University of Virginia School of Architecture LUNCH Journal Vol. 12 - Tactics

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Lunch Tactics

12 USD 25.00

ISBN: 978-1-940743-60-8 52500

Lunch 9 781940 743608


Lunch 12

Tactics Edited by Salvatrice Aul, Megan Friedman, Sam Sidersky, Pia von Barby

Published by Applied Research and Design Publishing. An Imprint of ORO Editions Gordon Goff: Publisher Copyright © 2018 University of Virginia School of Architecture All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying of microfilming, recording, or otherwise (except that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press) without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. Editors: Salvatrice Aul, Pia von Barby, Megan Friedman, Sam Sidersky Team: Austin Edwards, Darcy Engle, Maddie Hoagland-Hansen, Katie Kelly, Sarah Pate, Gabrielle Rashleigh, Aisha Sawatsky, Karl-Jon Sparrman, Missy Velez, Brian Waite Advising Editors: Luke Harris, Laurence Holland, Julie Shapiro, Dillon Wilson Faculty Advisors: Edward Ford, Luis Pancorbo Cover image by Pia von Barby 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 First Edition ISBN: 978-1-940743-60-8 Color Separations and Printing: ORO Group Ltd. Printed in China. International Distribution: AR+D Publishing makes a continuous effort to minimize the overall carbon footprint of its publications. As part of this goal, AR+D, in association with Global ReLeaf, arranges to plant trees to replace those used in the manufacturing of the paper produced for its books. Global ReLeaf is an international campaign run by American Forests, one of the world’s oldest nonprofit conservation organizations. Global ReLeaf is American Forests’ education and action program that helps individuals, organizations, agencies, and corporations improve the local and global environment by planting and caring for trees.

Contents 1 Letter from the Editors The Editors 5 Talking Tactics with Yvonne Farrell Pia von Barby, Megan Friedman, Sally Aul, and Sam Sidersky

Engagement Tactics 23 Engaging Through Design Begoña de Abajo Castrillo and Carlos García Fernandez 35 Rethinking the Post-Apartheid City Phoebe Crisman 43 A Public Library Like a Home María Lidón de Miguel 51 Full Circle Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster 57 From Top Down to Tactical Liz Camuti and Hallie Miller 69 Shelter in Place Earl Mark and Austin Edwards 79 Formalizing Doubt: A Conversation with John Anrys Karilyn Johanesen and Dillon Wilson

Information Tactics 101 On Grounding Tom Bliska 109 Mining Manhattan Jongwan Kwon 117 CASDAM Gaizka Altuna Charterina 127 Civic Hydrants Owen Weinstein 135 "Ville Spatiale" Revisited Seth McDowell 145 Future Potentials of Design Practice: Thoughts by Nina-Marie Lister Pia von Barby and Hallie Miller

Hybrid Tactics 155 Fickle City Batul Abbas 165 The Story of the Post Storage City Ian Caine, Curtis Roth, and Rients Dijkstra 175 Super Mercado Matthew Scarnaty 183 6 Feet Above Spring Braccia-Beck 193 Obsessive Gardening Luke Harris

Letter from the Editors

fig. 1 (facing) Graffiti advertisement for Lunch created by the Lunch 12 editors

In 2016, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena curated the Venice Architecture Biennale under the theme "Reporting from the Front." Aravena, employing the metaphor of a war correspondent, suggested that, similar to journalists, designers hold a moral obligation to expose any and all truths. The work displayed at the Biennale under this theme intended to illustrate how architecture, acting as an agent of incremental change, could solve real world problems. Rather than acting as reporters several steps removed from their subjects, Lunch 12 reimagines designers as tacticians, operating on the ground along with those they are designing for. Tactics was born out of a frustration with the sluggishness of conventional design processes in addressing problems of increasing complexity and urgency, including climate change, the refugee crises, widening socioeconomic gaps, and the continued exploitation of natural resources. This frustration strips away the expectation that larger structural actors will play their part. Instead, an opportunity arises in which inhabitants and designers can seize control of their real and imagined environments with rediscovered agency. "Tactics," "hacks," "DIY," "maker culture"—these terms have begun to permeate our design vocabulary. The city has become the default laboratory for critical, site-specific problem-solving that operates across multiple scales. In fact, tactics occur in the everyday, as Michel de Certeau, author of The Practice of Everyday Life, writes: The space of a tactic is the space of the other. Thus it must play on and


with a terrain imposed on it and organized by the law of a foreign power…It must vigilantly make use of the cracks that particular conjunctions open in the surveillance of the proprietary powers. It poaches in them. It creates surprises in them. It can be where it is least expected. It is a guileful ruse. In short, a tactic is an art of the weak…a tactic is determined by the absence of power just as a strategy is organized by the postulation of power.1 The tactical mindset eschews convention in favor of subversion. Designers such a Brian Davis are extending the boundaries of landscape architectural practice to accommodate heterogeneous publics, which, not unlike landscapes, are "uneven and temperamental."2 In this context, projects are not solutions to a particular problem, but rather "an incitement to reimagine the particular ways in which existing realities might be improved."3 The tactician is not afraid of failure, as this approach liberates us from that fear by embracing projects as design(ed) experiments, “highly informed, finely tuned hypotheses—responding to new information, constantly subject to testing and evaluation, modification and adaptation through representations and modeled scenarios, as well as pilot projects and prototypes."4 The tactician is not concerned with the end product, instead their process “places ends and means on a continuum."5 Tactics are pragmatic and instrumental, fluid and adaptive. Tactics are heterogeneous, occurring between the binaries of permanent and temporal, constructed and imagined, sanctioned and unsanctioned. The recent rise of tactics is illustrated by events and developments across the United States, including the Occupy movement, guerilla urbanism, and tactical urbanism—movements in which citizens affect change in their cities through small-scale and often temporary actions. Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia, founders of the firm Street Plans Collaborative, authored Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action, LongTerm Change, a comprehensive guide that traces the history of tactical urbanism and showcases a range of tactics. To Lydon and Garcia, tactical urbanism is: the latest response to our basic human instincts: incremental and self-directed action toward increasing social capital, economic opportunity, access to food, safety from natural and human enemies, and general livability.6 Tactical urbanism and other recent methods of guerilla-style intervention capitalize on low costs, replicability, and speedy completion schedules resulting in “a more nuanced and nimble approach to citymaking."7 Building on these ideas, Lunch 12 asks how the tactical can permanently transform the design process. Rather than remaining a tool of the weak—citizens muted by conventional approaches—we see tactics as catalyzing a democratic design process that empowers the powerless. Tactics seeks to reconcile the widening gap between the crafted and the constructed, the visible and the invisible, the designer and the public. The work in Lunch 12 represents a range of types, scales, and sites. Novel forms and modes of operation produced by these projects subvert convention in favor of the tactical. These projects blur divisions


1 Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 37.

2 Brian Davis, "Public Sediments," in Towards an Urban Ecology, (New York: The Monacelli Press, 2016), 228. 3 Davis, "Public Sediments," 228.

4 Davis, "Public Sediments," 233.

5 Davis, "Public Sediments," 233.

6 Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia, Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-term Change (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2015), 25. 7 Lydon and Garcia, Tactical Urbanism, 3.

between disciplines and invent new hybrids. They originate in the space of the other and maneuver through cracks in the terrain of the status quo. Rather than being categorized by conventional design fields, Lunch 12 locates the projects within different tactical modes: engagement, information, and hybrid. Assembling this multidisciplinary work illustrates our continued belief in collaboration and cross pollination. The projects in Lunch 12 showcase an expanded conceptualization of tactics beyond its application in tactical urbanism and related movements. A number of projects, including “On Grounding” by Tom Bliska, “Mining Manhattan” by Jongwan Kwan, and “Civic Hydrants” by Owen Weinstein, re-appropriate existing infrastructures, rendering obscure and hidden processes visible. Other projects, such as “Shelter in Place” by Earl Mark and Austin Edwards and “Ville Spatiale Revisited” by Seth McDowell, employ tactical problem-solving by applying existing materials in new ways. Perhaps most analogous to the mission of tactical urbanism, projects such as “Engaging Through Design” by Begoña de Abajo Castillo and Carlos García Fernandez and “From Top Down to Tactical” by Liz Camuti and Hallie Miller invent new approaches to maintain agency of future inhabitants and ensure transparency during the design process. The projects presented here are characterized by a high level of craft, differentiating them from tactical urbanism’s low cost and DIY approach. The projects presented here successfully employ tactical problem solving in novel and unexpected ways, but still often operate within an opaque design process that results in a more permanent design product. The work presented here has been executed with current and future inhabitants in mind, but the barrier between designer and inhabitant has not yet been fully dismantled. In constructing our call, we were most struck by tactical urbanism’s accessibility and its recognition of a range of publics—a direct byproduct of its emphasis on low-cost solutions. The challenge we identified was maintaining this accessibility while folding tactical operations into a design process that still achieves a high level of craft. To us, this challenge still remains.


Talking Tactics with Yvonne Farrell, Grafton Architects


Grafton Architects is a Dublinbased international practice founded by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara in 1978. Among their numerous international awards, they were awarded the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture in 2017, particularly for their visionary academic and educational buildings.


Talking Tactics with Yvonne Farrell, Grafton Architects Lunch 12 Editors

fig. 1 (facing) UTEC campus and surrounding urban condition (Photo © Iwan Baan)

Starting with the larger scale, we thought we’d begin with the site. Your work demonstrates a deep commitment to extracting relevant, often underrepresented, site characteristics. Can you discuss your process of site analysis? How do you approach research, mapping, and analytical drawing in these initial phases of design? For the Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología (UTEC) project, only one architect in our office had spent time in Lima. The rest of us only knew it by reputation, not by experience. What was interesting was listening to her stories. She talked about how people spend time outside, how outside and inside are blurred in peoples’ lives, how social people are, how friendly. That really helped us to imagine this place. For us, the opportunity in Lima was this outside-inside connection. In Grafton Architects, we analyze a site in a very practical way. We like to think about the movement of the sun and we also try to map the moon, because it’s a very beautiful part of the night. We noticed that the site for the UTEC University was in a type of valley close to the Pacific. There was a breeze coming from the ocean that we could possibly harness in terms of sustainability and coolness. Site conditions include the environmental site, not just the physical site. The site was quite small for what the new university required. The site curved on one side, facing a busy motorway. We needed to address the noise of traffic and changes in section to modulate the scale towards the adjoining residential area, an area called Barranco.


fig. 2 Site plan (1:2000) Sentence describing the image.

