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recipient of Harvard Universtiy’s 2015-2016 GSD MLA Thesis Prize

towardssentience.com

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00 | foreword

http://towardssentience.com/foreword/

When we create [landscapes] through a medium, it instantaneously loses its essence and becomes nothing but a representation and a fiction brought to reality. Therefore, a true [landscape] can only exist in the realm of the ideal and could never be brought upon the realm of the being. [1] Perception -> Product As the machine’s senses are different in that of a human, its perception is modulated by the translation of such perceived phenomena happening in the realm of reality into the realm of the virtual (sensing); and eventually re-applied back into reality to create a neo-incarnate. The compounding process is as follows: Reality -> Virtual -> Neo-Reality -> Virtual...

[1] My interest in the development of this thesis originated from this theoretical passage I previously wrote, which can be applied to architecture or any discipline that explores the epistemology of the techne, and of ontology, specifically in relation to production (that is being further aided by technological advancements). The overall question stems from my latent interests in the usual-dichotomous agents of the real and the virtual; the representation and the presentation; and of course, nature and the non-nature. Within these dichotomies, I find myself interested in the deletion of the gap that divides such “opposition,” and the understanding of a morphological gradient between the two. Specifically, within the topic of the thesis, the nature/non-nature divide is something I wanted to further explore within the context of technology (sp. sensing/responsive technologies). This theoretical disorientation situates the assertion in the realm of the auteur theory —and eventually the question of autonomy. 4

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contents foreword introduction abstract case studies site analyses prototyping

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experimentation

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proposal

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defense

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glossary

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bibliography

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highlights

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press

01 02 03 04 05 06

acknowledgements

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01 | introduction

http://towardssentience.com/introduction/

The accepted norm that our environment is degrading and the perceived notion that Nature is in danger has problematized and undermined the value of emerging successive ecologies. It even oversimplified the complex processes of Nature itself. Ubiquitous substances such as pollution are immediately deemed bad, without consideration that its “impurity” is an indication of a productive system. This creates a dichotomy between the “idealized and the untouched” Edenic image of Nature and the so-called “negative effects” of production. However, production has always been in dialectic with Nature. If we were to frame Nature through a Marxian perspective, we can deduce that production is a process by which the form of nature is altered. “The producer ‘can work only as nature does, that is

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by changing the form of the matter... he is constantly helped by natural forces... the producer changes the forms of the materials furnished by nature, in such a way as to make them useful to him...” As such, we as humans have altered objects from Nature through labor to produce useful things in order to facilitate and fulfill our needs to thrive as species, whether or not we are conscious of the ecological impact we are causing and altering. Production is inevitable; Nature is destined to evolve temporally. Today, the virtual realm has become an extension of our being, where digital connectivity has become a part of our second-Nature. A disconnection from this phenomenological infrastructure brings upon a sense of anxiety, which can be disabling. Though created by man, it is much more unsettling when this terrain becomes uncontrolled, and informalities,


synthetic Natures, begin to occur without man’s doings. The idea of man’s inability to tame such a creature reverts our perception towards such creations as “unnatural,” and exoticizes their existence as being the “other.”

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02 | abstract

http://towardssentience.com/abstract/

This thesis incorporates the design of a robotic machine, which will attune the fluvial morphology of the LA River through a series of real-time sensing and responsive manipulations as a way to curate the projective successions of the river—constantly altering and modifying the riverine landscape, privileging the evolution of ecological processes over static constructions. The machine will learn from initial site conditions of the LA River, but also from the modifications it will produce independently. The landscape machine will eventually become sentient, through learning from its environments, iteratively honing on specific operational processes:

to erode the existing concrete lining; to attenuate flows of water and sediment in order to accrete new temporal landforms; to infiltrate the subterranean arid landscape of LA and charge new aquifers; and to predict the successive planting that would endure the projective new Nature of the river. Sentient-ly, it will attune the fluvial landscape—to a level of degree that man is incapable of processing in order to respond and modify the landscape in real-time. Projective-ly, sentient machines will be created to aide landscape architects and designers to address

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human’s incapability to negotiate complexities that occur in real-time, which necessitates immediate responses. Through this new imagined sensory, it will enable the emergence of new forms of landscape, which was not possible without the machine’s new dimensions of sentience.

fig. 02-1 feedback loop diagram showing the machine’s learning; narrowing the gap between intentionality and indeterminacy

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02.1 | theoretical frame http://towardssentience.com/abstract/

Rejection of the dichotomous image created by ‘the manmade’ and ‘the idealized’ untouched image of Nature was brought on by technological advancements humans developed for modifying all known Natures. Such production brings upon an anxiety as to what was once natural. Through our ability to create and conceptualize hybrids of biotic and abiotic systems, we have also facilitated the evolution and image of novel ecologies. Furthermore, design is consistently introduced to “tame” newly-ostracized biologic systems to human will. To legitimize uncanny creations, humans find and extract any economic and practical capacities. However, despite levels of human control, there is always a moment in which a system will fail.

