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LUNCH 8: futures for sites unknown


CONTENTS: 10

THE END(S) OF CIVILIZATION Daniel Daou, Harvard University, DDes 2014

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IT TOOK DOMINION EVERYWHERE: JUHANI PALLASMAA AND THE ANECDOTE OF THE JAR Sara Arfaian, Cornell University, B. Arch 2008

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GLOBAL CULTURE AND SITES OUT OF MIND: THE CASE FOR THE INDIA INITIATIVE Phoebe Crisman, University of Virginia, Associate Professor of Architecture

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HEDONISTIC ECOLOGIES:

THE LATENT PLEASURES OF SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS Katherine Treppendahl, University of Virginia, M.Arch 2012

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PARADOX-CITY SWAMP THING + SMART GRID: SMARTER WATER MANAGEMENT IN NEW ORLEANS, LA Isaac Cohen, University of Virginia, MLA 2013 Kate Hayes, University of Virginia, MLA 2013

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ADAPTABLE, HETEROGENOUS SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES Maj Plemenitas, LINKSCALE, Founder and Principal

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BALTIMORE PUBLIC WATER: URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE AS PUBLIC LANDSCAPE GENERATOR Kurt Marsh, University of Virginia, M.Arch, MLA 2012

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BALTIMORE: URBAN ESTUARY Colin Curley, University of Virginia, B.S.Arch 2011 Sara Harper, University of Virginia, B.S.Arch 2011

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FROM LANDSCAPING TO INFRASTRUCTURE: THE SCOPE AND AGENCY OF MAINTENANCE Michael Geffel, University of Virginia, MLA 2013


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EIGHTH APPROXIMATION: URBAN SOIL IN THE ANTHROPOCENE Seth Denizen, University of Virginia, MLA 2012

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INCREMENTAL ALLEYWAYS: CONSIDERING GREY INFRASTRUCTURE AS PUBLIC SPACE Jacob Ross Fox, University of Virginia, MLA 2013 Gwendolyn McGinn, University of Virginia, MLA 2014

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SAMBO RECONFIGURED: BETWEEN THE ARCHAIC AND THE AVANT GARDE Mara Marcu, University of Virginia, Virginia Teaching Fellow Contributors: Eric Kuhn, Patrick Schoonover, Taylor Scott, Tyler Whitney, Annie Locke Scherer

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[RE]CONSTRUCTION: MATERIAL AND TECTONIC STRATEGIES FOR THE ADAPTATION OF BUILDINGS OVER TIME Catharine Killien, University of Virginia, M.Arch 2013

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DECONSTRUCTING DANVILLE: A PROTOTYPE OF RUST-BELT REINVENTION Andrew Brown, University of Virginia, M.Arch 2013 Liz Kneller, University of Virginia, M.Arch 2013 Megan Suau, University of Virginia, M.Arch 2013 Parker Sutton, University of Virginia, M.Arch 2013

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THE BLUEPRINT FOR SURVIVAL: A FUTURE NOT (YET) REALIZED Jason Rebillot, Harvard University, DDes (ABD), Instructor

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AMERICAN ELDER

Joseph Chapman, University of Virginia, MFA 2008

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HOW TO UNDERSTAND AN ERA Joe Raffin, University of Detroit Mercy, B.s.Arch 2011

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INDIA: WORK IN PROGRESS Harsh Vardhan Jain, University of Virginia, M.Arch 2013


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LOCOMOTIVE: URBAN TRANSFER Justin Hui, Cornell University, B.Arch 2011

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OPPORTUNISTIC URBANISM: EXPLORATION OF CHALLENGED URBAN IDENTITY Tamrat Gebremichael, University of Virginia, B.Arch 2012 Weishun Xu, University of Virginia, B.Arch 2012

142 DISEMBODIED Din Blankenship, University of Michigan, M.Arch 2012 148

LIGHT AS COMMODITY David Sasaki, Architect Contributors: Timothy Sasaki, Son Van Huynh, Christopher Mudiappahpillai

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ISLAND HABITATIONS: BUILDING A PINK PLASTIC UTOPIA Manar Moursi, Princeton University, M.Arch 2008

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RECLALIMED: DREDGE DIALECTICS IN THE VENETIAN LAGOON Nate Burgess, University of Virginia, MLA 2013 Rachel Stevens, University of Virginia, MLA 2013

170 POLYTROPISM Newsha Ghaeli, McGill University, M.Arch 2013 Caileigh Mackellar, McGill University, M.Arch 2012 176

EXTRATERRITORIAL ACTIVATION: HARNESSING POTENTIAL FROM THE INDETERMINANCY OF CLOSED MILITARY ZONES Suzanne Harris-Brandts, University of Waterloo, M.Arch 2012

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ARCTIC ATLAS: NORTHWEST PASSAGE Leena Cho, University of Virginia, Visiting Lecturer Matthew Jull, University of Virginia, Assistant Professor


futures for sites unknown


FUTURES FOR SITES UNKNOWN The seventh volume of Lunch took a large step in engaging the design field outside the walls of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. It included a series of conversations with practitioners who visited the school, including Eduardo Arroyo, Levi Bryant, Teresa Gali, Rafael Moneo, and Camilo Restrepo. The effort to foster an evolving dialogue with the profession at large has been expanded in Lunch 8: Futures for Sites Unknown by breaking from tradition: no longer does Lunch only include articles submitted from the UVA community. A call for submissions was made, and the answer came from across the world. Lunch 8: Futures for Sites Unknown tackles the uncharted waters and unsteady ground facing designers. Boundaries are being redrawn due to rising sea levels. The large modern infrastructural projects of the mid-twentieth century are now our antiquity and new technologies respond to craft, climate, and waste. Ever expanding and decentralizing patterns of urbanization are providing vacancies and urban wilds ripe for investment. Site is not only geographic, but a concatenation of the social, cultural, economic, ecological, and metaphysical. It is at once bounded and boundless. It is territory, which is implicitly contested — it is a claimed sphere of influence and therefore defines a sphere of action. This is an incredibly exciting time to be a designer. In this moment of uncertainty, we must ask ourselves: How do we address the problems on the horizon when we are only starting to have a glimpse of what they will be? The projects within these pages explore the emerging conditions of our time and beyond, presenting Futures for Sites Uknown.

Danielle Alexander, Nicholas Knodt, Clayton Williams May 7, 2013


END(S) OF CIVILIZATION DANIEL DAOU I want to start by addressing the end of civilization. Here I use end in both of its acceptations: end as limit and end as purpose. The notion of limit makes little sense if detached from its reason or purpose. By civilization, I mean the result of the sum total of human activities on the planet in both its concrete and abstract dimensions. Is there a limit to human existence, and, is there a purpose to it? My intention is epistemological: I will not attempt to provide an answer to lofty inquiries. Rather, I will offer a brief overview of the eclectic range of pertinent literature and use these insights toward a critique on sustainability. Philologically, sustainability can be traced back to the German nachhaltigkeit, which implied a certain “limitless” quality to the processes it was applied to.1 It is this never ending or perpetual dimension of the word what links it to the question about the end(s).