The UTEC site in Lima had some challenging urban conditions. How do you address the urban context and the integration of multiple scales, whether for a large educational complex or a small school? How does that play into the role of the city or the fabric of the city? Your question makes me think of one particular project we did for the Department of Finance in Dublin. We built this building in an urban context at a point that marked the change between the eighteenth century part of the city, and the larger scale of St. Stephens Green—a major public space in Dublin. We were asked to build new government offices. Originally the clients didn’t want a doorway on the street, because it was an extension of existing government offices from another side of the block. We felt it would be terrible to build a city building without a door, because we felt it would be like putting a zipper across your mouth. We talked to the clients about it and they came around to the idea of having a doorway. The Georgians of the eighteenth century created this fantastic device where they carve an area to ventilate the basement and across a bridge is the doorway. The area lights the lower level and the bridge both connects to the city and acts as a security level, a controlled threshold. What we wanted to make was a twenty-first century interpretation of that strategy. We chose limestone for the buildings, because public buildings in our city are usually made of stone, and we felt the Department of Finance is a public building, providing a public function. Beside this site is a Huguenot cemetery. The existing building that we demolished had a blank facade towards this space and we asked the Huguenot Trust if it was possible to put windows facing into their sacred


fig. 2 Site plan Department of Finance is shown in red. (Grafton Architects)

fig. 3 Section through Department of Finance showing main staircase (Grafton Architects)

ground. They said yes, on one condition: that we use a dark stone on the new dividing wall which, of course, we agreed to do. Negotiating with people beside you and making the building relate to the Georgian fabric is a response in the context of the city. We are building another building nearby which is also within the Georgian core of Dublin. It is probably one of the most controversial sites we’ve ever had to deal with. In the 1960s, the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) knocked down sixteen original, eighteenth-century houses and built a new headquarters on the site. The general public hated the fact that the original houses had been destroyed and they hated the building that had been put up. The original house had sixteen doors along the 360-feet long section of street. The new building had only one door over the full length. A number of years ago, the ESB held an international competition for a new headquarters on the same site, which we won along with another architectural firm. We chose to take down the twentieth-century building, reinstate the city streetscape, and make a series of courtyards carved out of the intensified city block. The project went to the highest planning review body that we have in Ireland and it was supported. What we hope to achieve is to use beautiful contemporary bricks laid in a crafted way and form windows as elegant as those in original Georgian buildings. We are not doing pastiche, we are trying to move into the present and the future. With this new building, every 8 meters there’s a new door and as you walk along the street, you will be aware of a kind of historic rhythm. Why in the twenty-first century should we say that this feeling of rhythm means nothing? We really believe the city is a


fig. 4 (facing) Entrance to Department of Finance (Photo: Dennis Gilbert)

walking space. We sometimes discuss the word “elevation” which comes from the building industry. I feel that it should be changed, because elevations are walked past at ground level, so you could change the word from “elevation” to “how-long-it-takes-me-to-pass-this-building.” It’s actually about a physical aspect of pace. We draw elevations from the ground level upwards, but in fact we should maybe do them in horizontal stripes, because people walk past at the ground level. Rhythm and pace, as well as public response, are ingredients we, as architects, need to think about. We might choose to ignore these issues, but we should think about them. Designing this project has probably been one of the most difficult, because it’s in our own city. Maybe it’s easier to build in a strange city, because you’re not as emotionally involved. A project is not always about creating a building; a building can also be infrastructure. We’re probably not interested in buildings only being objects. We are interested in forming something that doesn’t have to be immediately perfect but that, over time, allows life in, so that it can be enriched and modified. You speak a lot about sectional drawings and how they appeal to the emotions and are able to convey the poetry of the space, while a plan is a more functional drawing of a building. Can you elaborate on your process? How do you use the section to conceptually tie together ideas of the project while also mediating with the functionality of the plan? Take, for example, the London School of Economics. Shelley had a very strong sense of being able to bring the city of London right up into the section of the building and not stratifying and separating the various university departments that were required to be in the new building. It’s very easy to organize a building like a pancake­­—you just put one level on another level and another level and so on—but architecturally and educationally, each building is about trying to see what new overlaps and connections you could possibly have. It’s easy to separate things, but the architectural opportunity is trying to find what joins people together. Section is about having life be enriched by what is above and below, finding ways to integrate, rather than separate. You think differently in different spaces, so maybe architecture’s role is to help you not only feel comfortable, but also to think differently, especially in university buildings. Recently, I was reading about Venice, and I think what’s amazing about that particular city is that you are forced to walk, and the buildings enclose you. You’re in some sort of built machine that is trying to encompass you. This is probably why people respond to Venice in such a strong way. Maybe in the modern city you are not enclosed enough. Maybe we need to rely more on fantastic enclosures and trees, so that maybe it’s the landscape that forms intimate spaces between buildings and ourselves. There’s a cherry blossom tree that I pass every day on my way to the office in Trinity College, and I often think, “imagine being able to make a space as beautiful as under a cherry blossom tree!” Building on that discussion of section, it seems tectonics is a thread in all the projects your firm does. Is there a methodology to how you


fig. 5 (facing) Rendering of Kingston University Town House (Grafton Architects)

incorporate that into your work? I think in the business of a lot of buildings the bigger they get, the harder it is to connect to craftsmen and protect craftsmanship because the building industry wants to make things efficient. Contracts get more and more complex, and there is less dialogue. It puts more pressure on us, as architects, to know how to actually make the building. There was a time where you could rely more on contractors or the craftsmen working with you to add their layers of expertise and craftsmanship to the project. The problem with much of contemporary architecture is that often the structure is provided and then it is “wrapped.” It seems a lost opportunity not to find some integrated relationship between the structure and the skin. We try and search for a certain kind of authenticity. It’s not an easy thing though. There are some projects where you can’t use certain materials, because certain conditions of the place won’t allow you, so you have to be inventive. Shelley often uses the question, which I think is really important, “What is the architectural component of this project?” This is a way of trying to get at the essence of what a project might be. Everyone in our office is dedicated to making buildings of the highest standard and people are trying their hardest to understand what buildings need and anticipate their problems. We probably make life hard for ourselves by trying to expose structure. It’s probably easier to cover up the layers beneath, because then you don’t have to worry about the finish of exposed concrete. I think we have a mad profession, that we take a material that is inherently flawed and try to make it perfect. Trying to make concrete perfect is kind of a crazy ambition! In UTEC in Lima, we used one material: concrete. The consequence is that it feels like you are in a carved mountain. This kind of consistency of material makes the university feel more like a medieval cathedral­— a cathedral for learning! Because it’s near the sea and there’s high humidity, we chose a material that was able to sustain the moisture content. The question of tectonics has to do with how you create a matrix that allows a university to be a campus. We chose one material, we worked with local engineers, and we invented this carved mountain. It is an amazing construction industry in Lima—we had nine hundred men on the site. Given your preoccupation with editing and articulating existing urban systems within your architecture, how do you address the maturing and weathering of your buildings, as well as their landscapes, and the uncertainty that comes with that? It’s a very good question. I think one of the things to remember is that the photographs you take at the end of the building process only show a moment in time. People add to it, things get shabby. What’s amazing about brick is that there’s an inherent beauty in the brick itself; it actually ages very beautifully. In Lima, what seems to happen is that there’s so much dust from the desert that the concrete will be covered with the desert dust in the next twenty years and become like the cliffs by the ocean. That was one of the ideas we had—the new campus could become a man-made cliff. It will be interesting to see UTEC when it becomes a brown color, like the desert itself, in the future. I think the nice thing about getting older is that you have the opportunity to watch something



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fig. 6 (previous) Section through UTEC building (Grafton Architects) fig. 7 Proximity of UTEC campus to the cliffs (Photo © Iwan Baan)

over long periods of time. I think in general, as architects, we should observe not only our own work, but also the work of others, to see what happens over time. Looking at buildings after years have passed, not only buildings that are hot off the press, is a very good thing to do in schools of architecture as well. Some buildings get better over time, some get worse, and in some cases it doesn’t matter. It’s a good question about what a building is like and what the materials are like, because good materials and careful workmanship tend to look better over time than shoddy workmanship. It’s a challenge because the industry pushes out craftsmanship. We collaborate with landscape architects and specialists. Sometimes we haven’t controlled the landscape enough and people put plants in the wrong place and the plants just wither and die. I think that’s why it would be better that we understood what things will survive with very low maintenance. What we find is that we also need people who really know about plants. It’s not just a landscape idea, it’s the physical reality of the soil and the plant and the tending, knowing what it needs to survive and thrive with very little maintenance over years, because budgets are very often cut. I hope that the UTEC landscape in the future will look like the hanging gardens of Babylon with all the various colors of the bougainvillea cascading down over the terraces. We encourage our architectural students to study trees in detail—not just how they look in the drawings and perspectives, but how they are structurally, what their roots are, how big they grow, what we use those particular types of trees for in the timber industry, and how much pleasure each tree can give. You don’t have to be an architect or a landscape architect, your great-grandparents can just enjoy a flowering chestnut tree too. You mention a fascination with language and metaphor and you have described projects as a cathedral, a monastery. How do you find language manifests itself in your work in urban environments? Is there a translational aspect to your work, whether it’s a translation between city and space, landscape and building, object and person? Ireland has a terrific oral tradition of song and language. We like to tell stories and we like to listen to them, too. I think each project is a story. We use language to try and tell a story to ourselves in the belief of a thing that hasn’t happened yet. Each project is a fairy story—“once upon a time, there was a need to make a university that needed x number of rooms…”—and then you have to find a way to weave this complexity into a proposal. It’s really complex to make a building. It’s like being a juggler—you have to find a way of making sense of complex needs and aspirations because in the end somebody will open the door and hang their coat on a hook in the spaces that you invent. It’s a form of choreography. With UTEC, where we used the metaphor of the man-made cliff, we were trying to deal with varying scales, a busy motorway, and the educational dreams of the client. What happens in architecture is that it is a discipline where we’re given a list of needs from people and asked to translate that into space and form. How do you do it? You can make poetry out of it. The


fig. 8 (facing above) Exterior of UTEC building (Photo © Iwan Baan)

fig. 9 (facing below) Interior of UTEC building (Photo © Iwan Baan)

difference between writing prose and writing poetry is that poets hack at the words to get down to their essence and to find a new rhythm, to find another meaning. Architecture tries to hack down to the core of something, to break open a new possibility, to invent something. You can invent a new “once upon a time.” A story draws you in. An architectural project gives you a string of requirements and you can just hang them up on a clothesline or you can weave them into a beautiful, threedimensional cloth. That’s the challenge of each project: inventing a new story that makes a new choreography, a renewed and revitalized experience. Architecture is a way of putting a comprehensive enclosure on thoughts.


