What do they want? What do they need? What are their memories, what are their dreams, what are their wishes? You are the translator—you must transcode that information into your design process. And you have to commit to that. You will encounter things that are difficult to translate, but you must figure out how to translate and transcode them. It is difficult work, but it is exciting.” DIANE JONES ALLEN On how our work has long-term impacts on the homes of many people “Participation and design is a temporary process, taking place in environments in which we often don’t permanently reside. We therefore feel compelled to find stewards for the formmaking DesignJones LLC leaves behind. Those who will take ownership and protect these environments are essential for resiliency and sustainability. Creating stewards requires having community members take ownership, not just after our departure or the completion of the project, but during the creative process. This requires willingness and eagerness - on our part - to have a transactive process, not just checking the community engagement box, but allowing the community to guide and partner in the process from beginning to end. We have found the following strategies effective: • • • • • • •
Developing a plan for engagement and stewardship Building community coalitions based on shared preservation valuest Strengthening the coalitions based on environmentally sound development values Advancing these principles by undertaking transactive community engagement Settling upon a negotiated community-centered plan and development strategy Leveraging the community’s assets Developing a transparent implementation process”
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“Worse than having to travel, the site didn’t even exist. It was a complete scalar imagination. Because we were interested in creating spaces through vegetation, we had to find ways to imagine how the spaces would fit into their context. One of the most difficult things to master in the landscape is an understanding of scale. There was no way we could do an onsite mockup to find the right sized room, canopy, or spacing of trees. So we used a lot of visits to nurseries, and to one in particular in Germany that had a fantastic tree inventory with these very long rows of dachform trees in different sizes. You would position yourself, or in my case, I had my husband stand there and would say, ‘Oh no that’s not the right size.’ We would just try again until we found the right one.
DESIGN FOR DIGNITY COURTNEY FERRIS
Cities around the country are grappling with record rates of homelessness. Along with this rising epidemic, there has been a renewed interest and drive within the design community to better understand the role designers can and should play in addressing this issue. Although design alone can’t solve homelessness and solutions are not one-size-fits-all, many innovative approaches have emerged in recent years. These range from advocacy and education, such as the American Institute of Architects Seattle’s Committee on Homelessness, to new architectural strategies, such as deploying tiny homes around the country, and to academic exercises, such as the Southern California Institute of Architecture’s recent public charrette that generated ideas for addressing homelessness in Los Angeles. In San Francisco, SITELAB urban design studio is taking a supportive and collaborative approach. In 2015, they teamed up with Lava Mae, a local non-profit providing services such as mobile showers to unhoused neighbors. Coining the phrase Radical Hospitality, Lava Mae’s work is driven by a belief that everyone, regardless of their living situation, deserves to be treated with compassion, kindness, and dignity. SITELAB helped design and implement Lava Mae’s Pop-Up Care Village, a one-stop shop that brings together the organization’s signature mobile shower service with various local providers that offer other critical services such as haircuts, food, clothes, and resources. SITELAB also helped develop the DIY Mobile Hygiene Tool Kit, which outlines the organization’s process and helps people connect to a likeminded network of community service providers, volunteers, and partners.
Early conceptual rendering of the Pop-Up Care Village by SITELAB
HOW DID THE COLLABORATION BETWEEN LAVA MAE & SITELAB BEGIN? Eri & Alyssa: A few years ago, our office attended a San Francisco Urban Film Festival screening at SPUR (the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association), which featured a short documentary on Lava Mae. We were inspired by Doniece Sandoval, the founder of Lava Mae, and her mission to deliver radical hospitality and restore dignity for those who are experiencing homelessness, “one shower at a time.” At that time, Lava Mae had launched mobile showers in converted old MUNI buses throughout different parts of the city. We were both operating in the public realm from different angles and could see future potential in collaboration. Laura Crescimano, founder of SITELAB, approached Doniece at the end of the session and asked how we could help as the designers of public space. Since then, it's been a great partnership and evolution to form the concept of the Pop-Up Care Village together. Lava Mae had begun exploring the idea of hosting a periodic day-long care village and gathering other vendors, service providers, and volunteers from the public to help those who are in need. In addition to restorative and advancement services, there were going to be added elements of radical hospitality by amplifying the sense of community through music, art, and design. We
The programming of the space—meant to be movable and flexible—was inspired by food truck pods, which organize a series of vendors in a central location.
began by helping Lava Mae envision what the Pop-Up Care Village could be and visualizing it in a simple rendering to help garner support for the project. HOW ARE THE POP-UP CARE VILLAGES DESIGNED? HOW DOES THE DESIGN BUILD A PUBLIC IDENTITY FOR THE SERVICE? Eri: The space in highly programmed. Guests and visitors enter in the intake room, where volunteers get a sense for their needs on that given day. Around that are the services: showers, toilets, salon, etc. In between is the community space, or living room, where people hang out, have a conversation, and wait for services. We went in wanting to make sure that every space had a little touch of design. Lava Mae's philosophy is that they want to serve three tiers of services within the Pop-Up Care Village —from restorative to advancement to community. You have your restorative services, which is your access to food, access to your shower or clothes—the daily needs; advancement services, which are more like access to get a license or ID card; and community services, which are meant to make people feel that they belong. We looked for ways to use design to strengthen these goals. Alyssa: It's important to understand that the pop-up isn't just about hygiene, it's also about building up dignity, community, and connections with people. Much of it came down to focusing the energy of the design on gathering places—not just for the homeless population, but for everyone—the people coming and going, the volunteers.
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Courtney Ferris is a designer in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduate of UC Berkeley’s Master of Urban Design. She sat down with Eri Suzuki and Alyssa Garcia, designers with SITELAB urban studio. The following is their edited conversation about designing the Pop-Up Care Village with Lava Mae.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR DESIGNING THE POP-UP CARE VILLAGE IN THE PUBLIC REALM? Eri: Something that is important is that it's part of the public, everyday experience. It was programmed to be fluid and maintain access to the sidewalk and a nearby library. It's not closed to anybody, everybody's part of it—whether you take part in it or not is up to you. But the idea is that it’s not going to segregate the event from the public. Alyssa: It couldn't be anything permanent. It's in the public realm, so we couldn't paint, but there are ways to use cheap materials—things like paper lanterns, big banners, and chevron painters tape on the ground. These things start to make the place feel identifiable and like there's some special care. It's not just a service to be a service. It's more than that. HOW DID THE CARE VILLAGE BECOME SUCH A POPULAR RESOURCE? Alyssa: After the first Pop-up Care Village, Lava Mae came back to us and said their emails were blowing up everyday with people wanting to start versions of this and asking how to do this. Eri: A different range of people were contacting Lava Mae —some with just very initial interest, maybe thinking about volunteering to those who are ready to lead a process. Alyssa: So Lava Mae and SITELAB came together and we created the DIY Mobile Hygiene Kit. The guides helps people understand the ways they can participate in this work and outlines the steps and tips Lava Mae learned in their process. Creating this was a really awesome process because it was also, I think, the first time that Lava Mae put their own process down on paper. It was exciting to be there with them during the creation of this narrative and the continuation of their story. It doesn't say, “if you read this you'll be able to make a Pop-Up Village,” but it acts as a decision tree to help you understand how you want to help and what tools you need.
Excerpts from the Lava Mae DIY Mobile Hygiene Tool Kit. SITELAB helped facilitate the development of the tool kit and its graphic identity.
HOW CAN URBAN DESIGNERS PARTICIPATE IN PROJECTS LIKE THIS? Eri: We're in a very unique situation as urban designers—we understand the players in public space and we understand the complexity of what is being built. We thought this was a great project to be part of because it aligned the realm of Lava Mae operations with the realm we usually operate and design within at SITELAB, which is public space and public design. I think that's why this worked really well for us. Alyssa: Urban design doesn't necessarily just tackle the permanent, but also the temporary and the recurring. That’s huge. In a way, it’s a good form of guerrilla urbanism. It's the writing and rewriting of the public realm and understanding that it doesn't always have to be a 50-year-long project. It can be the small pieces, the things that happen in just a day that can really adjust the understanding and the overall feeling of the space. Eri: One thing that we want to stress is that we wouldn't have been able to do this without Lava Mae. They're the ones who shepherded this. Other designers out there looking for these kinds of opportunities should really look for those organizations and missions you align with. There are millions of different possibilities to be part of. You don't have to be the one who's solving the entirety of homelessness or another issue—you can contribute and share your expertise, however small, with organizations and experts who share your vision. For more information on Lava Mae, visit lavamae.org.
Outside of the Pop-Up Care Village. Image courtesy of LavaMae. ABOVE: Image courtesy of SITELAB.
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"In this photograph, traveling light is stripped from time, collected, and merged into a singular static image not representative of any one clear objective moment, but rather the essence of a space." Doe Library, UC Berkeley ALEX GONZALEZ
HOME | LAND Olmsted’s legacy and combating gentrification in Boston
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In the late 1800s Frederick Law Olmsted had a democratic vision for his Emerald Necklace park system in Boston, Massachusetts. The Emerald Necklace was meant to be a respite from the harsh environmental conditions of city life, accessible and beneficial to all, regardless of social class. Over a century later, landscape architect James Corner described landscape as a “catalytic framework,” claiming that “landscape is not necessarily to the benefit of all in society… its apparent innocence and idealism can often mask hidden agendas and conceal social inequalities and ongoing ecological destruction.”
The missing link
Corner’s magnum opus, New York City’s High Line, proved catalytic in ways beyond prediction, swept up in volatile urban forces contributing to displacement. With the High Line attracting more visitors annually than New York City’s top museums, it is no wonder that cities are constructing or proposing similar green infrastructure projects. Proximity to new greenspace projects, even well-intentioned ones, generally increases surrounding property values. This relationship between the development of green infrastructure and displacement has been labeled “green gentrification” or “environmental gentrification.” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh promised to fulfill Olmsted’s vision as part of his Imagine Boston 2030 plan by investing in the missing link of the Emerald Necklace: Columbia Road. Located in Dorchester, one of Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods, this 2.3 mile road connects Franklin Park to Boston Harbor.
In the spring of 2017, the Boston Society of Architects held a series of lectures addressing the opportunities and risks of the Columbia Road project. At the open forum, local residents expressed concerns about the relevance of Olmsted’s vision to today’s urban fabric and their fear of falling victim to the next top-down High Line project, displacing them from their residences. One of the lamentable outcomes of human history is the conversion of “land” to “property” and shifting benefits from the public to private enterprise, resulting in extreme economic inequity and social injustice. Community land trusts are a successful model for combating gentrification because they can assist in establishing permanent affordable housing. A community land trust stabilizes fluctuating land values by converting “property” back into “land.” Land is owned collectively by the community land trust board, composed
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Catalogue of modules
mostly of residents and community members, who act as stewards for the land. Only the homes, not the land, can be purchased and re-sold for a small profit.
for large-scale, long-term outcomes, then visualizing the smallscale, short-term tactics that could be used to implement the larger vision over time.
This is a proposal for a return to the treatment of landscape as an equally accessible public common, a resource that can be held and profited from for the public good.
The Community Land Trust Mosaic establishes Columbia Road as a new community land trust and a car-free public common. Parking is redistributed to the peripheries and vehicular transportation is de-prioritized. An extensive revamp of the public transportation system diverts traffic from Columbia Road, replacing the asphalt surface with a streetcar running through a lush park. Shuttle buses connect remote parking areas to transit hubs. A network of bike-share stations stitches together gaps in the urban fabric. If implemented alongside supporting policy changes, this plan offers a model for gaining access to the assets of the Public Common: safe shelter, abundant food, clean air, and clean water. The community land trust is a unique type of urban environment where public-
The Community Land Trust Mosaic is a comprehensive large-scale approach to the revitalization of Columbia Road addressing housing, transportation, land use zoning, and policy issues. This plan seeks to identify and link the assets and resources within the Columbia Road community, amplify and strengthen the organizations working toward an improved urban condition, and spur bottom-up development through innovative community engagement tactics. The design process followed a tactical urbanism model, first composing strategies
private relationships are reconfigured. Rather than reinforcing the traditional separation between public and private and the behaviors such relationships deem acceptable, The Community Land Trust Mosaic reconfigures the public-private dichotomy and the design vocabulary changes in concert. A community engagement experiment was conducted to aid tactical visioning for Columbia Road. “home•land: the Board Game” was designed as an educational tool to help the public better understand the forces that shape the urban fabric while playing out different possible scenarios for the development of Columbia Road. In this four-player game, each player can choose to be either the Developer, the Designer, the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), or the YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard). The players pick up policy cards which impact whether they can add or subtract their tiles from the board. As the players compete to occupy the most spaces on the board and be the first to get from Franklin Park to Boston Harbor, they learn about the competing interests that shape the urban fabric and the conflicts between equitable urban development and a capitalist agenda. The tiles used in the board game design provided inspiration for the final design proposal of a test site along Columbia Road. This pilot study tested how the strategic vision might manifest itself at the tactical scale. The process began with a catalogue of modules (housing, transportation, and land use components) that would make visible and accessible the resources of the land
as a public common: safe shelter, abundant food, clean air, and clean water. A base model of existing site conditions was built and each pre-determined module (15’x15’, 10’x’10’, or 5’x5’) was assigned a unique glass or ceramic tile of proportionate size. For example, a large green tile represented an urban forest module, while a small blue tile represented a drinking fountain module. This allowed for testing various spatial and programmatic relationships among the modules and worked as a generative tool in the design process, resulting in “The Community Land Trust Mosaic” proposal. The Community Land Trust Mosaic suggests decommodifying land and its resources through a modular landscape system. The plan features the conversion of an existing mechanic shop into an autonomous vehicle servicing center and transit hub for the streetcar, buses, rideshare vehicles, and bike shares. The trolley platform opens onto a plaza which connects to the existing Haitian Multi-Service Center across the street. A permeable emergency access road runs parallel to the streetcar, and a protected bike path follows one side while a pedestrian path lines the other alongside patches of urban forest, bio-filtration gardens, and pollinator habitat. New affordable housing is proposed to be built atop an existing one-story commercial block and micro-homes are implemented to diversify housing options and increase density. An urban agriculture program is instituted within the interstitial spaces as a means to generate jobs and foster place attachment. Collectively, the modules work to reconfigure urban systems and manifest the values of
the land as a public common: safe, quality housing as a human right, access to healthy and sustainably-sourced food, and clean air and water that cost neither money nor health.
home-land: The Board Game ENDNOTES 1 Corner, James. Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999. 2 Goodman, J. David. “Mayor Visits the High Line and Becomes One in Seven Million, Finally.” The New York Times (New York, NY), Sep. 26, 2017; “The Big 5: Most-Visited Museums in NYC.” NYC: The Official Guide, Sep. 23, 2015. https://www.nycgo.com/ articles/the-big-5-most-visited-museums-in-nyc. 3 Gould, Kenneth A., and Tammy L. Lewis. Green Gentrification: Urban Sustainability and the Struggle for Environmental Justice. New York: Routledge, 2017. 4 Loh, Penn. 2015. “How One Boston Neighborhood Stopped Gentrification in Its Tracks.” YES! Magazine, January 28, 2015. http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/cities-are-now/howone-boston-neighborhood-stopped-gentrification-in-its-tracks. 5 “Land and Property.” In The Community Land Trust Handbook. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1982. 6 Lydon, Mike, and Anthony Garcia. Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action for Long-Term Change. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2015.
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Landscape architects, urban planners, urban designers, architects, engineers, community activists, policy makers, and many more play important roles in shaping the urban fabric and each has a social responsibility. It is important that designers in today’s rapidly changing cities recognize their active role in how such cities change. This project reveals two powerful ways in which design can be used to combat, rather than catalyze, gentrification: as a tool for opening a dialogue around radical alternative futures through visualization and as a method for facilitating public engagement by making the design process— not just the design product—accessible to the general public. As the urban fabric unravels through disinvestment and harmful urban renewal practices, we must stitch the gaps together in thoughtful, radical new patterns to reveal a richer and more cohesive tapestry.