THE END AS LIMIT The first person on record to systematically try to calculate the limit of the planet’s human carrying capacity was the Dutch scientist Antoine van Leeuwenhoek in 1679.2 Using the population density of the Netherlands as a reference for the rest of the estimated habitable surface of the Earth, he set the maximum world population at 13.4 billion. Today this assumption has been acknowledged as problematic, and it is from where “The Netherlands Fallacy”3 takes its name. This exercise is the first in a long tradition incumbent in demographics where perhaps the most influential work was produced by the English scholar Robert Thomas Malthus. Malthus theorized that rising numbers of humans would unavoidably trigger food shortages that would lead to societal and environmental collapse.4 This scenario has come to be referred to as the “Malthusian catastrophe.”5 As was the case with Leeuwenhoek, a fallacy can be teased out in Malthus’s reasoning. He assumed that his insights on island bound animal populations could be equally applied to humans. This is a form of “appealing to nature,” a logical fallacy that assumes that correctness follows only from nature.6 The nineteenth-century economist Henry George illustrates this flaw in a candid quote: “Both the jayhawk and the man eat chickens, but the more jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens.”7 Faulty assumptions aside, Malthus’s case is useful because it illustrates epistemic conservatism — the conception that there are unmovable, universal limits set by nature. A contrasting position, one where human development potential is not constrained by nature, has been described by sociologist Ted Benton as “emancipatory.”8 These two positions are in fact commonly referred to as “Malthusian” and “cornucopian.”9 If Malthusians agree on unmovable natural limits, cornucopians share the belief that science and technological progress can overcome these limits.10

The

modern schism between Malthusian scarcity and cornucopian abundance can be


traced back to Marx and Engels who attempted to reformulate Malthusian law.11 For them, a rising human population would not translate into a food resource problem but a sure boon for the scientific advancement that would increase food production, for “what is impossible to science?”12 But why have thinkers — economists in particular — found a need to argue in favor of growth in the first place? It would seem as if “existence” without “growth” was anathema. This returns us to the second question of purpose. The limits to existence cannot be explored without questioning the purpose of existence.

THE END AS PURPOSE Though the question of the forms of growth cannot be answered without regard to a historical context, here growth is considered mostly in net quantitative material terms. Further, here the question of growth obviates its entanglement with progress. The answers to the question of why we grow can be grouped in three categories that are not mutually exclusive. The first is determined by biological and environmental factors: life expands on earth checked only by environmental pressures; energy inputs in a system will increase the system’s internal order of life.13 The second is dictated by a social imperative: it is the right of humans to develop

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while excreting degraded matter and energy. Growth is, in other words, the intrinsic signature

being. This is the precisely the emancipatory project described by Benton which is at odds with the epistemic conservatism of Malthus. The third is driven by technology: it is the main force behind development throughout history.15 A variation of technological determinism introduces the concept of existential risk,16 or, anything that threatens to drive civilization to extinction. Since existential risk is unpredictable, the only way to ensure humanity will be able to cope with it is through ever increasing problem solving capacity driven by technological progress.17 However, the actual crux of the debate is not whether the limits of our existence are determined by natural, social, or technological factors. If we reconsider two groups described by Tierney, the “boomsters” and the “doomsters”, we can see that both a common goal: guaranteeing a prosperous future for humanity. What, then, is the root of their diametrically opposed views?

DECOUPLING Too easily the doomsters are associated with the environmental movement or as Luddites and boomsters with economics or as techno-utopian, however, such divisions are not without exceptions. For example, not all “boomsters” have an uncritical faith in technology — some see technological progress itself as a form of existential risk. Not all economists are “boomsters” either; increasingly efforts are being made to develop viable models for a zero-growth steadystate economy.18 There are also environmentalists who make a strong case for technological progress.19 Even if conventional distinctions and stereotypes fail, there are still two sides to the debate. The crucial concept that differentiates all the positions within the discussion is decoupling.20 Here, decoupling refers to the separation of growth from prosperity.21 Couplers argue for growth because either they do not distinguish between growth and development or because they see the former as a precondition for the latter. Decouplers, on the other hand, argue against growth because they find it unnecessary or at odds with long term prosperity. Both couplers and decouplers however are ultimately more interested in prosperity and less in growth. Untangling these notions allows one to see the debate with more clarity. The real

Daou End(s) of Civilization

to their fullest potential through ever increasing health, education, affluence, and overall well-


question is whether we can enjoy prosperity without growth forever. I add emphasis to the last word as a reminder that ultimately this is an issue of perpetual sustainability—a pleonasm since no form of sustainability is sustainable if it cannot be carried on indefinitely.

SUSTAINABILITIES “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Brundtland Commission22 The Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainable development in Our Common Future is vague enough as to allow interpretations coming from both coupler and decoupler camps. It does little to clear up the relationship between growth and prosperity. I argue that the mainstream interpretation has been with a decoupler slant, characterized by its imposition of maximum acceptable limits. For example, proposals such as polluting less, curbing population growth, or eating locally grown organic food still seem intuitively like a good thing to do. This is because they assume that progress does not depend on growth to provide prosperity; in other words, they can be decoupled. There is a counterpart to the decoupler interpretation of sustainability. A less intuitive coupler spin of sustainable development would see, for example, growing levels of energy consumption as necessary for the kind of technological progress that could allow us to push existential risk indefinitely into the future. In other words, the consumption of natural resources could be understood as a metabolic process that produces waste but also increased order in the form of more complex technologies that translate into a better capacity of humanity to respond to risk.23 A good analogy of coupler and decoupler hermeneutic modes can be found in the distinction between ecological resilience and adaptability.24 Resilience is the capacity of a system to recover from disturbance and therefore related to the concept of stability. Adaptability is the system’s capacity to change in response to disturbance, and is as therefore as important as resilience. For their emphasis on correlating sustainability with achieving a steady state, decouplers could be associated with resilience. Similarly, for their arguments in favor of constant change, couplers’ ideas are related to adaptability. The reference to the resilience and adaptability as defined within ecology shows how important seemingly mutually exclusive approaches are toward preservation. The polemic between couplers and decouplers is still a matter of debate. The less obvious and counterintuitive interpretations of sustainability from the coupler side of the debate should not be dismissed for more readily accepted decoupler ones. It could be that growth, as a net increase in energy and materials processed, is inseparable from prosperity or even intrinsically unavoidable but, moreover, the ultimate implication of a coupler interpretation of sustainability is that both steady-state or de-growth scenarios put in jeopardy our capacity to cope with unexpected risk. Even the nineteenth-century economist William Stanley Jevons, one of Malthus’s most eloquent successors, displayed some caution towards conservatism: “To disperse so lavishly the cream of our mineral wealth is to be spendthrifts of our capital—to part with that which will never come back. This might lead to the sudden collapse of civilization. Yet much of civilization, such as our rich literature and philosophy, might never have existed without the lavish expenditure of our material energy that redeemed us from dullness and degradation a century ago. To reduce consumption might only bring back stagnation. We have to make the momentous choice between brief greatness and longer continued mediocrity.”25


Today, it is less clear whether our choices are limited to those pointed by Jevons. But the coin is still nevertheless in the air. References: 1. Nathan Thanki, “Sustainable: A Philological Investigation,” HumJournal (Bar Harbor, ME: College of the Atlantic, 2011). 2. Joel E. Cohen, How Many People Can the Earth Support? (New York: Norton, 1995). 3. Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, The Population Explosion (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990). 4. Thomas R. Malthus and James Bonar, First Essay on Population, 1798 (New York: A.M. Kelley, 1965). 5. Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007). 6. Mohan Rao, “Abiding Appeal of Neo-Malthusianism: Explaining the Inexplicable,” Economic and Political Weekly 39, no. 32 (August 7, 2004): 3599-3604. 7. Henry George, Progress and Poverty, An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth; The Remedy (New York: The Modern Library, 1938). 8. Ted Benton, “Marxism and Natural Limits: An Ecological Critique and Reconstruction,” New Left Review 178, no. 1 (November-December 1989): 51-86.

11. K. J. Walker, “Ecological Limits and Marxian Thought,” Politics 14, no. 1 (1979): 29-46; Benton, “Marxism and Natural Limits.” 12. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works (New York: International Publishers, 1987), 3:444. 13. Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadski and Mark A. McMenamin, The Biosphere (New York: Copernicus, 1998); Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, Order Out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1984); James Lovelock, Gaia, A New Look at Life on Earth (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1979). 14. Benton, “Marxism and Natural Limits.” 15. Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994). 16. Nick Bostrom, “The Future of Humanity,” in New Waves in Philosophy of Technology, ed. Jan-Kyrre Berg Olsen, Evan Selinger, and Soren Riis (New York: Palgrave McMillan, 2009). 17. Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (New York: Random House, 2007). 18. Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, The Entropy Law and the Economic Process (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971); Herman E. Daly, Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development (Boston: Beacon Press, 1996). 19. Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto (New York: Viking, 2009). 20. Daly, Beyond Growth; Tim Jackson, Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (London: Earthscan 2009); Richard Heinberg, The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality (Gabriola, BC: New Society Publishers, 2011). 21. Wolfgang Sachs, “Sustainable Development,” in The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology, ed. Michael Redclift (Cheltenham, UK: Elgar, 1997). 22. Gro Harlem Bruntland et al., Our Common Future (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1990). 23. Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants (New York: Viking, 2010). 24. Lance H. Gunderson and C. S. Holling, Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2002). 25. William Stanley Jevons and Alfred William Flux, The Coal Question; An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, And the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal-mines (New York: A. M. Kelley, 1965).

