2021 MArch Thesis Reviews

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Master of Architecture Final Thesis Reviews, December 18, 2021

MARCH 2021

Department of Architecture MIT School of Architecture and Planning SA+P

Master of Architecture Final Thesis Reviews, December 18, 2021 4

Ana Arenas & Carol-Anne Rodrigues


Taylor Boes & Florence Ma


Ryan Clement & Charlotte Matthai


Ginevra D'Agostino


Angie Door


Nare Filiposyan


Danny Griffin & Inez Ow


Emma Jurczynski


Ana McIntosh


Ruth Blair Moyers


Alice (Jia Li) Song & Yaara Yacoby


Yutan Sun


Gil Sunshine


Jitske Swagemakers


Carolyn Tam


Evellyn Tan


Ellen Wood


Ryan (Jie) Wu & Fei (Zhifei) Xu


Zhicheng Xu


Mengqiao Zhao

MARCH 2021

Department of Architecture MIT School of Architecture and Planning SA+P


A Taste of Home Ana Arenas & Carol-Anne Rodrigues Advisor: Ana Miljački Readers: Garnette Cadogan, John Ochsendorf, & Cristina Parreño A border is both a physical location and a political condition that divides two countries. A border, however, is not impassible, nor is it only a fixed location: it is also an immaterial trace that is carried forth by everyone who crosses one. The border lives beyond the thin demarcation between nations and thickens to accommodate the stories of all those who wear its mark as they travel from their origin point to final destination. This thesis proposes that the border does not only exist at a land’s edge but also within our immediate surroundings – we see borders all across the city of Boston. From newly formed migrant groups to the communities of locals who have lived here for years, Boston’s diversity defines its inner neighborhoods and outer suburbs. Across the city, we cross borders when we enter neighborhoods, enter a store, dine at a restaurant, or arrive at a home.These stories of borders manifest in the collective sharing and exchange of food at the table. Immigrant-owned restaurants across Boston offer their cuisine to celebrate their culture and create a sense of home in an unfamiliar place. On the other hand, borders are also experienced across the city through the inequitable access to food. Charitable organizations throughout the Greater Boston area work to bridge the gap between food excess and food scarcity, but there is still a divide. In a city rich with diverse cuisines but a lack of access to food, how can architecture help bring equality to the sharing of food and dignify the experience of immigrants? This thesis proposes a network of “Food Embassies,” a new institution that celebrates food from across borders and bridges the gap between excess and scarcity. As an embassy serves its people in a foreign place, we propose Food Embassies across Greater Boston to provide accessibility, to create community, and to provide tastes of home.


Image 1 (top): Photo Collage of Andala Coffee House in Cambridge. Image 2 (above): Section of Community Fridge Proposal.


The Incomplete Domestic Landscape Taylor Boes & Florence Ma Advisors: Deborah Garcia & Ana Miljački Readers: Nicholas de Monchaux & J Jih Our environments are failing us. Modernism's relentless pursuit of efficiency, control, and purity has birthed a sterilization that has weakened our bodies – bit by bit, little by little – to the point that they have almost been lost. We seek to unpack our relentless reality: its cold corners and its hard edges, its celebration of virtual futures, and its endlessly scrolling present; its crumbling concrete and rusting rebar, its fluorescent lighting and dying house plants, and its unflinching march towards a singular Progress. We question the modernist notions of control and efficiency as tools for better living. We are Duo. We seek to squat, to occupy, to co-opt. We are subversive. We operate on and within. We are soft surfaces and unexpected jungles.

We are talking about your houseplants and your pillows, the faux fur you walk by in the fabric store and caress but never purchase, the fake Ficus in your mom’s entry way that she’s been watering for years, that carefully placed curtain that undulates between your back and your bed as your zoom call drones on, and the things that call for you to hold them and be held by them. But we are not tame nor subtle. We may love soft things, but this is not a soft touch: It is an explosion. We design, cultivate, and share supplements — shifts in viewing, entanglements, soft creations and strange installations. We work through examinations and operations within archives. Open to all, the resulting landscapes do not require heavy machinery, and perhaps you should be impaired when you try them. We want to feel. We want you to feel. While you have been otherwise occupied, so have we. Here is that occupation. We invite you to join us. To touch, to play, to imbibe with us and our spaces.


Image: The Incomplete Domestic Landscape Catalog, Duo 2021, Taylor Boes + Florence Ma.