"O wicked wall through whom I see no bliss! Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!" William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream
"Tear down the wall!" Pink Floyd
"Build the wall!" Innumerable Americans
“The Wall was an edifice of fear. On November 9th , it became a place of joy.” Former German President Horst Köhler
THE STRUCTURE OF FEAR NATE KAUFFMAN
Before the United States of America’s waking neofascist nightmare had coalesced into full lucidity, a millennial might have overheard these words and instinctively pined for the next episode (or final season) of HBO’s blockbuster franchise, Game of Thrones. Boomers might have been more inclined to recall Pink Floyd’s transcendent 1979 double album. Humankind’s most recent wall of intense focus has far eclipsed these cultural constellations in the contemporary consciousness: a real, live artifact of humanity’s baser instincts manifested, fetishized, chanted and prayed over, demanded, promised, hyperbolized, litigated, lied about, and repeatedly reimagined. The United States’ southern border wall may well soon be physically rising, but has already crystallized conceptually in the psyche of all Americans, and surely many beyond its borders. MOMENT AND METAPHOR As of this writing, the southern border wall is playing the role of proverbial monkey wrench in the gears of our national machinery. The sticking point at the heart of the longest government shutdown in history, its importance is constantly invoked in holding back recently mobilized migrations of fearful, persecuted, and simply aspirational people. This seems a posthumous power play for a presidency in peril, since a historic midterm election in 2018 verified the impotency of a voting minority’s xenophobia to drive legislative policy (and voters to the polls). Wrought somehow from the disdain for those of lesser means seeking the opportunity to discover and fulfill eudaemonia in the US, the Attorney General’s Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have been separating children from their parents, holding untold numbers of human beings in caged detention camps, “misplacing” people, and all the while traumatizing entire families. As of this writing, two children are dead so far.
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“ THE WALL ”
Seemingly, the border wall’s message reverberates most sympathetically with those suffering through the desperate, longing lament of a psychological burden founded on grief and grievance: a threat, surely, to what W.E.B. Du Bois knew as the “psychic wages of whiteness.” What the border wall’s rabid supporters are saying is, “We are still better than them. This is still the place in which others long to be. And they can’t be here since they aren’t us. Because this is our home, not theirs.” This particular wall, in other words, is political retribution, ethnic vindication, cultural restoration, and partisan celebration all in one: a heady distillation of an honor culture’s siren song.
As the country lurches through a publicly admitted-to fabrication of a national emergency for the president’s ego preservation and demands, an interesting and apropos milestone is upon us: the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. While its destruction is generally understood as a vindicating moment for liberal democracy in the 20th century, the repression that ratcheted up its moral implications was a generation in the making.
The sloganeering theory behind “build the wall” seeks to obfuscate, if not outright deny, America’s multicultural future (and foundational national origin) while lionizing the demographic dominion of a bygone era and instrumentally patronizing the grievances left in its wake. And to those who fear what its construction symbolizes, the border wall embodies the danger of building barriers because of the isolation and cultural depreciation that ensues, even if it immediately engenders a sense of protection.
As today's political leaders and nation-states ponder the changing landscape of technology, economy, and culture that has risen since the Berlin Wall fell, they would be wise to carefully contemplate the role of a wall in a national struggle for unity and identity, and the ceaseless struggle of people to improve their lot in life. Walls as monolithic stand-ins for nuanced policy are interestingly paradoxical in this respect— while fear often drives the rationale for their construction, it is their very establishment that may amplify rather than ameliorate the effect of fear on a populace. MULTIMEDIA MANIFESTATIONS Fear is precisely what Pink Floyd’s dark twisted fantasy, The Wall, is all about. The third-highest certified album ever sold in the US, The Wall is a lush, interwoven and self-conscious masterpiece. It stands as a feat of composition, album-making, and performance material. But at the heart of the album and its meditation on what a wall is and does is an examination of deep self-loathing. Desperation is its ethos, mythos, and pathos at once, or else they find themselves as one in desperation itself, and embodied in the wall as object, system, and symbol.
Pink Floyd’s groundbreaking album was no less spectacular in person, as a wall was constructed between the band and audience over the course of the concert.
The Wall is assembled around, by, and in the mind of Pink, the protagonist of the tragic incarceration and eventual liberation. Pink constructs the wall to insulate and protect himself from situations that he fears, only to discover that his isolation is the true burden, as he is locked in with the horrors of his psyche reflected back at him by the wall itself, amplifying his pain grotesquely and obscuring escape. Pink Floyd would famously have a stage crew build an enormous wall during the course of their concert, isolating them from their audience. The Berlin Wall was no small reference point of this bravura rock opera, which sought to situate this chosen human experience’s
foundational, pseudo-Jungian symbol as a constellation governing existential crises, behavior, and art itself—all of which could be catalyzed by and through the notion of a wall. This trope is ancient: Gilgamesh finds the very walls of Uruk that he erects to be an oppressive reminder of fatality and ruin.
Evidently, the basic formula is indelible. While concerned not with a wall but another misguided mega-infrastructure, consider The Simpsons’ (possibly finest) episode, “Marge vs. the Monorail," circa 1993. Lyle Lanley, a charismatic huckster, whips the town of Springfield into a froth by catalyzing the townsfolk’s hitherto nonexistent sense of inadequacy and expectations into a rabid conviction that they need and deserve a monorail. Fomented into a singing and dancing mob ratifying the rationale for its construction, they eventually find the monorail to be worse than a waste: it is a death trap and complete scam. Moreover, the townsfolk, deftly manipulated by Lanley, choose to build it at the opportunity cost of repairing Springfield’s Main Street, which prominently features a chasm into which vehicles fall and vanish. Thus not only do they waste resources to erect a dysfunctional and extravagant symbol of their own insecurities, but the practical gains of investing in their community and its existing infrastructure are mutually excluded. (Incidentally, a Google Image search for “Lyle Lanley” will yield “Donald Trump” as the third-suggested category that may interest the Googler.)
Lyle Lanley sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and by gum, it put them on the map.
As suggested by the title of the episode, Marge Simpson serves as foil to the misguided whims of the town. The stalwart opponent of the monorail and de facto voice of reason, Marge’s concerns are ultimately vindicated, though she is of course robbed of any credit or recognition for her principles and foresight. Marge in this instance is perhaps an interesting avatar for today’s heartland American middle class: she is a conservative person but also compassionate and, at the end of the day, exceedingly practical. None around her are decent enough to recognize or appreciate the nuanced interplay and harmony of these qualities, since they are not easily distilled into a catchy motto. The media-consuming world of today has somehow found a way to helplessly gravitate towards a series of books dealing with almost ludicrously relevant concepts apropos of our geopolitical angst. George R. R. Martin’s epic series, A Song of Ice and Fire, whose 1996 book title and spinoff HBO phenomenon Game of Thrones hinges on the danger posed to the civilized world by an undead enemy (and a foreign, more primitive civilization) kept at bay by—war drums—a massive wall. As a backdrop and the principal physical plot-structure element, Martin’s Wall is a leviathan. As a 700-foot-high, ice-and-stone megalith straddling an entire continent, it is also interesting to consider in the context of today’s anxieties. Game of Thrones’ overarching concern is with the functionality, the fate, and (spoiler) the fall of a massive border wall. Its core drama, however, centers on the difficulty of recognizing that one’s proximal neighbor (whatever their alignments or affiliations) is actually far less different than those unknown, unseen, or far-away. But the disambiguation of the moral dilemma goes deeper: exploring that what makes someone a
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By way of viewing today’s unrest through a critical prisme d’Americana, consider satirical allegories as modes of interpreting the folly of isolationism and the inadequacy of fixing structural cultural—or existential—problems through physical solutions. Twenty years before Pink Floyd’s rumination, the Western CBS television show Trackdown featured a snake oil salesman conning simple townsfolk into buying and building a wall to protect their village from an impending meteor strike, which is of course a farce. Preposterously, the grifter’s name is Walter Trump, who is ultimately foiled. Whether merely a bizarre coincidence or perfectly Wildean instance of life imitating art, somehow the elements of our contemporary situational tension regarding the southern border wall feels merely like the most recent echo of an archetypal pattern playing out.
Walter Trump and his magic wand can protect you and yours...for a price, of course.
familiar neighbor can actually obscure the differences in values, principles, and core interests that are of deep consequence. In that sense, your neighbor could well be your enemy, while a foreign alien may be your soulmate. This is the essential moral of the story, though cynically imbued: in actuality, there is more to fear from the evil within the walls than without, not least because fear itself poses structural, not episodic or situational, dangers to the overall enterprise of a civilization's survival. Perhaps most damning of these threats, of course, are the venal and corrupt politicians who use Martin’s Wall (through its invocation or ignorance) to further their objectives and triangulate their position in the eponymous game of thrones. Common to all mankind, the greatest enemy in Martin’s reckoning is often invoked in the ultimate malediction, “The Others take you!” The most irreducible adversaries are, quite literally, “the Others.” After almost a decade of free-flowing blood, guts, and endless treachery, traitors, and treason, surviving characters learn that otherness is a relative concept. MODE Fear and loathing of the “other” is ancient: a vestigial psychoevolutionary hardwiring that keeps family close and the unfamiliar at bay. Yet organisms are also driven genetically to seek and procreate with those of exotic gene pools, and humans are indefatigable explorers. This push and pull is entombed in a deep tension within the collective subconscious.
Joseph Campbell’s comparative mythology thesis, embodied in his masterwork, The Hero of A Thousand Faces, argues that the defining events of people of consequence from across myriad cultures and millennia begin with the same basic act: choosing to depart home for the unfamiliar. This act is ultimately transformative, not detrimental, to the namesake hero who embraces otherness. MEMORY Whatever our genetic or spiritual drive to wander, the cultural absorption, inoculation, and preservation of fables, morals, and tales intended to punt anachronistic notions permanently into future generations is a powerful, conservative counterforce. British culture, a remnant colonial cornerstone of American culture, currently finds itself in the throes of its very own isolationist-exceptionalist fever dream—Brexit. Perhaps this should come as little surprise; an entire canon of some of Britain’s best-known fictional works revolves around these same themes. Stoker, Doyle, Wells, and Stephenson helped establish a genre that seemed to embody the fear of the other, while Kipling, Shelley, and Conrad further popularized the brutality and threat of various kinds of otherness. Even (really) Old(e) English’s earliest written poem, Beowulf, is a parable concerning the danger of breached barriers (in this case, the very walls of a mead hall) that fail to keep the lethal chaos of nature at bay.
“The wall can stop any army, but not a man alone.” Mance Rayder to Jon Snow, from A Storm of Swords
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Barriers are seldom built cooperatively by the “sides” they delineate. Indeed, if comparable realities, benevolent intentions, and cooperative relations straddled and defined some border or demarcation, the necessity for establishing physical barricades would be obviated. Borders are important features of modern geopolitics. Our world, finding itself suddenly beyond borders, might well feature ecological disasters, public health nightmares, and economic unravelings precisely because these systems are inextricably managed by extant territorial demarcations. While the southern border wall is a physical thing, its real purpose is to stand in for the lack of a suitable suite of geopolitical management strategies aimed at hemispheric human-rights equilibria. It is taken for granted that, whatever its price in blood or dollars, a wall is far cheaper to sell to the masses than effectively addressing the crushing violence, despair, and injustice that drives people northwards, from fragile and failing states, who seek the possibilities, and apparently engendered virtues of the United States of America. The simultaneously gleeful and hateful Pavlovian reaction of “patriots” chanting their intention to “MAGA” is a stark rendering of a nation so deeply divided that, in some sense, retracing another line on a map, which represents its emanating and deepening fractures, makes perfect sense.
Rudyard Kipling’s noble mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, tangles with the (indigenous) savagery of the serpent, Nag, representing nature and threatening Tavi’s colonial masters.
Eyes as Big as Plates, Bob II, New York 2013 ÂŠ Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
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AGRIACT Labour management solutions
JOEL AUSTIN CUNNINGHAM
Agriact is an architecturally-based business proposal that caters to the expanding market of temporal agricultural labour. In recent years, many of Southern Europe’s agricultural industries have experienced rapid growth in informal and often exploitative labour practices, a process accentuated in many contexts by the abundance of vulnerable individuals produced by the Mediterranean migrant crisis. Responding to the precarious domestic conditions of these transitory workers, Agriact's business model offers “labour management solutions” composed of a set of infrastructural modules that can be leased by local municipalities for the duration of a local harvest, enabling them to affordably and humanely manage the presence of migrant agricultural labourers on designated sites. Agriact's modules have been designed in response to workers’ needs, with domestic modules that cover a range of basic necessities, such as hygiene and accommodation, and commercial modules that look to create reciprocally beneficial relationships between resident labourers
and various private entities. While providing much-needed services, such as internet connectivity and food provision, these commercialised elements generate a secondary economy around temporal residents and look to improve their social status and the value of their labour, through commercial association and semiotic alteration. The project deliberately provokes viewers by presenting Agriact as a private company, a position that acknowledges migration not as a flow of people and an invasion of culture, but as the product of economic networks that are both generative of, and dependent upon, the transnational movement of people. Ergo, the viewer is invited to acknowledge and take a stance on the neoliberal rationales and economic processes that formulate our nations and lie behind much of the food we consume, the complexity of which influences a magnitude of spatial phenomena, from intercontinental migration to idiosyncratic notions of home.
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ABOVE Image courtesy of Francesco Bellina
SONIC TRANSMISSION ARCHIVE
CAROLINE PARTAMIAN & ETHAN PRIMASON
As two sound artists with backgrounds in anthropology and radio, we are fascinated by the link between the history and potential of extraterrestrial, spiritual, and sonic communication. Sound and voice are political and we see the Transmission both as a physical and metaphoric representation of an accessible unconscious, communicated honestly and freely into the unknown. We have developed an open source and democratized sonic archive which collects, randomizes, and perpetually transmits sonic contributions received by phone and email. The ultimate goal of the Sonic Transmission Archive is to transmit an ever-growing sonic time capsule into interstellar space as a modernized, reflexive, and democratized representation of humanity, shaped, and formed directly by the voices within.
The Sonic Transmission Archive picks up where the Voyager Golden Record, launched by NASA in 1977, left off: a multidimensional transmissive archive designed to communicate directly with the cosmos. However, as individuals living and working in the 21st century, we recognize the inherent flaw of a fixed representation of human history conceived by a small and homogeneous group of scientists and academics.
As such, you have been selected as a delegate by Ground Up Journal and the Sonic Transmission Archive to answer the question:
What would you choose to leave as your legacy?
L E G A C Y ?
Please call (346) 327-6642 and leave us a voicemail with your contribution. â€”OR â€”
Record your 30 second contribution as a voice memo and send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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for Wing Image courtesy of Mischelle Moy and Wingon onWo Wo&&Co. Co.
APQhome by Ana PĂŠrez-Quiroga, Installation, 2017. Images courtesy of EDP Foundation unless otherwise noted.