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Today’s systemic failures, re-situate novel ecologies in the contemporary realm of “uncontrolled environments.” Can responsive systems learn from the living landscapes? Can sentient machines mitigate foreseeable systemic failures, as well as facilitate the emergence of novel ecologies? This thesis incorporates the design of a machine that will learn from initial site conditions, but also from modifications it will produce independently. The landscape machine will eventually become sentient, freeing itself from man’s control. Autonomously, it will act as a non-subjective author—constantly altering and modifying landscapes, privileging the evolution of ecology over static constructions. Future landscape designers will be creators of


autonomous, human-value reinforcing machine because, as individuals, we have lost touch with our ability to negotiate the complexities of our relationships with non-human actors throughout all of earth’s landscapes.

fig. 02-2 cyclical relationship of the machine, the environment and the landscape

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A shift in what has become the accepted norm concerning ecology is necessarily upon us.

fig. 02-3 temporal feedback loop

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03 | case studies

http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

The following precedents and case studies were explored in the initial development of the thesis. The projects that are situated as largescale infrastructural interventions embedded in the landscape seeks to gain control of Nature for the benefit of man’s practical values through the exploitation of its Capital. Smaller projects are installation-based, which captures the human-interaction with biologic matter producing hybridized conditions—intangible experiences revealing the latencies that otherwise would not have been revealed with man’s sensories. These projects informed the design proposal of the thesis in the creation of a sentient machine that responds to the environment and landscape in realtime. fig. 03-1 relational binaries of “natural” and man-made; and the “wild” and the “tamed;” based upon Rosalind Krauss’ Klein Diagram

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fig. 03-2 relationship diagram of each case study; perception - product

fig. 03-3 levels of control

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03.1 | mississippi river

http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

-northern Minnesota to Pilottown, Louisianna (Gulf of Mexico) -The Mississippi River is a meandering beast that receives 41% of the US’ watershed downstream to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1802, the US Army Corps of Engineers established to re-engineer the river by creating minimal interventions, such as removing snags, closing off secondary channels, and excavating rocks and sandbars. The upper part of the Mississippi River has 29 locks and dams, including narrowing a channel to 9’ for barge traffic. Such diversions have affected the river’s course, producing a river that is both “natural” and manmade.

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Re-envisioning Harold Fisk’s temporal meandering map of the Mississippi, I’ve re-diagrammed Fisk’s map with the addition of the years post 1944 to further reveal the meandering movement of the river.


fig. 03.1-1 temporal + morphological diagram of the Mississippi River from the mid 1800’s to the present.

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< fig. 03.1-2 Howard Fiskâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s temporal mapping of the Mississippi River, dated 1765-1944, data acquired through a comprehensive soil analysis

fig. 03.1-3 the Mississippi watershed

fig. 03.1-4 aerial image of the Mississippi River meandering across the landscape

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03.2 | caernarvon diversion http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

US Army Corps of Engineers St. Bernard, Louisianna 1991-Present Designed and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1991, the Caernarvon DIversion diverts fresh water, nutrients and sediments from the Mississippi River to coastal bays and marshes in Breton Sound for fish and wildlife enhancement. Benefits include restoration of former ecological conditions by controlling salinity and supplementing nutrients and sediments. A total of 16,000 acres of marshland will be preserved and 77,000 acres of marshaes and bays will be benefited by the project. The diversion takes place under regulated conditions developed from monitoring the impact on the environment and the fish and wildlife. The

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project benefits existing commercial fisheries by enhancing marsh conditions, and improving the fish and wildlife resources of the area. Such project along the Mississippi has affected the ecosystem, creating new species that are classified as â&#x20AC;&#x153;exotic.â&#x20AC;?


fig. 03.2-1 temporal plan and section of the Caernarvon Spillway > fig. 03.2-2 temporal axonometric of the Caernarvon Spillway

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< fig. 03.2-3 aerial view of Caernarvon

fig. 03.2-4 Caernarvo, pre-overflow, spillway closed

fig. 03.2-5 Caernarvo, overflow, spillway opened

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03.3 | wax lake delta [outlet] http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

US Army Corps of Engineers Pilotown, Louisianna (Gulf of Mexico) 1942The Wax Lake Delta is a river delta in Louisianna that was formed by rapid deposition of sediment following the creation of a canal through Wax Lake off of the Atchafalaya River in 1942. It is located roughly 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Morgan City adjacent to the Atchafalaya delta. It receives 34 million tons of sediment per year. In the 64 years between 1941 and 2005, Wax Lake was completely filled with sediment, and the delta prograded approximately 8 kilometers into the sea.

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fig. 03.3-1 temporal + morphological plan of the Wax Lake Deltaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s meandering path

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< fig. 03.3-2 satellite imagery of the Wax Lake Delta

fig. 03.3-3 Wax Lake Delta, pre-Hurricane Katrina, 2005

fig. 03.3-4 Wax Lake Delta, post-Hurricane Katrina, 2010

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03.4 | alameda island

http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

US Army Corps of Engineers Alameda, California 1912As Alameda island became settled, buildable land became a demand. Through the filling of the mudflats, Alameda grew in size, most significantly with the commission of the military to be used as a naval air station. However, being situated in the Bay Area, the synthetic filling of the island is what could potentially cause its own demise due to earthquake, which in turn could cause liquefaction.

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fig. 03.4-1 temporal + morphological map of the synthetic growth and potential natural decline of Alameda Island

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< fig. 03.4-2 susceptibility map of Alameda Island; inundation in relation to liquefaction

fig. 03.4-3 Alameda Island, 1940; landfilling

fig. 03.4-4 Alameda Island, present; current status

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03.5 | sand engine [motor] http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

Marcel Stive South Holland, The Netherlands 2011 The Sand Engine is an experiment in the management of dynamic coastline. It is a scandbarshaped peninsula created by man; the surface is about 1 square-kilometers. It is expected that this sand is then moved over the years by the action of waves, wind and currents along the coast. To protect the West of the Netherlands, against the sea, the beaches along the coast are artificially replenished every five years, and it is expected that the san engine will make replenishment along the Delfland Coast unnecessary for the next 20 years. This method is expected to be more cost-effective and also helps nature by reducing the repreated disruption caused by dredging and replenishment.