Bernini Started It Ryan Clement & Charlotte Matthai Advisor: Mark Jarzombek Readers: Yolande Daniels, Deborah Garcia, & Timothy Hyde

Bernini’s altar at St. Peter’s Basilica is a sacred focal point and manifestation of divine power and glory ­— the Church at the height of its power and an authoritative flaunting of papal infallibility.

berini crest on the piers of the Baldacchino are the face and genitals of a woman in labor. Viewed in a circumambulatory procession, the rhythms of contractions are depicted through her facial contortions and vaginal transmutation. Her genitals are thinly disguised as the face of a satyr that emerges in the final scene: no longer a virgin and hungry for more. This is not the vagina of Mary; this was not an immaculate conception.

The altar rests upon the tomb of St. Peter, from which the Pope traces his legitimacy. At this place of sacrifice, wine is transubstantiated to blood and bread to flesh. Yet, beneath the sacrificial locus — at the foot of the Pope ­— are lurking flesh and fluids not-so-divine. Sculpted into the Bar-

Bernini has inserted an other, a queer, an abject form of the revered sacrifices


upon the altar. They’re all fluids; they’re all flesh. Yet, the ones above hold a godly and masculine power, whereas the feminine fluids below are execrated and feared within the western Catholic heteronormative tradition.

this papal-sacrificial-dogmatic-lineage of legitimacy? How can we seize ecclesiastical power and appropriate TRANSubstantiation to affirm earthly human bodies, to legitimate bodies beyond the binary, and to acknowledge the sacrifice of bodies beyond human?

The altar provokes fantasies of queer desire and expression, yet it is stunted and entangled in a tradition of Western sexual monolingualism. What would it look like to unleash the altar from these constraints, to reorient “straightness” by centering the queer? How can we tap into

Image 1 (opposite): The Mouth of the Earth. Image 2 (above): The Anus of the Earth.


Rebuilding the Edge Ginevra D'Agostino Advisor: Miho Mazereeuw Readers: Sheila Kennedy & Caitlin Mueller "Rebuilding the Edge" takes as its point of departure a social reality that directly impacts the built environment: the depopulation of small centers in Italy over the last century as well as its consequences for citizens and the country at large. The thesis examines how to look at the depopulation of inner and southern areas of Italy by exploring the interrelations between three distinct components of architecture: its methodologies of research, its social responsibility and its design process. "Rebuilding the Edge" investigates how architecture can make a contribution to issues usually tackled by politicians, policymakers, economists and engineers. This thesis applies GIS mapping and photogrammetric tools to register the rural realities along an abandoned rail line in central Italy. It interprets available data at the territorial scale and generates original data more granularly through the use of contemporary technologies. Combined with stakeholder interviews and policy framework analyses, this sets the stage to generate considerations regarding architecture’s role in this context. From a disciplinary perspective, this thesis proposes that architecture has a relevant role in the articulation and resolution of larger initiatives that seek to address the challenges faced by towns across Italy. It does not attempt for architecture to act as a "savior"; rather, it concludes that architecture must operate in the company of other fields with unique forms of expertise. "Rebuilding the Edge" employs this research methodology and disciplinary reflections to test the impact that they may have on the design process. The outcome is a proposal for a building and piece of infrastructure that connects with efforts at the regional scale. By offering a carefully considered vision for a train station in one single town on the Italian Apennines, this thesis uses architecture as the last-mile solution that tends to make — or usually break — the success of nation-wide infrastructural investments.


Image by Ginevra D'Agostino.


Fourth Dimension Angie Door Advisor: Timothy Hyde Readers: Nicholas de Monchaux, Rania Ghosn, & Caroline Jones Like an ouroboros, buildings have been built and demolished on a site on The Spree River for at least four hundred years. Like its anthropogenic shift from swamp to infill, the metabolism of architectural construction affects an atmosphere of air, dust, moisture, and heat in all of its states. To (mis)use Fukuyama’s words, perhaps the end of history means that we are now allowed to leave linearity and enter the multiplicity of post-history. In this state of emerging time, used to describe the postcolony by Mbembe as an "interlocking of presents, pasts, and futures”, one can contend with this thick density of information through fragmentary encounters. As the German Federal Ministry of the Interior assesses lost revenue to colonial artifact repatriation, Preservation Agency LLC has been asked to find other uses for the Ethnological Museum's rooms. Agency conducts a meticulous survey to find what Boym calls Architectures of the Off-Modern, which already exists in the murky space parallel to the site's past. Agency presents three Acts in the site’s history as possible Off-Moderns: Act I shows the Palast Der Republik rehabilitated instead of dismantled, Act II rebuilds directly from the bombed rubble of the stadtschloss, and Act III visits a state of perpetual construction at the Humboldt Forum. Agency then proposes an epilogue where tactics from Acts I-III become an index to be used on the existing structure. Actors who have worked on the site use these to develop a gradient of conditions within its shoddy Prussian casting. Through this orchestration, history is no longer a survey but a specter of operations that direct the ouroboros of the site to savor its next material era as an indeterminate dance of humans, fauna, and material upon its surface.

