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ADS3: Financially Built Environments: The Architecture of Carbon Discredits investigates how architecture and design are entangled with new ecological and urban challenges as part of the global production of neoliberal space. Increasingly constructed by financial calculations, the built environment is subject to complex mechanisms quantifying and commodifying space. The construction of cities and infrastructure not only disrupts the ecology of spaces and species, but it also offsets that damage through the conservation of the environments ‘elsewhere’. In response, students have identified loopholes and tactics to operate in this context and develop design interventions and tools to confront these paradoxes ingrained in contemporary imbalances of architecture, climate and ecology. Through the research and mapping of a landscape of opportunity, students convey a critical agenda towards the notion of natural capital at multiple scales and design specific tactics or combating scenarios.


First year students started off with their collective live project: a zero-carbon competition situated in Bay area, San Francisco, challenging current energy production, storage and transfer techniques. The project, Feedback, creates new architectural typologies that are zero net energy techniques to be developed for the Tiburon Research Centre and beyond. Growth in renewable energy within California has led to what energy experts call the problem of ‘the California Duck’. Over the course of a typical working day, renewable energy sources undergo over-generation at midday, while the energy loads required at night are not easily met. The lack of opportunity for small to medium scale consumers to store their own energy reinforces this problem. In this context, the proposal is to design forms of long and short-term energy storage within the architecture itself, giving communities greater energy autonomy, while reducing overall energy impacts on the environment.


Second year students focused individually on their interested sites in globally contested areas. They have been investigating the indigenous population and carbon credit projects of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, bringing back the disappearing biodiversity in Shangri-La, China through “matsutake farming”, conservation and commodification of Blue Carbon mangroves in Indonesia, the disappearance of coral reefs and emergence of artificial islands in South China Sea, Trump Tower and deforestation in New York City post Kyoto Protocol, and water conflicts and crisis in Mexico City.


Live Project:



“The Architecture at Zero competition challenge is to create a “zero net energy” bay side community education and visitor’s centre for Environmental Studies. This facility is San Francisco State University’s centre for estuary and ocean science, located on 53 acres of bay side property in Tiburon, California.” Zero Net Energy: “The total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is “roughly” equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.”


Growth in renewable energy within California has led to what energy experts call the problem of ‘the California Duck’: over the course of a typical working day, renewable energy sources undergo overgeneration at midday, while the energy loads required at night are not easily met. The lack of opportunity for small to medium scale consumers to store their own energy reinforces this problem. In this context our proposal is to design forms of long and short term energy storage within the architecture itself.

According to the California Fish & Wildlife Service, there are 16 species within the Tiburon Peninsular that might be affected by development:

Steel Head

Tidewater Goby

Snowy Indian Clover

Tiburon Paintbrush

Green Turtle California Clapper Rail

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

Californian Red Legged Frog

FeedBack aims to discredit the connections between PG+E San Francisco, the Architecture

Currently, building projects within San Francisco rely on mitigation banks to relocate species when building on the habitats of endangered species. Unlike these projects, we see this site as a haven for endangered species, encouraging their growth and development.

San Bruno Butterfly White Rayed Pentachaeta

California Least Tern

Marin Dwarf Flax

Delta Smelt

Tiburon Jewel Flower

Snowy Plover

at Zero competition and the energy regulations and definitions assumed in ‘Zero Net Energy’

PG&E California Energy Production and Transfer

Mapping Wetlands: According to San Francisco BCDC’s (Conservation and Development Commission) General Plan, the major problem facing the bay area will be rising sea levels.

• Site Transportation

• Pier Energy Generation

• Tidal Expand & Retract Facade

• Floating Underwater Classroom

• Retracting Facade

• Tidal Energy Collection

• Water Turbine

• Tensile Structures

• Adaptable Floating Spaces

• Solar to Gravity Storage

Access across the site reflects the energy strategy of the proposal. The first of our three proposed buildings is The Water lobby – this incorporates the energy potential of solar, wind and water collection. The second building the Gravitorium - incorporates solar energy production as well showing off our new typology which has a large focus on gravity storage. Finally, the Wet Lab Pier, incorporates the potential of Solar and the Hydrological energy production of the bay.


The Water Lobby repurposes an existing water tank, located on a fresh water spring. The Main elements of the entrance building are the rain catchers; these provide water for the entire site using the existing cistern below. A new staircase, incorporated with wind power, and platform also allow us to incorporate the first element of our typology: gravity storage. These elements are integrated into a garden, gift shop, and offices.