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fig. 03.5-1 Sand Engine cyclical + temporal plans

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< fig. 03.5-2 sand replenishment process through dredging

fig. 03.5-3 Sand Engine, phase 1

fig. 03.5-4 Sand Engine, phase 2

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03.6 | mussel choir

http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

THE LIVING [David Benjamin + Natalie Jerimijenko] Pier 35 EcoPark, along Manhattan’s East River 2009 Mussel Choir was an interactive installation that used mussels as biosensors to detect concentrations of pollutants flowing through Manhattan’s East River, along Pier 35’s EcoPark. The mussels were used to monitor and detect the diurnal fluctuation of water quality levels, causing for their shells to open and close at various degrees. The angles of each mussel’s shell opening were used as an indicator of the intensity of pollutants, which were translated ino a spectrum of light projected above the surface of the water. The integrated design of the biologic and machinic

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elements produced a visual display of flux that , otherwise, would have remained invisible to human sensories alone and only remained latent. The hybridized condition enabled such elucidation of the phenomena.v


fig. 03.6-1 Mussel Choir responsive analysis, through pollutants input simulated as attractor points

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< fig. 03.6-2 view of the Mussel Choir installation from the East River

fig. 03.6-3 synthetic attachment of programmed device to live mussels that are used as biosensors

fig. 03.6-4 Mussel Choir installation

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03.7 | confluence

http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

THE LIVING + Scape New York, NY 2011 Confluence is a collaborative project produced by THE LIVING and Scape. Confluence used sensors underwater similarly to THE LIVINGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s previous project, Mussel Choir. The elucidation of the aquatic life happening below the surface is the design objective to be used as an educational method. The location of these species are then projected onto the surface where the people can interact with the digital representation of marine life.

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fig. 03.7-1 interactive surface produced by the confluence of humans and marine-life occupation

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< fig. 03.7-2 diagram of the confluence/interaction

fig. 03.7-3 rendering of one of the floating research labs docked

fig. 03.7-4 plan view of the interactive pier platform

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03.8 | geoweaver

http://towardssentience.com/case-studies/

California College of the Arts, Architecture Studio Jeff Maeshiro, Jia Wu, Mary Sek; under the instructions of Jason Johnson and Michael Shiloh San Francisco, California 2013 Geoweaver is a robotic machine that prints geometric modules on the landscape based ont he variability of the slope of the surface it is traversing. However, the robotic device does not sense the evironment in which is in existence to produce its prints. The intended geometric patterns are affected by the slope and texture of the surface it is printed on.

fig. 03.8-1 geoweaver parts diagram

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fig. 03.8-2 resulting prints

fig. 03.8-3 analysis diagram of potential resulting outputs based on the indeterminate surfaces

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04 | site

http://towardssentience.com/site/

A Los Angeles politician once said during his campaign that if he were elected, he would paint the concretized river blue to make it more like a river. [1] Though historically insignificant now, this perspective is symptomatic of many Angelenos’ contemporary views of the LA River. This landscape has escaped man’s subjection and is now in the realm of the “uncontrolled.” Coincidentally, this has been a political platform for Eric Garcetti to be re-elected as LA’s mayor for 2017, with projects he fully supported such as the Sixth Street Viaduct Replacement Project. He also secured a $1 Billion budget from Washington D.C. in May 2014 to restore an 11-mile stretch of the river. [2] “Taming” the LA River is a paragon of a natural system we attempt to control by use of systems of interventions, including machines. Despite of our

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inability to tame such a creature with our direct intentions, we have produced synthetic ecologies as accidental by-products (novel ecologies), which rather than be scorned for their existence, should be seen as the river’s true eco-system (neo-Nature) with vital features that maintain its equilibrium: • escaped parrots from the now-defunct Busch Gardens [3]; • bat ecologies roosting under bridges, maintaining mosquito population; • human encampments foraging for plastic bottles to prevent deposition at the mouth of the river; • and plastic bags lining and strengthening the concrete substrate. [Fletcher, 2008]


Proposed projects to revitalize and “restore” the LA River to an arbitrary point in time will damage the current river that is supported by synthetic ecologies that have naturalized with the concretized channel. As productive beings, in LA and elsewhere, we will continue to manipulate Nature by extracting practical values through hybridizing biological and mechanical systems. Can landscape designers curate the existing synthetic ecologies of the LA River to mitigate potential and foreseeable eco-systemic failures of the typical restoration projects being proposed? -[1] Blake Gumprecht, The Los Angeles River : Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999)

[2] Richard Simon, “Garcetti Lobbies US for more expensive LA River Project,” (LA: LA Times, May 26, 2014), http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-dc-rivergarcetti-20140527-story.html. [3] California Invasive Species Advisory Committee, The California Invasive Species List, (Sacramento: Invasive Species Council of California, 2010), p. 9.

fig. 04-1 current state of the LA River, Leif Estrada, 2016

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fig. 04-2 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 04-3 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 04-4 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 04-5 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 04-6 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 04-7 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 04-8 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 04-9 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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04.1 | site analysis http://towardssentience.com/site/

The following mappings and diagrams were produced in the initial analysis f the proposed site. The temporal mappings of the river, revealed the extents of the once-shifting watershed of LA River prior to its channelization and concretization in 1938 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The once-existing ecology of the LA River began to decline, yet produced new ecologies that are considered to be â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;novel,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; by conservative ecologists.

fig. 04.1-1 LA Riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s temporal morphology, mapping the movement and shifting watershed and basin from 1815 to its present condition (2016)

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fig. 04.1-2 LA River mapping analyses showing its moving watershed and basin; 1815, 1825, 1938 and present (2016) (L to R; T to B)

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Mayor Eric Garcettiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plan to revitalize 2.3 miles of the river in DTLA will potentially produce 9.8 million cubic feet of concrete, as well as open the river to sedimentation processes. This is about 5% of the volume of the concrete that lines the total length of the 51-mile river from Calabasas all the way down to Long Beach, which is 208 million cubic feet of concrete.