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10. Julian Lincoln Simon, The Ultimate Resource (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981); S. Charles Maurice and Charles W. Smithson, Are We Running Out of Everything? Series on Public Issues No. 1 (College Station, TX: Center for Free Enterprise, Texas A&M University, 1983).

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9. John Tierney, “Betting on the Planet” New York Times, December 2, 1990.


I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it, And sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the ground And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion every where. The jar was gray and bare. It did not give of bird or bush, Like nothing else in Tennessee.

­— Wallace Stevens, 1918


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juhani pallasmaa and the anecdote of the jar SARA ARFAIAN

The twenty first century thus far has generated an ecstasy of iconic buildings, each one trying to distinguish itself from the past, each one trying to be the new now, the next now, and to make whatever used to be now look like then. The accelerating circularity of this phenomenon whereby each moment negates the one before it forms a closed loop with no reference to a reality outside itself. This is an architecture that eats itself. On a point far outside this loop, from the remote frore dreamscape of Finland Juhani Pallasmaa makes buildings like the first building: a bald opening in the air endowing the boreal wilderness with the order of a center. Juhani’s work does not concern itself with newness or nowness. The subtext of every brick is a bold, brave case for architectural purpose in the face of a discipline approaching the dissolute horizon of its own possibility. In 1995, Juhani authored The Eyes of the Skin. Here was a text that identified itself as couched in phenomenology before the first full stop. Two months later, almost in the same breath, he published Animal Architecture, a simple book cataloguing the curious and charming architectures of animals. The Eyes of the Skin is currently required reading at most schools of architecture. Animal Architecture is no longer in publication.

Arfaian It Took Dominion Everwyere

IT TOOK DOMINION EVERYWHERE


What if these two works were more than just consecutive? We recall Leviathan: “When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently.” Consider the animal. In the words of another circumpolar architect, the late great Sverre Fehn, “The bird nest is absolute Functionalism, because the bird is not aware of its death.” Whether animals understand death is an ontologically complex question, further complicated by the fact that animals cannot speak to communicate complex reasoning or metaphysical selfawareness. The best evidence of the internal life of animals is their architecture, and these are invariably the product of a simple equation. Structure equals whatever unique combination of mechanics (clinching mandible, clasping beak), material (saliva, sizable twigs), and motivation (honey storage, egg cache) are incident on the occasion of construction. There is a direct one to one efficiency of input to output that would suggest an unawareness of one’s own mortality. Enter man, whose constructions are a singularity of two separate logics collapsed into one thing. There is first the logic of gravitational forces, geometries that brace against wind, planes and folds to shed water, masses channeling weight to crash eternally into the ground. There is also, simultaneously, a second, internally consistent

Because, see, in a way, human architecture is the business of making reasons.

logic of metaphor and myth. Human animals have used buildings to represent the universe symbolically in a heroic effort to make sense of things (namely, Death, but also the World, the Self, why are we here, etc.). There is a philosophical function to these buildings that is as much about constructing meaning as about constructing shelter. In studio, opposite a row of grimly-attired guest critics, a project is only as good as the reasons given for otherwise arbitrary moves. In a way, human architecture is the business of making reasons. There is a third iteration in this genealogy of building-making. The relationship between a building and its image has historically been tense. The truth is that Image has always had its own thinly disguised ambitions towards independent action. Over time, Image multiplied in form and splendor, until, one day, Image was much more real than the actual building. It became clear that the building was its shadow and not the other way around; that the real building had to conform to its ultrareal Image — that the building was in fact designed backwards from a rendering. The arrowhead had flipped to the other end of the line connecting a thing and its expression, reversing the direction of determination. This privileging of the image is the principal lamentation put forth by Juhani in The Eyes of the Skin. Image-buildings have an uneasy coexistence with function. Relative technological omnipotence is employed mostly in the service of fabricating crazy shapes or air-conditioning glass skyscrapers in the desert. In uncoupling form and function, a sleek, cool indeterminacy reigns. The problem is this: when visual style is the organizing principle, a building becomes essentially a giant ornament, an architectural embellishment. Cities become petting zoos of gratuitously sexy buildings, each one screaming “Look at me!” They annihilate each other like anti-matter, canceling each other out.


A further problem is this: people like the Image because it’s fun and easy, and it certainly doesn’t demand anything of you in return. This is the difference between architecture that entertains and architecture that transfigures. After a while even constant newness gets to be a bit boring. David Foster Wallace explains this human malady: “If we’re the only animals who know in advance we’re going to die, we’re also probably the only animals who would submit so cheerfully to the sustained denial of this undeniable and very important truth.” In phenomenology, this would be called the forgetting of being. And so we return, obliquely, to the question: Is Animal Architecture conceived in response to The Eyes of the Skin? Was Juhani trying to tell us that building more like animals would solve our phenomenological problem? Yes, in a present that can be fixed generally to the space-time coordinates of budding May 1994, under the auroral skies of Finland, man and animal found a point of intersection in the person of one Juhani Pallasmaa, who was suggesting that revisiting primal functional concerns, the weightiest of which is the reconciliation of buildings with the environment, would yield

Juhani claimed that returning to a primitive understanding of

… buildings as abstract

buildings as dense urban ecologies of uncertainty and fractal

machines that are far more

complexity might produce buildings as abstract machines that

verb than object, more

are far more verb than object, more process than Image. Lush,

process than Image.

frothy ur-buildings that give of bird and bush. For us, located squarely inside the self-cannibalistic circle of iconic image-architecture, what is at stake here is more than a “discourse” between architects for architects. What is at stake is the future of thinking, feeling, and suffering because the buildings we construct in which to conduct our lives, and to whose beauty we are so vulnerable, define how we think, feel, and suffer.

On a windy day I met with Juhani to discuss, animal to animal, these and other items. The month was October. A westering moon was high in the afternoon sky. Sara Arfaian: There is a deeply cynical pragmatism in Koolhaas’s call to opportunistically “surf the waves of capital.” The current architecture meme, yes is more, implies that building is an act of affirmation, a great affirmative “yes” to the market. Does architecture have a responsibility to challenge the status quo? Juhani Pallasmaa: Yes, definitely. However, I would list separate the individual responsibility that we have as citizens and then the professional responsibility that we have as architects, In architecture itself I think every profound building tries to achieve a somewhat better human condition so it implies a critical attitude. How far that criticality can go in architecture is a bit of a different question, but definitely I think architects should turn down commissions that do not meet their ethical criteria. Architecture itself, I think, should be critical in, or autonomous from, the social commission to a certain degree. However, there are places in history where architecture has been very expressly critical, for instance, in the Russian Constructivist movement. Architecture is the most contextual art form and more closely tied with the social

Arfaian It Took Dominion Everwyere

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toothsome architectural consequences.


reality than other art forms while still seeking an essential artistic autonomy. I have never supported architecture that simply takes the commission at full face and then tries to execute it. Even in the case of a private client I think it turns into populism if the architect only tries to satisfy the demands of the client. I think the architect has the responsibility of introducing more universal and higher issues than the desires of an individual. SA: One way to interpret this fashionable cynicism is as a kind of defense mechanism to feelings of powerlessness and impotence. If architecture should be critical, but is also at once always in the service of capital, then the question is one of agency. Do you believe architecture has the power to effect change? JP: Yes, but one needs to understand the fundamental nature of architecture. It is a slow and quiet art form, so you cannot expect the same immediate impact as you would get at a rock concert. I think the attempt to make architecture more forcefully present by making it louder in visual terms are misguided. It is a misunderstanding of the essence of architecture. There is no doubt about the fact that architecture has had a strong impact, of course it depends a little bit on the country and culture that we are speaking of. But, for instance in our country, I could not think of a university or even a municipal or private client that would even