Engagement Tactics

Conventional design methodology is opaque and inaccessible to those external to its practice. How can democratizing the means, methods, and products of design initiate a reflexive dialogue within and beyond the field? In what ways can reassessing accepted methodologies fuel novel forms of practice?

Engaging Through Design: Transparency as a tool for learning and community engagement Begoña de Abajo Castrillo and Carlos García Fernandez

fig. 1 (facing) Window into construction site in Brooklyn, NY

1 In 2016, the World Economic Forum ranked creativity third in its list of top skills needed in 2020. It will be one of the most highly demanded skills by human resources from leading global organizations. 2

In architecture, it is not only the “what” that matters anymore. People seek answers to the “why” and our communities want to understand the “how.” Users desire involvement in the decision-making terrain and our design process requires their participation. This inclusion of the non-expert in the architectural workflow not only improves the functionality and flexibility of the space, but also generates stronger community dynamics. We intend to demonstrate how this inclusion empowers communities and generates new types of interdisciplinary collaboration. We have to take advantage of design’s potential to foster creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking, which are among the most important abilities in our society.1 As architects we currently face three challenges: to respond to the unexpected on a day-to-day basis, to adapt to the user’s demand for customization, and to reveal processes that were until now opaque.2 The last challenge pushes us to make our work understandable. Once this happens, the first two challenges become dependent on the user’s input as an active agent in the design method.

The era of the mass-production is over, and the concept of the masscustomization, where users can adapt the product to particular needs, is gaining power.

Facts and goals Beyond the contemporary architect’s desire to open the process to non-professionals, society actually demands transparency. This demand becomes apparent in a wide range of situations. From politics to education, from consumption to business, people ask for transparency to access information that once was obscured or too complicated for comprehension. This general desire to understand and learn from the


processes behind the results offers a vast field of action for architects, both as cultural producers and technicians. We often see people trying to peep through a construction site’s security fence with expressions of wonder (fig. 1). This line between the professional and the people “on the other side” represents the past. The new line is blurred as experts cross this boundary to involve the user. We need to move towards a design methodology where users can confidently peer through the fence and become active agents in the process. Strategically revealing both the construction and design processes behind it offers a way to engage the community and create a collective awareness. If involved in the design process, non-experts will inevitably learn through participation. "Learning by doing" has become an increasingly valid pedagogy in our society.3 Every project offers both the designers and the users an opportunity to learn. The design will be influenced by the idea of a user-centered product. Simultaneously, the user will acquire an understanding of the design process. Little by little, this knowledge allows society to normalize divergent thinking and grow more familiarized with the built environment. Find. Think. Build. Project: Design Thinking in Education This power of user-centered design explains the growing interest in design thinking. Increasingly, design thinking offers a potent means to face today’s complex problems. This methodology also functions as an educational tool. Our strategy as a young office often involves working with public institutions and schools. Together we introduce participatory processes and alternative learning methods to engage students with a space. The Find.Think.Build project (fig. 2) began with these thoughts about what society currently demands. We believe in experimental learning and have developed a long-term applied research process that combines design-thinking techniques with our professional work. We have established a simplified model that helps us intervene in the public realm and in schools with the collaboration of citizens, educators, and students. Through this model, our collaborators learn to take advantage of every transformation of the space, advocating for their needs and learning along the way. This simplified model is divided into three stages that occur in a cyclical way: find, think, build. The design process starts with analysis. In this first step we assess the situation with a wide lens that reveals possibilities. This divergent look at reality separates every part into its individual components in order to make it easier to understand as a whole. While it is not always easy to include users at this stage, it is where they can learn the most. After finding the opportunities, the next step focuses on decision-making. The second phase introduces a convergent approach. At this stage, all parts come together to propose a whole. The design itself emerges from the relations established between parts. Participation becomes especially relevant in this stage where the user can make certain decisions. Once proposals have been made, we begin to test, iterate, and realize ideas. When users get involved in this last stage, the opaque becomes transparent, resulting in appropriation and acceptance. We have tested this structure in several different commissions and scenarios. We have organized workshops that only take place in the first


3 The validity of John Dewey's theories about experimental learning increases in our current information society, where facts are no longer as important as actions.

fig. 2 Find.Think.Build scheme based on design thinking methods

stage in order to extract information from all agents. On other occasions we have coordinated activities to work with students for longer periods, from finding the opportunity to building the proposals. Finally, to promote the use of a new building, we have included the users in the last stage by empowering them in the decision making of its programming. We present three case studies illustrating this model. Impluvium: construction processes and community appropriation Our first public commission came from a competition for the construction of a community center in Reinosa, a small city in northern Spain. This challenge offered us the perfect opportunity to develop a series of actions clarifying the construction process and making concepts behind the building more accessible to its future users. The construction of a public building inevitably involves the participation of many actors. As architects, we must orchestrate successful relationships between these actors, from politicians to contractors and from code restrictions to cultural programming. In a community as small as Reinosa, the event is all the more present in the daily life of its citizens, who see and walk by the site constantly. Therefore, we understood the presence of that new building in the life of the citizens as an opportunity to encourage its appropriation from the early stages of its construction. The competition motto, “Impluvium,� quickly became a term used by the local press as the name of the new building. Branding the project became a clear way to communicate the character of the design (fig. 3). Unifying all the applied strategies with a visual identity helped users


appropriate the building from the beginning. Our first strategy involved using transparent fences around the site that allowed people to see and follow the construction at every moment of the process. In addition, we organized several workshops and open sessions during construction. People of all ages seeking to understand how or why something was done came to visit the site and ask questions (fig. 4). The second strategy was based on media visibility using a website and social media. We documented and published chapters chronicling every visit to the construction site (fig. 5), so people could follow the progress and learn from the construction images not typically found in architectural publications. For our third strategy, we worked with children on the construction of a simplified model of the actual structure at a 1:10 scale (fig. 6). At the same time that the structure developed on site, the children played with the model, understanding the logic of its assemblage and proposing new configurations. These activities transferred the information from the children to their friends, parents, and grandparents, involving all in the process and supporting the community’s appropriation of the Impluvium. Curiosity Room: spaces for learning and community engagement One often finds spaces in schools that are not well suited for learning. They are often too impersonal for a student to feel comfortable while in class. We had the opportunity to work in a public school in Madrid


fig. 3 Local news reporting on the building construction and parallel workshops All of the headlines used the term "Impluvium" as the name of the new building.

fig. 4 Collective image of the future building programming from the Impluvium workshop

where educators asked for a multipurpose space where students could spend time in between classes and learn in alternative ways. Since their budget for the purchase of new furniture was limited, we were asked to advise on what kind of chairs and tables to purchase. This initiated a far more productive project that involved both students and teachers in the design of a space capable of engaging their small community through a common objective. In the first session, we gathered all of the agents around a table and formed groups to structure the brainstorming. The first group came up with ideas for the space, no matter how crazy or ambitious they seemed. The second group pointed out potential problems or difficulties of those ideas based on subjective concerns, material availability, or budget restrictions. The last group took charge of finding solutions that helped to balance desires with capabilities, finding feasible solutions that all groups agreed upon (fig. 7). This process resulted in an agreement on the space’s use: a flexible room for meeting, reading, or playing. The space was defined by a carpet, some wheeled boxes, and a new ceiling made out of colorful threads designed by the students. Regardless of the design’s simplicity, the project’s success laid in the sense of ownership the students and teachers felt for this inclusive and common place. Zaguán: workshops and community learning We have begun an ongoing project for another school in Madrid working


fig. 5 Series of photos periodically published online to inform the public about the Impluvium project’s evolution



fig. 6 Similarities between the model workshop instructions and the construction documents for the Impluvium project



on a vacant, covered space alongside the open-air schoolyards. Currently, the children only use the space to gather on rainy days. The school hopes to transform this space into a multi-functional open room that hosts different activities. In order to create an inclusive design and engage the school's community, we designed a series of workshops. Through brainstorming sessions, dialog between agents, lessons on tooling and the construction of iterative prototypes, these workshops can produce the best solution for all parties. This process centers on real and feasible projects. The participating community can engage with the whole process, from ideation to materialization, ultimately inhabiting spaces they have engaged with through the design process. Conclusion Dealing with uncertain or undefined scenarios is the default of our time. However, creative processes and innovation have always worked within this mode. This is why creativity no longer pertains solely to art or design but also to business and professional practices in many different disciplines. We see the opportunity to fill a new gap formed by this condition. We believe in the potential of our architectural design process to become a new learning tool. This process presents a new way to bridge architecture and pedagogy and to foster closer collaborations with educational institutions. With the end of the mass-production inherited from the Industrial Revolution, we now live in an era of mass-customization. With the rise of mass customization, users and clients now ask for participation. New technologies not only allow for the rapid production and evolution of products, but they also make it possible to efficiently single out each product, within certain frames or limits. In other words, architecture, like other industries, needs to offer a product where the final user can make decisions. Therefore, the process requires simplification to foster better communication between agents. We must work to reveal certain steps to improve accessibility to the public. By designing this inclusive architecture, we define our roles as technicians and tacticians and enhance society’s understanding of their built environment.


Rethinking the Post-Apartheid City: Tactics for engagement Phoebe Crisman

fig. 1 (facing) Informal housing, Soweto Township

1 This research was conducted during Fall 2016 in Prof. Phoebe Crisman’s "Diplomacy Lab: Urbanization Challenges in South Africa" seminar.

2 "Diplomacy Lab," Partnerships, U.S. Department of State, http://

3 The Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Integrated Urban Development Framework: A New Deal for South African Cities and Towns, Pretoria, COGTA: 2016, 22-23.