ON FEMALE EXISTENCE IN THE HOME
Remnants of breakfast lay static on the dining room table: lipstick-stained napkins, spoons smeared with yogurt, a peeled banana, a half glass of milk. Projections of the Douro Valley flicker on surrounding screens, painting the room in muted greens and blues. A young woman is stationed on an orange sofa—her sandals off, her bare feet crossed, in a serene state as she sits, knitting. On accident, I have entered her bedroom. In An Archive of Daily Life #8, artist Ana Pérez-Quiroga creates a domestic environment inside an exhibition space. Realized as a Gesamtkunstwerk, or a “total work of art,” this installation encompasses a home, a garden, its objects, and its memory inside the MAAT museum in Lisbon, Portugal. The immersive experience requires the participation of a female guest who occupies the space for two nights, using the recently popular online hosting service AirBNB. Fusing art and life, the space, living conditions, and everyday activities of the female subject create a performance of daily domestic life. In awareness of the predominantly male-oriented Western canon in which we live, an ironic overtone is understood in the work. The female subject is placed in the home, in the museum, and presented passively as art—as not human. The domestic setting lends to the locus of the art, relying on the most fragile of materials and actions to communicate the piece: kitchenware, furniture, plants, textiles, prints,
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but also maintenance, the negotiated labour of living, and the presence of the female subject in a long-duration performance while prone to invasion and the male gaze. The ultimate sexualization of the female subject renders to reality our notion of domestic space. Capitalism and heteronormative patriarchal society affect the way we view, understand, and experience private space. In "Throwing Like a Girl," Iris Marion Young asserts that women are physically handicapped in sexist society. She describes: “Feminine existence experiences the body as a mere thing — a fragile thing … a thing that is looked at and acted upon.”1 In the APQhome installation, the female body is rendered as object, vulnerable to voyeuristic looking. Feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, coins this concept as “the male gaze:” an erotic way of looking between the active male (bearer of the look) and the passive female (who is looked at and displayed).2 The theatrical nature of the installation enforces the gaze, creating a power imbalance between guest and viewer. Historically, women have been confined to the domestic realm; this intensifies their vulnerability in private space. By patriarchal definition, “women’s place” was in the home. In The Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism, Beatriz Colomina analyzes the modernist homes of Loos and Corbusier, using Loos’s concept of the house as a theatre box to highlight voyeuristic ideas of sexuality ingrained within the home.3 Through views between traditionally “male” and “female” spaces, and through the role of inhabitants as actor and spectator, the female’s existence in the home becomes spectacle to an erotic gaze.4
... the female body is rendered as object, vulnerable to voyeuristic looking Heteronormativity and traditional ideas of gender and control further intensify the power imbalance that exists within the home. Gender theorist Judith Butler claims that gender is an act which has been rehearsed.5 In her essay “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution,” Butler describes how certain gender norms originated within the family and are continuously reinforced through familial modes of living. This causes us to
question why we have failed to stray away from traditional ways of living. The reason, perhaps, is money. “Capitalism has to perpetually pretend that the world of politics has nothing to do with the home,” argues Nina Power.6 Family and domesticity are at the central link between sex and politics. Markets hide their dependency on regular reproduction and the pertaining existence of gender roles. Thus, the death of the nuclear family means the death of capitalism. As long as families remain as the standard mode of living, life will continue to be “moneypossessions-pleasure … Daddy-Mummy-Me.”7 The objects of the installation play a significant role in the concept as well. Identifying women as consumers is a problematic association, deeply rooted in stereotypical ideas of gender. In Window Shopping, Anne Friedberg argues that the rise of consumer culture in the nineteenth century provided women with a new mode of vision, allowing for a female gaze, the power of choice, and women’s mobility through an urban landscape.8 Problematically, Friedberg’s claims disregard the paradoxical way in which women are “empowered” by consumer culture. Within the structure of a masculinist language,9 women as consumer will continuously be defined by patriarchal ideas of femininity. What is even more concerning is contemporary feminism’s consumerist sheen, or what Nina Power calls, Feminism™.10 Power unpacks today’s “youth market feminism” and its tendency to liberate capitalism while falsely liberating women.11 Power writes, “a hip young feminist must have her indulgences. Just as pink has become the colour that somehow symbolizes both freedom and sexual availability…chocolate has come to indicate that its female devourer is a little bit, well, ‘naughty’.”12 Contemporary feminism complements capitalism, and is sold to young women in a perky, upbeat, self-indulging way, stalling any real change regarding work, sex and politics. The domestic objects constituting APQhome reflect this selfsexualizing feminism. The installation consists of found objects adorned with a circular red sticker, claimed to be pieces of art, and sold on the artist’s website. Not only are these objects fragile in look and feel, but they are also ridden with anxiety. With their understanding of being temporary and, ultimately, stolen pieces of art, these objects sell back the anxieties of Feminism™. At the end of her manifesto, the artist declares “The sale itself is part of the concept of the work.” 13
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APQhome by Ana PÃ©rez-Quiroga, Installation, 2017. Image courtesy of Mayuri Paranthahan.
... the rise of consumer culture in the 19th century provided women with a new mode of vision, allowing for a female gaze, the power of choice, and womenâ€™s mobility through an urban landscape. [...] Within the structure of a masculinist language, women as consumer will continuously be defined by patriarchal ideas of femininity.
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Image courtesy of Mayuri Paranthahan
The online shop is only one element of the installation’s digital presence. The artwork is continuously documented by museum-goers in pictures and videos circulating social media. Despite its short history, the rise of social media has allowed the public sphere to invade the private through our mobile and desktop screens. In Privacy and Publicity in the Age of Social Media, Colomina questions, “What happened to the house, the living room, or even the bedroom? Social life takes place not in the streets or even the living room, but in the car, the bathroom, on the toilet—and above all in bed.”14 Where social relations have invaded the home, one can now find work, love, inspiration, friendship, success, and sex, all through a screen. But what does this mean for women in private space? It can be argued that
Screenshot of artist’s website
social media’s invasion in private space further objectifies women in the home. Colomina adds, “The Playboy fantasy of the nice girl next door is more likely realized today with someone on another continent than in the same building or neighbourhood … And it is anybody’s guess if she is real (as in, exists in some place and time) or an electronic construction. Does it matter?”15 Through apps like Tinder and Instagram, women can, quite literally, be reduced to an image from within private space. Social media not only allows this image to be consumed, but to be produced. In the age of Instagram and content creation, everyone is an advertisement for themselves. Capitalistic ideas of being constantly presentable help enforce this notion as well. Power defines this as "the feminization of labour," describing “… the demand to be a ‘adaptable’ worker,
to be constantly ‘networking,’ ‘selling yourself,’ in effect, to become a kind of walking CV…”16 With the Internet blurring the boundaries between public, workplace, and private space, the demand to be constantly presenting one’s self confines women to the flatness of an image—to the one-dimensionality that Power discusses in her essay, and that is inherently depicted in APQhome. The question then arises: is private space really private anymore? APQhome illustrates how the factors that currently drive society—capitalism, patriarchy and heteronormativity— affect us on an intimate and personal level, extending out of the public realm to invade private, domestic space. Therefore, until there is social and political change, women will remain handicapped in the comfort of their own homes.
1 Young, Iris Marion, “Throwing Like a Girl: A Phenomenology of Feminine Body Comportment, Motility, and Spatiality.” On Female Body Experience: “Throwing Like a Girl” and Other Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005 , 39. 2 Mulvey, Laura, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Screen 16, no. 3 (1975): 6-18. 3 Münz, Ludwig and Künstler, Gustav. Der Architekt Adolf Loos. Vienna: Schroll, 1964, 130-131. 4 Colomina, Beatriz. “The Split Wall: Domestic Voyeurism.” Sexuality and Space. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992, 73-128. 5 Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” Theatre Journal 40, no. 4 (1988): 526. 6 Power, Nina. One Dimensional Woman. Winchester, UK: John Hunt Publishing, 2009, 59. 7 Ibid, 57. 8 Friedberg, Anne. Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993. 9 Irigaray, Luce. “The Power of Discourse.” The Sex That Is Not One. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985, 68-85. 10 Power, Nina. One Dimensional Woman. Winchester, UK: John Hunt Publishing, 2009, 29. 11 Ibid, 27. 12 Ibid, 36. 13 Pérez-Quiroga, Ana. “An archive of daily life #8,” APQhome – MAAT. Lisbon, PT: Fundação EDP, 2017. 14 Colomina, Beatriz. “Privacy and Publicity in the Age of Social Media.” Public Space? Lost and Found. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992, 254-255. 15 Ibid, 258. 16 Power, Nina. One Dimensional Woman. Winchester, UK: John Hunt Publishing, 2009, 21.
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J E FF CHEU N G â€™ S bright f igurative work celebrates queerness within his personal life and within skate culture. He is a prolif ic maker, whose vivacious ar t examines freedom, identit y, and intersectionalit y, through bold color and inter twined characters. Cheungâ€™s f igures stem from his homoerotic zine-making practice and have grown into larger-thanlife paintings. On canvas his play ful androg ynous characters fearlessly take up space, blend together, and play fully unite in non-binar y identities. His genderless body positive world questions the boundaries of sexualit y, body, gender, and race. Cheungâ€™s simplistic line-work of fers a clever yet loving response to the heteronormative male gaze creating a more inclusive and accessible entr y point.
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ROBERT UNGAR | ILLUSTRATIONS BY EFRAT HAKIMI
New science is expanding our knowledge of microbial relationships, communications, and their impact on humans. As we learn how bacteria alter our perception and emotions, microbiology can evolve as an actionable tool in the hands of landscape architects, designers, and architects seeking to enhance a feeling of home. The familiarity of home relies on interactions with people, objects, or places. Home is not only familiar, but also unique. Its distinctness has to do with a sense of belonging, with being part of a one-of-a-kind ecosystem. In ecology, a unique system of interrelated organisms that creates a living environment is a biome. All organisms that are native to that ecosystem belong to that biome, and each biome is different. Home is our biome. An emerging field in health research is exploring the effect of the individual’s flora on physical and mental well-being. Each person has a “fingerprint” microbiome, and therefore what
is healthy for one might be unhealthy for another, merely based on the bacteria that inhabit their stomach. This leads to personalized medical prescriptions, as well as nutritional guidelines based on one’s gut flora. While the effect of the internal microbiome is significant to our physical and mental well-being, scientists are now exploring how external microbiomes impact health, too. In one example, microbial ecologists at the University of Oregon mapped bacteria in different rooms in the same building and found different bacterial profiles.1 Petting your cat, crawling between your sheets for a nap, having a meal with your family, inhaling the fresh scent of a tree, spending a few minutes ridding your body of waste. These are five daily, homey experiences many of us cherish. Each one of these basic actions contains a biological interaction with
organisms that reside in and around us—our pets; fungi in sheets; our siblings, lovers or parents; a tree on our street; the flora in our intestines. New science shows the extent of bacteria’s impact on our environments in each of these five experiences, sparking speculations on how design can alter our sense of home. 1 EMOTION-ALTERING PARASITES Toxoplasma, a cat-borne parasite that infects over 50 percent of humans, changed public understanding of how microbes alter behavior and emotions. A 2012 study performed on rats detected behavioral change in brain circuits of Toxoplasma carriers.2 The parasite caused re-wiring of circuits that changed primal emotions such as fear, anxiety and sexual arousal. In other words, rats were attracted to cats instead of running away from them. Could we synthesize parasites to make us like places? If shops already spray vanilla scent to unconsciously make us buy more, could they add mind-altering parasites to their ventilation systems to enhance the shopping experience? 2 THE COMFORT OF OUR OWN BED A 2006 study of the level of fungal contamination in bedding found pillows typically contain between four and seventeen different species of fungus.3 Each of us has a unique mix of fungi in our beds that evolves between sheet changes. Could we pre-order a personalized hotel bed to avoid feeling estranged in it? Send a child’s skin bacteria sample to a toy manufacturer to make sure the kid feels connected to a toy immediately upon receiving the gift? 3 THE ODOR OF LOVED ONES Skin microbes produce odors that are attractive to mosquitos, according to a 2010 study on variability in mosquito attraction to humans.4 In fact, human sweat is odorless, and is being “charged” with scent by bacteria on the skin surface. Scent
of sweat is therefore a form of communicating information about an individual to mosquitos. This also explains the distinct scent specific people have. What if a room of a deceased person could be designed to continuously produce their smell? Could a broken-hearted person transplant a former lover’s armpit flora onto a sweater, instead of obsessively sniffing a stolen sweater and never washing it again? Will obsessed teenage fans purchase vials of their favorite pop star’s flora? 4 THE HOMELINESS OF A TOILET The familiarity—and relaxation—of coming home is the reason we rush to the bathroom, according to a 2017 article.5 Researchers claim that the “feeling of comfort of home” is nothing but a set of simulations of that experience projected by the brain. The light in the living room, the smell of the wooden floor, the cold touch of metal spoons—and the microbes that surround the environment—these physical simulations contribute to a sensation that translates to the safe feeling of being at home. In turn, the body relaxes and brings the much-awaited release. Could we pre-install our bacteria in a new apartment to feel at home faster? Or treat guests with their familiar bacteria complexion to make them feel more comfortable? 5 FOREST BATHING The microbial effect of plants was examined by Japanese scientists who studied a local tradition of Shinrin-Yoku, or Forest-Bathing.6 Based on their findings, when spending time in a forest, we inhale substances from forest air such as beneficial bacteria, which helps reduce stress and increase mental wellness. Could landscape architects in business districts enhance bacterial activity in parks to make visitors chill out quicker and return to their office desk sharp and efficient? In a less capitalistic suggestion, what if the sense of belonging of an immigrant community could be strengthened by re-creating a typical homeland microbiome in a local park?
ENDNOTES 1 Kembel, Steven W., James F. Meadow, Timothy K. O’Connor, Gwynne Mhuireach, Dale Northcutt, Jeff Kline, Maxwell Moriyama, G. Z. Brown, Brendan J. M. Bohannan, and Jessica L. Green. “Architectural Design Drives the Biogeography of Indoor Bacterial Communities.” PLoS ONE9, no. 1 (2014). 2 Berdoy, M., J. P. Webster, and D. W. Macdonald. “Fatal Attraction in Rats Infected with Toxoplasma Gondii.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences 267, no. 1452 (2000): 1591-594. 3 Woodcock, A. A., N. Steel, C. B. Moore, S. J. Howard, A. Custovic, and D. W. Denning. “Fungal Contamination of Bedding.” Allergy 61, no. 1 (2006): 140-42. 4 Verhulst, Niels O., Willem Takken, Marcel Dicke, Gosse Schraa, and Renate C. Smallegange. “Chemical Ecology of Interactions between Human Skin Microbiota and Mosquitoes.” FEMS Microbiology Ecology 74, no. 1 (2010): 1-9. 5 Beck, Julie. “There’s No Toilet Like Home.” The Atlantic, November 1, 2017. 6 Tatera, Kelly. “Scientists Reveal Why “Forest Bathing” or Going to the Beach Boosts Our Well-Being.” The Science Explorer. February 3, 2016. http://thescienceexplorer.com/brainand-body/scientists-reveal-why-forest-bathing-or-going-beach-boosts-our-well-being. 7 Meadow, J. F., A. E. Altrichter, S. W. Kembel, J. Kline, G. Mhuireach, M. Moriyama, D. Northcutt, T. K. Oconnor, A. M. Womack, G. Z. Brown, J. L . Green, and B. J. M. Bohannan. “Indoor Airborne Bacterial Communities Are Influenced by Ventilation, Occupancy, and Outdoor Air Source.” Indoor Air24, no. 1 (May 24, 2013): 41-48. 8 Miller, Greg. “Architecture May Influence Which Microbes Surround You.” Wired, February 27, 2014.
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Cultivation of life in the micro level may become a part of environmental design at all scales, from objects and buildings to parks and neighborhoods, altering our emotional and communal understanding of space.7,8 Like any other technology, it could serve dystopian realities or benefit society. In any case, research makes it clear that sterilizing a place kills not only the bacteria, but also its unique identity and our ability to unconsciously sense it. Next time you use antibacterial soap—kindly think about the environment.