[Architecture] is a slow and quiet art form…

think of asking the architect to do something which is not contemporary in its expression. So, architecture has become so much a part of the natural consistence of people that it is not a separate stylistic issue any more. And, well, architects at large have not been very active in making their art form known and appreciated by people but that’s a slightly different thing. I have witnessed so many times that people who are not architects seem to understand my message. SA: Considering the urgency of global warming and the role buildings have played in its creation, the growing relevance of landscape architecture and ecological urbanism can be seen as a way to regain agency. Do you consider landscape architecture to be the new mode of criticality? JP: Yes, I myself have written essays on fragile architecture, an architecture that does not use the force of geometry for instance or the force of reductive form for an impact but tries to accommodate even the weak forces in human life and activities. I see a growing interest for that kind of architecture in schools for instance that I visit. I think there’s a new sensitivity growing. SA: You often stress timelessness, that architecture should be non-referential and express a universal condition of man. What value do you give to anticipatory architecture, like the Russian Constructivists, architecture that is projective of the future? JP: Honestly, as a young man I was interested in the futuristic dimension of architecture. Now I am not. I agree with Jorge Louis Borges who says that no good writer ever wanted to be contemporary, that your attachment to your time and the contemporary world comes through your own personality. It doesn’t need to be thematized at all as a conscious thing. When I speak of timeless architecture, I simply refer to the undeniable fact that the message of good architecture seems to be timeless. We are still moved by buildings that are four or five thousand years old, not to speak of buildings that are fifty years old. For instance, I am always moved, almost to tears, by great buildings of the early modernist phase because they project such


an optimism and faith in human rationality that they are really touching. And why should that message wipe away even in the future? SA: The theoretical nihilism of iconic architecture asserts that, in a world no longer functioning according to theory or philosophy, the architect should determine the desires of the market and supply it forthwith. Can you think of any unexpected benefits to this type of approach? Is there any meaningful contribution to the discipline that might have been overlooked? JP: I would say very sincerely and severely that I think that capitalist ideology is a huge problem for humanity. I think the architect should be critical about capitalist operation, endeavors, and aspirations. The current society and the political world is so blinded; for instance, now that we have come through two worldwide recessions, there has been no real discussion about the role of capitalist ideology in those problems and in the problems of the environment. Of course, architecture, as any art, has a language that is to a certain degree autonomous. There is an aspect about architecture that is independent and autonomous of the social commission. That’s why we can admire historical architecture without knowing for what social purposes or political purposes it was used. And we often admire buildings that are in the service of power independent of the social commission. I would still hesitate to expect something meaningful

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expressedly and strongly and relentlessly so there is an aspect of architecture that tends to be

SA: You’ve talked about allowing the observer of a building to “enter into the unconsciousness of the stone,” for example, instead of an architect as sole artistic genius imposing form on a passive, inert matter. A sort of feedback loop between the intelligence of matter and the intelligence of the architect. JP: Yes, I have the opinion that modernity has been focusing on formal issue and forgotten the language of matter. As Gaston Bachelard says in “Water and Prince” [sic], matter has its own imagination and those images are more emotionally more powerful than images of form. I fully share that view so it’s only a question of sensibility to materials and sensitivity to

For me architecture is the art of emphasizing reality…

gravity for example. Modernity at large has tried to neglect gravity and build images that defy gravity whereas Kahn went the other way and wanted to express gravity and that gives his architecture a completely different authority. I agree, in my opinion both are valid attitudes but at least at my current age I am more inclined to thinking in the manner that Kahn thought of architecture not as a virtuoso performs gymnastics with new materials and structures but as something that makes our understanding of orientations, and gravity, etc. more strong and clear. For me, architecture is the art of emphasizing reality rather than distancing from reality so I have never supported fantasy architecture. SA: This is a long shot, but there’s this poem called the anecdote of the jar. It’s about a jar on a hill in Tennessee that orders the slovenly (ideological) wilderness around it. JP: Oh, I know it, yes. Steven Wallace [sic]. Sure. Yes, yes. That really concretizes my view of architecture. Architecture is exactly the jar that reorganizes the world around it and gives meaning. Yes, yes.

Arfaian It Took Dominion Everwyere

coming from an architecture that rides on this wave.


GLOBAL CULTURE AND SITES OUT OF MIND the case for the india initiative PHOEBE CRISMAN

How can architectural education be enriched by the seemingly peripheral voices of diverse global cultures? How does the process of creating design propositions within unfamiliar cultures and sites encourage students to question their own assumptions and methods? In order to explore these questions, a research methodology was created to shift the normal architectural studio pedagogical structure, content, and location in order to examine the effect on student learning. Professors Phoebe Crisman and Peter Waldman established the India Initiative at the University of Virginia as an innovative research and teaching program that examines the physical environments constructed by the diverse cultures of India and proposes sustainable strategies for future development. The long-term goal of this research is to create a deeper understanding of the intertwined aspects of environmental design and human culture. Several theoretical concepts support this work, including the educational value of spatial dislocation, experiential learning that engages the bodily senses, reflection, constructed knowledge, and other ways of knowing.

WHY INDIA In seeking a rich and relevant place to study global sustainability issues in architecture and urbanism, India emerged as the ideal location. The complex mix of religions, ethnicities, languages, geographies, arts, and architecture of India produces hybrid and rapidly transforming cultural conditions. India, as the


world’s largest democracy, is experiencing dramatic population growth, massive rural to urban migration, and increasing economic disparity. Widespread environmental degradation and natural resource depletion plague the country. There is much to be learned from a close study of local sustainable practices that have emerged from a combination of necessity and ingenuity in the Indian built environment. For example, residents of the medieval Indian settlements of Rajastan stay comfortable in the scorching heat through intertwined natural cooling strategies: arranging buildings in dense clusters, orienting buildings to reduce solar income, creating fenestration to cool sunlit surfaces, using massive stone roof and wall construction to absorb heat, and providing cross-ventilation with complex courtyard configurations. Exquisite fountains and water channels are intelligent evaporative cooling methods that create pleasant microclimates in the courtyards of both civic and residential buildings. These are just a few examples of sustainable strategies for infrastructure, landscapes, and buildings that the India Initiative research seeks to understand in a deep and synthetic way.

CONTENT AND STRUCTURE architecture students in the diverse cultures and places of India at two scales of dwelling — the

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A design research methodology was conceived to immerse both undergraduate and graduate

the five Hindu elements or panchabhuta: earth, water, air, fire, and ether (void or space). The first year (2012) focused on water as a spatial generator of highly particular forms of infrastructure and architecture that support the occupancy of water itself and those that use it. The research group studied the formal, material and cultural significance of enduring and contemporary water architecture in India, while proposing new design strategies. The second year (2013) will consider fire — the most sacred of the five physical forces according to Vedic philosophy. Fire is associated with the Sun as the primary source of life and energy. Fire represents light, heat, and energy manifest in architecture through spatial configurations and places of gathering, symbolism, materials, shade and shadow, and apertures that regulate light and heat. Each year we will produce an exhibit and publication that will build an important body of work.

PEDAGOGY The India Initiative builds on several years of my own pedagogical experimentation structuring design research studios to explore individual agency in challenging places and with underserved populations.1 That research focused on the revitalization of contaminated and underutilized industrial sites in Eastern seaboard cities of the United States.2 By critically engaging social and ethical considerations in difficult real world places, those studios provided students with handson experiences of architectural agency. In the past two years this research has expanded to address the global sustainability challenges of the Indian built environment. The India Initiative emerged as a multi-faceted research investigation that includes my own theoretical and praxiological research, as well as three intertwined courses co-taught with Professor Waldman. Students in the spring India Research Seminar explore Indian literary, historical, and philosophical foundations through a diverse selection of historic and contemporary texts, films, art, and architecture. They also develop a research proposal that will guide their independent summer research. During six weeks of intense travel and immersive learning, students are enrolled in the India Summer Studio and Independent Research Seminar that provides a unique

Crisman The Case for the India Initiative

enduring village and the emergent megacity. Each year of the five-year study focuses on one of


lens for their work. For instance, the fourteen independent research projects in 2012 expanded the focus on water as a spatial generator to the symbolism of water in India, microclimates created with evaporative cooling and more. In this way, both the individual and the collective research are furthered by reciprocal exchange and critique. This format differs from most homebased studios, where students are either enrolled in a studio with a prescribed focus defined by the instructor or left to develop their own thesis or independent research with limited group interaction and instructor guidance. This pedagogy combines the benefits of both models and develops synergy between them. Compared to most study abroad programs that are based in one location for a four- or six-week period, the India Summer Studio studies several diverse urban and rural locations using a comparative method that also values the spatial act of travel.