Gravitorium houses the primary exhibition space, showcasing the new structural and energy technology, as well as housing a number of endangered plant species that would be affected by development on our site. Gravity storage towers charged with excess solar energy allow the buildings floor hights to change dependant on the amount of energy stored.


The Wet Lab Pier is housed in the existing theatre. This building focuses on water education, taking maximum advantage of the hydrological energy potential of the bay. The kayak teaching space brings the water into the existing building, emphasising visitors relationship with the water. Sea grass and snowy Indian clover make up a living wall to the north faรงade of the building.


THE CARBON CONUNDRUM 10°58’14.7”S 61°13’18.9”W

The lack of economic alternatives to guarantee the wellbeing of the Paiter-Surui indigenous people and the incessant entry of external actors to conduct illegal activities in the Sete de Setembro territory have driven them to engage in a carbon credit project.

Deforestation through time in and around the Territory Sete de Setembro 1975





Traditionally, their modes of living have been based on the use of the natural resources of the area where hunting, fishing and the harvesting of forest products represent a large part of the subsistence and food security of the families. The harvesting of the Brazil nut is carried out by currently 92% of the Surui families. The Surui Carbon Forest Project is a pioneering local initiative. Located between two states in Brazil, the indigenous territory Sete de Setembro was demarcated in 1976. Despite this, only on September 29th, 1983, was the permanent possession of the land recognised. The carbon project was initiated in 2009 and anticipated environmental monitoring, food security and sustainable production, institutional strengthening, development and implementation of a financial mechanism. Not long after the project was implemented there were disputes and divisions between the people, as not all of the villages were seeing the benefit of the project and instead were being limited by how they could use their own land.



















Da Placa


Nova Canaa




Nova Paiterey



Kabaney Pinah


Sete de Setembro

Sertanista Apoena Meirelles


The Amazon rainforest has been a target for colonisation, oppression and commodification for the past five hundred years. Deforestation is one of the most significant issues that its inhabitants have faced in the past decades. Illegal logging, selling, expansion of cattle ranches, agriculture and illegal mining are the main causes of deforestation. The remaining forest in the Amazon legal

boundary in Brazil that is under the legal protection of indigenous people stores approximately 13 billion tonnes of carbon. Just the UK alone in 2010 produced more than 495 million tonnes of carbon. The capacity to store enormous amounts of carbon has attracted the interest of foreign investors. Thus it has generated thirty-six speculative contracts between indigenous people and foreign companies. The Surui Carbon Forest Project has sold 120

tonnes of carbon to Natura, a Brazilian cosmetics company, and 70 tonnes of carbon to FIFA to offset emissions for the 2014 World Cup. Google has provided the Paiter Surui people with carbon measuring devices, surveillance mobile phones and helped them draw cultural maps on Google Earth. Google’s interests remain undisclosed.

In Brazil, there are seven hundred indigenous lands, with two hundred and forty-eight ethnicities, totalling in approximately eight hundred thousand people. The demarcation and legal status to protect these lands were crucial to discontinue the vast deforestation that has been happening and to establish indigenous land rights. An indigenous territory, according to the Brazilian legislation, are


lands that are traditionally and permanently occupied by original inhabitants, used for their productive activities. The territory is used for their productive activities, and indispensable to the preservation of the natural resources necessary for their wellbeing and their physical and cultural reproduction, according to their uses, customs and traditions.


10°55’19.8”N 114°05’20.7”E

The South China Sea has a lucrative supply of marine species for the provision of over 10 billion people, and is route for over £3.5 trillion worth of trade annually. Yet she has long been a greatly disputed political tool for the surrounding countries in exerting sovereignty and accessing the rich fisheries and natural gas fields. Within the ambiguous territorial boundaries lie the Spratly Islands. There are 49 claimed island and reef features scattered within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, China and Taiwan. Among them are 20 ongoing land reclamation projects which threaten life of coral reefs and marine species through extensive dredging. Coral reefs are an exemplary ecosystem with extremely high productivity and marine diversity, offering pharmaceutical resources and coastal protection. But with constant human pollution, 19% of the world’s reefs have been lost as of 2008. This project investigates the relationship between the emergence of islands and the disappearance of coral reefs, with aims to aid the preservation and conservation of coral reefs which challenges the territorial, political constraints, and temporalities of time and space, while preventing the commodification of the value of coral reefs.