Eyes as Big as Plates is the ongoing collaborative project between the Finnish-Norwegian artist duo Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth. Starting out as a play on characters from Nordic folklore, Eyes as Big as Plates has evolved into a continual search for modern humanâ€™s belonging to nature. The series is produced in collaboration with retired farmers, fishermen, zoologists, plumbers, opera singers, housewives, artists, academics, and ninety-year-old parachutists. Since 2011, the artist duo has portrayed seniors in Norway, Finland, France, US, UK, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, Japan, Czech Republic, South Korea, Tasmania, and Greenland. Each image in the series presents a solitary figure in a landscape, dressed in elements from surroundings that indicate neither time nor place. Here, nature acts as both content and context: characters literally inhabit the landscape wearing sculptures they create in collaboration with the artists. As active participants in our contemporary society, these seniors encourage the rediscovery of a demographic group too often marginalized or labeled as a stereotypical clichĂŠ. It is in this light that the project aims to generate new perspectives on who we are and where we belong. Behind the scenes with Brit, Norway 2018 TOP LEFT Mrs. Nerimova, Czech Republic 2016 BOTTOM LEFT Jan, Norway 2017
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EYES AS BIG AS PLATES
SEE NO EVIL FEEL NO EVIL
See No Evil, Feel No Evil is a series of miniature handmade sculptures that are each one inch tall, painted clay. A play on the Three Wise Monkeys, the sculptures address the physical and emotional discomforts of having a femme body in todayâ€™s society and the desire to simply pull back your hair, curl up in fetal position, and pretend none of it is happening (or has happened). The sculptures remind us that our bodies are our homes, our personal spaces, our shelters, and protection. Being small, the sculptures automatically create a safe, private exchange between viewer and sculpture, and are meant almost as dreamcatchers: tokens to help you acknowledge and transfer some of the weight of your discomforts, self-judgement, or trauma so that your actual body can once again be something that you are familiar with and in charge ofâ€”a home of your own.
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ISABELA DOS SANTOS
The primary subject presented in MAMAD is the metaphor of the cave as a protective space. This notion is embedded within the layout of todayâ€™s Israeli housing units. The mamad is a reinforced security room meant to offer protection against high-impact projectiles and chemical weapons. According to law, each apartment built in Israel after the Gulf War must have one. The idea is that the mamad is conveniently located inside your home for quick access in the event of an attack, and that, simultaneously, it fits into a normal domestic vocabulary. Its walls are built out of reinforced concrete. The room has two openings, usually one window and one door, though never on the same wall. The minimum net area of the room is nine cubic meters.
MAMAD exhibited at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
93 â€œWe comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreamsâ€?
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The intention of the MAMAD project is to create a landscape room that translates the geopolitical changes in the region into the spatial and legal framework of the home. Landscape is always the scope with which to measure geopolitical activities. Therefore, the landscape room formalizes these changes into a new model of protected space. The creation process of the MAMAD begins by rearticulating the conflict area: the standard prefabricated configuration of the mamad and Israeli secure room-specific regulations. Thus, the rather negative experiences associated with the room— those of oppression and confinement—are transformed in a new spatial configuration that uses the materiality of earth as a layered, protective envelope. The MAMAD (proportion 3m x 3m x 3m) allows the visitor to see a new interpretation of a mamad through a spatial contradiction—a revelation of the outdoor landscape situated indoors. MAMAD embodies layers of a place, memories, and culture. It resides among past, present, and future, and occupies the space between the private and public state of mind. In order to create a physical experience and embody memory, the piece transforms the physical property of this specific territory into a metaphysical experience through natural materials— specifically wood and soil sourced from land near former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s cabin in the Negev. Using the rammed earth construction technique, the excavated earth (in Hebrew adama, meaning man and land) forms the walls and
roof. When entering the space, the individual connects to the clay body, awakening senses associated with interiority and security, while simultaneously having the sense of dislocation through a new atmosphere. The architectural experience is reliant on the object, and our reaction depends on the physical experience the building imposes on us. We feel safe when a building is stable and warm, when it is properly sealed, and keeps out the winter draft. The sensuality of light, sound, orientation, and stability create the embodied architectural event of space. In today’s accelerating world, architecture is an ongoing interplay between the sensual experience and its emotional, cultural, and symbolic counterpart. It is an actual space that evokes our imagination. MAMAD, as a landscape room, encapsulates a constant exchange and dialogue between inside and outside, as the interior use of earthen material creates an utterly different experience and contrasts with the collapsing territory outside. The precise distinction of inside and outside forms ignites the imagination, and provides the visitor a space to contemplate freedom and the limits of personal—and political—landscapes.
ABOVE: A second MAMAD, situated on the border of Israel and Jordan next to the bombard Turkish railway on the Jordan river. Rammed earth from Jordan. Image courtesy of Nirit Bagron. RIGHT: Another view of MAMAD exhibited in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Image courtesy of Abir Sultan.
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Balsa wood models, circa 1965. Seaton Family estate.
MODEL SPACE Placing memory
My Mother’s House is a collection of short stories by Colette, in which she describes the nuance of home life. Her observations of the small gestures, petty dramas, and fleeting phenomena of the domestic sphere create a more vivid sense of place than a grander telling. The memories of my own mother’s house are full of similar details, unforgettable smells such as horseradish in the blender, a bouquet of mock orange for the piano teacher, chrysanthemums, fresh hay in the field, and old hay in the barn—along with the stench of broccoli boiling on the stove for home canning. These distinct, yet disjointed, memories are very much a part of my present experience in the same house as I organize its inheritance. Much of my time there is spent curating objects and ephemera, deciding what will remain a part of our family narrative and what will not. I inhabit the spaces of my childhood, now with the adult worry that my parents must have felt while I was exploring, creating, and playing, all the while reflecting on the lives and choices of my parents. Philosophers, environmental psychologists, and cultural geographers often cite the everyday experiences of physical spaces as central to the creation of self-identity. Space and time structure narratives and memories, organizing movement and events into spatial frameworks—situating the things that happen in places. A mnemonic
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Balsa wood models, circa 1965. Seaton Family estate.
device developed in antiquity links ideas to physical space, placing them, for instance, within the rooms of a house, in a precise order, for enhanced recall. While memories may have a physical context, they are not generally as fixed as they are in the memory palace. They are mutable over time, affected by new experiences and by other memories, in a never-ending cross-referencing of impressions. Memory is affected by the way we perceive space, through episodic, fleeting images rather than as a coherent narrative. Spatial experience is fragmented and subjective, influenced by personal histories and sensory perception, the quality of light on a given day or the temperature. Temporal phenomena heighten memories of experience. Aristotle treats this connection in his essay On Memory and Reminiscence.
He defines memory as a perception and as a concept that has been conditioned by a lapse of time and belongs to the primary faculty of sense-perception. During my efforts of organization, I found a portfolio stuffed with blueprints, drawings, collages, wallpaper swatches, lumber receipts, garden designs, kitchen layouts, and other precedent imagery for the design of an ideal home that my parents collected when planning to build their house. I also rediscovered two model houses that my mother made, before deciding on the plan that was constructedâ€”one is a modest one-story, and the other is a modern split-level. Both models are a little battered, showing signs of age such as cracks and discoloration. Walls are missing and light enters through the seams where a chimney has broken off. The fractured spaces remind me of Gordon Matta-Clarkâ€™s deconstructions and his series called Bronx Floors, 1972-1973, in which the worn surfaces, raw lumber, and means of assemblage are revealed through domestic archaeology. The pieces, removed from their context, become potent fragments that invite interpretation and association. I documented each house with a series of photographs taken at different times of the dayâ€”my slim camera enabling views from within the model space. The images tread between reality and abstraction, depicting miniaturized spaces that can never be occupied and capture the surreal feeling of being in a space at once familiar and foreign, between states of the remembered, present, and idealized.
BOUNDARY MONUMENTS OF THE US-MEXICO BORDER Biography, memory, identity, home MICHAEL DEAR
On February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo terminated the Mexican-American War, ultimately ceding half of México’s territory to the US. The treaty called for the designation of a “boundary line with due precision, upon authoritative maps, and to establish upon the ground landmarks which shall show the limits of both republics.”1 The consequent boundary survey began on July 6, 1849, and 52 monuments were placed to mark the almost 2,000 mile boundary. In the early 1890s, a second boundary survey increased the number of official monuments to 276, after which both countries agreed that any further delimitation would consist of smaller ‘markers’ of concrete. By 1975, 442 markers had been added to the sprawling border cities and towns and another 51 were added in 1984.2 During decades of travel and research along the US-México border, I developed a deep affection for the boundary monuments and the cross-border communities that straddle the borderline. Both have been harmed by the prevalent national obsessions with border walls, national security, immigration, refugees, and drug trafficking. My interest in monuments crystallized years ago after a short conversation with a young girl in Mexicali who lived near a border monument I was photographing. She knew nothing of its historical significance, which surprised me. Later, a Mexicali friend told me that he, too, had learned nothing about the monuments during his schooling. I remain perplexed by this encounter. The boundary monuments comprise the most visible, tangible evidence of the principal geopolitical event in México-US geohistory. How could these important receptacles of binational identity disappear from public memory in a territory that borderlanders have for centuries regarded as home? What could be done to re-establish and illuminate their presence in border lives and landscapes?
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THE PLACE OF MEMORIES
BIOGRAPHIES OF MONUMENTS CASE 1 Punto inicial, Birth of the Border Site: Playas de Tijuana, Baja California Norte Boundary monument number 258
Between 1849 and 1851, the California section was the first part of the 2,000 mile boundary to be surveyed, extending from Tijuana/San Diego to the Colorado River. Two national boundary commissions were jointly charged with determining the first punto inicial (initial point) one marine league south of San Diego. Since there was no standard measurement for a marine league, disagreements about the precise location arose immediately. The survey leaders, José Salazar y Larregui and William Hemsley Emory, agreed to split the difference between their measurements. The initial point was fixed on the shoreline near present-day Playas de Tijuana; a temporary monument was erected and the running of the California line began. Seven marble or cast-iron monuments were eventually established between the Pacific coast and the Colorado River: two at the puntos iniciales at either end of the line, another at the New River (near present-day Mexicali), and the remainder at visible points along the intervening terrain. Initially the commissioners were satisfied with seven monuments because so much of the land between the Pacific and the Colorado was, in their words, “barren and can never be cultivated by either party.”3 But because long expanses along the California line were left unmarked, several supplementary monuments of loose stones were later added west of the New River. Today, these formerly barren regions contain the enormously productive agricultural empires of the Imperial and Mexicali Valleys and the bustling Baja California state capital, Mexicali.
The marble obelisk at Monument 258 was renovated during the second boundary survey of 1892 and fencing was added to deter vandalism. Monument 258 became a popular tourist destination. Yet most of the line remained open during the 20th century. In 1971, the zone around the monument was officially designated as Friendship Park, reflecting its importance for cross-border family reunions. First Lady of the United States Pat Nixon officiated the park’s opening, expressing a hope that in the future there would be no need for a fence between the two nations. Her hopes were never realized. Instead, fortifications at Tijuana were intensified during the mid-1990s under a program known as Operation Gatekeeper. The fencing was established to control surges of undocumented migrants in major border cities such as Tijuana/San Diego, Ambos Nogales, and El Paso/Ciudad Juárez. Today, visitors come from all parts of the US to unite with family and friends on the Mexican side. Access on the US side is strictly regulated and much of the fence is densely armored to prevent physical contact across the line. Nevertheless, reunions through sight and voice are possible for short periods of time. Elsewhere along the line, residents, migrants, and asylum seekers confront more hostile forms of encounter, including tear gas, arrest, family separation, detention, and deportation.
OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM 1 Monument 1 at Playas de Tijuana (1854) was the first punto inicial of the post-1848 boundary survey. It was renumbered as 258 after the second boundary survey. 2 Monument 258 at Playas de Tijuana photographed after the second survey, and fenced to protect against vandalism or theft (1901). 3 Monument 258 (2003) from the Tijuana side, with Operation Gatekeeper fencing erected in the mid-1990s. Today it is much more heavily fortified.
CASE 2 The second boundary survey Site: Downtown port of entry, Nogales, Sonora Boundary monument number 122
The resurvey teams discovered that some of the original monuments were missing or in a state of disrepair; others were difficult to find, especially in mountainous terrain. In addition, errors in the first survey meant that some monuments were incorrectly positioned, but most errors were either quietly adjusted or left unchallenged so as to avoid the need for new treaties. Other problems were caused by deliberate human interference. Some monuments had been destroyed by indigenous tribes as an expression of antipathy toward the US; also to blame were ranchers and miners who dismantled the stone piles to use as building materials or moved markers to gain control over nearby land, water, and mineral resources. More commonly, many of the original monuments had simply been overtaken by encroaching human settlements. In Nogales, Arizona, an enterprising saloon proprietor had built his establishment propped up on a post-1848 boundary marker [Image 4/5]. Patrons could enter from the Mexican side and exit on the US side, and vice versa. Local authorities complained that ambiguities in boundary marker locations caused confusion as well as cover for cross-border fights that plagued the Nogales settlements. Matters were not improved by the 1892 survey. At first, the new Monument 122 simply replaced the stone pile on the saloon sidewalk [Image 4]. Fearful for the integrity of the line, US President William McKinley later authorized a two-mile long, 60-feet wide setback along the Nogales boundary, and all structures within that limit were removed.
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As the borderlandsâ€™ population grew during the second half of the 19th century, disputes over the exact location of the boundary line became more frequent. A second joint boundary commission was established to resurvey the land portion of the line, locate and rebuild the old monuments, and install additional markers as necessary. The work began at El Paso in February 1892, at which time the monuments were renumbered beginning with Monument 1 at that location.
Only small traces of the easement still exist around Monument 122, which today is located within a former garita (customs house) in downtown Nogales [Image 6]. The fence at this point is perforated to enable visual contact across the line. This design adjustment was in response to community antipathy toward earlier solid-steel barriers that prevented visual access across the line and led to rock-throwing attacks from the Mexican side. CASE 3 4 Monument 26 in Nogales was little more than a pile of stones near a saloon entrance for most of the 19th century.
La frontera sin muros/Border without walls Site: El Paso, Texas/Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua Boundary monument number 1 Monument 1 was established at the point where the land boundary joins the river known as the Rio Grande, or in México as Río Bravo del Norte. From here to the Gulf of México, the binational line follows the deepest channel in the river. Over time, adjustments in the channel in response to floods and meanders caused the boundary to shift. The most dynamic parts of the riverbed were channelized over time to prevent further adjustments, but current satellite maps of the boundary still identify contested zones along the river.
5 Monument 122 in Nogales was erected after the 1892 resurvey of the land boundary, but remained adjacent to the saloon.
As happened at Playas de Tijuana, Monument 1 was secured behind fencing during the 1892 resurvey [Image 7]. Later, Mexican Revolutionary leader and future Mexican president Francisco I. Madero established his headquarters around the monument [Image 8]. The building was restored and opened as a historical museum in 2010. By the time I revisited Juárez in 2011, much of the new post9/11 fortifications along the land boundary had been completed, yet the vicinity of Monument 1 is especially noteworthy for its complete absence of fortifications [Image 9]. On that day the monument environs were tranquil. Nothing impeded communication across the line. I chatted amiably with the museum attendant across the berm, and I gave him my camera to take some photographs inside the newly-opened museum. Not for a single moment did I doubt we were being watched, but apart from this, things along the line were as they should be.
6 Monument 122 was placed inside a renovated garita (customs house) during the extensive wall-building projects after 2006. The building functions as a pedestrian-only port of entry.
7 Monument 1, El Paso, 1901. In 1892, the second survey of the land boundary began at El Paso, when this monument was renumbered as 1.
8 Monument 1 was engulfed by the headquarters of rebel leader Francisco Madero during the time of the Mexican Revolution (1911).