SPATIAL DISLOCATION What is the role of travel and spatial dislocation in the construction of both architectural knowledge and self-knowledge? While many architecture international programs occupy their own permanent facilities or those of a host university, the act of travel itself is essential to the India Initiative. Testing the value of travel as extreme dislocation requires a different pedagogy and program structure. Scholars such as Theology Professor Frederick Ruf have focused on the multiple values of travel. In his book Bewildered Travel: The Sacred Quest for Confusion, he argues that we often travel to unlearn, to challenge and rupture the surface of the known and expected. Ruf recounts poet Mary Oliver’s use of particular disruptions and difficult memories obtained while traveling to remind her “you can creep out of your own life and become someone else.”3 Dislocation that challenges our thinking and our very being enriches learning about global culture, architecture and nearly anything else. Georges Van Den Abbeele’s metaphor of travel to thought is relevant as well. When one thinks of travel, one most often thinks of the interest and excitement that comes from seeing exotic places and cultures. Likewise, the application of the metaphor of travel to thought conjures up the image of an innovative mind that explores new ways of looking at things or which opens up new horizons. That mind is a critical one to the extent that its moving beyond a given set of preconceptions or values also undermines those assumptions. Indeed, to call an existing order (whether epistemological, aesthetic, or political) into question by placing oneself ‘outside’ that order, by taking a ‘critical distance’ from it, is implicitly to invoke the metaphor of travel.4 The book Travel, Space, Architecture discusses how “physical and metaphorical dislocation affect spatio-architectural practices, and how these conditions redefine the parallel notions of place, culture and identity.”5 This dislocation may be the result of travel, immigration, or other types of forced and self-initiated movement in space. The author argues that architecture theory and practice seen through the lens of travel can “move beyond the centrality of static, place-bound principles into an understanding of more open-ended networks of relationships (or subjects and sites).”5 This is a powerful argument for conceiving of travel as an essential element of architectural education. While scholars in anthropology, geography, and religious studies have theorized travel within their disciplines, architectural education lags behind.


EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AND THE BODILY SENSES When experiencing spatial dislocation our bodily senses are heightened as well. This is an ideal time to learn as we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste new things. Travel stimulates us with places, people and images that generate new ideas. The students were fully aware of the complex cultural, formal, spatial, and constructional Indian context as they designed. Sensory engagement and experiential learning predominated over the abstract analysis that occupies so much of their time in studio at home. In her essay “Unpacking the Suitcase: Travel as Process and Paradigm in Constructing Architectural Knowledge,” Kay Bea Jones argues that objectification and production are the primary focus of many architecture schools, while “experiential means of learning are underdeveloped.”6 Students travel abroad to study architecture, but few faculty have theorized the educational value of these excursions or adequately examined how they are structured. Active learning and “site-based travel pedagogy” are essential to the India Initiative approach, which concurs with the claim that “by observing primary site, architects can use original insights built on past

of global architecture rarely shown in its broader context. The imprecise knowledge gained in a “shaded alcove in the midst of a hot Indian summer” is quite different than the systematic knowledge acquired through abstract analysis, quantification and mapping. Rather than study buildings as isolated artifacts, students understand architecture as part of a larger cultural context and construct knowledge through exploration. By emphasizing constructed knowledge7 in combination with Paulo Freire’s theory of critical pedagogy, the goal is to educate future agents of change that understand the inextricable connection between the social and the environmental as a crucial consideration of architecture.8

SLOWNESS AND REFLECTION Taking time to experience a place cultivates our ability for careful observation and contemplation. Through the concept of slowness and the possibilities for reflection that it provides, writer Rebecca Solnit critiques the focus on efficiency, convenience, profitability and security that pervades our culture. The conundrum is that the language to describe the ineffable splendors and possibilities of our lives takes time to master, takes a certain unhurried engagement with the tasks of description, assessment, critique, and conversation; that to speak this slow language you must slow down, and to slow down you must have some inkling of what you will gain by doing so… Ultimately, I believe that slowness is an act of resistance, not because slowness is a good in itself but because of all that it makes room for, the things that don’t get measured and can’t be bought.9 This way of working and understanding the world embraces the differences between the normative classroom or studio and what can and must happen differently abroad in the field. Traveling and learning in unfamiliar sites frees students to experience, to understand and then to make.

Crisman The Case for the India Initiative

more crucial than ever for architecture students, as they are bombarded by slick digital images

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knowledge to inform critical new thinking.”6 Traveling to fully engage buildings and places is


CONSTRUCTED KNOWLEDGE AND OTHER WAYS OF KNOWING The India Initiative pedagogy builds on Jones’ compelling argument for an epistemology of constructed knowledge as it relates to travel and teaching. If we accept that constructed knowledge offers an important alternative approach that is uniquely characterized by intuition, cross-disciplinary preferences, collaborations, ambiguity, integration, personal and social values, and historic contingencies, we can then consider observation of everyday life within the agency of travel… Teaching methods abroad can substitute techniques of observation and group discussion for typical ‘objective’ examination of learning. Collaborative inquiry strategically located allows subjects to reveal diverse aspects of themselves. Participants who are then equipped to debate differing interpretations provide a model preferable to the usual subordination to definitive authorities or studio masters.6 Several students noted changes in how they constructed knowledge and their design process. Amidst increasing quantitative analysis in architecture schools, the students have a new appreciation for their own perceptions, abilities to synthesize, and the importance of the self, subjectivity and the social.

CONCLUSION The India Initiative seeks to study how strategically shifting the typical architecture studio pedagogical structure, content and location can transform student learning. Though it is too early to evaluate the outcome of our five-year research program, there is much to be gleaned from the students’ projects and written reflections on how the India experience affected their design work after the first year. By providing the opportunity for architecture students to question their own assumptions, ways of knowing and personal design processes within unfamiliar cultures and places, their projects were quite different than they would have been in the studio back home. The students were less convinced of the correctness of their assumptions and their design work was more layered and holistically conceived across scales. As they constructed their own knowledge and understanding of the richness of difference and hybridity in these sites out of mind, their preconceptions fell away and new ideas emerged.


25 References: 1. Crisman, P. 2010. “Environmental and Social Action in the Studio: Three Live Projects along the Elizabeth River.” In Agency: Working with Uncertain Architectures, edited by F. Kossak et.al., 32-46. Routledge: London. 2. Crisman, P. 2007. “Working on the Elizabeth River.” Journal of Architectural Education 61:1: 84-91. 3. Ruf, F. 2007. Bewildered Travel: The Sacred Quest for Confusion. University of Virginia Press: Charlottesville. 4. Van den Abbeele, G. 1992. Travel as Metaphor: From Montaigne to Rousseau. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis. 5. Traganou, J. 2009. “For a Theory of Travel in Architectural Studies.” In Travel, Space, Architecture, edited by J. Traganou and M. Mitrasinovic, 4–26. Ashgate: Burlington. 6. Jones, K.B. 2001. “Unpacking the Suitcase: Travel as Process and Paradigm in Constructing Architectural Knowledge.” In The Discipline of Architecture, edited by A. Piotrowski and J. Robinson, 127–157. University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis. 7. See J.E. Hartman (1991) “Telling Stories: The Construction of Women’s Agency.” In (En)Gendering Knowledge: Feminists in Academe and M. Belenky (1986) Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind. 8. For more on critical pedagogy, see Paulo Freire (1985) The Politics of Education: Culture, Power, and Liberation and (1998) Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. For a discussion of critical pedagogy in architecture education, see Thomas Dutton, (1996) ‘Cultural Studies and Critical Pedagogy: Cultural Pedagogy and Architecture’, in Reconstructing Architecture. Critical Discourses and Social Practices. 9. Solnit, R. 2007. “Finding Time: The Fast, the Bad, the Ugly, the Alternatives.” Orion Magazine, Sept/Oct.