Image: Model photo, by Angie Door.



Re(Turn) to Stone Nare Filiposyan Advisor: Timothy Hyde Readers: Axel Kilian & John Ochsendorf In contemporary Armenia, stone is ubiquitous — from street furniture to the home, from thousands of public water fountains to thousands of medieval churches, from municipal buildings to Soviet housing blocks disguised under stone tiles. Stone is a vital part of the cultural fabric, holding both physical as well as intangible cultural heritage. During a period described as the Dark Age for the Byzantine Empire, Armenian masons developed advanced stone building techniques — producing a rich heritage of religious architecture, much of which still stands today. However, driven by standardization and efficiency, concrete has largely replaced stone as a structural material, reducing stone to veneer surfaces still tasked with carrying an enormous cultural load. Though the appearance of stone is pervasive, certain stonework techniques are dying out. The thesis attempts to perpetuate a culture of stone by producing architecture that necessitates different types of stonework within a single site and reprioritizes the knowledge of the masons that has been rendered obsolete as a byproduct of standardization. Situated in my hometown of Sisian, in southern Armenia, the thesis spans the ambiguous seam between the civic and the domestic spheres of my grandmother’s house, street, and neighborhood. The outcome is a new cultural fabric of stone that runs all the way from the civic to the domestic, continuous from the curb to the hearth.


Image: Conversation with a Mason.


Seeing Labor: Fabrication Porn from Behind the Scenes Danny Griffin & Inez Ow Advisor: J Jih Readers: Brandon Clifford, Deborah Garcia & Axel Kilian The notion of high-tech oftentimes inadvertently expresses the conviction that industrial progress means the abolition of manual labor from our industry. Within the last twenty years, this veil has been maintained by one prominent body of work in particular: the experimental research pavilion.These 1:1 works allege to be beacons of progress, signaling novel directions for future constructions. Though they are marketed as high-tech, video documentation available on YouTube and Vimeo reveals that such works are assembled manually on site, often by large teams of people who receive minimal recognition for the repetitive actions of their bodies. We classify many of these works as “fabrication porn,” semantically hinging upon the similarly exploitative dynamics that exist in the worlds of porn production and theatre stage sets. Backstage labor has become overwhelmingly disassociated from the very conventions by which we have been trained to present and consume architecture. Plans, sections, elevations, axonometrics, renders and detail drawings — these represent the artifact to be built but not the actions or subjective experience required to build. When we are able to recognize labor as potential for value-adding, instead of reducing them to semi-automatic manual executions, it becomes clear that labor constitutes a large part of building authorship that the prevailing culture of sensationalism fails to properly credit. Worse still, when operating under this system which thrives on cropping inconvenient realities of labor out of view, we become complicit in propagating abuse, neglect, and injury. Our thesis recognizes that a more sympathetic relationship between architectural output and labor cannot be realized under the classical model of authorship in architecture and contends that it is within the agency of the architect to embed labor accounting within the design of the physical artifact itself. We enter our thesis as test subjects in a series of self-administered labor accounting studies, as a way of attuning ourselves to the fact that every architectural design move necessarily implicates bodies. We then propose an architectural take on labor accounting, where physical artifacts serve as ledgers. Our vision: every trace of labor becomes non-fungible — the experience of architectural space and the experience of implicated laborers are rendered inseparable. "Seeing Labor" is a case that every architect should retrain themselves to use their role in the organizing of bodies for advocacy, rather than exploitation. Image: 1:1 mockup studies performed by authors, experiencing the bodily actions of wrapping, spraying, and taping.



Who Cares? Assemblies of Care-and-Repair Emma Jurczynski Advisor: Sheila Kennedy Readers: Timothy Hyde & Caitlin Mueller We source, process and build with standardized wood and, just as easily, discard it. Rubbish, scraps, the wasted, the junked are assumed to be undesirable due to a lack of knowledge about the structural capacity of second-hand timber. Deemed unusable, approximately 36 million tons of dimensional lumber and plywood end up in U.S. landfills because few people know what to do with it and, there is nowhere to store it.(1) This thesis presents a methodology that reuses these construction materials through a system of assemblage that maximizes the amount used and catalogues these materials in a prototypical storage warehouse that not only stores discarded standard timber but is itself built from it. The more material used, the less sequestered carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. I am taking an excessive approach to use as much leftover wood as possible to be inefficiently efficient. This methodology is a care-and-repair system that re-assigns value and extends the lifespan of used materials. In this instance, repair means returning a material to its original function — not form. Repair is an act of assembling layers of material from multiple sites and environments with inherent histories and memories from various moments and places. With the planet in need of “critical care”, this method is proposed as a necessary near-future reality in order to minimize our footprint and carbon emissions.(2) The proposed act of caring towards our materials creates a culture of inefficient construction systems and celebrates the social and environmental efficiencies that grows from it.