The urban logic of contemporary South African cities physically manifests the legacy of apartheid. Segregated settlement patterns preclude an equitable and sustainable future for all citizens. A trans-disciplinary research initiative at the University of Virginia employed new engagement tactics to imagine sustainable development in the face of rapid urbanization, socio-economic upheaval, and technological change.1 We engaged in reflexive dialogue with collaborators at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria and the African Cities Network. This innovative exchange was achieved through the Diplomacy Lab structure that “enables the State Department to ‘course-source’ research and innovation related to foreign policy by harnessing the efforts of students and faculty at universities across the country.”2 The State Department expands its research capabilities, and universities directly seek solutions to global challenges. We began by examining four factors that perpetuate existing social, economic, and spatial patterns shaped by apartheid: “existing property markets and land use, unsustainable infrastructure networks and consumption patterns, continued segregated urban settlements, and unequal income levels and access to services.”3 Twenty-eight students from a wide range of disciplines collaborated to create seven tactical proposals for public space, affordable housing, community engagement, environmental restoration, solar energy policy, small-scale farming, and informal trading.4 Building on scholarly literature and case study research, we used a systems-based approach to investigate "what would happen if…" and propose what would be required to create a particular sustainable change. Our South African partners provided feedback via


email and teleconference, and we synthesized the research into the publication Rethinking Urbanization Challenges in South Africa.5 This forward-thinking, scenario-planning method empowered the research team to holistically address environmental, economic development, and social issues in South African cities. This essay articulates the engagement process and provides an overview of the seven tactical proposals. Rapid urbanization in South Africa is propelled by several trends. Most new jobs are located in urban centers and township dwellers must increasingly endure long and arduous commutes exacerbated by inadequate public transportation. Fresh water, sanitation, and energy systems are underfunded and do not meet current demands. Affordable housing and public community spaces are in short supply. In light of these challenges, several research questions were developed with our collaborators.6 How can South Africa achieve more sustainable development in the face of rapid urbanization and societal upheaval? How can we rethink these obstacles amidst the need to transform the economy to include all South Africans? What are sustainable solutions to affordable housing, limited water resources, wastewater and solid waste treatment, and energy, communications, and transportation infrastructure? Seven distinct, yet intertwined studies emerged in response. 1. Developing frameworks for affordable housing to resist gentrification What happens when urban rejuvenation efforts lead to displacement of poorer residents? What are the distinct factors in post-apartheid South Africa and cities in the global south? What are other cities around the world doing to reduce gentrification pressures and create viable models of mixed income housing? How can we translate these lessons to the South African context? We proposed future frameworks for urban affordable housing in “Urban Vibrancy: Affordable, Inclusive, and CommunityDriven Housing in South Africa�:


fig. 2 Corrugated steel houses, Soweto Township 4 The Diplomacy Lab included graduate and undergraduate students majoring in Global Environments & Sustainability, Architecture, Urban & Environmental Planning, Engineering, Environmental Science, Biology, Public Health, Environmental Thought & Practice, Economics, Statistics, Politics, Religious Studies, Anthropology, English, and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. 5 Phoebe Crisman, ed., Rethinking Urbanization Challenges in South Africa, (University of Virginia: Charlottesville, 2017).

6 We partnered with several officers at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria: Rebecca White, Transportation, Information & Communications Technology Officer; Edward Winant, Trade & Investment Officer; and Hagen Maroney, Environment, Science & Technology Officer. We also collaborated with Dr. Geci Karuri-Sebina, Executive Director of Programs at the African Cities Network:

7 Iain Low, “Imagining the Megacity: Toward Reconfigured Urban Orders in (South) Africa,” in Cities in Transition. Power, Environment, Society, eds. Saskia Sassen, (Belgium: NAI 010, 2015): 326-345.

8 Student Team: Charlotte Carr, Elise Dixon, Kristen Lepe, Katherine Phillips.

9 Student Team: Christine Bauk, Sarah Littlefield, Marissa Sayers.

Both urban revitalization and affordable housing initiatives often prove problematic as a means of holistic community development due to their failures to include all local populations. Falling into one of two tropes, successful renewals of urban landscapes often displace the poor as their communities become gentrified. Conversely, affordable housing models can disintegrate into networks of entrenched, poverty-ridden projects due to limitations in public sector funding and ingrained societal biases. Integrating affordable housing as a means of revitalization within South African cities faces unique challenges due to the residual legacy of apartheid and a national urban population rapidly reaching 50 percent.7 Drawing on successful case studies and theoretical arguments, this study proposes a framework for affordable housing in South African city centers that directly engages collaborative stakeholder planning and community partnerships, stimulates financial transparency in leveraging private institutions and updated mortgage systems, integrates policy solutions to the economic and architectural elements of urban design, and implements community-driven design tactics in order to break down the legacies of apartheid present within the contemporary urban landscape.8 2. Achieving affordable housing upgrades through community engagement How does the legacy of townships and informal settlements affect the provision of affordable housing in South Africa? How can effective methods of community engagement counteract a history of limited citizen input in planning decisions? In “Community Engagement: A Strategy for the Improvement of Affordable Housing in South African Townships,” we developed strategies and demonstrated how they can be adapted to the particularities of the northern Johannesburg township of Diepsloot: To combat the issues engendered by the legacy of apartheid and rapid urbanization in South Africa, it is imperative to empower the residents of informal settlements and townships. This population must be given the opportunity to take an active role in the improvement of their living conditions. The South African government could help accomplish this by embracing a multi-step community engagement strategy and using an index of different in-situ incremental housing upgrades. These upgrades should be applied on an individual basis to improve affordable housing in townships, since not all township populations have the same needs. Each housing improvement initiative should be evaluated and applied based on specific criteria and demographics, to empower residents and improve efficiency of cost, construction, and maintenance.9 3. Creating public space in post-apartheid informal settlements Along with the provision of affordable housing, the value of vital public community spaces cannot be overlooked. In “Improving Social Environments in Informal Settlements through the Design of Public Community Spaces,” we proposed design tactics for informal settlements in Soweto and other townships: Urbanization in South Africa has posed a number of challenges due to the highly fragmented landscape created by the apartheid regime. Rigid apartheid planning policies forced black and colored South Africans out


of the urban center and into crowded townships and informal settlements that lacked public infrastructure. Due to the creation of these marginalized, purely residential areas, non-white South Africans were deprived of public space, stifling the social and economic environment. We studied these palpable social inequities through problems of crime, public health, and the informal economy in Soweto’s informal settlements. We examined how the creation of socially engaging and vibrant public community spaces can serve to combat these issues and positively impact the social and economic trajectory in informal settlements. Tangible design tactics are proposed to ameliorate the complex social fabric created by the legacy of apartheid.10 4. Planning for environmental conservation and restoration Johannesburg and its surrounding region “form the largest urban complex in South Africa and one of the largest on the African continent, with an urbanization rate of 97 percent.”11 Environmental degradation ranges from deforestation and habitat destruction to air, water, and solid waste pollution. In “Environmental Planning In The Gauteng Province: The Case for a Green Belt and Riparian Buffers,” specific policies and physical interventions are proposed to reduce rampant urban sprawl and protect the vulnerable Johannesburg region: This research analyzes the opportunity for proactive environmental planning in the Gauteng Province through the establishment of a green belt and incorporated riparian buffers. A green belt forges a ring of protected open, natural space around an area to serve as a growth boundary. A riparian buffer is a forested area along the banks of a river to protect the watercourse. Greening a city in these ways helps to curb urban sprawl and overdevelopment, while counteracting some of the negative environmental repercussions of rapid urbanization, providing services for the community, and making the city more livable for its citizens.12

fig. 3 Government Reconstruction & Development Programme Housing, Soweto Township

10 Student Team: Brianne Nueslein, Elizabeth Brown, Beki San Martin.

11 South Africa Department of Development Planning, Transportation and Environment, State of the Environment Report, Environmental, Planning and Management Unit, Johannesburg (2003): 30.

12 Student Team: Alec Paget, Susan Ryu, Aaron Weinstock.


fig. 4 Communal drinking water source, Soweto Township

13 5P’ refers to the ‘pro-poor publicprivate partnership’ model. See Damian Miller and Chris Hope, “Learning to Lend for Off-Grid Solar Power: Policy Lessons from World

5. Incentivizing solar energy generation The South Africa climate is perfectly suited to small-scale solar electricity generation. Yet, why isn’t it happening? Are municipal budget models getting in the way of sustainable energy goals? What other issues are limiting positive change? What can we learn from other countries? In “Accessing Solar Potential in South Africa: Barriers and Solutions,” we examined the South African energy industry and proposed sustainable and inclusive solutions: High rates of urbanization in South Africa have put significant stress on the energy sector, which reached a breaking point in 2008 with frequent and widespread blackouts. The primary energy provider, state-owned Eskom, struggles to meet demand despite a renewed focus on both capacity-building and demand-based strategies. Today, the energy system is dominated by coal. This has led to international scrutiny over the harmful effects of coal power plants on the environment. Though South Africa has great potential for renewable sources, solar and wind energy has failed to make a significant impact in the energy market, and major supplementation is needed to accelerate their use. While struggling to compete with coal because of the high upfront cost of solar and the relatively low cost of abundant coal in South Africa, solar energy could produce significant social, political, and environmental benefits. We developed three recommendations to increase solar power implementation: establish tax incentives to encourage businesses and individuals to generate electricity on a small scale, create feed-in-tariffs to pay smallscale solar energy producers for energy fed back into the power grid, and use the “5P” model for community lending to create growth across the entire energy value chain.13

Bank Loans to India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka,” Energy Policy 28, no. 2 (February 2000): 98; Student Team: Steven Agness, Spencer Long, Allison Owens, Caroline Herre.