Crisman The Case for the India Initiative

Sketchbook (Catharine Killien)


HEDONISTIC ECOLOGIES the latent pleasures of sustainable systems KATHERINE TREPPENDAHL

“Hence everything is production: production of productions, of actions and of passions; productions of recording processes, of distributions and of co-ordinates that serve as points of reference; productions of consumptions, of sensual pleasures…” — Deleuze & Gauttari

Almost a century ago, Corbusier referred to architecture as machines in which we live. Villa Savoye can be considered the emblem of his statement: an independent anthropocentric gadget, a box that contains, conditions, and cleans man. In the hundred years that have followed, however, we have realized that architecture cannot succeed as an autonomous machine. It must, and regardless of its intentions always will, function within and among other systems. Architecture is ecological. Ecology is one of our newer branches of science, and in the past forty years it has become one of the more prescient ones. It is the study of how organic, social, and environmental processes overlap and affect one another. Sustainable design, environmentalism, biodiversity, climate change: all of these crucial contemporary movements are ecological in nature.


Architecture has often produced new ecologies, but until the past decade, architecture has not often been produced by ecological thinking. This project inverts this paradigm and defines ecology as the generator of design. Within this architectural ontology, the intersection and overlapping of forms (geometry) or function (program) is the illustration of existing and inserted relationships between processes. Architecture acts not as a figure, but as a machine. It serves as a conduit regulating interactions, feeding off of existing relationships and producing new ones. The results of this process are generative, complex, surprising, and, more than often, pleasurable. This design is a proposition for a place-driven, process-driven machine. It is a representation of what the aforementioned ecological design process can produce. The specific site is Manchester, a neighborhood across the James River from Richmond, Virginia. While Richmond is and has been the political capital of Virginia, Manchester was once the industrial capital of the region. Home to the major port of the area, heavily networked by a system of railroads, and located at a strategic geologic shift in the riverbed, it was the ideal place for a host of industries to flourish: textile, tobacco, flour, paper, and others. Over time, however, the site’s advantages turned into disadvantages. In a post-industrial age, Manchester’s economy has collapsed, and the James River, which once gave Manchester its superiority, has flooded and damaged the entire area many times over. The city’s combined sewage overflow (CSO) infrastructure exacerbates this latter problem because during heavy rain, the river becomes an extension of the city’s sewage system. Today, Manchester is an industrial graveyard, largely abandoned and polluted. A monolithic concrete floodwall, thirty feet high, has been erected along the river’s edge. This wall can be seen as a symbol of Manchester’s disenfranchisement — as a visual representation of the neighborhood’s separation from both Richmond and the River.

27 Treppendahl Hedonistic Ecologies

The initial strategy is the redesign of the territory around the river: reopening, expanding, and sculpting the defunct industrial canal in Manchester. Several acres of wetlands and riparian buffers create a new loop that cleans the river water, the stormwater runoff and the combined sewage overflow water. The CSO is given its own internal loop that operates in flood events, but for the majority of the time, all the water can be circled through and siphoned into different programs: fishing ponds, mussel beds, peat beds, distilleries, and poolhouses.


JAMES RIVER pollutants: nitrogen, phosphorus, sewage

STRATEGY: expand canal between railroad & floodwall

PATHS

WILDLIFE & AQUACULTURE

WETLAND PATHWAYS SETTLING POND

ENTRANCE PLAZA NORIA


STRATEGY: create paths connecting important nodes

POOL INFASTRUCTURE

Treppendahl Hedonistic Ecologies

DISTILLERY INDUSTRY

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STRATEGY: create riparian buffers, marshlands, settling pools

The primary pools are elevated to the level of the floodwall. Their fiberglass skin filters light below, illuminating the paths under neath them along the river. The cleaned water cycles through the pools and re-entes the river, establishing a cleaner region in the James River in which people can swim.

DECK / WATER TROUGH DISTILLERS

BARROOM GRINDERS

POOL RIVER WALK / RIVER POOL


The project takes as its starting point the overlaps between the underutilized and polluted water of the James River, the abandoned industrial landscape, the site’s discrete barley storage and shipping industry, the floodwall, and the isolated citizens of Manchester. These entities are related by proximity, but also by process. For example, the industries and the citizens (via the CSO infrastructure) dirty the river, the river threatens to flood the industries and citizens, the citizens desire to play in the river but pollutants in the river are harmful to them and also kill plant and animal species, which effects the environment and food chain of the citizens, and so on. The architectural machine begins here, adding systems between these existing relationships. Wetlands, mussels, and ultraviolet light begin cleaning the water. Paths connect the citizens to the cleaned water and the river. Fish are cultivated in the cleaned water to feed the citizens and

TRAIN PLATFORM

VIEWING PORCH STORAGE / LOADING

BARROOM AGING WAREHOUSE

SKYLIGHT

ROOFDECK / UV DANCE FLOOR DISTILLERS / WASHTUNS / MASHTUN


birds. Peat further absorbs pollutants and is then used to smoke barley. The smoked barley is used to make beer and whiskey. The new industries (fish, beer, and whiskey) provide jobs, into a more robust and valuable one, and from the overlapping ecologies, a specific and playful

31

income, and entertainment to the people of Manchester. Slowly, the machine transforms itself

The outcome is a pleasure machine. By feeding the initial ecologies a prescribed diet, the adaptive machine takes existing relationships and restructures them into new, delightful ones: a distillery and a poolhouse. This is the trick of ecological design. While sustainability often deploys the language of ascetism, hedonistic ecology can responsibly capitalize on overlapping processes, finding unforeseen relationships, generating new ones, and calling it fun.

The structure of the building is determined by the coupling of processes. By establishing symbiotic volumetric relationships, the program is able to expand by capitalizing on exchanges. For example, the excess heat from the kiln provides the climate for a sauna, the blue light produced by the UV water filteration system provides the atmosphere for the dance floor, and the enclosure and silence of the aging barrels stacked in the warehouse provides the romantic mood for the cocktail bar.

SAUNA KILN

VIEWING DECK CHANGING ROOMS MALTING BATHS MALTING FLOOR

OFFICES DROPORFF

SILO

Treppendahl Hedonistic Ecologies

architecture emerges.


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Ecology: the study of the interaction of people with their environment

Treppendahl Hedonistic Ecologies

Hedonism: the pursuit of pleasure


PARADOX-CITY SWAMP THING + SMART GRID: smarter water management in new orleans, la ISAAC COHEN, KATE HAYES

Throughout history, the Mississippi River has jumped its channel every 500 to 1000 years in order to follow the shortest and steepest route to the Gulf of Mexico. In the past century and a half, the Army Corps of Engineers has ground this evolution to a halt and guided the river’s fate, turning the mighty Mississippi into a concrete channel of revetments, levees, and control structures, and leaving cities and towns along its course vulnerable to flooding. This project imagines the worst-case scenario — the Mississippi River jumping to the Atchafalaya Basin — focusing on the effect on New Orleans. New Orleans is a city that has historically struggled to keep water out, and has survived and adapted through the worst of Mother Nature’s whims. The spring of 2011 marked the largest volume of water traveling down the Mississippi River in recorded history, and emergency flood control structures were activated throughout the river system to relieve its overwhelming pressure. If the Mississippi were to forge a new course, it could to leave New Orleans low, dry, and without a fresh water source. In this proposal, we consider how long static controls hold up against impending force and alternative methods of control that are more progressive and adaptive.