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DESIGN FOR HOMELAND AND MONUMENTS My three case studies provide conclusive evidence of the eloquence of the official monuments marking the MéxicoUS border. They also reveal the myriad distinct design challenges involved in converting boundary monuments into places of shared memory and integration. I propose renovating these sites in ways that celebrate more than 170 years of peaceful co-existence that has existed without interruption since 1848 (and for centuries before that). My proposal intends to generate better understanding of, and pride in, this historical record, as well as a climate of mutual respect to secure the border dwellers’ shared future. Many precedents exist for the artful linking of memory and landscape. Perhaps closest to my intention is the Power of Place projects founded in Los Angeles by Dolores Hayden and others.4 In one early project, the concrete wall of an anonymous downtown parking structure in LA was transformed to commemorate the 19th century life of Biddy Mason, a prominent African American community leader and midwife. Another project memorialized sites in Little Tokyo where Japanese Americans, including many US citizens, were assembled during the Second World War for removal to internment camps. More recently, Walter Hood’s ‘Witness Walls’ project is reminiscent of the Power of Place projects. 5
Artists have also provided innovative re-imaginings of the boundary monuments. For instance, US photographer David Taylor and prominent Tijuana artist Marcos Ramírez ERRE conspired, in their cheeky 2015 ‘Delimitations’ project, to manufacture and erect facsimile boundary monuments along the pre-1848 México-US boundary line in the former Mexican territories today called Nevada, Arizona and California. Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello are currently offering other ways to design and repurpose border landscapes.6 It is neither possible nor desirable to launch a universal border-wide program for monument renovation. Instead, local organizations could be encouraged to adopt monuments and prepare designs sympathetic to local conditions in collaboration with stakeholders. The boundary monuments rest on US soil but renovation teams should preferably be bilateral in composition, capable of talking through conflicting viewpoints to arrive at collective solutions. Bilateral action certainly requires more effort, but there are plenty of successful precedents involving transborder NGOs, Chambers of Commerce, and government agencies at all levels. My case studies reveal the enormous variety of the design challenges offered by the 276 monuments. Monument 258 at Playas de Tijuana possesses enduring historical
Many more boundary monuments exist in remote rural locations along the 2,000 mile boundary, where they are easily forgotten, neglected, or vandalized. Overcoming isolation while increasing a monument’s prominence requires a creative design calculus, especially where monuments are encased behind steel walls or within cages, both of which inhibit access and awareness. On the positive side, the design palette in more rural locations could extend to larger scales than is possible in constricted urban settings, and begins to take on the dimensions of land art.
9. Monument 1 (2011). Today, the international boundary at this site is marked only by an earth berm without fortification. The far left panel is the restored headquarters of Francisco Madero; next, a bust of Madero; then the berm with a sign marking the boundary; and (far right) Monument 1.
IMAGE SOURCES Frontispiece and photographs 3, 7, and 9 are by Michael Dear © 2019. All other images are from private collections. Image 1 was originally published in John Russell Bartlett’s Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas, New Mexico, California, Sonora and Chihuahua, 1850-1853. Images 2, 5, and 7 were originally published in Jacobo Blanco, Vistas de los Monumentos a lo Largo de la Línea Divisoria entre México y los Estado Unidos de El Paso al Pacífico, 1901.
ENDNOTES 1 Griswold del Castillo, Richard. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990, 188. 2 This essay draws on Dear, Michael. Why Walls Won’t Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide. Oxford University Press, 2015, where full documentation and citations are available. 3 Rebert, Paula. La Gran Línea: Mapping the United States-Mexico Boundary, 1849-1857. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2001, 101. 4 Hayden, Dolores. The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995. 5 http://www.hooddesignstudio.com/witnesswall/ 6 Rael, Ronald. Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the US-Mexico Boundary. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017.
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significance, but is also a political lightning rod where passions and disputes over access and regulation of family reunions are quickly ignited. In Ambos Nogales, Monument 122 is a rare example of an interior obelisk. Its prominent placement ensures a wide visibility, yet more than half the structure is buried in concrete and it is little more than a plaything for children. This may be a legitimate function, but it surely represents a missed opportunity. Monument 1 at El Paso/Ciudad Juárez is also of great importance, especially now because it shows that secure borders are possible without walls and fences.
"Nostalgia is the poetic awareness of our personal past, and since the artistâ€™s own past is the mainspring of his creative potential, the architect must listen and heed his nostalgic revelations." LUIS BARRAGĂ N
HEARTWOOD The power and timelessness of home
When Ground Up announced that Home would be the theme of the 2019 issue, I naturally began to think about my home, Iowa, and how my birthplace has shaped my aesthetic. Architect Luis Barragán said, “Nostalgia is the poetic awareness of our personal past, and since the artist’s own past is the mainspring of his creative potential, the architect must listen and heed his nostalgic revelations.” The nostalgic revelation that I must listen to is the Iowa landscape—the prairies, oak woodlands, riparian corridors, rolling fields, hedgerows, pastures, and grids of quiet gravel roads that go everywhere and nowhere. Whether frozen in the grey light of January or teeming with the force of nature that is summer in the Midwest, the land is pure, strong, and restrained. The indelible qualities of my homeland have, in a way, informed all my designs since then—both close to home and across the world. In some marvelous twist of fate Meyer Studio - Land Architects (MSLA) is now working on the opportunity of a lifetime—a 500-acre project in Omaha, Nebraska called Heartwood. It’s a particularly meaningful place for this team. Not only is it next door to beautiful Iowa, it’s literally the backyard of my associate, Erik Jensen, who used to cut across the site to get to high school. As master landscape architect for Heartwood, MSLA was commissioned to design the new headquarters for the
insurance provider Applied Underwriters, which includes a public park and a series of landscape promenades that connect the parklands to the surrounding neighborhoods. Our proposal captures beauty through unexpected expressions of the intrinsic qualities of the place: earth, water, light, wind, sky, and seasonality. In a departure from what has become the common practice of using the land as a receptacle of program, the driving force of our design is the creation of sacred space that grounds the people who experience it. Our intention is to embrace what Barragán called the “intangibles of architecture:” inspiration, magic, sorcery, enchantment, serenity, mystery, silence, privacy, and astonishment. The backbone of the design is a purposeful progression of sculpted storm water vessels that display and cleanse massive amounts of water and mitigate flooding. It reflects a passion of our firm–a relentless practice around shaping the land. At Heartwood, a framework of deep ecological restoration establishes a series of clearings and signature objects including cairns, walls, and terraces. The power of the landscape is difficult to measure. It is felt as much as it is viewed. We seek to embrace the spiritual essence of existence by offering places that are emotionally accessible–that engender pleasure and primitive melancholy. By creating a soulful place that offers experiences ranging from the monumental to the intimate, we seek to reaffirm and inspire the people who will soon call Heartwood home.
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ABOVE: Vessels 6 & 7 LEFT: Cosmic Bowl PREVIOUS PAGE: Earthworks Schematic
Iterations of home
This series explores the relationship between a dining set and an unnamed character. Across 99 arrangements, architectural context transforms the nuances of daily life. The viewer gravitates toward the iteration that most resonates, shedding light on individual ideas of home, making real the ephemeral concept of place through personal preference to a particular scene.
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ONE TABLE TWO CHAIRS THREE FLOWERS & 99 PLACES
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WILDERNESS DEFINED Hetch Hetchy Valley
As early as 1873, a San Francisco editorial claimed to be, “sick and weary of Yosemite … thanks to the tourists, the advertisers, the photographers, and the stay-at-home painters, who copy their productions.”1 The author argued that Hetch Hetchy Valley—miles north of Yosemite Valley—is equally sublime in character and in fact more beautiful because it is not tainted by the presence of humans. In coming decades, John Muir and his organization, the Sierra Club (referred to in this article as 'Preservationists'), would defend Hetch Hetchy against those seeking to reshape it for the uses of a growing nation. Today, Hetch Hetchy is dammed, submerged under 300 feet of water. This shocking display of humankind’s handiwork barely materialized after the first suggestion, in 1888, of an urban water supply sourced from the Sierra and the years of fierce debate that followed. After fires spurred by the Earthquake of 1906 devastated San Francisco, the search for reliable water gained urgency.
Until recently, the controversy over Hetch Hetchy Valley was framed as a battle of wilderness versus civilization, promoted by 1960s environmentalist Robert Nash. Nash construed the dam’s proponents as greedy villains who destroyed a treasure that Muir and his comrades nobly sought to protect. In reality, both sides exhibited deep appreciation for nature and both planned to develop the valley, proving it was never the entity of wilderness at stake, but America’s relationship with it. Reverence for the sublime compelled some to maintain the valley as a wilderness park, as free from human intervention as possible, and others to master it with a physically massive, gravity-fed dam. Despite contrasting approaches to wilderness management, the moralistic visions of both the dam advocates and opponents understood nature as an “other.”2 This public debate occurred at a critical moment of transition from laissez-faire industrialization to Progressive-era management of markets and resources, when American attitudes toward the land were crystallizing. The now-dominant narrative of nature as not only othered, but also objectified—for use or for spectacle, its value determined in financial markets and equations of utility—came to the forefront. THE GOODS AND SERVICES OF WILDERNESS Progressive politicians and city engineers advocated for the dam on behalf of the San Francisco public, who were desperate for reliable, quality water. In the vein of patriotic manifest destiny, they fundamentally believed that wilderness should be tamed, made valuable through commodification, and democratically managed. James Phelan, San Francisco’s Mayor from 1897 to 1902, was an early supporter of the Hetch Hetchy system. He contended that San Francisco, like ancient Rome, would foster democracy and growth and achieve greatness through aqueducts and control of nature outside the city.3 Proponents like Phelan saw the sheer granite cliffs bounding the valley as the perfect receptacle for a sanitary water supply that would also constitute a prime recreational destination.
At the time, the belief that nature could be materially and aesthetically improved by humans was common. As early as the 1830s, Robert Owens popularized the study of geology, situating the mountains and landforms of the American wilderness as sites of spectacle. Some believed the value of these unique landscapes was not intrinsic, but in their potential as frames for what were deemed objects of great beauty—bridges, railroads, mills, and waterworks. One tourist to Niagara Falls in the 1850s mused about the site’s potential to be dammed; “What can we imagine more beautiful, more truly sublime, than a majestic river suddenly contracted into less than half the former width?”4 Many Progressives fancied a hybrid landscape sensibility that showcased human progress in nature, but also wanted to rein in the detrimental side of industry. Unrestrained development and individual greed had become rampant in the 19th century. Progressives were nostalgic for the rugged and enterprising frontiersman, a critical persona to American identity described in 1893 by historian Frederick Jackson Turner. Seeking to keep the spirit of frontier conquest alive, they focused national expansion on public equality, managerial conservation, and the righteousness of democracy. In what was perhaps a “Make America Great Again” sort of moment, Progressives invoked Enlightenment ideals outlined in the Constitution, claiming that the nation had strayed from them since the Industrial Revolution: ideals including logic, asceticism, equality, and fair commerce.5 Moral credence in rationality meant nature, like any other cog in the free market, had to be neatly siloed into figures of costbenefit analysis. Over the course of the Hetch Hetchy debate, successive San Francisco city engineers assessed the value of the valley, consistently claiming in scientific and rational language that the site was favorable for use as a reservoir. These arguments proved persuasive to the public. THE PERFECT WILDERNESS Preservationists battled against the dam, believing fundamentally that people do not enhance nature. They defended an idealized wilderness—an Edenic garden, free of the marks of humanity.6 In articles and speeches around this time, Muir discussed nature like an artifact, spatially separate from urban centers and threatened only by the despoilments
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The controversy over an isolated valley in the Sierra and the public utility needs of a burgeoning metropolis 150 miles away became a coast-to-coast discourse that, in 1913, had to be settled by the US Senate.
of humanity. He referred to dam supporters as greedy “evildoers,” who, “instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar.”7 In line with Progressivism, Muir called for stricter management of the wilderness, but with different intent from the majority. He believed wilderness management should not foster the expansion of civilization, but limit it.
economy, proposing campgrounds, hotels, and roads so the public could “experience nature in the mountains of California.”11 In effect, Preservationists shifted their anti-dam argument from one that protected an othered, Edenic “nature” to one that positioned nature as an object to be consumed— all in an effort to resonate with policymakers obsessed with rationality.
Muir and the Sierra Club visited Hetch Hetchy on weekends, seeking transcendental solitude in the shadows of the valley’s imposing rock faces. Through art and prose, they expounded their spiritual connection with the valley and its association with the divine. They willfully disregarded that the cleared meadows were not a God-given miracle. In reality, indigenous people had been seasonally cultivating the valley for millennia, setting the floor afire to harvest wild grasses. Still, Preservationists consecrated Hetch Hetchy and those who sought to protect its alleged virginity. Landscape painter William Kieth said of Muir, “We almost thought he was Jesus Christ.”8
DAM IT A succession of quantitative reports produced by the pro-dam constituency ultimately tipped the scales in favor of water storage in Hetch Hetchy Valley. Later studies, however, found these engineer-produced reports, most notably the Freeman Report, to be based on incomplete and highly curated data.12 John Ripley Freeman, author of the report, hid subjective inclinations behind rational language. He credited his comparative prudence over the Preservationists by beginning most paragraphs with, “it is a matter of plain and common sense[...].” In his disparagement of the Preservationists, he went so far as to call them “sentimentalists” with no “direct knowledge to the facts.”13 He gave little attention to alternative sites for water storage, some of which were later developed in less time, for less money, and with more capacity than Hetch Hetchy.
After almost a decade of equivocation, the prospect of a reservoir at Hetch Hetchy gained momentum—rational arguments were winning at the state level—and the Preservationists were forced to speak the language of Progressivism. California newspapers, including William Randolph Hearst’s The Examiner, labeled the Preservationists undemocratic, disinclined toward enterprise and public need, even feminine. In response, Preservations argued that protecting nature was not just in the interest of Sierra Club members, the majority of whom were wealthy, educated, white, and had the means to escape to the mountains for the weekend. Protecting nature would benefit the nation’s public through accessible, democratic recreation and as a respite from urban realities.9 While locally unpopular, Muir’s romantic writing captivated readers from sea-to-sea who did not have the opportunity to know the Sierra Nevada for themselves. He argued that the purpose of national parks should not be compromised to serve regional material needs when he wrote, “everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.”10 The 1908 Sierra Club Bulletin, a periodical from the Board to members, stated the highest potential value of the valley was not water storage, but a robust commercial and tourist
Hetch Hetchy Valley was treated as a tabula rasa—virgin territory—that would bear the names of whichever wouldbe dam builders could garner majority support among policy makers. In 1909, San Francisco Mayor Edward Taylor told a public affairs forum that the valley “seems to work a magical spell on those who encounter it [and] completely hypnotizes every civil engineer that sees it.”14 With other reservoir sites available, the debate hinged not on rationality, but subjectivity: landscape sensibility, stimuli for recreation tourism, and how the two curated a preferred national identity. Interpreting the wilderness either as a stage for production or a commodity to be consumed, the Preservationist and prodam visions were and are incomplete. Though fueled largely by intangible, “irrational” notions of the sublime, the debate over Hetch Hetchy erased any value of nature not quantifiable in a capitalist system. Solidified was a collective perception of nature as an “other,” and thus a larger American identity. Efforts have since been made to incorporate subjective elements into
ENDNOTES 1 “Art Notes”. San Francisco News Letter and Ticket [August 23, 1873], Carton 1, Folder 29, Restore Hetch Hetchy Papers, Bancroft Archives, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. 2 Edward Said's 1978 book Orientalism proposed the concept of otherness, which authors like William Cronan later applied to the study of wilderness. 3 Righter, Robert W. The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy: America’s Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. 4 Shepard, Paul. Man in the Landscape: A Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature. Alberta, Canada: Random House, 1967. 5 Daston, Lorraine, and Peter Louis. Galison. Objectivity. New York, NY: Zone Books, 2015. 6 Cronon, William. Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature. New York, NY: W.W. Norton &, 1995. 7 Muir, John. The Yosemite. New York: The Century Company, 1912. 8 Righter, Robert W. 9 This is an interesting tension because they were fighting against a dam whose intention was to make the city more habitable. 10 Muir, John. “The Tuolumne Yosemite in Danger” [November 2, 1907], Outlook, Carton 1, Folder 29, Restore Hetch Hetchy Papers, Bancroft Archives, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA. 11 The paradox of colonizing the frontier is that success depends upon an “ability to master the land, transforming virgin territories … for the daily routine.” Kolodny, Anette. The Lady of the Land. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1975. 12 Righter, Robert W. 13 Freeman, John Ripley. “Freeman Report” , Bancroft Archives, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. 14 Righter, Robert W.