Land Reclamation Projects: There are currently 20 known and active island reclamation projects in the Spratly Islands, with China reclaiming over 3000 acres of land. Some of them are for the extension and improvement of existing island inhabitation, such as Philippine’s That Island and Taiwan’s Its Abu Island, while most are built as defensive military bases, disguised under the name of scientific research, civilian purposes and rescue missions.

South China Sea: The seven main countries which lay varying and overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea are China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia. Some parts of the Spratly Islands are, luckily, located within the high sea or international waters. They are beyond the limit of the national jurisdictions and excluded from state sovereignty. Freedom of navigation, overflight, to lay submarine cables and pipelines, to construct artificial islands and other installations permitted under international law, fishing; and freedom of scientific research is exercised.

Dredging/ Chinese artificial island:

Coral Spawning: Corals are a unique life form with most species being hermaphrodites containing both ovaries and testes. Each year, in the week after full moon, coral polyps release bundles to fertilise before the current washes them away.

Dredging removes sand and sediment from the shallow seabed for the purpose of land reclamation. In the process, shallow reef atolls are either covered by sand or sickened by the impurities, causing irreversible bleaching.

Coral Bleaching: Coral reefs are constantly threatened by human activities, global warming and ocean acidification. This leads to irreversible bleaching where corals expel symbiotic seagrass, making it impossible for marine species at different trophic levels to reside in them. Possible extinction could occur, causing an undesirable chain effect affecting the environment, population and economy worldwide.

Artificial Reefs: There are many sunken features such as decommissioned ships, aircrafts, tanks, and concrete statues, which allow coral reefs to grow.

5°30’10.6”S 119°17’04.2”E



The vegetation and soil pools of mangroves, seagrass meadows, tidal marshes and the ocean, make up the coastal ecosystems that capture, sequester, and store carbon from the atmosphere acting as a carbon sink called Blue Carbon. Indo-mangroves store some three billion tonnes of carbon, based on an estimated area of 31, 894 km2. Investors of the carbon market, such as the World Bank, have included Blue Carbon in the Partnership for Market Readiness scheme to unlock 138 billion tonnes of potential carbon per year. The Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) supported by the World Bank and the Nature Conservancy oversimplifies dynamic ecosystems, creating a calculative habit that restricts nature to their financial returns based on a flow chart of ecological service categories. Mangrove ecosystems are open systems with arbitrary boundaries. They are multilayered into different zones by laws of thermodynamics, their shorelines are non-linear in time. Change over time is not accounted for in PES and REDD+ schemes. Indo-mangroves possess the largest mitigation potential globally as it suffers the fastest rates of mangrove destruction. The original 4.2 million ha has been reduced to 2.4; at least 60% of this loss has been due to aquaculture conversion. Foreign stakeholders pay the price of mangrove conservation. In 2011, 400ha of land were given by locals for the Mangrove Action Project (MAP) group. Funding came from OXFAM GB and CIDA (Can International Development Agency) at the cost of USD 1388/ha. In 2014, another collaboration in Tanakeke emerged between MAP and OMEGA. Of 100ha of land for mangrove restoration in Balang Datu, 10% was an existing area with Protected Forest status, 90% land area was from ponds abandoned by individuals and given up for restoration.

Coastal communities pay for the reality of mangrove conservation. Pulau Tanakeke is a 30-min boat ride (5km) in rough waters from mainland South Sulawesi, at a cost of 10,000 Rupiah or 55 pence. This island is a rich coral atoll with seagrasses and overwash with mangrove habitats. In the 1990s, 1200 of the 1776ha of mangrove forests were converted into aquaculture ponds during the Blue Revolution that swept the world, a world which loves shrimp. 800ha of the ponds are owned by communities but largely abandoned due to expensive upkeep and the spread of disease in humans and fish.

Rehabilitation is defined not as a return but a conversion to some beneficial use defined by goals and criteria agreed locally. In examining the stilt-house vernacular typology of Tanakeke, there is potential of an architecture of the forest that grows together with local typologies. Could columns be agents, more than for supporting seedlings? Might they allow people and mangroves to inhabit spaces together? What possibilities might come from the conflicts in adaptations of the two structures—one alive and growing, the other inert after modifications by humans? Perhaps this might challenge Indonesia’s set classification of forests—for conservation, for protection, and for production. A new forest where the boundaries between man and nature are unequivocally intertwined and inseparable. Maybe only then the coastal mangrove community livelihood can be understood as priceless, and ecological systems as invaluable.