1 Dovetail Partners, The Current State of Wood Reuse and Recycling in North America and Recommendations for Improve¬ments, p5, https://www.naturespackaging.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/current_state_wood_ reuse_recycling_namerica.pdf 2 Fitz, Angelika, and Elke Krasny. Critical Care: Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet. Vienna: Architekturzentrum Wien, 2019.


Image: Assemblies (Author's own).


Inhabiting Wetness Ana McIntosh Advisor: Cristina Parreño Readers: Sheila Kennedy & Miho Mazereeuw This thesis explores the condition where water meets urban edge in Asunción, Paraguay, proposing an architectural response that considers water not as a challenging force, but rather, as a powerful asset for the maintenance of ecosystems and health of the city. It makes a case to consider the humedales (wetlands) as an important constituent in imagining the future of Asunción because of humedales' overlooked benefits, including carbon-sequestration, cultivation of biodiversity, protection again erosion and the cleaning of water. Recent development in Asunción at the water’s edge has caused the destruction of wetlands for the construction of highway as well as other public and private developments. This is the approach of the binary: the separation of wet and the dry. What it might mean instead to inhabit a gradient of wetness by exploring other possibilities for resilient living at the edge? Sited in the Bañado Sur, this project considers these questions in a zone of informal housing that experiences hazardous flooding from heavy rain and river surges. These inundations often lead to the disruption of life, loss of work and the evacuation of inhabitants. How could designing with buoyancy provide for housing, working, common use and storage spaces for use in wet, dry and in-between conditions? The proposed vivienda complex explores how an amphibious architecture might expand, contract and adapt to changing water levels while still supporting basic functions. At the same time, the house itself becomes a vessel to capture, hold and distribute rainwater. Although specific to the site, this thesis is an invitation to question the line of the wet and dry where city meets water around the world. In the words of Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha “if water separated to be somewhere is in crisis today, wetness negotiated everywhere holds the way forward” (JAE 74:1 March 2020). Image: The Urban Edge. Image by Ana McIntosh.



Accurate-ish Ruth Blair Moyers Advisor: Deborah Garcia Readers: Garnette Cadogan & Nicholas de Monchaux Looking at contemporary American historical sites, this thesis writes an operational epilogue on the highly constructed landscapes of memory in the United States. The current models of preservation in practice are centered on addition and expansion of what has value, but there is a hesitation that lingers around the notion of deconstruction — or devaluation — of historical places. In practice, acts of removal or reconstruction come from moments of rupture, rather than a continuous process of reevaluation. This thesis is interested in the design of collapse, in revealing, and in allowing the uncanny to exist in ways that begin to make place for subaltern narratives to leak into — and overwhelm — spaces of colonial history. This thesis sits within Colonial Williamsburg®, a 301-acre open air “living-history” museum in Virginia. It is a destination for heritage tourism located within a two-hour driving radius of Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville: all central sites of historical myths of the United States, and all of which have recently become sites of rupture (protest and rallies). The reconstruction of the colonial town in Williamsburg originally began as the passion project of a local clergyman and was realized with the support of J.D. Rockefeller Jr., among others invested in its narratives.The goal of restoration was to bring history to life, but it also conveniently served in repairing the selfimage of a place that was experiencing economic and cultural instability following the Great Depression and the end of Reconstruction in the American South. These plays for settler-colonial nostalgia led to a highly constructed and deeply amnesic experience — designed by and for a singular audience — to be easily dramatized and repeated. This constructed imaging of history has been retained in much of Colonial Williamsburg®’s programming as a tourist destination with contemporary retail, hospitality and entertainment venues. And, while time seems to be frozen in this place, there are already subtle insistences of difference in moments of landscaping, planning and structures. By proposing a series of canny and uncanny alterations to Colonial Williamsburg®, this thesis will begin to pull at the seams of a place that holds “accuracy” at the center of its operations — not through a restorative nostalgic criticism but through a series of reflections, refractions and destabilizing realities. What might happen if we hold a mirror up to a place, and ask it to see itself?


Image: Screenshot of Duke of Glouchester Street, from Google Street View.