Constructing nature as Other. Staging wilderness for consumption.
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our valuation of nature. The Antiquities Act of 1906 permitted the sanctioning of land for cultural preservation. Ecosystem services, conceptualized in recent decades, put a dollar value on the provisions of ecology so they can fold into existing financial markets. Still, these measures serve to reduce and monetize the full spectrum of human values, failing to break the frame of the capitalist imaginary that the Hetch Hetchy discourse strengthened. In the perpetual objectification of the sublime, the intangible and emotional reactions such places catalyze—that quietly, but firmly, stand behind decisions of their management—go unrecognized. In valuing wilderness only for its use to us, we dilute its agency as something beyond our ability to quantify, as something we perhaps cannot define.
A LITTLE HOUSE IN MESSOLONGHI Storytelling and the self “The terrace was big, almost as big as this room, and in the summer we placed the beds outside and slept there. My father slept outside as well. There was a double bed for mum and dad and a single bed for me and then another one for Kostis. No, wait! For Spyros. Yes, it must have been for Spyros. Or could it have been for Takis? I don’t remember anymore… And in the corner there was a table and some chairs, placed under the bower. Such were our summers…”
So, the idea was born, to reconstruct my grandmotherâ€™s house from her narratives. For this, I gathered information from two sources: my grandmotherâ€™s memories and the preserved items. In other words, the immaterial and material ruins of that house. For the first part, that concerning Eiriniâ€™s memories, a strategy was developed that consisted of four exercises. 1 The first exercise: Listening to her narratives and creating sketches (let us call them memory-images) of the spaces presented. This exercise proved to be quite helpful. A number
of sketches were created impulsively, all trying to capture the distinct atmosphere, the aura of the home. 2 Exercise two was the conversion of the memory-images to plans, which revealed how inadequate the information was. The problem is that when you listen to a story, you think you understand the setting in which it took place. Because the narrative is linear in nature, it depends on the flow of time. But when you move to the plan, where all objects have to appear simultaneously on the paper sheet, you realize how little you really know for certain. 3 Exercise three brought some good results. While taking an imaginary walk through her home (as prior researchers have suggested1), Eirini was able to describe the spaces in greater detail. Always taking her body as the center of orientation, she presented in a more systematic way the rooms, their connections, their equipment, and the tasks performed in each one of them. But, as she moved freely inside her home, it was not always easy to follow the tour and, furthermore, she never referred to any obstacles and boundaries as she simply took them for granted. 4 Finally, exercise number four, asking her to draw a plan of the house, was a complete disaster. Eirini indeed took a pencil and a piece of paper, but once she started her narration, she never gave a second glance at the sheet. The house she was trying
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My grandmother, Eirini Tsintzou, was born and raised in Messolonghi, Greece. She grew up in a little house together with her two parents, Fani and Makis, three brothers, Spyros, Takis, and Yiannis, her younger sister Eleni, who died young, and the maid, Julia. In 1953, she met Yorgos Alefantis, a friend of her brother, who was going to become my grandfather. They married a year later and had two children, a boy and a girl. In 1958, Eirini, Yorgos, and their firstborn child, Kostis, moved to Germany, leaving their newborn daughter Athina in Messolonghi, to be raised by her grandparents. When they returned, five years later, they sold the house in Messolonghi and bought an apartment in Kypseli, a good neighborhood in Athens at the time. On March 30, 2016, Yorgos died. Since then, Eirini has been suffering from dementia. Neurologists claim that selective memory is a common coping mechanism. The only subject she likes to discuss is her home in Messolonghi.
to sketch was not to be found in the outside world; she was carrying it inside her. While looking at me, she blindly sketched a couple of lines, forming a highly idiosyncratic code that was hard to translate into a plan. It was made apparent that she and I were looking for something completely different. I was hoping to at last see a plan revealed, while she was tracing her home in order to revisit it. In speaking about her home, my grandmother was revealing a great deal about herself. Referring to family members and friends, routines, traditions, and special occasions, she was constantly painting a picture of herself. But, in addition to the stories one tells, there are other means by which to narrate the self without words. We do this through items and the habits they imply. Here the roles are reversed. It is no longer Eirini talking about her home, but rather it is her home speaking about her. The pots on the faceing page bearing the intitials "M.F." were especially made for Eirini's mother. The large ones were used when hosting dinner or dance parties and the pan was used when preparing the revani, a dessert served on April 30, the name day of Eirini's father. Then, there are the distaff and spindle. They evoke images of the mother sitting in the kitchen and spinning wool into yarn while sipping tea from her favorite Chinese tea cup, brought home by her son, Yiannis, after the Korean War. Items play an important role in people’s lives so much so that, as some sociologists claim, people form a symbiotic bond with them. The items we keep in our homes are not there by chance; they were obtained for some reason at a specific point in our lives. They were purchased or inherited or gifted and they carry a practical, emotional, or symbolic value. To make something
“one’s own” does not refer to possession, to ownership. It means, “making it one with one’s ongoing life.”2 Architects are ones for building houses. They make sketches, prepare plans, and supervise the construction process. From the moment the keys of the house are handed over to the client, the architect loses track of the project. The house is now an independent creature, on its way to becoming a home.Let us reverse the process. Let us ask “what is left from a house that we have inhabited?” Is there anything we can learn, searching through the ruins, both material and immaterial, of our homes? One answer could be that homes are great storytellers: they are here to remind, to tell us who we are, who we were, and who we aspire to be. Referring to narrative’s ability to act as a communication tool, Hannah Arendt once wrote that a narrative’s aim is to “give the ‘who’ of the ‘action.’”3 The connection of identity ('who') and event ('action') makes another one possible, that of identity and place. Dylan Trigg has suggested that sometimes a memory “becomes inextricably bound with place, thus rendering it an event.”4 Indeed, the place corresponding to a memory does not simply act as a mnemonic cue, but rather it reveals itself as the unique place, the one that is of vital importance for the existence of that memory. Thus, it is becoming apparent that the road to knowing oneself, to forming a sense of personal identity, must take a detour via place. This is particularly true in the case of the home, for the home holds us the same way we hold it in us. It is where we feel safe, our haven. Everything in it is fine-tuned and adapted to our habits. This is why, apart from telling stories about oneself, it is also the place where one can rest and daydream, create stories, remember, imagine endlessly, and hope. The home reflects its owner’s life, but it also holds him as he reflects on himself.
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ENDNOTES *The material presented in this article is part of the research thesis titled A little house in Messlonghi: The Material Imagination or the Building as Ruin, by Sofia Tektonidou, conducted in the academic year 2017-2018 under the supervision of Prof. Yorgos Tzirtzilakis and presented at the Department of Architecture, University of Thessaly in 2019. 1 de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall, 3rd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010, 119. 2 Casey, Edward S. Remembering: A Phenomenological Study, 2nd ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987, 192. 3 Ricoeur, Paul. â€œArchitecture and Narrativity.â€? Ricoeur Studies 7, no. 2 (2016): 33. 4 Trigg, Dylan. The Memory of Place: A Phenomenology of the Uncanny. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012, 53.
ABOVE: The former residence of the French governor, located on Goree Island, Senegal, remains a symbol of the integral role the French played during the transatlantic slave trade. Under colonial rule, the mansion, in addition to the dozen slave houses on the island, facilitated and supported the trade of enslaved Africans from the mainland.
RIGHT: The brick fort of Kunta Kinteh Island is all that stands on this former strategic location related to the transatlantic slave trade. Built by the Portuguese beginning in 1456 and inhabited by the British following the abolishment of the transatlantic slave trade, the fort was used as a temporary residence for merchants, soldiers, and administrative officials who controlled access between the Atlantic Ocean and the African hinterland. During this period, the island also housed enslaved persons who had been transported from the African hinterland before eventually embarking on the Middle Passage.
VINCENT AGOE & ALEXA ABURTO
What of the spaces that once violently tethered enslaved African bodies to the strange lands dominated by colonizers?
These spaces were once homes, homes to tired but resilient black bodies delicately teetering between permanency and oblivion. And now, you are here, witness to ghost spaces.
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Their histories are unforgivably tangible. They do not exist in the realm of the hypothetical. They do not merely swim within abstract memory.
128 Your fingertips trace the broken bricks of Kunta Kinteh Island and you press into the indentations left by an enslaved African child. Your footfalls echo across the French governor’s mansion. The wind rustles your hair at the nearby beach. You breathe in the saltwater of Magnolia Plantation. In the footpath where the cracked feet of the enslaved African woman once stumbled on her way to the fields. Rice fields, not native, planted by enslaved Africans years before. Years later: the Charleston rice spoon. History digested daily Dining in ghost homes. Ghost homes lingering in the present.
ABOVE: The Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site, unearthed in 2011 during excavations, highlighted the importance of Rio de Janeiro’s history in the transatlantic slave trade. The site, which received an estimated four million enslaved Africans from 1811 to 1831, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, through the efforts of the Sara Zewde and the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN). BELOW: These cabins, according to Magnolia Plantation’s “From Slavery to Freedom Tour,” were built shortly before the “Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807.” They were meant to house two families, one in each half of the cabin, with a shared chimney in the center. Currently, four of these structures remain on the site near the larger compound, but more may have once been present where the rice fields grew. These four have been restored to specific time periods that highlight the evolution of how families may have used these spaces.
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ABOVE: The fingerprints impressed upon this brick, found on the McLeod Plantation, are those of a young child, according to a local archaeologist. Although the origin of the brick itself is uncertain, it is thought to be from the Boone Hall Plantation, which produced brick for the Charleston, South Carolina area. These prints are a reminder of the diverse age groups of enslaved Africans that were forced to work on plantations.
An absolute and an undecidedâ€Ś Despite the violence. Beyond the suffering. Above the dehumanization. Black bodies, bent but never broken, living on in ghost homes. Their haunting histories linger with us. Exist within us. Visible still, in our daily lives. They matter.
LIFE AFTER DARK How do we create spaces of communal exploration and discovery of the cosmos within the nocturnal city? AUSTIN BAMFORD
“The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths of exquisite interrelationships of the awesome machinery of nature. The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore, we have learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Witnessing the movements of the moon, stars, Milky Way, and meteors is a fundamental first step in examining our roles in the universe and revealing the material origins of the landscapes we inhabit. It is this cosmic understanding that is our source of a sense of belonging. We see the choreography of the stars not only by seeing the celestial bodies with telescopes or the naked eye, but also by experiencing the ways in which ambient light interacts with ground—changing by the minute, season, and year. It is the dynamics between source and surface that catch us by surprise and inspire us to explore. Yet our drive to illuminate urban-nocturnal landscapes intensely and uniformly throughout the city and along its edges has enabled a surveillance state, negating our ability to adventure
Dry-dock observatory, South Boston Naval Annex
into dark frontiers and risk finding phenomenal moments. Current lighting schemes profoundly degrade human health, hinder biotic nocturnal ecologies, and limit our notions of nightlife. Ubiquitous artificial night lighting neutralizes our sense of wonder by presenting night as a human construct. Life After Dark envisions a shared nocturnal experience by revealing the power of ambient light, innovative wayfinding devices, architecture, and ground to make the wonders of night accessible to the everynight urban explorer. Landscape architects and artists have the ability to challenge common perceptions of night as unsafe and transgressive by representing the complexities of night, harnessing transmitted light, and projecting new futures that expand notions of nightlife. This work offers an interdisciplinary perspective on reconstructing the textural and spatial qualities of night to bring us closer to the cosmos and enable nocturnal landscapes to be occupied by more people in more ways. Life After Dark hopes to spur a succession of phenomenological reconsiderations of landscape typologies underrepresented by our discipline.
This work calls upon several sites and methodologies to build an argument for the value of darkness in cities. I began my preliminary research of nocturnal landscapes by studying the phenomenal qualities of light transmitted through translucent materials, particularly cast glass. Through exploration of varied materials and light sources, it is apparent that the textural qualities of ambient light at night can be concentrated in landscape materials that passively illuminate spaces without the use of artificial night lighting. After studying the qualities of ambient light interacting with various surface materials, I applied my theoretical and material exploration to the South Boston Naval Annex, a site in my hometown which has the capacity to serve not only as a threshold in which to communally explore dynamic nocturnal landscapes, but also as a launch pad from which to explore the Harbor Islands and intense darkness. This final site design includes no electric lighting and strongly challenges existing notions of urban nightlife and night lighting. Given the extreme and systemic over-illumination of human habitats, it is necessary that solutions are equally unyielding.
Unfolding rooms: site sections and plan
RITUAL ALIGNMENTS How do we shape site based on a cosmic context? Throughout history, we have related to alignments between the cosmos and human activity in varied and particular ways. These alignments have been signals of privacy, where groups come together around common interests and desires based on circadian rhythms, seasonal changes, and surveillance schedules. They have been cues to harvest, where increased biotic activity and fruition spurs collection, extraction, and accumulation. They have been means of navigation, helping voyagers traverse immense landscapes. And they have provided a space to breathe, allowing reprieve from struggle—a moment to wonder about what our atoms used to be. In the South Boston Naval Annex, a very different set of alignments is needed. Drawings and models offer a site formation that enlivens nocturnal occupation through alignment with cosmic events. The proposed adaptations of the South Boston Naval Annex bring down to Earth the forgotten and phenomenal qualities of ambient light at night. The site stands at the intersection of bright city and dark abyss. It is a landscape in darkness, a monument to the wonder of night and an egress into the void. The landforms’ scale matches the vastness of the Boston Seaport. Luminous surfaces are minimal on southern slopes to avoid blinding reflection during daytime hours. Enclosures range in scale to allow for both the largest gatherings in Boston and private sanctuaries from the activity of the city. This landscape allows an escape from daily life and an awareness of our connection to the universe.
Sectional studies reveal the proposed site to exist as a unique interplay of prospects and shelters, grounded in the context of the city but receptive to cosmic shifts. The seaport has long been viewed as a chronological sequence of malleable parcels. Framing the occupation of emptiness as a cultural endeavor and social practice connects visitors to the universe and propagates a dynamic night. DRY DOCK OBSERVATORY The rim of the dry dock creates a frame by which to measure the rotation of the constellations around the North Star. As ships enter and exit the space, different parts of the sky are visible to the observer. This design does not change the spatial qualities of the dry dock, but rather represents it as a space to be colonized by gatherings of stargazers. This room below the level of the tides is a place to simultaneously escape the city and forge communities. METEOR VALLEY The space between landforms allows for an intimate but visible walk from the South Boston Naval Annex to the water’s edge. This space and the adjacent prospect align with the three largest meteor showers of the year—Quadrantids, Perseids, and Geminid. Individuals can see these cosmic events in solitude or can come together to meet at the top of the luminous stone embankment.