On 9 November 2017, Bram Büscher (BB) delivered a lecture and interim project critique to ADS3. He graciously agreed to speak with MArch student Matthew Darmour-Paul (MDP) in a follow up interview. An excerpt has been transcribed here.



MDP: New forms of profiteering have emerged from speculating on nature’s exploitation, leading to what you and Robert Fletcher have called “Accumulation by Conservation” (AbC). Can you talk briefly about the history of value extraction through environmental ‘protection’? BB: That overview (AbC) was particularly meant to try to understand how we could see the dramatic changes within the particular dominant dynamics in modes of production, and how they related to conservation. Of course that is based on the assumption that indeed, conservation has always been - I wouldn’t necessarily say subservient to but certainly follows capitalism’s need. It is a form of Polanyian double-movement in that it responds to the idea of change. In the book that I’ve proposed, our chapter on capitalism is actually called, “The Change that Capitalism Makes.” This doesn’t mean that we just need to take capitalism into account because it changes our analysis, but actually that capitalism is a particular form of change that sits uneasily with other forms of change, and that these other forms of change adapt themselves to it. But not all of them. As you clearly see with much of ecological science: some adapt, some don’t. I’ll leave aside whether or not ecologists think it is a good or bad thing. Life will continue but of course certain things will be lost. Not just in terms of actual landscapes or particular species who are going extinct, but also particular forms of attachment to land and

animals and also social and political economic changes. So Accumulation by Conservation was our attempt to get further into world systems thinking, and to tie conservation much more centrally into the political economy, because we think that, from both sides, this hasn’t been done much. This is basically our life project. The bigger question ‘can you have conservation without capitalism’ or it’s reverse, is a little bit harder because that depends on how you define conservation. Others have also shown that there were certain types of relationships with the land that could, with hindsight, perhaps be called conservation, and they were not necessarily capitalist. Well fine, I accept that. I do think that the western mainstream type of conservation that is dominant is dependent on and follows capitalism. If the political economy would change then perhaps there would not be any need for a similar type of conservation. But perhaps we might find new ways. This is up for grabs, and that makes it interesting as well. MDP: Could you describe how you are expanding upon Foucault’s concept of ‘biopower’ within environmental and conservation discourse?

>> 1 From Biopower to Ontopower?

BB: I’ve just recently published an article in Conservationist Society called ‘From Biopower to OntoPower?’1 and in it I discuss the biopower frame but also say that we are now seeing its limits, moving into another frame of intervention in/through/from the perspective of governance; changing so that it’s less and less focused on the aggregate improvement of life as it is to preempt threats to life. This is based on the security studies literature that we’re seen come out over the last ten years and since Bush’s War on Terrorism, but also in relation to climate change. The idea here is less of a population that you can improve upon, but more on the fact that as we’re seeing all these threats to life - terrorism, climate change, disease, epidemics and others - and we need to preempt them.

The difference between prevention and preemption is absolutely crucial in that prevention carries with it certain ideas about cause and effect relationships. If you smoke, there is a good chance you might get lung cancer. If you do not smoke, you can prevent lung cancer to a good degree. You can’t really prevent a terrorist attack because you don’t know exactly when, where, and how terrorists will strike. The idea is to preempt it by understanding it as much as you can, and as Bush literally said, ”you have to become a terrorist to defeat a terrorist,” or, “you have to become a network to defeat a network,” and as such, intervene preemptively before you have all the data available. This is what Brian Massumi calls ontopower2: you try and act into the future by rearranging the present. MDP: Which creates all kinds of temporal problems - all of a sudden things are coming from the front rather than from behind. BB: That’s right, it becomes a rather complex mind game. One of the things Massumi says, for example, is that “you have to perceive your enemies perceiving” of certain things. But you can’t let them know that you’re perceiving them perceiving. Because if they know that you are onto them they will change course and do a terrorist attack in some other place, in some other way. So my article is on anti-poaching, and how they are moving into these preemptive fields in a really big way. Very simplistically put: if biopower is about statistics, whereby you can understand the aggregate health of the population, then ontopower is about Big Data, looking at patterns and thinking where patterns start to show things that are out of the ordinary, that may indicate a potential threat into the future. One of the ways you can preempt the future is by arranging present space in such a way that you can predict more or less what would happen if people behaved ‘normally’. The classic example is an airport. The airport is a highly securitised space whereby people follow