> fig. 04.1-3 potential volumetric concrete that would be removed adjacent to the 4 sites purchased by the city and county of Los Angeles

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fig. 04.1-4 LA River volumetric water conveyance; Pre-Channelization and Present Concretized condition

fig. 04.1-5 comparative typical section of the LA River showing its ecological corridor; Pre-Channelization and Present Concretized condition

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fig. 04.1-6 volumetric conveyance of water and concrete

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fig. 04.1-7 moisture absorption rate for every 1 cubic foot of soil

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fig. 04.1-8 water percolatory rate in relation to topographic slope

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fig. 04.1-9 soil types mapping

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fig. 04.1-10 temporal mapping of historic, present and projective zones of the LA Riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s successional fluvial morphology

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05.1 | soils

http://towardssentience.com/soils-analyses/

The following soils analyses were conducted in order to better understand the projective types of species that could be potentially supported by the different types of soils. Through this analysis, a geomorphology model was used to gain a better understanding of the sedimentation processes in relation to the four specific types of particles; gravel, sand, silt and clay; and four different mixtures including: loam, sandy loam, silt loam, and clay loam. These were simulated with the use of the constant fluvial hydrological model to understand the patterns of deposition and understand through predictive modeling where the ideal soil areas could become host to the proliferation of projective vegetal species. fig. 05.1-1 engineered soil samples of particles used in the live model simulation of the fluvial morphology

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silt loam

sandy loam

clay

clay loam fig. 05.1-2 engineered soils simulation on the geo-morphology table

loam

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fig. 05.1-3 textural imagery of soils; (clockwise, top left to bottom left: gravel, sand, clay and silt

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fig. 05.1-4 soil profiles analysis, looking at its natural properties including: angles of repose, salinity, density, pH level, absorption rate, nutrient retention, and viscosity

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fig. 05.1-5 Typical Historic Section of the River (pre-channelization/ concretization) with â&#x20AC;&#x153;Nativeâ&#x20AC;? riparian species

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fig. 05.1-6 Typical Present Section of the River (channelized/ concretized) with â&#x20AC;&#x153;Invasiveâ&#x20AC;? riparian species

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fig. 05.1-7 Typical Future Section of the River (post-channelized/ concretized) with â&#x20AC;&#x153;Projectiveâ&#x20AC;? riparian species

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05.2 | vegetal

http://towardssentience.com/veg-analyses/

Through the understanding of the soil types studied in the previous chapter, one can deduce the types of planting that proliferate and thrive in specific zones based on their prefered conditions. Using the similar method in analyzing the different types of soils, the same graphic chart were used in charting each of the plants’ ideal slope, salt tolerance, soil density, pH tolerance, nutrient requirement, and viscosity tolerance. These are respective to the same metrics as the soils, which allows for a method of understanding what type of soil each plant species prefers. In doing so, the overlapping areas become the shared values of both soil and plant.

fig. 05.1-0 catalogue of vegetal species that were “native,” “invasive,” and “potentially “projective” along and in the LA River

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fig. 05.2-1 partial present vegetal ecology of the LA River

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fig. 05.2-2 “native” species: sycamore

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fig. 05.2-3 â&#x20AC;&#x153;nativeâ&#x20AC;? species: white alder

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fig. 05.2-4 “native” species: black walnut

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fig. 05.2-5 “native” species: cottonwood

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fig. 05.2-6 â&#x20AC;&#x153;nativeâ&#x20AC;? species: elderberry

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fig. 05.2-7 â&#x20AC;&#x153;nativeâ&#x20AC;? species: sugar plum

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fig. 05.2-8 â&#x20AC;&#x153;nativeâ&#x20AC;? species: mugwort

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fig. 05.2-9 â&#x20AC;&#x153;nativeâ&#x20AC;? species: mulefat

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fig. 05.2-10 “native” species: cat tail

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fig. 05.2-11 “invasive” species: palm

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fig. 05.2-12 “invasive” species: ash

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fig. 05.2-13 “invasive” species: tree of heaven

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fig. 05.2-14 â&#x20AC;&#x153;invasiveâ&#x20AC;? species: tamarisk

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fig. 05.2-15 â&#x20AC;&#x153;invasiveâ&#x20AC;? species: mustard

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fig. 05.2-16 â&#x20AC;&#x153;invasiveâ&#x20AC;? species: arundo

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fig. 05.2-17 “invasive” species: cocklebur

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fig. 05.2-18 “invasive” species: castor bean

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fig. 05.2-19 â&#x20AC;&#x153;invasiveâ&#x20AC;? species: fennel

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fig. 05.2-20 â&#x20AC;&#x153;projectiveâ&#x20AC;? species: red maple

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fig. 05.2-21 “projective” species: smooth cordgrass

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fig. 05.2-22 “projective” species: eel grass

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fig. 05.2-23 “projective” species: common reed

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fig. 05.2-24 “projective” species: cardinal flower

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fig. 05.2-25 “projective” species: gayfeather

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fig. 05.2-26 “projective” species: blue indigo

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fig. 05.2-27 “projective” species: spider lily

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fig. 05.2-28 “projective” species: blizard’s tail