Every year, for at least the next one hundred years, the Harvest Moon will rise within 6° of due east in Boston. That night, the sun will set at the exact opposite side of the sky— 6° of due west—approximately thirty five minutes prior. On this day every year, the proposed meadow will be washed in orange tones from sunset through moonrise. Walls of plantings of staggered heights will frame the moon and sun. Bridges to the water will serve as markers to move through the space throughout the year.
A 140-foot prospect sits at that terminus of the path up the spine of the drumlin. From the peak, the viewer can see beyond the Harbor Islands and across the ocean. Cut-stone blinders shield out the lights and sounds from Logan Airport and Conley Container Terminal, allowing for contemplative and private occupation of the nocturnal frontier. Visitors can reach the summit of the wall by gradually ascending the hill or quickly climbing switchback stairs on the cliff face. Each landing shields out glare from the airport and the terminal, as well as northern winds, providing a protected perspective of the horizon.
MOONRUSH This half-mile breakwater aligns with the lowest moonrise angle, 6° (East-South-East). A limestone wall is capped with granite slabs with large quartz veins running through them. The stone catches the moonlight and illuminates a path out to sea. The mudflats on the southern side of the walk rise in grade to match low tide at the east end and high tide at the western end. The tides rush in and out of this long eddy at a rate that is visible to the naked eye, while the adjacent harbor is calm. This tidal promenade provides spaces for many small groups to listen to the mud or walk out alongside the tide.
As sea level rises and our urban lighting schemes become more ecologically sensitive and humane, the textures of the city and the ocean will emerge as illuminating a diverse and dynamic night. The proposed landscape will endure rising tides and increasingly frequent storm surges, serving as a civic marker of our connection to the universe. Through landform and material complexity, landscape architecture has the capacity to invite a stewardship of our part of the cosmos. There are three synthetic conclusions to this research.
LEFT: Meteor shower diagram RIGHT: Moon orbit diagram
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First, in order to unleash the complexities of nocturnal landscapes, light must be considered as a subject, not an object. Consider the following two sentences:
The light illuminates the path. The path illuminates the light.
Starlight–RockwellKent, wood engraving on paper, 1930
It is understood that our surroundings are made visible by light waves bouncing off of those surroundings and entering our optic network. When we describe light in the landscape, we remark that features are illuminated by a particular light source. This way of describing light ascribes agency to the light source. However, what if we considered the path as the light source? In order to escape the current mindset that the solution to lack of visibility is to add more lights, we must shift to considering the landscape itself as a source of illumination. Second, many believe that one has to leave the city to experience true darkness, when it is in the city where this phenomenon is needed most. Given the physiological, psychological, societal, and cultural importance of nocturnal landscapes, starry night skies must be made accessible to everyone. They are equally comforting and terrifying. The cosmos are our home, and they are essential in understanding who and what we are.
Third, the nocturnal frontier is not a hinterland, a wilderness, or a dark sky preserve, but rather another thread in the entangled web of life. It is a time and space where phenomena associated with nature and culture comingle, implying a multiplicitous oneness of the night. It is imperative to keep investigating the richness of this layered edge to better ground ourselves in the places we call home. Life After Dark provides a first step in bringing visceral and ephemeral landscapes to the forefront of cultural discourse— it is essential to embark on this path of fostering these most human and universal landscapes.
ENDNOTES 1 “Cosmos Carl Sagan S01e01 Episode Script | SS.” Springfield! Springfield! Accessed May 21, 2018. https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tvshow=cosmos-carl-sagan&episode=s01e01. 2 “MoonCalc Moon Position- and Moon Phases Calculator.” MoonCalc - Moon Phase, Moon Eclipse, Moon Position, Lunar Calendar, Moon Calculator, Moon Calendar, Map, Moon Rising, Moonset, Moon Shadow, Moon Height, Full Moon, New Moon. Accessed May 21, 2018. https://www.mooncalc.org/#/42.3456,-71.0256,12/2018.05.21/04:54/1/0.
Meteor Valley–Digital Collage
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WURSTER HALL, 1990 | LAEP STUDENTS IN THE STUDIO Department of Landscape Architecture Collection Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley | Selected by Chris Marino
A NEW VISION FOR THE BIRTHPLACE OF BERKELEY Can we save the West Berkeley Shellmound?
Like many citizens of Berkeley, I’ve been consumed for years by global issues. As a filmmaker documenting indigenous peoples’ sacred site struggles in far-flung lands, I’d never spent much time on local issues. But in the spring of 2016, after arriving home from a screening in Papua New Guinea, the phone rang and the ancestors of Huichin reached out and grabbed me. On the line was a friend who’d seen the agenda for the next meeting of the Berkeley Zoning Board. She said, “Toby, you need to get over to the hearing Thursday night and bring as many Ohlone leaders as you can. There’s a big condo development being proposed for 1900 Fourth Street, the West Berkeley Shellmound and Village Site.” I’d been working for 40 years to help protect sacred places from the Hopi mesas in Arizona to Uluru in Australia, and from the mountains of Central Asia to Mt. Shasta in northern California. But I had never engaged with a threatened sacred place at home, in the urbanized Bay Area. I called Ohlone leader Corrina Gould and Ohlone Way author Malcolm Margolin. They passed on the word to the community of dedicated activists who’ve worked for decades to protect hundreds of Ohlone village and burial sites around San Francisco Bay. On a rainy night, I stood at the top of City Hall’s steps and watched Corrina and Malcolm approach.
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At seventy-six, Malcolm’s waist length grey beard makes him one of Berkeley’s most distinguished and recognizable authors. Tall and thin, he towered over Corrina, the short, stout Ohlone activist who has spent decades fighting to protect the sacred sites of her ancestors—including a local Standing Rock in 2011, when she led the 109-day occupation of a threatened burial site at Sogorea Te in Vallejo. As the three of us walked up the stairs of City Hall, Malcolm said, “I don’t know how you talked me into this, Toby. I don’t do Berkeley political meetings. I can’t stand politics!” Sitting between Corrina and Malcolm, we listened as our worst nightmare unfolded before us. A five-story apartment-retail complex was being proposed for the 2.2-acre site popularly known as Spenger’s Parking Lot, a north-south stretch of asphalt between the now closed Spenger’s fish restaurant and the train tracks. The land was designated a Berkeley City Landmark in 2003 because it lies at the center of what was once the thriving Ohlone maritime village of Huichin. For five thousand years, Corrina’s ancestors built a massive shellmound of oyster, clam, and mussel shells mixed with soil—a site for ceremonies, homes, and burials. The shellmound rose on the northern bank of the reliable freshwater stream that Berkeley settlers later named Strawberry Creek. The Ohlone had scattered by the late 1800s, after decades of being hunted by Catholic priests and gold miners with guns. Corrina told the zoning board that Huichin was the first Ohlone village on the shores of San Francisco Bay. The gentle but fierce indigenous leader described it as “the birthplace of Berkeley, where people first laughed and loved, the first place around the bay where my people had babies and died. They lit fires and held ceremonies on top—and they were buried in the shellmound.” Malcolm testified, “In the Indian world, place has power, and while the physical attributes may be severely degraded, the power and the story remain. This is important. In modern cultures, the past is kept alive through a sense of history, events arranged in a temporal sequence. In the Indian world, time is flat. Knowledge of who a people are is preserved by place and the stories and powers that adhere to places, and together these stories comprise the knowledge bank from which native
people draw their sense of self and of culture. The sense I get is that even if the story should be erased from the memory of all human beings, it would be kept by the power of place in a kind of safe deposit vault accessible to specially trained medicine people, or sometimes given as a gift by the place to ordinary people.” Even as the developers described a monster cash machine that would remove ten feet of earth from beneath the entire 2.2-acre site, we visualized colorful abalone shells, flocks of shorebirds and tule canoes riding winter floods to net migrating salmon. We imagined grizzly bears, oyster shells, and Ohlone families warmed by countless fires. As the shellmound grew to a height of thirty feet over the millennia, the mountain featured ceremonial roundhouses, homes with burials out back, and traditional rituals on top that oriented straight out to Alcatraz and the Western Gate, now the site of the Golden Gate Bridge. At its peak, the massive mound was larger than a football field and its tremendous weight slowly pushed burials down into the soft, wet ground below. Orange flames on top of the mound could be seen across the bay and conveyed messages to other shellmound communities. The village Corrina remembers as Huichin thrived for hundreds of human generations. Smallpox and missions took a huge toll before Gold Rush genocide chased the remaining Ohlone into nearby hills. Early Berkeley settlers later destroyed the shellmound to pave muddy streets and fertilize their farms with shellmound material. Sunday picnickers and high school field trips in the early 20th century dug out human skulls that ended up on mantle pieces around the Bay Area. Today, the Fourth Street shopping area has been redeveloped into an upscale mix of retailers and restaurants where bourgeois clientele and Teslas offer a sharp contrast to homeless encampments under University Avenue and along the train tracks. The developers presented glossy images of a modern architectural wonder rising within the glitzy Fourth Street shopping area. They assured the zoning board that the shellmound was to the west of the Spenger’s Parking Lot property boundary and thus the proposed building site has no archaeological value whatsoever. But the project’s Ohlone
Image courtesy of Christopher McLeod
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consultant admitted that the entire village site is still considered sacred to descendants of the ancestors buried there. Indeed, the entire two-block area surrounding the parking lot has been found eligible for the National Register of Historic Places based on its archaeological significance. But that does not stop much of what we call progress in America. That dramatic evening launched a series of thirty-five meetings over the next two years at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley, where my Sacred Land Film Project is based. A group of activists and native people formed the Emergency Committee to Save the West Berkeley Shellmound, under the leadership of Corrina Gould. Late into many a night, we debated how to tell the story, how to get comments on the Environmental Impact Report from respected archaeologists, and how to attract media attention during a housing crisis. We discussed whether to challenge UC Berkeley’s hoarding of 15,000 human remains, collected in the late 1800s and early 1900s from all over the Bay Area, including many that were dug out of the West Berkeley Shellmound. Suddenly, in March 2016, construction workers digging a trench for an unrelated project just across the street from Spenger’s parking lot unearthed four human burials. Apparently, that project was small enough that no permits had been required. The remains were taken away by the same Ohlone consultant who also runs a side business cleaning, storing, and reburying ancestral remains in a Catholic cemetery in Fremont. There were a few local newspaper articles about these sad events but few people noticed or seemed to care. Not so Corrina Gould. These were her people. At a prayer vigil on a chilly Sunday afternoon at the corner of Fourth Street and Hearst Avenue, Corrina looked through tears across the intersection at the Spenger’s Parking Lot and said, “The ancestors are showing themselves, surrendering themselves, to tell us they are still here and they need us to protect them. They gave themselves up to wake us up.” A crowd of fifty supporters murmured, “Ho.” A few months into the campaign we realized we needed an alternative vision. It’s not enough to fight against a housing development that threatens a burial site. We needed to
propose an inspiring new concept—an altogether different landscape. After another Zoning Board meeting where the draft Environmental Impact Report was presented, a local landscape architect, Chris Walker, approached Corrina and offered to help. Chris did some sketches. Corrina liked what she saw. She said, “The community will need to discuss this. But let’s present it as a concept, not a proposal, to the Berkeley Landmark Commission,” the body that originally designated the property as historically significant. The drawings of a cultural park that would replace the Spenger’s parking lot were inspiring and they very quickly took on a life of their own. Corrina and Ohlone elder Ruth Orta presented the drawings to Berkeley city officials in February 2017 and the powerful images breathed life into an alternative future. They were printed in newspapers, published online and shared on Facebook. Viewers marveled at an orange, poppy-covered mound with a spiral pathway rising above a daylighted Strawberry Creek flowing past a ceremonial dance arbor. Shellmound supporters began to show up by the dozens. As Corrina and I met with city officials to press our case, activists played a cat-and-mouse game in the parking lot. No sooner had the developers paved over a colorful “PROTECT THE WEST BERKELEY SHELLMOUND” mural than the midnight activists would be out in the dark repainting the logo. We photographed each mural and they live on like Ohlone memories of the village by the bay. There would be no smothering this campaign. Corrina based her resistance on prayer and deeply felt obligation to her ancestors. She convened interfaith prayer ceremonies at the site where hundreds listened to profound, heartfelt speeches, rap poetry, and Ohlone songs. Tibetans, Koreans, Aztec descendants, and Hawaiians offered solidarity. We made three short films and posted them on YouTube to spread the word and as the crowds grew, we could feel our movement’s momentum build. Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman interviewed Corrina as they stood above shellmound burials still capped by gray asphalt. It was an incredible experience to watch so many Berkeley residents tilt their heads and say, “Wait, you mean right here, an Ohlone village was born five thousand years ago with burials in a shellmound?” You could see the light go on as
Illustration of design proposal by Chris Walker
After screenings of my film on Native American sacred site battles, In the Light of Reverence, disturbed audience members often ask “What can I do?” The best answer I have come up with has been, “Work under the leadership of local native people to protect and restore a sacred site near where you live.” In response to an urgent threat, our community had organically imagined a positive local vision, which in the divisive era of Trump feels like healing medicine—an opportunity for reconciliation and recognition of a dark and buried history. Corrina and I met with Berkeley’s mayor and city council members. At these meetings, Corrina explained the esoteric meaning of the village location and the ceremonies that were done there. Clearly, the history, cultural integrity and rights of indigenous people mattered to these public officials. “After someone in the community died, my ancestors held a four-
day ceremony,” Corrina explained to Mayor Jesse Arreguin. “The spirit of the deceased first went to Alcatraz to rest for four days. Then, after the ceremony was completed, the spirit was free to continue on through the Western Gate—where the Golden Gate Bridge is now.” The Emergency Committee to Save the West Berkeley Shellmound launched a strategic educational campaign. I wrote two long blog posts challenging the lies told by the developer’s archaeologist. Chris Walker created a sequence of fifteen maps to illustrate the history and cultural significance of the site over time. We found dozens of graphic photographs of the 1950 UC Berkeley archaeological dig that unearthed ninety four human remains and thousands of artifacts. Malcolm arranged for a dozen of those Ohlone artifacts, which had been stored for decades in boxes in the basement of the Hearst Museum, to be displayed at the Berkeley Art Museum. A thousand people turned out to see a giant stone bowl, a gorgeous pink shell necklace, a phallic charmstone, an iridescent abalone hairpin, and a beautiful obsidian spearpoint. When the comments on the Environmental Impact Report were tallied, there were eighteen-hundred letters opposing the project and five in favor. The developers met privately with
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people who thought they knew a lot about history felt a wave of humility, realizing, “If we can’t protect a sacred burial site right here in Berkeley then what hope is there that it can be done anywhere?” Personally, after decades of documentary filmmaking with indigenous communities on six continents, it felt great to finally be working for sacred site protection in my own hometown.