Speculative Friction Alice Jia Li Song, Yaara Yacoby Advisor: Nicholas de Monchaux Readers: Caroline Jones & J Jih "Speculative Friction" uses storytelling to explore the line between fact and fiction, implicating the construction of reality in the construction of speculative futures. This project is interested in the Geneva Freeport (Switzerland) as its central character. This Special Economic Zone legally operates outside of global trade taxation laws as a free-market tool to expedite the import and export of commercial goods. While there are hundreds of modern freeports around the world, the Geneva Freeport is unique in allowing “passing” objects to be stored indefinitely in its storage spaces. As a result of this state of stasis, as well as Swiss confidentiality laws, the Geneva Freeport has been the storage facility for anything considered to be of value. Grains, gold bars, art objects, and illegally extracted antiquities are all stored in the Freeport without public access and without taxation, even as ownership is exchanged. It is estimated that there are as many as 1.2 million objects in storage. This thesis opens the conversation to the banal and absurd capitalist reality at the Geneva Freeport and looks at this uncanny world from within. What are the objects and their entanglements with the world outside? What happens when the objects begin to push back on their container?

Image:: Viewers looking into the Geneva Freeport, Yaara Yacoby & Alice Jia Li Song.



Pronounced Absurdity: The Wedding-scape outside a Conical Field Yutan Sun Advisor: J Jih Readers: Axel Kilian & William O'Brien Jr. Usually taking on an exotic appearance and occurring as a defocused and cropped backdrop in a picture frame, a wedding park is an architectural complex that provides spectacular and romanticized scene settings, like a proscenium stage for wedding photographs. In order to satisfy the bourgeoisie lifestyle fantasy, architectural symbols out of the in-situ context are extensively deployed to create a sense of elsewhere in a wedding park, leading to a misalignment of a wedding park’s pictorial presence and physical reality. A wedding park as a real estate typology is an architectural response to both the prosperous wedding economy and the visual consumption fever in China. Xiamen, a city branding itself as the international wedding capital, expects a new typology of wedding park that conforms its highly dense urban fabric and city image around weddings. The double-image phenomenon in a wedding park is paralleled in a dummy cake: a cake whose sponge has been wholly or partially replaced with polystyrene blocks. The dramatic counterpose between its sumptuous profile and inedibility becomes a metaphor for the duality of wedding spaces. This thesis understands a dummy cake as a political and cultural artifact, which echoes the double-image of architecture and critiques the misalignment of imageability and physicality in Xiamen’s wedding spaces. This thesis imagines a set of wedding infrastructures inserted in the highly dense urban fabric of the Shapowei district, building up fantasies with the appropriation of architectural symbols. The concentration of diversely themed wedding scenes signifies an efficient, inhumane, and consumeristic image-making mechanism. By replicating alienated symbols and juxtaposing the fantasized construct with the realistic urban context, this thesis creates spectacles for visual consumption and simultaneously foregrounds the absurdity of both the construct per se and its uncanny collision with the existing urban ambient. In this way, the rationality of wedding infrastructures only exists in the conical field of a camera, and the dysfunctional, disordered and obscure physical reality behind a flawless wedding photo becomes a critique of visual consumerism.


Image 1 (above): The camera, the field and the cone: the mechanism of visual selection (image by author). Image 2 (below): How to make a perfect wedding photo amid replicate architectural symbols. (image by author).


Medium Resolution Gil Sunshine Advisor: Axel Kilian Readers: Brandon Clifford & Caitlin Mueller Extrude, saw, turn, repeat. During the Industrial Revolution, machines and techniques were invented and advanced for forming materials into standardized shapes. This would lead to the development of the industrially mass-produced standardized building materials used today and also transformed architecture into a practice of blind trust in superficially dimensioned materials specified from afar. Extrude, trim, revolve, array. The 3D modeling software used by the architect contains analogs to the machine processes and abundances of industrial production. Today, however, as we increasingly face the effects of the excesses of the Anthropocene and related disruptions to the building material supply chain, architecture must overcome the cognitive grasp of standardization to accommodate the found, the unwanted, the offcut, and the wasted. This produces a new relevance for an architecture of underprocessed and irregular materials. In order to adapt to material irregularities, architects have adopted various 3D scanning techniques to produce digital representations of materials. By the nature of their discrete sampling, however, these representations vary in their precision. What the architect encounters in the 3D modeling software is not the material itself in its infinite specificities — with its weight, moisture content, and smell — but rather, a surface representation composed of a large but finite set of points. This surface might be called medium resolution. This thesis operates within the medium resolution surface condition, accepting it as a geometric paradigm necessary to respond to emerging material realities. If there exists an entanglement between 3D modeling software used by the architect and processes of industrial mass production, then in order to realize medium resolution architecture, the 3D modeling software itself must be reconsidered. Inventory, a physics-based 3D modeling software, replaces analogs to the generic surface precision of the standardized material palette ubiquitous in CAD software today with the specificity of pieces of material and precision of actions made possible by medium resolution representations.