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05.3 | proliferation

http://towardssentience.com/proliferation-analyses/

Vegetal proliferation was a third variable that was considered as an important factor in determining the projective morphology of such riverine systems. The following visualization were produced from an earlier work studying the distributional growth of Spartina Alterniflora and Zostera Marina (two of the identified potential projective species). Their root growth is simulated using Grasshopper. The script was produced in collaboration with Xu Han

fig. 05.3-1 Algorithmic Analysis of the Plant Speciesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Colonization Logic

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fig. 05.3-2 Spartina + Zostera, Distributional Growth and Colonization Simulation + Visualization:

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Site 1-1 Elevation: -9â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Slope: 3% Salinity: 25ppt Years: 1, 3, 9 fig. 05.3-3 Spartina Alterniflora

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Site 2-1 Elevation: -10â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Slope: 12% Salinity: 35ppt Years: 1, 3, 9 fig. 05.3-4 Zostera Marina

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Site 1-2 Elevation: -1â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Slope: 3% Salinity: 25ppt Years: 1, 3, 9 fig. 05.3-5 Spartina Alterniflora

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Site 2-2 Elevation: -20â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Slope: 12% Salinity: 35ppt Years: 1, 3, 9 fig. 05.3-6 Zostera Marina

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Site 3-1 Elevation: -8’ Slope: 3% Salinity: 28ppt Year: 1 fig. 05.3-7 “projective” species: blizard’s tail

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Site 3-2 Elevation: -12â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Slope: 3% Salinity: 28ppt Year: 1 fig. 05.3-8 Spartina + Zostera, Distributional Growth and Colonization Simulation + Visualization:

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Site 3-1 Elevation: -8’ Slope: 3% Salinity: 28ppt Year: 50 fig. 05.3-9 “projective” species: blizard’s tail

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Site 3-2 Elevation: -12â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Slope: 3% Salinity: 28ppt Year: 50 fig. 05.3-10 Spartina + Zostera, Distributional Growth and Colonization Simulation + Visualization:

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Site 3-1 Elevation: -8’ Slope: 3% Salinity: 28ppt Year: 200 fig. 05.3-11 “projective” species: blizard’s tail

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Site 3-2 Elevation: -12â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Slope: 3% Salinity: 28ppt Year: 200 fig. 05.3-12 Spartina + Zostera, Distributional Growth and Colonization Simulation + Visualization:

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06 | prototyping

http://towardssentience.com/prototyping/

Developing the theoretical probe and assertion required the prototyping of a live sentient model that would be able to simulate scenarios of attuning sedimentation and land accretion. Through the development of a sensing apparatus, a live digital model was paired in order to visualize the non-anthropogenic sensories of the machine. A digital model was also created to serve as the boundary of the simulated world, where scans from the “real” interface is modulated by a Kinect motion sensor are fed into the “digital” realm and visually analyzed at an instance. This instantaneous understanding of the hyperreal dimension augments our understanding of the phenomenon, which would otherwise have been invisible to our human senses alone. fig. 06-1 Attuner in-process coded model Video via: http://towardssentience.com/prototyping/

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fig. 06-2 to 7 (t to b; l to r) process sketch; live sketch model; set of 3 arduino boards and powersupplies; in-process Attuner model; processing boards and wiring; Attuner in-process model

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< fig. 06-8 Live 3D model of the geomorphology table with Section Cutter, Depositor and Attuner. Available via: http://towardssentience.com/prototyping/

fig. 06-9 3D model of Attuner, used in the fabrication of the pieces to create the physical model, which were later coded in order to attune the fluvial morphology of sediments in the geomorphology table

fig. 06-10 3D model of the geomorphology table, used to simulate the parameter boundaries digitally, in parallel with live physical model

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07 | experimentation

http://towardssentience.com/experimentation/

Through the developmental stages of the thesis, a robotic machine was created that responds to its one-to-one environment; making decisions in attuning the flows of sediementation and hydrologic flows to either accrete or erode new landforms. A series of tests were conducted using different conditions to understand the complexities involved in the output of deposition and sedimentary processes. The robotic live model was used to simulate predictive and projective simulations. Below is the code used for the actuation of the live model, Attuner. It is a modified version provided by Adafruit. Original code written by Limor Fried/ Ladyada for Adafruit Industries; altered and modified specifically for the project by Leif Estrada: #include <Wire.h> #include <Adafruit_PWMServoDriver.h>

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#define SERVOMIN 150 // this is the ‘minimum’ pulse length count (out of 4096) #define SERVOMAX 510 // this is the ‘maximum’ pulse length count (out of 4096) uint8_t servomax = 14; void setup() { Serial.begin(9600); Serial.println(“16 channel Servo test!”); pwm.begin(); pwm.setPWMFreq(60); // Analog servos run at ~60 Hz updates }

yield();

// you can use this function if you’d like to set the pulse length in seconds // e.g. setServoPulse(0, 0.001) is a ~1 millisecond pulse


fig. 07-1 extracted real-time contoured surfaces

}

width. its not precise! void setServoPulse(uint8_t n, double pulse) { double pulselength; pulselength = 1000000; // 1,000,000 us per second pulselength /= 60; // 60 Hz Serial.print(pulselength); Serial.println(“ us per period”); pulselength /= 4096; // 12 bits of resolution Serial.print(pulselength); Serial.println(“ us per bit”); pulse *= 1000; pulse /= pulselength; Serial.println(pulse); pwm.setPWM(n, 0, pulse);