<< 2 For more on ontopower see: Massumi, B. 2015. Ontopower. war, powers, and the state of perception. Durham: Duke University Press.

particular lines and do all kinds of things that are all monitored. But if somebody for example would go through customs and come back, which is not supposed to happen, that change in the mobile pattern of behaviour and dynamics might lead to an intervention. It doesn’t mean somebody is a terrorist, it could mean somebody forgot their phone, but at least you are starting to focus on things that are out of the ordinary. The idea is that the law that is already present in biopolitics becomes even more strongly reinforced but in a very odd way: because those that are trying to reinforce the norm through preemptive action are those that they themselves have to become part of or at least replicate those that are outside the norm - in order to stop those from doing what they want to do! So it becomes a really weird kind of complex game.

>> 3 For an analysis of RBD see Adams, R. 2016. An Ecology of Bodies. Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary. New York: Lars Müller Publishers.

MDP: This is so relevant for ‘resilience urbanism’ studies right now and the anticipation of climate threats and sea level rise. I’m thinking in particular of the Rebuild by Design competition in New York after Hurricane Sandy3, where the winning proponent to redesign Manhattan’s shoreline had these amazingly contradictory renderings of, at one moment total chaos where flood walls were up and the ocean was slamming into the city, and then the next moment everything was back to normal and people are playing ping-pong and doing tai-chai and riding their bicycles through beautifully lush coastal landscapes. BB: Exactly, that anticipatory type of governance becomes increasingly important. It doesn’t mean that it changes and/or displaces biopolitical types of governmentality all together, but they start intertwining in funny and interesting ways. One of the things Massumi says is that ‘biopower intervenes in territory’, particularly those that relate to the boundaries of a population. He also says that ontopower doesn’t intervene in territory, but in ‘proto-territory.’ If you add ‘proto’ to ‘territory’ it becomes an interesting mix between time and space.

The way I explain it is basically all potential actions that could possibly add to or aid the realisation of a threat into the future, its consequences and or effects. If you are talking about one of the things we know that will happen, rising ocean levels, this is something that you can prepare for. But obviously the whole point of climate change is that there are many things that we cannot anticipate. We know them generically, like we know that a terrorism threat in the end will materialise through a bomb or a truck moving into people or other forms of violence, but the exact way in which it impacts we just don’t know. And hence we need to reorient our way of thinking about space so that on the one hand we can pretend to live the norm that we are used to, and on the other hand we need to prepare for chaos. Of course this is an utter contradiction! Those two are themselves deeply embedded in the specific kind of capitalist change that we’ve seen for the past 200-300 years.4 And this is why conservation to me is so interesting, particularly if you define it in terms of redirecting governing change. Very simplistically, you could say that conservation is just managing forms of change in a particular way: in relation to nature. Namely, stopping or reducing human induced change onto the natural environment. But now all of a sudden what we see is that we need to report between this tension between forms of change we don’t understand, we can’t predict, that are upon us, that in fact we are stimulating through our very political economy, and trying to manage them in such a way that we can still understand change as linear, as teleological so that we can embed our ambitions into these forms of change. Well, good luck! That kind of thing will have massive implications for architecture of course. People like David Harvey have written on this extensively. On the one hand you have to have architectural things, things that are fixed in space, at the same time you have to be open to change and transitions that will become more radical and

<< 4 For an overview of Capitalism and Conservation since 1860 see: Bram Büscher & Robert Fletcher (2014): Accumulation by Conservation, New Political Economy, DOI:

more unpredictable. I think this is a conundrum that is deeply problematic. Not necessarily in the sense that we cannot, in particular places, deal with it; depending on the space and time that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re talking about there are enough interesting and innovative people who are able to deal with certain things in particular places. But at

the same time in other places that capacity to actually deal with this, manage this, govern this, runs into these limits. That kind of dialectic is deeply problematic and deeply ingrained in the history of capitalism and is intensifying. Which leads to some of the things that you guys are also tackling.

Bram BĂźscher is the Professor and Chair at the Sociology of Development and Change group at Wageningen University, visiting Professor at the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies of the University of Johannesburg and a Research Associate at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of Stellenbosch University.