Corrina and tried to buy her off with a compromise offer. She said, “No thanks.” The Ohlone could not allow ten feet of earth to be excavated even if they might get a cultural center and a strip of land. Corrina would not budge as she bought time and delayed. The developers changed strategy. For the first time, a new California law, SB 35, would be tested. The law was the work of Democrats in the Legislature, taking permitting decisions away from local zoning boards and planning departments and prioritizing new “affordable housing” construction close to public transit. The shellmound site is adjacent to Berkeley’s Amtrak station. The developers dropped the environmental impact review of their original project, submitted revised plans that included some less expensive units, and invoked the new fast-track process to build affordable housing. The shellmound defenders had to shift into crisis mode. Corrina made clear that she is not opposed to housing, but she argued that a landmarked archaeological site should be exempt from SB-35. Would the Berkeley City Attorney support her argument? We went back to the Landmarks Commission. Dozens of citizens spoke against the project and urged the commission to defend the site. We went to the City Council where hundreds of supporters packed the chambers. Mayor Arreguin gave Corrina and her two excellent attorneys thirty minutes to make their case. The city had to decide by June 5th. On that day, we all held our breath awaiting the 5pm posting on the City of Berkeley website. In the end, the Berkeley City Attorney came through, upholding the historic landmark designation and ruling that the developer could not hide behind SB 35. We all cheered—and then braced for an expensive lawsuit stretching out for years. And then, on August 24th, the developer pulled out. They dropped the project and walked away. While it may be too early to call it a victory, it was a huge moment that we are still savoring. We have a unique opportunity in Berkeley—a visionary, counter-cultural city that was the first municipality in the
country to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day back in 1992. We can create a new historic landmark that recognizes the true history of California’s native people. We can restore and protect a sacred site. Our design achieves sensitivity and respect and would represent a profound public acknowledgement that the Ohlone people have long deserved. The value of a green, open space with free-flowing water and a monument to native heritage cannot be overstated. Time is short. One glance at Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument teaches that no environmental victory is permanent. The landowners are pushing forward and have sued the city of Berkeley in an attempt to get a building permit approved under SB 35 for a new, willing developer. The shellmound activists will remain vigilant as we pursue our alternative vision. Fending off one developer after another will not provide the permanent protection the Ohlone people are seeking for their ancestors’ village site. We hope that the Trust for Public Land or the Archaeological Conservancy can persuade the owners to sell the property and deed the land to a trust. We hope the city of Berkeley will hold fast and allow the last remnant of the Bay Area’s first human settlement to become a treasured landscape once again—a cultural park for all to enjoy, and a place for Ohlone people and newcomers to remember our common history.
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Image courtesy of Clare Al-Witri
AFTERWORD When I wake up in the morning, I'm home. For me, home means I've always been here. Ohlone people—the first people of the Bay Area and caretakers of the land on which this journal materializes—haven't gone anywhere for over 12,000 years. We've always been here. Even when we were hiding from missionaries, gold miners, and bounty hunters, we were still here. It’s a scary thing to be made invisible and almost erased in your own home. Over just the last couple centuries, newcomers have created laws that have nothing to do with my people. They exclude and ignore us. They take our ancestors and our sacred places away from us to build upon ground that they see only as land. Our spirituality is in this land.
Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We need everyone to participate in bringing healing back to this land, dignity to our ancestors, and in turn, humanity to all of us. We can learn from our mistakes and heal the wounds of California’s traumatic history. We have to do this; not just for ourselves, but for future generations, and for all of those who continue to threaten our home. Everyone who is a part of this society now is part of our territory. What heals the land, heals the people. What heals the land, heals my home. I often tell people, if you're not from here and you know where your ancestors are from, go back and see what if feels like to be in your ancestors’ home. There's a difference when you're on your own land, when you’re connected to a lineage and a place. Go home. See your own names in cemeteries. See houses that your families built. Touch the crumbling ruins. Hear your peoples’ native language spoken again. Feel the power of your ancestors. It changes who you are if you restore a connection to your homeland. People were designed to be connected to a place, and yet along our paths so many of us lost our way. So I offer this challenge and opportunity: if at all possible, know what it is to feel your own land, so that you can understand what it feels like to be on someone else's.
CORRINA GOULD Spokesperson, Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone
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We don't live in a bubble. Today, we coexist with people from all walks of life. We don’t want to push people out; we want to bring everyone inside and envision a future together—for all of us here now, living in Ohlone territory.
GROUND UP TEAM
The eighth issue of Ground Up was made possible by the generous support of: The Beatrix Farrand Fund for Public Education in Landscape Architecture, Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley.
Greta Aalborg-Volper Molly Butcher Dana Davidsen EDITORIAL LEAD Brenna Castro Carlson Will Pitkin Diego Rentería Diana Saenz TEAM MEMBERS Clare Al-Witri Miriam Arias Juanita Ballesteros Megan Bradley Cheyenne Concepcion Josh Gevertz Lin Huang Jiaqi ‘Lucky’ Li Terrence Ngu Julia Prince Diego Romero Evans Leen Shamlati Charlie Yue
FACULTY ADVISORS Karl Kullmann Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley Chip Sullivan Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, UC Berkeley
SPECIAL THANKS TO Jessica Ambriz Della & Eugene Butcher Danika Cooper Susan Retta And to Chris Marino and the Environmental Design Archives for curating the archival images throughout the journal.
...curated and produced by students in the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley. Published annually, each issue centers on a theme of contemporary relevance with interdisciplinary possibilities. Articles and artworks are gathered through an open call for submissions, so naturally the journal is always guided by the interests of our readers and collaboratorsâ€”from academics to practitioners, artists to scientists, and students to professionals. Learn more at groundupjournal.org
NEXT PAGE: Ground Up Reading Retreat | January 18th, 2019 The Residence of Della and Eugene Butcher, Portola Valley, CA
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GROUND UP IS...
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ALEXA ABURTO & VINCENT AGOE Alexa Aburto graduated from the UC Berkeley in 2018 where she studied Literature and Creative Writing. She currently works at an educational nonprofit in Los Angeles that focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion inside and outside the classroom. Vincent Agoe is a native of Accra, Ghana, a heritage that deeply influences his interests in landscape architecture, city planning, and urban design. He currently works as a Landscape Designer with Anderson Krygier, Inc. based in Portland, Oregon. He holds a MLA from UC Berkeley
AUSTIN BAMFORD Austin Bamford is a designer at CMG Landscape Architecture in SF. His understanding of landscape is rooted in an interdisciplinary, human-ecological worldview that stems from an education in fine art, design, economics, and landscape stewardship. Austin holds a MLA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic.
BRENNA CASTRO CARLSON Brenna Castro Carlson is a landscape architect in Northern California. Her work focuses on urban ecosystems, vegetation dynamics, and public social landscapes—particularly for children. She holds a BS in Landscape Architecture from UC Davis in 2012 and is currently pursuing a MLA at UC Berkeley.
JEFF CHEUNG Jeff Cheung is a Bay Area-based, Chinese-American artist, who is the cofounder of Unity Press and Unity Queer Skateboarding.
PETER COMEAU Peter is a researcher, designer, and fabricator of architectural spaces, he aims to better understand the relationship between our personality and our built environments through photographs, mixed media art, visualizations, prototypes, and installations Peter attempts to create physical environments that elicit and analyze atypical behaviors, subverting the formalities of our architectures that have been instilled within us.
JOEL AUSTIN CUNNINGHAM Joel is spatial practitioner and researcher based between London and Hong Kong. His independent projects explore experimental modes of practice that prioritise a social agenda and have been exhibited at numerous exhibitions and events, perhaps most notably at nomadic art biennale Manifesta12. Joel holds MArch from the Royal College of Art and is currently practicing as a Junior Architect with OMA-AMO.
KEVIN BERNARD MOULTRIE DAYE & BRENDA ZHANG Kevin Bernard Moultrie Daye (KBMD) makes music, designs, curates, fabricates, and organizes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and SF, California. Brenda Zhang (Bz) makes art, designs, fabricates, teaches, and organizes in the SF Bay Area. They hold MArch degrees from UC Berkeley, and are co-founders of SPACE INDUSTRIES, an architectural design collective that believes civilization is a spatial practice.
MICHAEL DEAR Michael Dear is emeritus professor in the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley and author of Why Walls Won’t Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide, Oxford University Press, 2015).
ISABELA DOS SANTOS Isabela Dos Santos is an animator/artist/human person living in Miami Beach, doing arts marketing by day and creating tiny art by night (between large bites of cake). "See No Evil, Feel No Evil" first appeared at the National YoungArts Foundation booth at Pulse Contemporary Art Fair in December 2018.
YASMINA EL CHAMI Yasmina is an architect, Cambridge Trust scholar and PhD candidate in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Her research and photography look at the various ways in which architecture, the landscape, and the territory reflect and embody histories of power and conflict. She holds a BArch from the American University of Beirut and an MPhil in Architecture from the Architectural Association in London. Her work has been published and exhibited in Beirut, Bahrain, Crete, Venice, London, and Cambridge.
COURTNEY FERRIS Courtney Ferris is a designer working within the disciplines of urban design, journalism, participatory process, and active transportation planning. Her work often challenges how we engage with, understand or question the processes that design our lives and has resulted in community process driven urban scale projects, design exhibitions, installations, and publications. A champion of public institutions, Courtney has spent much of her career in local government and is a proud product of an entirely west coast public school education with degrees from the University of Oregon and UC Berkeley.
BEN GITAI Ben Gitai is an architect who links the disciplines of territory, landscape, and architecture in his practice. He is also a research associate and doctoral student with the DesignLab at the ETH Zurich. Engaging various scales, his projects explore layers of history in the Middle East and beyond, including his personal history, through themes like memory, religion, social control, and utopia.
ALEX GONZALEZ Alex Gonzalez is an artist and student in the Landscape Architecture Department at UC Berkeley. His interests lie at the intersections between art, design, philosophy, and sustainability. His hobbies include nature, art, film, and contemplation.
CORRINA GOULD Corrina Gould is spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone. She founded the West Berkeley Shellmound campaign to save the 5,000 year old, landmarked village and sacred site—the oldest in the Bay—from development. Born and raised in Oakland, California (the territory of Huchiun), Corrina co-founded Indian People Organizing for Change and the indigenous women-led Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.
KAROLINE HJORTH & RIITTA IKONEN Finnish artist Riitta Ikonen’s work encompassing wearable sculptures, performance, and photographs has been in curated solo and group exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Tate Britain, NADA Miami, and London 2012 Olympic Park, and 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, amongst others. Karoline Hjorth is a Norwegian photographer, artist, and writer. Her first book Mormormonologene (Press) was published in 2011, followed by Eyes as Big as Plates (Hjorth & Ikonen, Press 2017) and Time is a ship that never casts anchor (Hjorth & Ikonen, 2018). Her latest book, Algoritmeanekdoter (Press) was published in February 2019.
NATE KAUFFMAN Nate Kauffman is a climate change consultant and planner, specializing in adaptation strategy. He founded the Live Edge Adaptation Project, and is earning his PhD researching large-scale material flows in developed shorelines at UC Berkeley’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, from which Nate also holds a masters degree.
KARL KULLMANN Karl Kullmann is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at UC Berkeley, where he teaches design studios and courses in landscape theory and digital representation. Karl’s research currently explores the cultural agency of topographically complex landscapes.
JUSTINE LAI Justine Lai is an artist based in New York City. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Cranbrook Academy of Art.
FANG LEE Fang Lee is an architectural designer and researcher from Singapore with a deep interest in the project of the city—from Lima’s wall of shame to Singapore’s reclaimed territory. She is pursuing a MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge, prior to which she received her AA Diploma from Architectural Association in London.
CHRISTOPHER MCLEOD Christopher McLeod is the director of the Sacred Land Film Project at Earth Island Institute in Berkeley. He produced and directed the award-winning PBS films: Standing on Sacred Ground, 2014, In the Light of Reverence, 2001, Poison in the Rockies, 1990, and The Four Corners: A National Sacrifice Area, 1983.
ALEXANDRA MEI Alexandra Mei is the Charles Eliot Traveling Fellow for the Harvard Graduate School of Design, studying the weathering of public landscapes in Asia. Previously, she was a Design Associate at Marta Fry Landscape Associates in SF, and co-chair of the GSD’s Women in Design. Alexandra graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in architecture and from the Harvard GSD with a MLA.
DAVID MEYER David Meyer is founder and principal of Meyer Studio-Land Architects (MSLA), a Berkeley-based firm of dedicated professionals committed to battling banality at every turn. Before MSLA, David Meyer was a partner at Peter Walker and Partners and co-founder of Schwartz Smith Meyer with Martha Schwartz and Ken Smith. He has been an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley for 20 years and currently teaches the capstone design studio for graduate students.
GRACE MITCHELL TADA Grace Mitchell Tada studies landscape architecture and environmental design at UC Berkeley. She frequently writes about the built environment, and is coediting the forthcoming volume Black Landscapes Matter.
MISCHELLE MOY Mischelle Moy is a Brooklyn-based visual artist who uses photography and heavy photo-manipulation to create vibrant interpretations of our natural landscapes. Typically in psychedelic and pastel palettes, these locations are transformed into an otherworldly space.
MAYURI PARANTHAHAN Mayuri Paranthahan is a candidate for the Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Waterloo and a curatorial intern at The Museum of Modern Art. Her interests lie in domesticity, feminism and film theory, with a focus on voyeurism and identity in a Western, consumerist context.
CAROLINE PARTAMIAN & ETHAN PRIMASON Caroline Partamian is a musician, visual artist, and curator influenced by her training in dance. She works closely with the concept of abreaction–the extraction of dormant memory stored within a muscle, resurfaced through physical movement, of which an individual was previously unaware. Ethan Primason is a sound artist, recording engineer, radio producer, and musician. His work and practices are heavily collaborative and guided by anthropological and ritualized approaches towards sound, transmission, improvisation, healing, and storytelling.
JULIA PRINCE Julia Prince holds a BS in Community Development and Applied Economics and is currently pursuing her MLA at UC Berkeley. She is interested in the reciprocity of research and practice to reveal oppressed narratives and discover novel ways of conceptualizing and representing landscape.
NANCY SEATON Nancy Seaton is an Associate Designer and Horticulturist at Future Green Studio in Brooklyn, New York. She co-edits a limited-run landscape journal, Prospect, and often collaborates with a collective of designers, historians, and artists known as LAND kunst. Nancy earned an MLA from Harvard Graduate School of Design and a MA in landscape studies from the Bard Graduate Center.
CHIP SULLIVAN Chip Sullivan is an artist and professor of Landscape Architecture at UC Berkeley. Chip received the 2016 Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects, which recognized excellence in landscape architecture education. His latest book, Cartooning the Landscape, concerns the metaphysics of drawing and learning how to 'see.'
SOFIA TEKTONIDOU Sofia Tektonidou is an undergraduate student in the Department of Architecture, University of Thessaly. She has worked on Documenta 14, amongst other exhibitions, as well as stage design projects and archaeological excavations. She is interested in the connection between narrativity and the built environment.
ROBERT UNGAR Robert Ungar is an Oakland-based architect, urban designer, and a lover of informal public life. He researches climate change adaptation for sustainable urban development at Calthorpe Associates in Berkeley and the Studio for Urban Projects in SF. Robert holds a BArch from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where he also taught infographics and civic architecture, and a Master of Urban Design from UC Berkeley.
JESS WILSON Jess Wilson is a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. She believes in the power of design to resolve ecological and cultural conflicts, whether it’s a mere site installation or an epic urban intervention. Her approach to all design challenges—from furniture to urban master planning—is always multi-disciplinary and multi-scalar.
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MEGAN JONES SHIOTANI Megan Jones Shiotani is a practicing landscape designer at Wenk Associates in Denver, Colorado. She holds a BArch from the University of Pennsylvania and a MLA from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her work is included in the permanent collection at the Topaz Museum in Delta, Utah.
BIRDSEYE VIEW OF BERKELEY, 1891 Berkeley Maps Collection Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley | Selected by Chris Marino
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Austin Bamford Brenna Castro Carlson Jeff Cheung Peter Comeau Joel Austin Cunningham Kevin Bernard Moultrie Daye Yasmina El Chami Michael Dear Isabela Dos Santos Courtney Ferris Ben Gitai
Chris Marino Christopher McLeod Alexandra Mei David Meyer Mischelle Moy Mayuri Paranthahan Caroline Partamian Ethan Primason Julia Prince Nancy Seaton Megan Jones Shiotani
Grace Mitchell Tada
Karoline Hjorth Riitta Ikonen
Jess Wilson Sofia Tektonidou
Ground Up is the student-run journal of the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning at University of California, Berke...
Published on May 23, 2019
Ground Up is the student-run journal of the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning at University of California, Berke...