} void loop() { // Drive each servo one at a time for (int servonum = 0; servonum < servomax; ++servonum) { for (uint16_t pulselen = SERVOMIN; pulselen < SERVOMAX; pulselen+= 2) { pwm.setPWM(servonum, 0, pulselen); } Serial.println(“moved motor” + servonum); delay(1);

{

delay(45000); for (int servonum = 0; servonum < servomax; ++servonum)

for (uint16_t pulselen = SERVOMAX; pulselen > SERVOMIN; pulselen-= 2) { pwm.setPWM(servonum, 0, pulselen); } delay(1); } delay(500); // servonum ++; // if (servonum > 7) servonum = 0; }

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fig. 07-2 experiment 1, static diagrid, all piles down

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fig. 07-3 experiment 2, static grid, all piles down

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fig. 07-4 experiment 3, dynamic diagrid, alternating piles

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fig. 07-5 experiment 4, without piles

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08 | proposal

http://towardssentience.com/proposal/

Through the rigorous formulation of the theoretical probe and analyses of case studies, site conditions of the LA River; and elemental analyses that affect sedimentation processes, the proposed design for the projective condition of the Los Angeles River was developed. The proposal is deployed along the 5-mile stretch of the 11-mile city-approved revitalization area of the LA River. Strategic pile-placement were mapped along the river as a diagrid to be used as control points at its macro-scale. These control points are tethered with their respective geospatial location, which would monitor the fluvial flux of the riverine landscape. Each piles are coded to have binary conditions based upon its subterranean and surface condition, > fig. 08-1 potential volumetric concrete that would be removed adjacent to the 4 sites purchased by the city and county of Los Angeles

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which allows to charge the arid underground landscape of the LA River (at its open condition, being at the water level to capture water); while attuning the fluvial morphology of both water and sediments above (at its open condition, above the water level). Finally, a static condition is closed when the aquifer below is filled.


fig. 08-2 Attuner, live model simulation during the thesis defense. Photograph by Robert Tangstrom

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fig. 08-3 LA River photograph by Lane Barden, 2008. Used with copyright permission

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fig. 08-4 LA River - Present rendering of its concretized channel filled with urban runoff. Drawing by Leif Estrada.

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fig. 08-5 LA River - Historic rendering, pre-channelization, preconcretization. Drawing by Leif Estrada.

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fig. 08-6 LA River - Historic rendering, pre-channelization, preconcretization, overflow scenario, which caused infrastructural damage. Drawing by Leif Estrada.

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fig. 08-7 LA River - Projective rendering. Modulated perception by the translation of the Natural realm of reality into the realm of the virtual through sensing and actuated response. Drawing by Leif Estrada.

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fig. 08-8 Attuner, imagined as real-time responsive injection piles charging existing and new aquifers seen from below the water table as a swaziometric perspective.. Drawing by Leif Estrada.

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fig. 08-9 Underwater perspective showing aquifer injection piles piercing down into the earth (in collaboration with Bradley Kraushaar, Ceci Nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;est Pas Un Canal)

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v fig. 08-10 Attuner, injection piles detail shown in multiple conditions. Drawing by Leif Estrada.

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fig. 08-11 Attuner, live sentient model situated in the geomorphology table during the thesis defense. Photograph by Robert Tangstrom.

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fig. 08-12 Attuner, live sentient model situated in the geomorphology table during the thesis defense. Photograph by Robert Tangstrom.

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fig. 08-13 temporal scans of the Kinect motion sensor, which produces a point-cloud and is then translated to become a mesh, and finally as surfaces. This was 3D-printed in order to visualize the 3D sensory of the Kinect, which reads surfaces differently than our anthropogenic sensories.

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fig. 08-14 temporal sectional model showing the transformative change that occurs due to accretion and erosion. The frosted part of the each sectional sliver is emblematic of a deviceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s limitation when scanning the landscape. This is constantly faced when translating the concept into realization.

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09 | defense

http://towardssentience.com/defense/

Leifâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thesis defense was held at Harvard Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Graduate School of Design, and was broadcasted live through Periscope. A recording of the defense is available via the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Review Committee: Julie Bargmann - Founding Principal, D.I.R.T. studio Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia Sean Burkholder - Assistant Professor of Landscape and Urban Design at the University at Buffalo Marshall Brown - Architect and Urban Designer at Marshall Brown Projects

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Caroline Constant - Visiting Professor Emerita in Landscape Architecture, Professor Emerita of Architecture at the University of Michigan, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and Honorary Member of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Dilip Da Cunha - Architect and Planner. Adjunct Professor at the School of Design, University of Pennsylvania Kristin Frederickson - Senior Associate at Reed Hilderbrand Nina-Marie Lister - Associate Professor of Urban Planning at Ryerson University, and Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Toronto


Linda Pollak - Founding Partner of Marpillero Pollak Architects David Rubin - Principal at Land Collective, 20112012 recipient of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture Jane Wolff - Associate Professor, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto GSD Faculty Critics: Bradley Cantrell (Advisor, MLA Program Director), Gareth Doherty (Thesis Director), Rosetta Elkin (Thesis Prep Professor), Anita Berrizbeitia (MLA Program Chair), Sergio Pineiro Lopez, Gary Hilderbrand, Chris Reed, Peter Del Tredici, Niall Kirkwood

Also in attendance : Neil Brenner - Professor of Urban Theory, CoCoordinator of the MDes-ULE Concentration Nataly Gategno - Chair of CCA-Architecture MArch and MAAD Programs, Partner of Future Cities Lab Jason Kelly Johnson - Associate Professor of Architecture, CCA-Architecture, Partner of Future Cities Lab

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< fig. 09.1-1 Final Review Critics: (L to R) Sergio Pineiro Lopez, NinaMarie Lister, Bradley Cantrell (Thesis Advisor), Sean Burkholder, and Dilip Da Cunha

fig. 09.1-2 the defense presentation was live broadcasted through Periscope and recorded by Harvard Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Graduate School of Design

fig. 09.1-3 Nataly Gategno and Jason Kelly Johnson, founding Principals of Future Cities Lab, Leifâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s former professors at CCA.