6. Growing the green economy through small-scale farming What are the urban implications as South Africa transitions to a “green economy” development model? Can the UN’s “Global Green New Deal”


fig. 2 (facing) Site plan (1:2000) Sentence describing the image.

concept be applied?14 What does an increased awareness of interdependent economic growth and natural ecosystems mean to the post-apartheid urban landscape? In “Promoting Small-Scale Farming to Strengthen South Africa’s Green Economy,” we explored the role that small-scale farmers play in South Africa’s green economy: We examined what policies can sustainably improve small-scale farmer livelihood through increased market access and improve food quality and accessibility in informal settlements. Currently supermarkets and large-scale commercial farms dominate the South African food system. Small-scale farmers are often left out of the narrative and underserved by government programs. Incorporating small-scale farmers into the food supply chain promotes biodiversity, improves smallholder livelihood, increases food access in rural areas, and contributes to a green economy. International precedents and case studies offered key insights into possible strategies that can be used to promote South Africa’s small-scale farmers, including the development of cooperatives, the creation of inclusive supermarket procurement systems, and land reform policies.15 7. Integrating urban and economic township transformation Can job creation efforts be shifted to the townships to reduce the need for commuting to urban centers? According to the World Bank Group, “approximately half of the South African urban population lives in either townships or informal settlements. With 38% of working-age South African citizens, these areas also contain 60% of the county’s unemployed.”16 Decreasing the spatial imbalances in economic opportunities is

fig. 5 Street in Diepsloot Township 14 Edward Barbier, A Global Green New Deal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

15 Student Team: Thomas Boswick, Nicole Duimstra, Olivia Lara-Gresty, Avery Moyler.

16 World Bank Group, Economics of South African Townships: Special Focus on Diepsloot, Sandeep Mahajan, 89917, Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2014.


a priority in South Africa’s Integrated Urban Development Framework. This challenge led to a focus on informal trading in “South African Urban Street Traders: A Community-Based Approach:”

17 Student Team: Ashley Cappo, Emily Broghan Kelly, Suchita Chharia, Sanat Malhotra, Emily Soule.

Government support for the positive effects of informal work can reduce the tension and conflicts associated with the informal economy as rapidly expanding urbanization continues. We focused on street trading, one of the informal economy’s biggest industries. We explored the history of the informal economy and street traders in Johannesburg and provided a comprehensive analysis of implemented by-laws and policies and how they affect street trading. We analyzed the current issues faced by urban street vendors and how policy can better protect them. Informed by case studies from around the world, we proposed specific tactics to support, regulate, and formalize street vending in South Africa.17 Tactics for engagement Together, these seven focused, yet intertwined investigations proposed a rich array of tactics to achieve more sustainable South African development in the face of rapid urbanization and societal upheaval. While physically located in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia research group fully engaged on-the-ground challenges in South Africa. An ongoing reflexive dialogue with collaborators at the US Embassy in Pretoria and the African Cities Network supported both experimentation and pragmatic specificity. We examined constraints, imagined possibilities, and developed tactical solutions to achieve a more sustainable future for all citizens in post-apartheid South Africa.


A Public Library Like a Home: How to favor certain feelings by means of design tactics María Lidón de Miguel

fig. 1 (facing) Axonometric drawing of the proposed library and linear plaza

1 "The multiplication of dwellings is limited by several conditions— sociological, economical, geographical, political, and plastic. Any architectural or town planning proposals which ignore these conditions and do not give man his identity, fail to meet the requirements of life. This identity is to be found in the dwelling itself, in the residential unit, in the community unit, in the town and in the region, in other words, in all stages of multiplication." —Aldo van Eyck, “Man’s Identity,” in Aldo van Eyck: Collected Articles and Other Writings 1947–1998, ed. Vincent Ligtelijn et al. (Amsterdam: SUN Publishers, 2008), 246.

As design tools become more advanced and commonly used, we begin to perceive the city itself as a “smart device.” Now more than ever, we must remember the essential human psychological dimension of architecture and ask the fundamental question: how do people feel about the places they inhabit? The emotional bond with a particular space defines how it is occupied or how often it is used and therefore determines its success or failure as a place. One might then ask: how can we favor certain positive feelings by means of design tactics? The members of Team 10 considered these social aspects of architecture during the 1959 CIAM meeting in Otterlo, the Netherlands, and their thinking remains applicable today. According to Team 10, architects should regard personal identity as a human right and design accordingly. To do so, the city should be understood as an articulation of hierarchical human associations (house-street-district-city) in which the necessary feeling of belonging expands from the smallest scale (the house) to the largest (the city).1 These ideas apply to a project in the En Corts neighborhood of Valencia, Spain, comprising a public library and a connecting linear plaza (fig. 1). En Corts is a small neighborhood situated in the south of the city. Four large avenues with heavy traffic delimit and effectively isolate the neighborhood (fig. 2). The area is characterized by old traditional houses, most of which are abandoned or in ruins. As a result, more lots become disused, public spaces are abandoned, and the neighborhood takes on a general appearance of neglect and danger. The lack of maintenance


fig. 2 Aerial photograph of the En Corts neighborhood with the large avenues that delimit it

fig. 3 An abandoned street in the neighborhood with residential buildings in a ruined state




fig. 4 Site plan The library and plaza are proposed for the northwest corner of the En Corts neighborhood. 2 Man may readily identify himself with his own hearth, but not easily with the town within it is placed. ‘Belonging’ is a basic emotional need—its associations are of the simplest order. From belonging— identity—comes the enriching sense of neighborliness. —Aldo van Eyck, “Man’s Identity,” in Aldo van Eyck: Collected Articles and Other Writings 1947–1998, ed. Vincent Ligtelijn et al. (Amsterdam: SUN Publishers, 2008), 246.

leads residents to feel that they cannot occupy public space, so they make use of streets only when strictly necessary. The degree of abandonment worsens and self-perpetuates (fig. 3). To halt and reverse this process, the feeling of identity and belonging that residents have in their own homes must extend to the public realm.2 Residents will once again perceive public space as a value shared among neighbors that is worthy of collective maintenance. This project accelerates this perception of public space in general by inserting a specific public building into the neighborhood. The proposed library and plaza occupy one of the abandoned lots (fig. 4). Both urban facilities function as places for social encounters between neighbors. The acceptance of the public building as a home will restore the currently broken house-streetdistrict associations and recover the balance between individual and collective life. Designing urban facilities as homes raises the following questions: which features of the home contribute to feelings of identity and belonging, and how might they be applied to a public space? The determined qualities are abstracted and transformed into design tactics for this proposal. Free choice “Free choice” refers to the embedded double meaning of the word “home.” It can be synonymous with “refuge” as a personal space where one feels protected. It can also associate with a shared common space


where one feels embraced in the manner of a “family” or “community” (fig. 5). To design a public library like a home, the space must simultaneously provide opportunity for patrons to find personal refuge as well as a sense of belonging to a group or family. Individual spaces must be made available inside the communal space. This quality of free choice relates to the interior spaces of the library, especially their dimensions and the relationships between them. The library is organized by the central position of the main stairs, the location of the courtyard, and the vertical arrangement of the floors as split levels. These three tactics promote spatial hierarchy while maintaining a visual relationship that is understood as whole. In this way, individual spaces articulate the continuous and the common (figs. 6 and 7). Confidence We can also interpret “home” as a friend, family, and anything that fosters feelings of calm or safety. In a home, it is possible to feel protected and move easily because of the familiarity of the space. This quality of confidence relates to the arrangement of accesses, the interior circulation, and the visual relationship between interior spaces. The library should be easy to understand and use. Partitions and corridors can result in confusion and exclusion, so interior spaces are defined and rendered recognizable only by their configurations. This confidence in usage also applies to the plaza. The threshold between the library and the plaza clarifies that the facilities are in fact two sides of the same reality—an interior and exterior public space. Accesses therefore function as transitions that connect the library with the plaza and the street (figs. 8 and 9).


fig. 6 Library main floor plan showing the arrangement of the central stairs and the courtyard. Individual and collective spaces exist on the same level.

fig. 7 Cross section “D� through the main stairs showing the split level arrangement of floors

Comfort We feel at home when a space is welcoming and comfortable. Such qualities are influenced by how the space is built, furnished, lit, ventilated, and connected with the outside. The arrangement of the facade and the position of the courtyard allow natural lighting and air circulation into each part of the library. Due to the intensity of sunlight in Valencia, each facade is equipped with specific gathering or protecting mechanisms according to its orientation. The resultant lighting levels determine the respective location and furnishing of isolated study areas, group work areas, and reading lounges (figs. 10 and 11). Habit A space feels like a home when it becomes familiar and we have acclimated to the environment. The new place becomes a part of our habits and personal traditions and ultimately participates in the formation of memories and identities. This quality of familiarity depends on the continued use of the library and the relevance that it acquires as an urban facility in the neighborhood. For this purpose, the proposal is designed for flexibility. All spaces have similar conditions of lighting, air circulation, and storage capacity so that the library may easily adapt to future changes in the building. In addition, the plaza is designed in relation to the library so that the whole public space is enhanced. The unity of the library and the plaza articulates the place as a hub of social life in the neighborhood so that activity is generated and the continuous use of both facilities is guaranteed.


Conclusion Feelings of identity and belonging similar to those felt at home are enhanced by the following factors: the freedom of feeling both individuality and communality, the opportunity to choose between private and public spaces, the chance to easily understand and use spaces, the comfort of good design, and the feeling that a space is well-occupied. As a result of employing these factors as design tactics, a disused public space will recover its relevance as a shared common place. These feelings of identity and belonging will extend to a renewed ownership of the neighborhood and restore the lost association of house-street-district.

fig. 8 (above) Longitudinal section “A” through the courtyard showing both accesses: a major access from the avenue that connects the building to the rest of the city; a minor and more intimate access from the plaza that connects the library to the neighborhood fig. 9 (below) Longitudinal section “C” through the courtyard showing bookshelves figs. 10 and 11 (facing) Library interior perspectives