Image: Inventory Credit: Gil Sunshine.


Forest Framing Jitske Swagemakers Advisor: Sheila Kennedy Readers: Mark Jarzombek & Paul Mayencourt This thesis integrates wild wood research with local knowledge and tools to restore forest ecology and boost rural economies. The proposal is situated in the context of Sweet Home, Oregon, a former logging community. Like many small towns across the United States, Sweet Home is in a state of social and ecological crisis — combating high poverty rates and dwindling resources. Here, industrial mills are abandoned, homes are patched in varying states of decay, and the surrounding forest is reduced to arrays of Douglas Fir. Through a close reading of the reciprocal relationships between forestry and wood construction, this thesis outlines a series of wood construction techniques to repair buildings and restore forest habitat. These techniques provide accessible and economical systems of framing, placing special emphasis on the diverse materialities of wood in its natural form, wild wood. Harvesting of wild wood helps prevent the spread of wildfires; it does not, however, contribute to deforestation. Moreover, local application would reduce emissions of transportation. This thesis imagines a restorative future for Sweet Home through a staged transformation of the abandoned mill into a collective wild wood shop, in which wild wood construction techniques are implemented and executed by a cast of community members. Plates detailing the technical elements of wild wood application, along with construction manuals build on the community’s receptivity and proficiency to work with wood and are informed by ethnographic research consisting of site visits as well as interviews with Sweet Home community members. The collective woodshop offers a site for wild wood prototyping and experimental forestry that enhances the material and ecological qualities wood and feeds back into the forest. This thesis contributes to a reappropriation of wood in architectural construction and offers an economical solution that promotes symbiosis between forestry and architecture.


Image 1 (above): Aaron's private collection of milled slabs. Sweet Home, OR (2021). Photograph by Jitske Swagemakers. Image 2 (below):Construction of a wall with staggered wild wood. By Jitske Swagemakers.


The Third Teacher: Architecture as Enabler of Active Learning Carolyn Tam Advisor: Brandon Clifford Readers: Deborah Garcia & Caitlin Mueller “ There are three teachers of children: adults, other children, and their physical environment.” – Loris Malaguzzi In the industrial era, schools were designed as highly controlled environments to instill discipline and conformity to thrive in a machine age.Today, as architectural education evolves its mission away from producing factory workers and towards producing creative contributors, the buildings that house education’s mission have remained stagnant — our learning environment is still rendered passive, utilitarian designs of the factory model reinforcing the unhelpful boundaries between space and active learning. This thesis challenges the manner in which architectural education works both within pedagogy and also through the built form. Rather than fixing the same batch of learners in a rigid container, this thesis proposes a series of deployable systems that can plug into various urban conditions to form dispersed learning environments. Learning is not separated from daily life: it could occur in a park, on the street, or in the most unexpected of spaces — fostering greater diversity and creative possibilities. A key concept in active learning, which can extend to architecture, is the wilderness education, where students are taken outside the classroom and use full-scale tools to create, play and test boundaries with their environments. This thesis asks what if learning opportunities found in these instruments could be expanded to architecture? Architecture can be structural and systematic — but at the same time playful and engaging — and cross many disciplines, from geometry and surveying to physics and assemblies. Instructors and books are no longer the only teachers: the hands, the ears, the eyes, in fact, the whole body and the architectural space itself, become sources of information. Viewing students as active constructors of knowledge, the proposed architecture encourages students to use their spaces and full-scale play instruments to imagine and create their own environments to open up new learning discoveries.


Image by Carolyn Tam.