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10 | glossary

http://towardssentience.com/glossary/

Through the development of this thesis, defining the elements and agents were very important in order to develop the conceptual and theoretical frame of the argument. The following words were developed with the rigorous advisement of Gareth Doherty and Rosetta Elkin, Thesis Prep Professors, during the Fall 2015 semester. Nature: the theoretical/conceptual ideal that has yet to fall under man’s subjection; the Pure; Edenic Machine: objects (sp.: Ideological systems) that have been inserted by man in the landscape to manipulate Nature in order to extract practical/ economic values (in reference to Marxian and Latourian theories) Synthetic Ecologies: the hybridized entity created

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with the biotic (Nature) and abiotic (Machine) systems, formalized through design (in reference to Chris Reed and Nina-Marie Lister’s framework of “Projective Ecologies”) Novel Ecologies: the antithesis of the synthetic, the accidental form created with the hybrid of biotic and abiotic systems, whose emergence is beyond human control (the indeterminate) neo-Nature: a new form of Nature consisting of novel ecologies that is beyond man’s comprehension despite its latent values (the Invisible Reality (Virtual)) Environment: inputs that shape and re-shape itself, in turn affecting the landscape; these are both intangible and materialized phenomena, such as social, climatic, ecological flows, etc. (such as the


this possible to achieve?) Real: a conceptual notion, which refers to the Environment that presents itself (visibly and tangibly) as its own phenomenon (it can be a representation, but has naturalized and has been accepted as a presentation of itself) Sentience: an ability to perceive known phenomena through the main 5 senses or others that have been programmed (sp. to a Machine) to elucidate latent processes

Sedimentation: process of material deposition and accretion through the transportation of flows, (sp.: water) Virtual: a conceptual notion, which refers to the Environment that is yet to present itself in the realm of the being (visibility and tangibility); however exists invisibly yet affects the landscape *note that theoretical terms are italicized.

Sediments: fragmented materials that originate from weathering and erosion of rocks and synthetic deposits that are transported by, suspended in, and deposited by the flow of water

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11 | bibliography

http://towardssentience.com/bibliography/

THEORETICAL Bell, David, and Barbara Kennedy eds.. The Cybercultures Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2000. Print. Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Limited Reprint. London: Penguin Books, 2009. Bonabeau, Eric. Swarm Intelligence: From Natural to Artificial Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print. Bryant, Levi. Onto-Cartography: An Ontology of Machines and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013. Print. Cantrell, Bradley and Justine Holzman. Responsive Landscapes: Strategies for Responsive Technologies in Landscape Architecture. London: Routledge, 2015. Print. Cronon, William. Uncommon Ground : Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. Pbk. ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. Print. Del Tredici, Peter. “Neocreationism and the Illusion of Ecological Restoration” in Harvard Design Magazine 20. Cambridge: Harvard University, 2004, 87-89. Desfor, Gene and Roger Kiel. Nature and the City: Making Environmental Policy in Toronto and Los Angeles. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2004. Print.

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Evernden, Lorne Leslie Neil. The Social Creation of Nature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Print. Gandy, Matthew. The Fabric of Space. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014. Print. Gissen, David. Subnature: Architecture’s Other Environments. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009. Print. Gissen, David. Manhattan Atmospheres: Architecture, the Interior Environment, and the Urban Crisis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. Print. Haraway, Donna Jeanne. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women : The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. Print. Latour, Bruno. “Love your Monsters: Why We Must Care for Our Technologies as we do Our Children” in Breakthrough Journal, No. 2, Fall 2011. Oakland: Breakthrough Institute, 2011. 21-28. Marris, Emma. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Print. Marx, Karl, 1818-1883., and Friedrich Engels 1820-1895. The German Ideology, Parts I & III,. 6 Vol. New York,: International Publishers, 1947. Print. Negrotti, Massimo, 1944-. Theory of the Artificial : Virtual Replications and the Revenge of Reality. Exeter,

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England: Intellect, 1999. Print. Pícon, Antoine. “Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust” in Gray Room 01. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000. pp. 63-84. Sanderson, Eric W., and Conservation Society Wildlife. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City. New York: Abrams, 2009. Print. Smith, Neil. Uneven Development : Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space. New York, NY: B. Blackwell, 1984. Print. Waldheim, Charles. “Strategies of Indeterminacy in Recent Landscape Practice” in Public 33: Errata. Toronto: Public, 2006, 80-86. SITE Fletcher, David. “Flood Control Freakology: Los Angeles River Watershed” in The Infrastructural City : Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles. Barcelona; New York :Los Angeles] :New York]: Actar; The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design ;The Network Architecture Lab, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, 2008, 36-51.

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Friends of the LA River. The First State of the Los Angeles River Report. Los Angeles: Friends of the Los Angeles River, 2005. Print. Gumprecht, Blake. The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. Print. Herbert Alexander, Simon. The Sciences of the Artificial. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996. Print. Kiel, Roger. Los Angeles: Globalization, Urbanization and Social Struggles. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1957. Print. Marcus, Laurel. “Watershed Restoration: An Idea Whose Time Has Come—Again” in California WaterfrontAge Spring 1988, Volume 4, No. 2. San Francisco: San Francisco State University, 1988, 13-23. Orsi, Jared. Hazardous Metropolis: Flooding and Urban Ecology in Los Angeles. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004. Print. Pearce, Fred. The New Wild: Why Invasive Species will be Nature’s Salvation. Boston: Beacon Press, 2015. Print. Varnelis, Kazys. The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles. Barcelona; New York :Los Angeles] :New York]: Actar; The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design ;The Network Architecture Lab, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, 2008. Print.