Full Circle: An interactive public artwork Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster

fig. 1 (facing) Photo by Alana Fajemisin

Through play we interact with others, explore the world around us, and discover ourselves. Public play spaces are some of the only places where people from different ethnic and social backgrounds freely meet and mix. As designers and as citizens, we have an obligation to provide more of these spaces in our cities for children and adults from different walks of life to casually interact, get to know one another, and socialize. Thus, providing armatures for play is an essential part of injecting humanity into public space. “Full Circle” achieves this through a simple sculptural form that brings people of different backgrounds and ages together. The project, a collaboration between Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, was commissioned by CEPA Gallery and C.S.1 Curatorial Projects. The installation was one of six selected proposals submitted to an open competition for public artworks for CEPA’s "West Side Lots Project" sponsored through the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and Erie County Arts & Cultural Funding. It was installed in Buffalo, NY in late 2016. “Full Circle” is situated on Buffalo’s West Side—a community composed of many nationalities and home to a large refugee population. The structure sits on a typical residential lot opposite a public school whose student body represents seventy countries and forty-four languages. The public artwork takes the swing-set—an element commonly found in parks and playgrounds—and transforms it by questioning its conventional linear arrangement. The circular form gives participants


freedom in the way they position themselves in relation to the work and one another: facing inwards or outwards, sitting opposite or next to one another. The circle is a charged spatial arrangement as it references the adult world: political round-tables, corporate boardrooms, and support groups. The simple act of making the swing-set circular positions it in conversation with these contexts. A circle is also a prototypical configuration of childhood activities: from story time to Montessori learning and campfires. The aim of the installation is to be both familiar and unexpected. The swing is so recognizable and its function so conspicuous that “Full Circle” is immediately approachable and easy to use. On the other hand, the circular arrangement coupled with the bright magenta color create a surprising and uniquely identifiable place. The extremely tight budget and introduction of the project to the neighborhood before construction began were paramount considerations. Collaborating with members of the wellness team at the public school and various community groups and door-to-door canvassing outreach were vital steps in fostering acceptance for the project. While numerous concerns were initially expressed, there was and has been extreme goodwill on the part of the community, which is reflected in individuals taking it upon themselves to keep a close eye on the work and even clean up the grounds. “Full Circle” is a small-scale meeting place for children and adults alike. In a community with few maintained green spaces and little public infrastructure, it is a small, but significant, gesture. 53

fig. 2 Axonometric of full installation

fig. 3 (facing, above) Photo by Coryn Kempster

fig. 4 (facing, below) Photo by Brendan Bannon

fig. 5 Axonometric, section, and plan

fig. 6 (facing, above) Photo by Coryn Kempster

fig. 7 (facing, below) Photo by Coryn Kempster


From Top-Down to Tactical: Rethinking relocation strategies for Shishmaref, Alaska Liz Camuti and Hallie Miller

fig. 1 (facing) Proposed migration between Shishmaref and West Tin Creek Hills based on traditional hunting grounds (Liz Camuti)

1 Hauer, Mathew E., Jason M. Evans, and Deepak R. Mishra. “Millions projected to be at risk from sealevel rise in the continental United States.� Nature Climate Change 6, no. 7 (2016): 691-95. doi:10.1038/ nclimate2961.

Recently, it became increasingly evident that the direct impacts of climate change on coastal populations could no longer be ignored. Recent research, published in 2016, suggests that more than 13 million Americans could become climate refugees by 2100 if the NOAA’s worst sea-level rise predictions come to pass.1 This investigation into tactical modes of relocation not only addresses the impractical rigidity of top-down approaches, but also emphasizes the need for empowering communities from within to promote true resiliency. Our approach is twofold: 1) investigating accepted design methodologies for a variety of proposed relocation strategies followed by an informed assessment of these strategies based on their transparency and capacity to fully engage residents and 2) considering specific potentials for equitable relocation put forth in studio projects for the Arctic Design Group at the University of Virginia. In these projects, students sought to realign expensive and infrastructural-based relocation proposals for Shishmaref, Alaska with scalable interventions that prioritize indigenous value systems and cultural practices. Ultimately, for these communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, tactical experimentation is more than simply a foray into potential design futures, it is critical to their continued existence and collective memory. While climate change is a global issue, the effects of rapidly fluctuating weather patterns, eroding coastlines, and general climate unpredictability are not universally felt. Several communities, particularly in Northern Alaska, are being inundated with storm surges of such magnitude that they are forced to relocate their towns. Shishmaref, AK,


a barrier island off the Northern coast of Alaska, is facing increased erosion of its coastline, leading to the loss of housing and infrastructure. Efforts to rebuild the coastline have been short-lived and overly rigid—an impractical approach for a problem that requires constant adaptability to fluctuating sea levels. Spurred by the fear that their lives could be upended by an impending storm, Shishmaref has explored many avenues for relocation over the years. The community voted to relocate for the third time in 2016. However, the costly relocation schemes proposed by outside agencies insufficiently consider the full range of priorities central to these communities and have therefore been ineffective in providing adequate solutions for relocation. Specifically, projects are getting bigger while failing to address the central question: how can we plan for climate change in a way that speaks to a community’s cultural practices and daily lives? By addressing climate change from the perspective of the community and giving them agency to choose the means of their own relocation, it becomes possible to imagine a scenario in which the physical community is better protected and cultural practices central to their shared identity are maintained. For landscape architecture and architecture students at the University of Virginia reassessing conventional relocation methods offered an avenue into a larger inquiry of the relationships between people and threatened land. This inquiry begged the following questions: what makes land that has already transformed so much, and is continuing to rapidly transform, deeply meaningful to its inhabitants? How can design be informed by and engage with cultural meaning within these endangered landscapes? Top-down relocation efforts The Inupiat Eskimos that live on Shishmaref participate in a hunter gatherer lifestyle that supports and dictates all aspects of daily life (fig. 2). Seasons are organized around what can be hunted and where. Seal, a staple of the Shishmaref diet, must be hunted on the sea ice which


fig. 2 Collage of existing subsistence practices in Shishmaref, Alaska (Liz Camuti)

fig. 3 Melting sea ice reveals prior control efforts and the advance of erosion toward the seawall being constructed in the village of Shishmaref, Alaska, June, 2008. Image © United States Government Accountability Office.

2 AECOM, Technical Services, Shishmaref Relocation Site Selection Feasibility Study. Technical paper. Alaska, AECOM: Anchorage, 2016.

forms in the Chukchi Sea, while caribou is hunted to the south on the mainland by crossing the Shishmaref Inlet by boat. Despite being incorporated into the United States in 1969, access to goods and services outside of the Bering Strait region is limited. Larger shipments of western goods are received twice a year via barge. Air travel is expensive and limited. As such, the preservation and reuse of materials is an integral part of the community’s culture. As a barrier island, Sarichef is increasingly vulnerable to sea level rise. The island erodes and reconstructs itself through lateral migratory processes. Nevertheless, the erosion is leaving the physical town of Shishmaref increasingly exposed to the Chukchi Sea. Shoreline erosion combined with melting sea ice has led to an increase in flooding on the island (fig. 3). Additionally, the increased unpredictability of storms poses problems for maintaining the village’s infrastructure. Houses in danger of falling into the Chukchi Sea due to the eroding coastline have been relocated further inland. Also, Shishmaref is experiencing shorter winter hunting seasons and species migration to the northern regions of the Arctic. These factors combined have all contributed to the village’s repeated votes to move to the mainland. An array of relocation feasibility studies and plans to relocate Shishmaref have been completed by governmental agencies, but to no avail. The latest feasibility study conducted by AECOM in 2016 estimates relocation costs to resemble $214 million, with implementations occurring over a 10 year period.2 This plan relies heavily on the construction of new infrastructure with major funds being delegated to housing, electricity, and a new airfield. Prior to the AECOM study, other options, such as a “pilot program,” had also been considered.2 A pilot program would have allowed for a new town to become established on the mainland, in the hopes that as construction and relocation progressed, community members would slowly move to the new site. Co-location, a third option proposed by Bristol Engineering




Discovery of Shishmarev Inlet

Inuit habitation on Sarichef Island dates back to several centuries. In the 1900s, Shishmaref became a supply center for gold mining that was occuring in and around Nome due to easy barge access. The first post office was established in 1901.

critical development of colonization



The relocation site proposed in the 1970s was determined to be on permafrost-rich ground and unsuitable for development. A school built in 1977 was an important infrastructure investment in the community that they did not want to abandon.


unanimous decision to relocate


161-20 vote in favor of relocating


According to a report from USACE, the cost of relocation could be as much as $214 million, implemented over 15 years, while staying in place could cost as much as $131 million




Officials spent more that $27 million from 2005 to 2009 on coastal protection measures that had a life expectancy of 15 years.


??? Currently deciding between two sites: West Tin Creek Hills and Old Pond


and Environmental Services in conjunction with the village, would have relocated Shishmaref to another village, or villages, in order to cut down on costs.3 Each proposition focuses on the infrastructure of a new town. While cultural considerations are incorporated by allowing Shishmaref to vote on the site of their new town, there are no plans for how this relocation can happen autonomously. In each plan, a series of government agencies are volunteered to help raise funds. However, with few global precedents for village relocation, it is difficult to find funding within federal and state agencies to support individual tasks related to decommissioning and relocation.4 In addition to the confusion surrounding funding, there is little clarity in AECOM’s plan about which local, state, or federal government agencies should be leading the relocation efforts. In other


fig. 4 Timeline of relocation efforts for Shishmaref (Liz Camuti)

3 Bristol Environmental & Engineering Services Corporation, Shishmaref Relocation Plan Update Final, Anchorage, 2010.

4 Shishmaref Erosion and Relocation Coalition, Shishmaref Relocation Strategic Plan. Shishmaref, 2002.

fig. 5 Catalog of relocation byproducts to be reused for coastal protection (Scott Getz, Andisheh Ghofranitabari, Erica Mutschler, and Cara Turett)

words, the people of Shishmaref are given no clear roadmap for starting the process of relocation, nor do they have the ability to fund their own relocation. Perhaps even more jarring, the existing relocation plans and feasibility studies lay out a monumental task with so many pieces and parts, it is difficult to see how an individual citizen, or group of citizens, might become involved in the relocation process. As such, none of these proposed plans have been followed through. Tactical design approaches to relocation In 2016, the Arctic Design Group studio at the University of Virginia, titled “What Does it Take to Move a Village,” explored designed alternatives and additions to the series of proposed governmental schemes. After first contextualizing Shishmaref’s transition in terms of existing strategies, planning frameworks, and cultural norms, several student groups proposed design strategies that rejected the rigidity of previous approaches in favor of tactics that re-purpose existing materials, slow down the process of relocation, and directly respond to indigenous cultural practices. Addressing Shishmaref’s eroding coastline head on, "Shifting Shorelines" by Scott Getz, Andisheh Ghofranitabari, Erica Mutschler, and Cara Turett envisions a collection of strategies for adaptive coastal protection that can be implemented at will by the community. These strategies all utilize the material byproducts of relocation (fig. 5) and are deployed in sites where they will harness the ongoing processes of sediment erosion and deposition of the barrier island system. These strategies return agency to the people of Shishmaref in timing and selecting methods of coastal protection and relocation. Engaging traditional knowledge of Seward Peninsula landscape dynamics and