To better manage water in a zone deprived of its freshwater supply, this design reintroduces swamps into the public realm as a vital part of a smart water grid for New Orleans. It is a system that manages water effectively and expressively as a vital resource, rather than as the adversary. The proposal fortifies New Orleans to survive the worst, while enriching the public realm.

10 % 90 %

35

70 % 70 %

Mississippi River shifts to the Atchafalaya

“...BUT WITH RENEWED LIFE CAME THE GRISLEY SHADOW OF DEATH....” “...BUT WITH RENEWED LIFE CAME THE GRISLEY SHADOW OF DEATH....”

“...BUT WITH RENEWED LIFE CAME THE GRISLEY SHADOW OF DEATH....”

“...BUT WITH RENEWED LIFE CAME THE GRISLEY SHADOW OF DEATH....” Old River Control Old River Control

Old River Control

Old River Control

“...LORD...NO...! I’VE STOOD IN THIS SPOT SO LONG...I’VE BEGUN TO TAKE ROOT...!” “...LORD...NO...! I’VE STOOD IN THIS SPOT SO LONG...I’VE BEGUN TO TAKE ROOT...!”

“...LORD...NO...! I’VE STOOD IN THIS SPOT SO LONG...I’VE BEGUN TO TAKE ROOT...!”

“...LORD...NO...! I’VE STOOD IN THIS SPOT SO LONG...I’VE BEGUN TO TAKE ROOT...!”

Drainage + Settlement Patterns Drainage + Settlement Patterns

Drainage + Settlement Patterns

Cohen, Hayes Paradox-city

3030%%


SWAMP THING Historically, swamps in southern Louisiana were viewed as a source of disease and miasma. Over time, the city drained its swamps, forcing water into pipes and leaving what was seen as “healthier” drier ground. Removing the absorptive potential of this spongy ground increased the risk of flooding, increased subsidence of the ground, and removed knowledge of the dynamics of the Mississippi River and its related wetland systems, once integral to the life of the city and culture of the region. A new, smart network of swamps in New Orleans would effectively distribute rainwater based on demand. This system acts in contrast to the current, monofunctional system of which the only purpose is to pump water out of the city. It transforms the city’s infrastructure from a system that views water as a burden to a system that values water as an indispensable resource. We imagine the reintroduction of swamps as part of a hybrid infrastructure, a flexible water system working together with the existing civic infrastructures to create a new typology of water management, one that is productive, adaptive, and multifunctional. Ultimately, we envision the majority of water that falls on New Orleans to be redirected, cleansed, and repurposed to serve the city’s water needs.

1 YEAR 24 HOUR STORM

ANNUAL PRECIPITATION january

february

TYPICAL STORM

march

april

may

june

july

august

september

october

november

Atchafalaya and Mississippi River

WATER TABLE

average flow in Cubic Feet Per Second

december november october september august july june may april march february january

Atchafalaya Record low flow Mississippi Record low flow Atchafalaya Record high flow

1,600,000 CFS

900,000 CFS

800,000 CFS

700,000 CFS

600,000 CFS

500,000 CFS

400,000 CFS

300,000 CFS

200,000 CFS

Mississippi Record high flow

100,000 CFS

december


EXISTING

PHASE I PHASE II mono-functional, single directional system

WASTE WATER residential

FRESH WATER

30%

industrial

distributed

water treatment

municipal water treatment

70%

leakage PUMP

STORM WATER ground

EXISTING

PHASE I PHASE II

STORM WATER WASTE WATER residential

FRESH WATER

30%

industrial distributed

municipal

70%

leakage PUMP

STORM WATER

EXISTING

PHASE I PHASE II smart grid water system

STORM WATER FRESH WATER

monitor

roof water collection

smart appliances

monitor

monitor

WASTE WATER soil moisture sensor

STORM WATER ground

STORM WATER storage seasonal flush

Cohen, Hayes Paradox-city

37

introduce swamps to drainage system


PUMP STATION TAXODIUM DISTICUM

collect

dormant

pump

flooding

expel

winter

spring

cones open + drop

summer

pumping infrastructure serves one purpose to remove water from the city

filter pollutants + nutrients

functions of the swamp return to the system and

normalize the water levels of the system removing dynamism

seeds land in retreating water + repopulate buttress for stability

mono-functional infrastructure

fall

stormwater pumped to Lake Pontchetrain

seasonal water level fluctuations

stormwater collected

stormwater cleansed and slowed

absorb + store H2O water seeps into the drained ground hydric soils

freshwater: 70% lost to the system

pre-modern

sewer lines leak

modern

SMART GRID We live in an age of smart technology, two-way communication that enables infrastructure to serve demand in a reactive and dynamic way. This proposal appoints two-dozen existing pump stations in New Orleans as nodes, its drainage canals and water pipes as conduits, and its drainage control structures and locks as valves. By dynamically tuning the input and output of this existing infrastructure, water can be modulated and allocated throughout the city. Monitoring and research will facilitate the movement of water and the operation of this system on multiple scales.

SITE TYPOLOGIES The smarter water system acts on multiple scales—from the city, to the neutral ground corridor, and down to the individual lot scale. At the lot scale, individuals will begin to collect water and reuse it at home. This influence on consumer attitudes and change in residents’ behavior will reduce the reliance on municipal-scale water distribution. At the intermediate scale of the corridor, the spatial typology of the historical long lots informs this smart grid intervention. Gravity collects and directs water flow from the high ground of the levee and hardened port, down the corridor, where it is gradually cleansed through the constructed swampy ground, and to the pump stations, where the smart grid system redistributes the cleaner storm water.

no more freshwater from


PUMP STATION

PUMP STATION

collect

collect

redistribute

react to the systems needs

functions of the swamp return to the system and

The proposal ensures a strong cultural and functional relationship to the flow and distribution of water: collection and filtration, diversion, and redistribution. In this scenario, public infrastructure becomes integrated into the life of the city.

serve multiple needs with multiple pumps

stormwater pumped to Lake Pontchetrain

stormwater reutilized within the city

stormwater cleansed and slowed

water system is tied to the drainage system

drained ground no more freshwater from the river

sewer lines repurposed

LONG LOT SPATIAL STRUCTURE: the optimal allocation of two scarce resources

TRACING THE LANDSCAPE

swamp

92

s

t en

ft)

(1

p

40

ar

valued resource (fertile land)

valued resource (river)

pumping stations drainage sub-basins | polders long lot remnants

resource

topography

settlement

farmland

back swamp

Lake Pontchartrain

Cohen, Hayes Paradox-city

39

proposed

pump + energy

sewer lines leak

multi-functional infrastructure

expel

mono-functional infrastructure

pump

This intervention would expand to multiple corridors and lateral appendages, a move that builds redundancy and flexibility into the system.


EXISTING SYSTEMS

PROPOSED SYSTEM

Freshwater

Corridor Intervention

EXISTING SYSTEMS

PROPOSED SYSTEMS

Freshwater

Corridor Intervention

Intervention’s Influence

Drainage Intervention’s Influence

Drainage

Drainage Basins

Citywide Effects

Drainage Basins

Citywide Effects

MONO-functional flood stage

transportation

park land

residential

industrial

residential

industrial

residential

transportation

industrial

industrial

residential

residential

cemetery

industrial

port

mississippi river

residential

MONO-functional mixed use

sea level

residential

seasonal flux

flood stage

seasonal flux

residential

transportation

industrial

residential

industrial

residential

industrial

cemetery

MULTI-functonal

residential

port

mississippi river

mixed use

residential

sea level

redistribution

filtration

redistribtution

collection

redistribtution

filtration

collection

diversion

filtration

collection

salty ground

mississippi river estuary

MULTI-functonal

filtration

redistribtution

collection

diversion

filtration

collection

salty ground

mississippi river estuary

redistr


MS

This proposal draws upon the technological workings of Pump Station a smart grid system,Isolated in tandem with a reintroduction of

swampland, to create a multi-functional and performative infrastructure for New Orleans. This adaptive system

Isolated Pump Station

retrofits and builds upon existing infrastructure to actively direct freshwater to the most immediate need, be it drinking water, fire suppression, subsidence abatement, or street cleaning. While these spatial typologies fit to our study of New Interconnected Pump Station Orleans, the idea is transferrable beyond New Orleans

Interconnected Pump Station 7 pumps 3,190 cfs

15 pumps 9,480 cfs

to other cities with similar water infrastructure issues.