THIRCITY 19°25’57.39” N, 99°07’59.55” W

In September 2004, a female group of indigenous Mazahua, known as the Zapatista Army of Mazahua Women for Water Defence (EjĂŠrcito Zapatista de Mujeres Mazahuas en Defensa del Agua), fought for their right to land and water. It was a protest for the year-long suffering from economic difficulties that had more than 250 families affected by flooding and damage on 300 acres of agricultural crops; flooding caused by the overflow of the Malacatepec River from the Villa Victoria dam of the Cutzamala System.

The Cutzamala System was constructed for providing adequate supply of water for the metropolitan area of Mexico City - by transferring water through tunnels and pumping plants from the territories of the Mazahua indigenous people where is 150km away from the capital. Mexico City is facing a series of conflicts that all begin with a shortage of fresh water supply, lack of capacity in their drainage system and

t u re . a n f o r e w o the p

Since colonisation by the Spanish in the 1500s, the Lake Texcoco, which used to cover what today is Mexico City, was finally drained in the early 1900s through canals and tunnels. Simultaneously, with the action of draining the entire lake above ground surface, drinking water was also extracted from the aquifer below ground level. Mexico City is now accommodating more than 8 million people within its territorial boundary and 12 million on the outskirts, together forming the metropolitan area.

The city is built on layers of clay and highly permeable sand and gravel that easily compresses when fluid is withdrawn. Over years of exploitation of the aquifer directly down below for drinking water and delayed in replenishing its primary source, the becomes unstable. In the 20th Century, Mexico City was recorded to have sunk by 10 metres. The most obvious evidence of this can be found at the Monumento a la Indepedencia that was built at ground level in 1910 as a celebration of 100th anniversary of Mexicoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s War of Independence. Today it requires 23 additional steps to climb up to its base. The form of terraced houses has also become wavy, and the streets, wobbly.

The relatively frequent visit of earthquakes along with poorly managed pipe network has caused damage to both the fresh water supply and sewage system. The pipes are buried underground and make it nearly impossible to detect where the damages are. Clean and wastewater join together and comes to residents through the tap.

In the boroughs where piped water is not accessible, residents have to rely on these water supply monopolies to maintain their basic standard of living. Pipas, the water trucks, delivers water to the community. Various sizes of water buckets are laid along the street, a few hours later, they will be filled with fresh water. Both the water truck and bottled water are cleaned from various sources of water. Most of them were granted permits to pump ground water from the specific aquifers ‘assigned’ by local governments, and a number of them left local residents’ wells dried. On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognised

“the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights.”

And yet, Mexico City seems unable to provide many residents with these fundamental water rights. From March through to October, Mexico City receives most of its rainfall of the year (greater than London, where we think it to be wet all year long). The extreme rainfall results in the regular flooding of the entire city. Mexico City is not keen to keep this kind of water and drain it through the grand canal that used to drain the lake, other canals and tunnels, and rivers to neighbouring states.

The potentially drinkable water becomes a part of wastewater. In Mexico City, only 11 percent of wastewater has been treated before being discharged. Both treated and untreated waste water is mainly used for agricultural irrigation. In 2013 one of the longest sewage tunnel in the world is built, along with one of the largest wastewater treatment plant in the world, the Atotonilco waste water treatment plant in the State of Hidalgo, just outside Mexico City.

Mexico City needs water, but it does have water. Instead of ‘stealing’ water from others and sending ‘unwanted’ water away, and going through the crisis in a loop, the project is looking at how can water to be treated in Mexico City in cycles, in relation to the cycle of time that a new model of living can be established in the future. Where is the future for water, and us?


40°45’44.74” N, 73°58’25.66” W


The practice of carbon trading was implemented by the Kyoto Protocol (1992) as another strategy for tackling climate change. The aim of this universal agreement is to keep the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius while allowing â&#x20AC;&#x153;Business As Usualâ&#x20AC;? economics, which the fossil fuel industry profits from. 24 years later, the Paris Agreement (2016) has again agreed that emission targets should rise no more than 3 °C. Although massive climate catastrophes happen every single year in every country, the global carbon market seems to enlarge every year.