operating on diverse spatial and temporal scales, the three phase design proposal (fig. 6) can adapt to locally available materials, the status of government funding, severity and frequency of storms, and available labor. Secured driftwood piles or rubber tires, for example, can be a fast, easily implemented system of materials used to buffer the impact of storms around houses. Other strategies involve more complex coastal protection tactics, such as sand-dredging and breakwater construction, to ensure long-term, regional resilience. Ultimately, the strategies are intended to build upon one another, recognizing that the process of relocation will take time and that Sarichef Island will remain culturally and ecologically valuable to its current residents, even in the event of relocation. In "Hacking the Homestead: Linking Food Security with the Relocation of Shishmaref, Alaska," Liz Camuti, Kun Liu, Hallie Miller, and Pia von Barby also recognize the far-reaching implications that increasingly volatile weather patterns and potential relocation will have on the community’s current way of life and future trajectories (fig. 7). Operating within a scenario that supposes the inevitability of relocation, the project critiques current relocation strategies for failing to consider food practices central to the population’s subsistence lifestyle and


fig. 6 "Shifting Shorelines" proposed three phase strategy of coastal protection for Sarichef Island (Scott Getz, Andisheh Ghofranitabari, Erica Mutschler, and Cara Turett)

identity. Rather than abandon Shishmaref entirely, the group envisions a two-season system in which a portion of Sarichef Island is kept intact and used as a seasonal hunting ground, while the majority of the population resides in West Tin Creek Hills on the mainland. On Sarichef Island and in West Tin Creek Hills, a series of climate amplifying components constructed from available materials can be deployed by residents to amplify local microclimates in order to protect and prolong existing food drying and storage practices (fig. 8). These components can be designed and constructed in isolation or systematized and re-adapted seasonally to protect meat drying racks or preserve food longer (fig. 9). Ensuring that the community retains control over its identity and lifestyle by way of a more secure food system, a particular systematizing of these components also enables community members to opt into agricultural practices on the mainland site (fig. 10). This allows Shishmaref to rely less on importing outside food products, which are not only costly and generally unhealthy, but have kept the community tied to the systems of a Western world that has not historically acknowledged its indigenous practices. Ultimately, the design of these micro-climate amplifying systems on both sites recognizes an immediate need for improved food security as well as a future need for a new settlement






















increasingly unpredicatable weather patterns put subsistence food practices at risk, resulting in food insecurity


CLIMATE CHANGE leading to increased weather uncertainty





design that is predicated on existing subsistence practices, yet focused on long-term community resilience. For the people of Shishmaref, what most would consider tactical problem-solving is simply a way of life developed from an indigenous way of sensing and perceiving the world. This community’s response to coastal erosion and food insecurity must be designed to empower from within, giving agency back to those who best understand how to adapt to and work within their own environments.


fig. 7 (above) Identifying existing factors contributing to food security and opportunities for intervention (Liz Camuti and Pia von Barby)

fig. 8 (below) Example system of climateamplifying components deployed in Shishmaref (Hallie Miller)

fig. 9 Catalog of climate-amplifying components (Liz Camuti, Hallie Miller, and Pia von Barby)


fig. 10 Potential configurations of climate amplifying components and settlement design rules deployed in West Tin Creek (Pia von Barby)



Shelter in Place: Adaptive fabric refugee housing Earl Mark and Austin Edwards

fig. 1 (facing) Model of adaptable refugee shelter

1 United Nations High Commission of Refugee Relief UNCH (Dec. 31, 2016).

According to the UN High Commission of Refugee Relief there are approximately 65.3 million people worldwide living in a condition of “forcible displacement,” of which approximately one third are refugees.1 Counted among these are roughly 34,000 individuals who are migrant due to conflict or persecution—the highest number of refugees worldwide in recorded history. The scope and complexity of this issue makes comprehensive intervention impossible. Any substantial proposition to address the needs of these stateless individuals who lack basic housing and geographical stability requires an adaptive and case specific goal. To that end, the research detailed here is for the design of a small, adaptable shelter. The project aims to develop a system providing the warmth, protection, and comfort of a home that can be implemented in a range of adverse conditions (fig. 1). To meet demand as needed, such a shelter should be rapidly deployable, lightweight, and easily assembled. It should be able to take advantage of passive heating and cooling opportunities, enabling units to function as autonomously as possible for extended periods of time without connections to basic utility infrastructures. Furthermore, such a system should be able to accommodate a range of living arrangements and social structures, including the shelter of entire extended families. Precedent In situations where adequate shelter is scarce, migrant community housing tends to fit within one of three general types: occupation of pre-existing public structures, self-built shelters from found materials, or


temporary housing facilitated by an outside organization. Each of these housing strategies presents substantial drawbacks. The ad-hoc occupation of public spaces and impromptu structures may leave migrants and their families exposed to both human conflict and severe climate conditions. Conventional emergency housing systems often fail to consider fundamental principles of community organization, and are frequently employed well beyond their intended lifespans. The agency of refugees to adapt these shelters to specific cultural and contextual parameters is barely considered in their implementation. Furthermore, successful housing solutions may be overly expensive, hard to assemble, and fixed in relation to changing site conditions such as weather, privacy requirements, or population size. In balancing cost, delivery logistics, and the security of residents and providers, conventional refugee housing solutions fail to account for the well-being, dignity, and identity of their inhabitants. Structure The alternative solutions explored here examine four key criteria: material performance, assembly process, environmental responsiveness, and operability. Unlike commonly used construction methods utilizing fabric stretched over a rigid galvanized steel truss system, the fabric itself takes advantage of tensile forces in ways that help to reduce reliance upon rigid elements. The form of the fabric is intended to achieve a level of strength and rigidity that can safely withstand a range of inclement weather, as well as offer some flexibility in how it can be occupied. The use of a concise saddle shape based on principles of tensegrity allows the amount of material used to be quite small relative to the proportions of the occupiable interior space. Material economy is also a core principle of the design of the rigid structural elements, which are optimized to efficiently maintain the structural shape of the fabric. An effective analogy is that of a sail, where cables, poles, and attachments between the fabric and the rigid elements of the boat are the only requisite structural components for maintaining position and shape. The direction of forces in the structure determines the locations and shapes of both rigid tubing and tension cables. Within the proposed shelter a perimeter cable system keeps the main fabric saddle shape intact via sailing technology-inspired joint attachments at the perimeter of the fabric, while an arched truss maintains tensile continuity at the front edge of the structure and protects a large opening for entry, daylighting, ventilation and passive heating. This truss, which spans between both front corners of the shelter, provides the principal structural support for the tensioning of the fabric membrane. Successive revisions of the design increasingly leveraged inherent properties of the fabric, cable, and rigid elements for both material and cost economy (fig. 2). Environmental performance Beyond structural optimization, the main technical parameters for the design involve responsiveness to environmental factors to optimize thermal performance. The principal envelope material­­—the tensile fabric—has low thermal mass and insulation value, which is at odds with the mandate that the shelter be deployable in a diverse range of climactic conditions. One of the strategies being tested is the inclusion


fig. 2 (facing) Diagram of current prototype's structural systems (Austin Edwards)

Structural Systems Model Scale A



Joints Joints in the model include two base-mounted joints at the front of the structure; two mirrored elbow joints that accept rigid structural members from two directions, as well as redirect tensioned cable from the bottom of the unit towards the back; and a Y-joint that accepts rigid structural members from three directions and maintains the tension cable in the rear. Joints for Models 1 and 2 were additively manufactured using plastic and high-strength resin, respectively, and will potentially be a hybrid metal-wood design based on ship rigging in the full-scale.

B Arcing Truss The truss serves as the structural backbone of the fabric portion. It takes most of the tension and keeps the force of both fabric and tension running through the cables in equilibrium. Trusses for Models 1 and 2 were additively manufactured using plastic and high-strength resin, respectively. The full-scale will use aluminum.

C Tensile Fabric The fabric, pulled into tension by cables, has a doubly-curved shape which gives it rigidity. Samples used for both models were PVC-impregnated polyester provided by Rubb, Inc., who will also provide fabric for the full-scale model.


of a strategically placed, relatively non-structural thermal mass. Using a passive solar technique adapted from greenhouse design, one proposed solution uses water columns located within the shelter. This ultimately proved untenable, as the floor area needed to make such a system effective was more than the modest footprint of the shelter could support. Alternatively, the current design utilizes the floor assembly itself to provide thermal mass in the form of a low-profile concrete slab, taking advantage of ductile concrete technologies being developed by Alexander Kitchin, an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia School of Architecture and an innovative concrete fabricator. Another feature in development is a shading system, since the ability to precisely modulate the amount of solar radiation reaching the interior of the shelter is fundamental to achieving precise temperature control through passive technologies. Several design elements work in combination to provide this control. First, a perforated shade structure covering the front “window” of the shelter can be retracted and unfurled in response to the lighting conditions and temperature of the interior space. This will control the amount of direct solar heat gain that the shelter receives. It operates not unlike a set of venetian blinds, but is rigged with minimum tension lines rather than within a conventional housing. Second, a shading structure that projects to an adjustable depth from the front of the shelter allows for more normative horizontal overhang shading. This device will be adjusted to local climate conditions and seasonal sun angles, shading the structure during warmer days while allowing direct sunlight into the space for heat during colder months (fig. 3). These systems are being tested through a series of model-scale prototypes, featuring increasingly integrated configurations of humidity, light, and temperature sensors. Interior and exterior conditions have been documented at very short intervals and in a range of climates, producing large data sets that are guiding the refinement of the design. As an example, several mock-ups of the mechanized shade structure have been tested in coastal Maine, where outdoor temperatures have varied from roughly 15 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Currently the design team is exploring the potential thermal benefits of unit aggregation. Optimal unit positioning and orientation could be leveraged by the development of shared building envelopes for larger community residences. Potential phasing strategies for as few as sixteen units in a cluster and for as many as 3,400 people in large camps is currently being explored through student work in Earl Mark’s design studios at the University of Virginia. Assembly + agency One of the most crucial but challenging aspects of the project has been facilitation of social and spatial agency for groups of extremely marginalized individuals. Within the scope of a small shelter, it was decided to emphasize operability and ease of assembly as a means to providing this agency, potentially offering individuals and small families the opportunity to assemble, maintain, and adapt their own shelter. Furthermore, it would serve as a means for them to become familiar with the passive climate control elements of the shelter that are necessary to maintain comfort. From the project’s beginning, sailing and ship building traditions


fig. 3 (facing) Diagram explaining environmental systems of current prototype (Austin Edwards)

Passive Systems Model Scale





Sun Shade The sun shading device directly corresponds to the heating and cooling degree days for the test site in Maine. Though it was not used in Model 1, it is under development for Model 2. It has a maximum angle of 20 degrees and is manually retractable. A second shading structure, which is not shown, uses a reflective piece that is affixed behind the large window and reaches a height of approximately 4 feet. Both pieces will be tested in Model 2.