Tsunami Bōsai: Building Coastal Resilience in South Izu Peninsula Evellyn Tan Advisor: Miho Mazereeuw Readers: Caitlin Mueller & Cristina Parreño Bōsai is a Japanese term — "Bo" meaning prevention and "Sai" disaster — commonly associated with disaster preparedness and the necessary actions against such catastrophic events. In Japan, Bōsai is critically embedded in the Japanese culture, where locals can face disasters at any time. Therefore, embedding bōsai values into urban coastal landscapes with greater emphasis on the community's needs is vital in building the nation's social-ecological resilience. Located in the Circum-Pacific of "Ring of Fire" and surrounded by sea, Japan, with an extreme range of topographic and geomorphological landscape, is highly prone to disasters. The south coastal belt of the islands is incredibly vulnerable to mega-tsunamis, as the country is situated at the collision plate forming active troughs capable of generating forcefully destructive tsunami waves. The Great East Japan Earthquake that hit the Tohoku region in 2011 exposed disaster planning challenges and a looming demographic crisis in Japanese coastal towns. Despite the elaborate network of tsunami barriers constructed by the government to protect the coasts, many coastal settlements will still be significantly affected by Level 1 tsunamis of 10 meters or higher in the future. Thus, further building disaster-resilient capacity of social and ecological ecosystems against tsunamis is vital to the survival of lives and livelihoods along Japan's coast. This thesis highlights the importance of socio-ecological design strategies of coastal towns by re-evaluating and re-imagining current tsunami evacuation spaces. This thesis focuses on the southern tip of the Izu Peninsula region, which has been identified as highly vulnerable to tsunamis propagated by the Nankai Trough.The project critically interrogates current typologies of existing evacuation towers and public spaces operating solely for emergency use. It proposes an evacuation space that actively engages with the ecological environment and local communities to support coastal livelihood and economy on a daily basis on top of providing safer high ground and tsunami evacuation routes.


Image 1 (above): Tsunami Bosai Expanded Field Defined (Credit: Evellyn Tan). Image 2 (below): 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Miyagi Prefecture. (Credit Image 2: Kyodo AP).


Under (De)Construction Ellen Wood Advisor: Rania Ghosn Readers: Yolande Daniels, Cristina Parreño & Roi Salgueiro Barrio For each palette of Spanish glass or Pennsylvania steel that arrives at a Manhattan block under construction, a truckload of rubbled concrete and mangled steel debris containing the remnants of a pre-existing structure is hauled away. The building industry in New York City is a machine for material exchange — constantly importing materials in for the construction of new structures and exporting materials out in the form of waste, often to meet its end in outof-state landfills or recycled down as low-grade aggregates. And so, despite its seemingly reliable solidity, New York City’s built environment can be characterized as much by its willful impermanence as it can by its staggering monumentality. Buildings rise and then fall over a matter of de-

cades, often reaching their premature obsolescence in the face of shifting ownership, real-estate speculation, and amendments in planning policy. Blocks are continuously transformed to make way for new developments, often soaring higher and expanding wider than their individual predecessors. And, as a city whose grid reached maximum capacity seventy years ago, nearly each new act of construction is preceded by acts of demolition. Architects, as key stakeholders in the processes of building, do not often take part in the processes of unbuilding. This thesis speculates on a scenario in which architects take agency over the other end of a building’s life — its demolition. In doing so, salvaged and rubbled material are seen


as a resource for building, rather than

als and the processes of architecture

as waste. Working within a city that

as well as patterns of assembly and

has historically embraced change and

disassembly within the urban envi-

innovation, this thesis imagines new


relationships between these materiImage 1 (top): Deconstructing Union Carbide, Ellen Wood, with original image courtesy of Getty Images. Image 2 (above top): Material Pallette, Ellen Wood, original images courtesy of MIT Libraries. Image 3 (above): Staging Warehouse (Midterm Model), Ellen Wood.


Specious Materials Ryan (Jie) Wu & Fei (Zhifei) Xu Advisor: Brandon Clifford Readers: Timothy Hyde & Axel Kilian Our world is saturated by digital media that’s manipulated, spread as fact, and sorted algorithmically — creating many different “facts” for each niche community and increasingly blending the “faked” into our physical reality. As a result, the modernist sense of truth is on the verge of collapse. As solid and real as architecture might have always been conceived as, the field of architecture is not immune to the question of reality. The faking of one architecture material with the image and texture of another has long existed in our field for various purposes yet not critically considered but indifferently perceived. Today, digital media adds another dimension on top of the simple binary of real and fake, making the authenticity of the building increasingly confusing. This thesis proposes to see fake materials not as an ethical problem (the betrayal of the classical modernism paradigm of “truth to the materials”) nor as ready-made industrial products made only for their economic or performance benefits but, instead, as contemporary mediums that blend digital media into physical reality as well as providing new design areas for architects to intervene with agencies. Then what we like to explore becomes what would we make of a material that embodied multiple different materialities? Can fake material stand its own ground against its “real” counterparts? Freed from the real versus fake dichotomy, can these specious materials bring forth a new aesthetic and convey critical meaning?

Image: Specious Bark / Model by Zhifei Xu and Jie Wu.