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Woods, Sean. Wetlands of the Los Angeles River Watershed: Profiles and Restoration Opportunities. Oakland: California Coastal Conservancy, 2000. Print.

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12 | highlights

http://towardssentience.com/highlights/

Prior to entering Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, Leif had previously proposed a similar thesis project into Yale University’s School of Architecture - MED program. Though, he did not pursue this degree, the very essence of his eventual thesis at Harvard were similar - both in theory and eventual design product. His interest in the theoretical definition of “natural” formed the foundation, which established his thesis. The architectural background he gained previously from CCA, and his interest in making and coding manifested his latent aspirational goal for his research.

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13 | press

http://towardssentience.com/press/

Towards Sentience™ has been honored to appear in a number of design publications and exhibitions. Below is a list where the thesis has appeared in, as of Spring 2018:

“Can We Code Machine-Learning?” - Lecture at the 2017

“Towards Sentience” - Upcoming Chapter in Bradley Cantrell’s upcoming book Codify | Parametric and Computational Design in Landscape Architecture

“Sensing Landscapes — a neo-Natural Incarnate” Published Paper in Landscape Architecture Frontiers

“Experiments: Manifesting the [In]visible Landscapes” - Upcoming Peer-Reviewed Manifesto/Paper in Cuarto Magazine, Volume 1: Disruption, Issue 3: Visible “Experiments: Manifesting the [In]visible Landscapes” - Qualifying Paper at Iowa State University’s Symposium: Coding Design | Designing Code; Co-Authored with Christianna Bennett Stream 04 - “Le Paysage Comme Médiateur Urbain Entrien Avec Anita Berrizbeitia” Project Feature by Philippe Chiambaretta Architecture

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Digital Harvard SF in Bloomberg Media Sample Samples: “Towards Sentience: Attuning the Los Angeles River’s Fluvial Morphology” - Featured Project in Platform 9: Still Life

Responsive Topography - Fluvial Landscapes - Exhibited Project Collegi d’Architectes de Catalunya - Landscape Biennale Selected Project Harvard University Library Archive: Hollis - Library Archive Harvard Graduate School of Design - Department Feature Harvard Graduate School of Design - Archived Projects Land Collective - Inspiration Page


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14 | acknowledgements

http://towardssentience.com/acknowledgements/

SPECIAL THANKS TO: my AdvisorsBradley Cantrell: for your continued support of my nerdiness and making this the most fun design thesis! As my Core IV design critic, REAL Lab-Cyborg Ecologies director, Independent Study advisor, Cyborgs professor, and as my Thesis advisor-thank you for pushing me in doing the best that I can as a designer! Neil Brenner: Thank-you for expanding my mind in thinking critically and theoretically of the things that I produce and make, as my program advisor in the MDes department and as our director in the Urban Theory Lab. The many recommended bibliographies truly helped me developed the theoretical framework of my argument... most especially with Latour. my Tech Supports (literally and figuratively)Rob Tangstrom: Thanks for having patience with me while enduring thesis the entire year and sometimes not having time for us to spend together. Also thanks for making those pistons; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sorry they didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make it in the final model!

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Elise Bluell: Thanks for being my rock this semester and allowing me to vent to you about thesis and life in general-and for that phragmites drawing... shhhh! Spyros Ampanavos and Yujie Hong: The two of you are rockstars! Thank-you for allowing me to constantly bug you whenever I needed you to debug my code... You guys made me wish I did the Technology concentration within MDes! my previous ProfessorsProfessor David Malan: The things that I learned in CS50 were definitely utilized in the development of this project. Thanks for making us, who are uncomfortable, comfortable in learning computer science, and of course to the veritable TF’s of CS50! Jason Johnson and Nataly Gategno of Future Cities Lab: The Sensorium studio at CCA, was not only the most fun studio I’ve ever taken, but really introduced me to coding and tinkering. Having Massimo Banzi, creator of Arduino, visit our studio was truly inspiring! Your practice enabled me to see design outside of the traditional norm of the discipline as something I’ve become so passionate about.

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Maggie Janik: Thank you for recording my thesis as an example for the GSDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Thesis archive =) A big thanks for editing the video as well! to all those who helped and contributed their knowledgeLane Barden: for allowing me to use your beautiful aerial photographs od the LA River to be a part of my thesis. They, indeed, helped the aesthetics quality of my animated renderings. FoLAR: for conversing with me about the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goals in the revitalization efforts of the LA River, and providing me with many important documents that helped me understand the historic and present ecology of the river. US Army Corps of Engineers: for providing me with specific quantifiable data that I used in the development of my thesis.

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towardssentience.com Towards Sentience: Attuning the Los Angeles Riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fluvial Morphology

Leif Estrada | Harvard University - Graduate School of Design | Department of Landscape Architecture and Advanced Studies Program | 2016

Profile for Leif Estrada

Towards Sentience [2018 Update]  

MLA + MDes Thesis at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Awarded the 2016 Thesis Prize by the Faculty of the Department of Landscape Arch...

Towards Sentience [2018 Update]  

MLA + MDes Thesis at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Awarded the 2016 Thesis Prize by the Faculty of the Department of Landscape Arch...

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