7 pumps It is cfs an 3,190

6 pumps 3,720 cfs

9 pumps 4,260 cfs

11 pumps 6,825 cfs

6 pumps idea that can be easily nested within other, 15 pumps

cfs larger urban9,480 systems.

Cohen, Hayes Paradox-city

41

11 pumps 6,825 cfs

9 pumps 3,720 cfs 4,260 cfs

Pumping Capacity

Pumping Capacity

lake bottom

levy

park land

residential

lake pontchartrain

lake bottom

levy

residential

park land

transportation

park land

residential

industrial

residential

diversion

redistribution

salty ground

lake pontchartrain

collection

redistribution

salty ground

diversion

redistribution

collection

lake pontchartrain

filtration

industrial

lake pontchartrain

collection

ribtution

CONCLUSION


ADAPTABLE, HETEROGENOUS SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURES MAJ PLEMENITAS

Can something that is commonly perceived as intrinsically stable, rigid, and enclosed act at the same time as a perceptive, receptive, and reactive system? Can architecture act as a platform for active and passive exchange that enables and promotes connectivity, not only within itself but with the environment and its users? Can architecture surpass the act of reinforcing structural performance, finding resiliency in an ability to evolve, adapt, and regenerate through time? This possibility is most evident in the transition from disconnected object-based design to that which incorporates context, not as a passive state, but as an evolving and fluctuating sea of relations between systems and structures. Instead of only focusing on direct design solutions that are often outdated before they are even materialized, the focus is shifted to evolving complexity of relationships between the different spatial and temporal scales of both systems and structures. At the same time, arrays of both become embedded one into the other. The resulting dynamic, a coordinated intrinsic instability, provides the potential for increased responsiveness and reconfiguration of systems while at the same time acting as a driving force throughout that system’s lifecycle. The great potential of this autonomous yet vitally linked architectural vocabulary is especially powerful when dealing with projects of extremely great scale, located in particularly hostile environments, or taking place over extremely long or short periods of time.


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Since direct input by a designer is not always possible due to these intrinsic specifics and The orchestration of components into structures and further into larger systems is based on imbedding principles into computational algorithms, material properties, and geometry. The designer is then able to compute and establish relations with components within and outside the system in order to construct diverse and adaptable arrays of structures and networks. The ability to form complex heterogeneous structures from the simple building blocks creates the an adaptable morphology with the potential for application to a rich spectrum of structural and functional differentiations. The ineffectiveness of existing strategies should encourage designers to look at these problems as an opportunity, where the combination of innovation and existing knowledge will produce new strategies for tackling complex problems that are far beyond the normal reach of the designer. To develop strategies to address the complex problems faced today and in the future, we first have to look at our position as designers. Quickly it becomes obvious that our perspective has not changed much in the past century, in contrast to the enormous expansion of technical capabilities developed by various scientific fields. Could a scientific model — an enhanced and expanded vision and the ability to build correlations between different scales — help expand the vocabulary and the domain of architecture? There is a need for designers to overcome a long standing human nature of dualism. There is, and there always was, interdependency. The difference between natural and synthetic operates as a gradient that intertwines, rather than divides. The primary focus becomes concentrated in two extreme scales: super small and very large. Both are difficult to control and are often overlooked. Rather than designing at the visible and inhabitable “architectural scale,” this research starts at the extremes where design intervention is still possible. The molecular and the very large scales develop and adapt specific tools and methods. The resulting cross section is a symptom of this approach that becomes an enhanced architectural condition capable of acting as a perceptive and receptive medium/platform for

Plemenitas Adaptable, Heterogenous Systems and Structures

the evolving complexity that forms the design field, an alternative approach is established.


active or passive exchange, enabling and promoting connectivity not only with its direct neigbors but between different classes and categories of a system. Profound understanding of how systems in different scales work, and even more importantly how they correlate would allow designers to achieve an enhanced level of control when designing and producing. To support the idea of expanded scale of design options and possibilities, examples of toolset and procedures that are being developed in research fields not directly associated with architecture, such as medicine and nanotechnology, but also the way natural systems perform and will be questioned, reconfigured, adapted, and tested in a series of prototypes to address and investigate their possible adaptation and application in an architectural context. These largely diverse multi-scalar construction techniques range from very precise molecular assembly for creating molecular motors, to controllable nanoscale movement, to enabling imbedded self repair capabilities, reconfigurable structural or performance capabilities, as well as design for passive self-assembly in enormously large scale construction. With the rapid expansion of population in certain areas of the world and the decline and aging in other regions, coupled with the fact that a majority of large and densely populated metropolitan areas are situated on or near the shorelines, it is clear that this condition is of a great, global importance. This shifting time condition is a critical window of opportunity to rethink and implement the improved spatial dynamics, inhabitation, production, and distribution logic and economy in a context of expanding and shrinking zones, territories, and systems.


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Unique, constantly self-renegotiating spatial conditions connecting, and at the same time dividing, two major systems are spatially most clearly demonstrated in cases of shorelines. Despite its qualities, this unique link between unstable, anthropocentrically oriented zones striving for stability and intrinsically unstable, fluctuating aquatic environments that are striving for equilibrium is very rarely established in a productive way. This is clearly a missed opportunity of great proportions. Treating these as separate, non-correlated fields and relying on short-term brutal solutions of separation by creating hard cuts, reinforcements, and boundaries simply destroys the qualities and diversity of these places. While doing so, these are at the same time still unable to compete with the strength of nature in unpredictable events or climate change in order to establish and provide us with long time resilience. The transitions are sometimes barely noticeable and fluently interwoven, whereas on other situations, the boundary is clear and strongly defined. These internal relations further influence the character of the system. This strategy cannot be focused on a single a approach, but is rather serves as a platform and an opportunity to orchestrate and test multiple approaches and apply and choreograph them where and when it proves necessary. Arrays of experimental approaches are established, which are focused on exploring the capabilities to form long-term, adaptive material and immaterial systems. These range from macroscale, physical, computing-based selfassembly processes driven by wave motion in liquid medium, subsurface self-repair processes, multi-scale surface patterning and adaptable, variable, heterogeneous structure production.

Plemenitas Adaptable, Heterogenous Systems and Structures

House Nr.:#1261. Impenetrable Porosity. Author: M.Plemenitas


Structural Transition from 2D to nD (n=3/4/5): Process of large-scale structural self-assembly in a liquid medium.


De - Structurality

By designing units capable of physical computation, selective attraction, and self-assembly, and through the utilization of Eco(Geo)logical Computation as a self-calibrating large-scale relative positioning system, it is possible to construct intricate and complex multi-scale structures passively. When we focus on the immense scale and specifics of construction on the fluctuating water surface, the use of conventional building techniques is inadequate. Would it not be better to harvest and orchestrate the immense energy flow and specifics of this instable ground and expand its usual perception as harsh and alien boundary to a rather unique self renegotiating plane of active and passive interaction? After all, the majority of the earths surface is covered with open ocean, and while the floating global archipelago of continents is becomming more and more cluttered, the large expanses are completely baren, as if they were a part of another plant. Rather than fighting the immensely powerful environment by brutal force, would it not be better to design a strategy that could work with it, harvest and return, and at same time use its immense energy capacity to construct itself? This enhanced vocabulary of inclusive, strategic possibilities could enable vital future developments, extending, enhancing, reinforcing the domain of architecture and redefining its future role.

Plemenitas Adaptable, Heterogenous Systems and Structures

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Simple Complexity - an inner view of a highly structurally and functionally advanced and differentiated detail, capable of multi tasking, adaptation, reconfiguration and self-repair


49 Plemenitas Adaptable, Heterogenous Systems and Structures Structural differentiations in compositions of homogenous discrete building units can form a wide range of reconfigurable heterogeneous structures

Lunch 8: Futures For Sites Unknown  

Editors: Danielle Alexander, Nicholas Knodt, Clayton Williams

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