Coping with Neighbors & other Entanglements Zhicheng Xu Advisor: Sheila Kennedy Readers: Rania Ghosn & Caroline Jones This thesis explores how two ways of "seeing" landscape might be integrated and brought together through a set of design interventions for the Kooyooe fish and the people of the Paiute nation. Situated in the state currently called Nevada, where the Paiute people have lived for over 9,000 years, Pyramid Lake houses the Kooyooe, which are situated at the intersection of ecology and economy. This fish species' ecological footprint precedes us and is a cultural symbol in Paiute society. The damming of the Truckee River in 1905 and the ensuing history of water rights struggles have endangered the Kooyooe fish. Furthermore, the struggles of the Kooyooe fish represent the violence of colonialism on nature and the inequitable distribution of its resources. High-level GIS mapping and ground-level Traditional Ecological Knowledge (or TEK) both have respective merits and flaws. The former presents a systematic worldview with inadequate local sensitivity, while the latter resolves local challenges but is often unable to scale up. By combining the two, this thesis uses GIS mapping strategies to trace the flow of water and the Kooyooe's annual migration. Furthermore, this thesis seeks to support the fish and its people by designing a series of outposts and a hatchery near Pyramid Lake constructed of local materials following the TEK in the tradition of Paiute craft. Learning from the TEK embedded in Paiute practice transforms the modern understanding of architecture and may enable architectural practices to produce historical and environmental knowledge about the Truckee River and its ecological impacts on native lands. Image 1 (opposite center): Numana Dam Fish Facility. Images 2 & 3 (opposite top and bottom): Details of graphic. Image by Zhicheng Xu.



Fukushima Exclusion Zone Survival Handbook Mengqiao Zhao Advisor: Ana Miljački Readers: Rania Ghosn & Gediminas Urbonas Ten years have passed since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, but its devastating impact has not subsided and may never end, given the radioactivity from the long-term decay period. As one of the most serious nuclear accidents in human history, this is a disaster not only for Japan but for the whole world. Radioactivity has no boundaries, whether for countries or species: both humans and nonhumans are impacted. Challenging traditional problem-solving methods that focus on overcoming, solving, remediating and isolating, this thesis proposes an unconventional method of coexisting with radiation in a survival handbook. “The Survival Handbook of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone” is a fiction and an imaginative guide that describes how to coexist in a future radioactive world. It is designed for humans — residents and visitors returning to the site — and nonhumans, flora and fauna as well as nuclear waste itself. Based on an investigation of both traditional and promising new materials, this book offers schemes for imagining the future in this radioactive world. Organized around future daily life in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, this project investigates whether all forms of life can live in a radioactive world and how we might do so. At the scale of atoms, bodies, buildings, and landscapes, the timeframe of the design proposed in this thesis ranges from an almost negligible nuclear reaction time to the whole nuclear waste decay period, lasting more than 10,000 years.

Image: Fukushima Exclusion Zone Survival Handbook and Lab Setup. Photo by Mengqiao Zhao.



Master of Architecture Final Thesis Reviews, December 18, 2021 SPECIAL THANKS MIT Architecture Faculty & Staff Eleni Aktypi José Luis Argüello Darren Bennett Kateri Bertin Kathaleen Brearley Suela Caushi Stacy Clemons Marion Cunningham Nicholas de Moncheaux

Aidan Flynn Deborah Garcia Eduardo Gonzalez Gina Halabi Jim Harrington Matthew Harrington Tessa Haynes James Heard Oliver Herman

Chris Jenkins Doug Le Vie Inala Locke Tonya Miller Nina Palisano Paul Pettigrew Alan Reyes Ziyan (Daisy) Zhang

Advisors and Readers (MIT & External) Garnette Cadogan Brandon Clifford Yolande Daniels Nicholas de Monchaux Deborah Garcia Rania Ghosn Timothy Hyde Mark Jarzombek

J Jih Caroline Jones Sheila Kennedy Axel Kilian Paul Mayencourt Miho Mazereeuw Ana Miljački Caitlin Mueller

Germaine Barnes Makeda Best Martina Correia Arindam Dutta Iman Fayyad

Eva Franch i Gilabert Cristina Goberna Andrew Holder Eric Höweler Ekene Ijeoma

Cristina Parreño Liam O'Brien John Ochsendorf Roi Salgueiro Barrio Susanne Schindler Gediminas Urbonas

MARCH 2021 Critics Ang Li Ann Lui Anna Neimark Martina Tanga Michael Young

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© 2021 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Individual contributions are copyright their respective authors. Images are copyright their respective creators, unless otherwise noted. Booklet design by José Luis Argüello. Department of Architecture MIT School of Architecture and Planning SA+P