Deforestation caused by humans in low-carbon emitting countries has resulted in the catastrophic demolition of many habitats. The City of Trunk appears in many places as a new form of landscape. By shifting carbon footprints from the United States to Brazil, people who live in the city are more likely to forget climate events actually happening elsewhere, as facts and reality are often hidden behind redundancy and rigid legislation. Overexploitation, consumerism and urbanism have coincided with climate change. A man turning on his air conditioning in New York City might cause deforestation in Brazil, or lead to a massive typhoon in south-east Asia.

ol c o t o r P o the existing climate change agreement T h e K y o tthat will be is replaced by the Paris Agreement in 2020. Are we acting fast enough? What lessons are we taking from our earlier Kyoto agreement?

On June 1, 2017, the United States President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change. On the 6th of October, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a formal proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a regulation on power plants that would have reduced domestic demand for coal and curbed the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s climate altering emissions. One example of reducing carbon footprint is the 80x50 plan initiated by New York City to reduce 80 percent of greenhouse gas by 2050.

How can architecture serve as a mechanism to facilitate energy infrastructures? The first intention is to discredit the notion of commercialised nature. However, the formula of ‘putting a price on nature’ is undoubtedly irreversible. This does is not to suggest the presence of one tree in Brazil is less important than in New York City. For the city, existing buildings will eventually need to move beyond “low- and medium-difficulty” energy use. Envision the end of conventional electric supply methods in mega-cities around the world. What can a building in the city “do” regarding this energy issue?

The project is taking the Trump Tower as an example, using new technologies to repurpose it. Speculating on a future energy consumption scenario where traditional power stations no longer exist, other buildings or interior spaces can replace their functions. The project proposes a new way of imagining ‘energy credits’, by considering energy trading as a new form of exchange happening citywide. Energy credits can be earned from generating electricity in the building, then these energies also can supply other buildings nearby. These credits can also be one of the ways to gain “air rights” (in a similar manner to how the provision of public space in a private building can be used to obtain air rights).

22°02’27.57” N, 99°38’48.26” E



“When Hiroshima was destroyed by an atomic bomb, it is said, the first living thing to emerge from the blasted landscape was a matsutake mushroom.” - Anna Tsing, “The Mushroom At the End of the World”

Shangri-la, Yunnan, South-West China, a mysterious Tibetan town laying at the bottom of the Tibetan Plateau. As the legend goes, the first matsutake mushroom was found here thousands of years ago. Yet this “Utopia in the Far East” was called “Zhongdian” until 2001, and was previously under intensive logging until its ban in 2010. Its scarred landscape contains the world’s most biologically diverse temperate forest, but it is slowing disappearing. Studies show that most previously logged forests are left uncared for and are being turned to non-forested land cover type or non-pine scrub forest, with continuously declining biodiversity.

The project has the ambition to re-generate the ruined landscape and protect the remaining old growth forest by investing in the recent booming industry of matsutake mushroom farming, developing a strategy to achieve environmental conservation. As the most expensive mushroom in the world, matsutake can only grow on certain tree roots, forming a mutualistic association (mycorrhizae) with the host trees. Hence, farming matsutake means protecting the forests.

In 2001, along with two other neighbouring cities as competitors, Zhongdian won the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;privilegeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; by the authority to change its name to match a remote and romantic town described in the 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. This fictional town fantasised by a Western author has somehow became the new identity of Zhongdian, now known as


Zhongdian in the Hengduan Mountains has elevations ranging from 1500m to 6000m above sea level, creating a large array of ecological niches in a relatively small area. Local residents are mostly Tibetan ethnic minorities. The traditional Tibetan wooden houses are typically built with timber harvested from surrounding forests. Most people live off the forest, relying heavily on forests for their livelihoods. Due to the logging ban, they cannot source timber from previously disturbed areas, hence logging shifted to the old growth forests.

The logging ban has not solved the fundamental problem; it has simply shifted the forest demand from previously unprotected woodland to the old-growth forests that are key to NW Yunnanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biodiversity conservation. With the current economic boom from matsutake mushrooms and strong interest from the state, local villagers and overseas traders, the project proposes a matsutake farmâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a farm formed by forestâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a forest as a farm. A place where human, forest and matsutake mushroom can co-exist.

RCA ADS3 Work-in-Progress JANUARY 2018  

The Work-in-Progress publication by ADS3 students from RCA MA Architecture course. ADS3 is a design studio in RCA. The theme for year 2017...

RCA ADS3 Work-in-Progress JANUARY 2018  

The Work-in-Progress publication by ADS3 students from RCA MA Architecture course. ADS3 is a design studio in RCA. The theme for year 2017...