B Thermal Mass Original testing used water cylinders as thermal mass, but both Models 1 and 2 use a small concrete slab. This allows enough thermal mass for measurements within the model and is less difficult to design than water cylinders. The full-scale design will most likely use a similar concrete slab system.

C Insulation Rigid foam insulation is used for both models. Additional insulation is woven into the fabric layers. Model 1 uses rigid foam, while Model 2 is experimenting with Aerogel fabric. The intent is that the R-value of the Aerogel will offer a more accurate scaledown for the model and its sensors. The full-scale will likely use a combination of insulation materials. 74

have been an inspiration for both the materiality and structural concepts of the design. This inspirational thread extends to the detailing, in particular the joints, which will allow the rapid maintenance, assembly, and disassembly of the shelter. This emphasis on self-assembly contrasts sharply with conventional refugee shelters, which often rely on heavier metal truss elements. Currently, details for fasteners, joints, gun-andtackle pulleys, and winches are being tested at model scale, with the intention of developing systems that would stand up to heavy usage, be easily put together from a limited number of standardized parts, and easily operable by hand (fig. 4). Correspondingly, instructions for building the shelter would be simple, graphic, and not require complex technical skills or tools. Testing methodology The project is building upon a tensile structure design for National Park lodging that was initially developed spring of 2015 while Mark was on sabbatical in residence at Acadia National Park in Maine. The refocus on refugee shelters began in the spring of 2016 in the form of both an undergraduate studio and student research assistant teams. In September 2016, an initial scale model for such a shelter was deployed by Mark at the Chewonki Foundation in Maine. The model tested the integration and effectiveness of several sensor systems, as well as the form and material of the fabric element and basic structural connections. A PVC-impregnated polyester made by the French manufacturer Serge Ferrari Group is being considered for the full-scale structure. It was tested in the implementation of this scale model. These tension forms were further refined using computational structural analysis methods, completed by the research group's industrial partner Rubb Building Systems, Inc. A 3D printed prototype for the arched truss, as well as the joints that connect the rigid structural elements and act as fastening and redirection points for the cables, were first tested in this model as well.


fig. 4 Structural details

fig. 5 Testing different strategies for thermal optimization

An Arduino board measuring light, humidity, and temperature at selective time intervals was placed in the model, along with an LCD display that indicates the data and an SD card that records it. This configuration allowed precise shading adjustments to be made in real time, at the same time as the recorded data was being cataloged for future analysis. These operations will enable more data driven answers to fundamental questions of thermal performance and comfort. For instance, is it better to moderate the temperate over a longer period of time or to let it heat up and cool down more intensively over a shorter one?


A new physical model is currently completing development, incorporating refinements to all principal components in response to the results of the previous iteration. Adjustments have been made to the size, shape, and scale of the model, to allow for more accurate simulation of the performance of a full-scale shelter. More robust materials are being used, so that the structure’s response to tension stresses can be more closely examined. This model will also feature operable sun shading, and a flexible fabric “window,” that corresponds much more closely to the intended design than the solid acrylic panel of the previous model. Finally, this model is being used as the basis for a comprehensive digital energy analysis that should allow for a very precise understanding of how to thermally optimize the shelter in various conditions (fig. 5). Moving forward As the second scale model is being completed, the intended next step is to commence the production of a full-scale prototype to be detailed and fabricated in collaboration with Rubb, Inc. This jump in scale will enable the integration of a fabric-embedded network of sensor systems being developed by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Tom Martin of Virginia Tech, which will allow a much more fine-grained analysis of the skin’s performance. Finally, the Chewonki Foundation is considering hosting this full-scale shelter on its Maine campus, where field tests can be performed in demanding coastal conditions. Mark’s


fig. 6 Example of unit aggregation from Professor Mark’s Spring 2017 design studio (Alexander Shambaugh)

design studios at UVa continue to study the problem, and local middle and high schools students in Maine have begun using the shelter design as a means to study the complexities of fabric structures as well as communities requiring emergency housing. Professor Mark’s undergraduate studio for Spring 2017 explored the possibilities for aggregation and positioning of units. The studio prompt hypothesized the rapid deployment of shelters for 170 people (less than one percent of the new refugees forcibly displaced worldwide on any given day) on coastal sites in Maine, and the spatial and logistical challenges such an undertaking would present. These explorations uncovered potential alternatives to the problematic grid plans that dominate conventional refugee camp design (fig. 6). While not a panacea, tension-based fabric shelters at this scale could serve as a versatile solution to many challenges presented by emergency housing and be equally applicable at a range of scales, social contexts, and climates. Acknowledgments Several design studios and teams of research assistants have contributed to the development of this research. Student research assistants have included EJ Elliott, Ana He Gu, John Simmons, and Jimmy Walker in the spring of 2016, and Austin Edwards, Kyle Gename, Lizhe Han, Zeyu Liu, Chun Tseng, Nita Wareechatchai, and Brian Waite during the 2016 – 2017 academic year. Earl Mark’s ARCH 3021 and ARCH 3020 studios have taken up related problems and greatly expanded the potential breadth of the research. The project has been supported by an inter-university collaborative “4-VA” research grant awarded in the spring of 2016, and by a grant from the Quesada Foundation. Academic collaborators on the “4-VA” grant include Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Tom Martin at Virginia Tech, who has provided expertise on integrating the network of computer sensors within the tension fabric, and University of Virginia Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Hilary Bart-Smith, who consulted on early tensegrity models that helped point the way to the current design. Industrial partner Rubb Building Systems provided in-kind materials and engineering consulting, especially through the efforts of Glen Jackson and Samuel Mrozinsky. Research partners on the “4-VA” have also included faculty members Keith Crowley and Lisa Packard at the Chewonki Foundation, as well as teachers Lawrence Kovacs at Bath Middle School and Mary Ellen Bell and Ralph Keyes at Wiscasset High School and their students in Maine.


Formalizing Doubt with Johan Anrys, 51N4E

51N4E, founded in 1998, is a Brussels-based international practice that concerns itself with matters of architectural design, brief development, and strategic spatial transformations. The office designs social and urban transformations through the creation of space, reworking existing built environments and urban systems to re-envision how environments are used. Johan Anrys is a founding partner together with Freek Persyn.

Formalizing Doubt: A conversation with Johan Anrys Karilyn Johanesen and Dillon Wilson

fig. 1 (facing) In Arteconomy, the abstract planes of the white steel wall fragment the landscape beyond into a series of optically challenging moments.

The strategies employed by 51N4E lay in stark contrast to the increasingly fragmented practices of specialization in city development today. Your practice succeeds not in spite of, but because of its capacity to synthesize complexity, the often competing objectives of numerous stakeholders, and the difficult urban and social conditions of each project. What is captivating about your architecture is the means by which it touches on political existence through the simple practice of building. Against claims of disciplinary autonomy, your work embraces precarity to clarify, engage, and narrate possible futures. Many of these concerns were present in your earlier projects like Arteconomy and the Lamot Congress and Heritage Center. How did these projects unfold? The renovation of the house in Arteconomy started, strangely enough, with a private competition. The clients were in a moment of transition in their lives and were full of doubt about what to do. With the children out of the house and a newly started business, there was a lot changing in their private and professional lives. From the beginning we had the feeling that the question for the renovation of their house was about giving shape to this uncertainty. While the clients liked the environment around their house, they understood that the typology of house they bought in the 1970s—a newly constructed house in the style of an old farmhouse—was a mistake or a fake dream that they could no longer support. When you buy such a house you buy a reference or notion of something that is not there. Our blunt proposal to surround the house


with a wall forced them to think about this dilemma. They took almost a year to evaluate the design, talking about it with their friends and artists. They built a 1:1 scale model to see what effect it would have on them. There was something that they were afraid of, but that was also very appealing to them and, gradually, they started to see it as the only option they had for the spatial transition. At night the wall alleviates the discomfort of looking into the black nothing of the surrounding forest. We maintained the natural color of steel on the wall’s outer surface but painted its inner surface white to reflect daylight. By replacing some of the house’s exterior walls with glass, the reflected daylight penetrates deeper into the house. This expands the white walls of the house’s interior outside, creating a continuous spatial sequence between interior, garden, and forest.

fig. 2 The wall is 12 millimeters thick, 3 meters high, and 70 meters long; its thinness questions the typical function of a wall to protect or divide while capturing light and framing views. fig. 3 (facing, above) The forest, garden, and interior become part of one spatial sequence through two radical interventions: gutting the interior and walling the exterior. fig. 4 (facing, below) The conventional front door is

It seems that the introduction of the wall disturbs the conventional threshold between interiority and exteriority, extending the domestic realm by mirroring it. This was of course the intention on a meta-level. By opening up the house, even the most private moment is exposed. One of the key moments in the house is a space we call the “light bed”—it is a bed for the day. It stands where the entrance used to be and the entrance is now in the exterior wall. Because there is no longer a wall between inside and outside, the house cannot close. When someone arrives they feel free to go immediately inside, entering a kind of infinite place. The house opens up at the same time that it is walled. This creates a double feeling of


replaced by a fifty-centimeter slit in the exterior wall; an unexpectedly narrow opening meant to lure visitors inside.


opening and closing. From a project that began with doubt, you ended up producing a space that was doubting the reality of the house, the reality of their life in that house, and the relationship of that house to the forest. The proposal that you developed and completed for the Lamot Congress and Heritage Center also began with doubt. Could you speak to how doubt served as a key strategy through this project? In the beginning there was no project, only a situation. The director of the city’s museum came to us asking for a scenario of an exhibition space in a historic brewery building. At that moment she couldn’t tell us whether the exhibition would be temporary, semi-temporary, or permanent. There was also an interest in moving toward a new strategy for how the museum could relate to the city. That’s how the question was framed to us—if we could take up the mandate to be the scenarist. But behind every question there are many more questions. The first thing you must do is understand all the questions in a project, and then you can decide how to assist in finding the solution. The building was part of a larger brewery complex that was bought by a private developer. The city’s citizens had obstructed the developer’s initial proposal for a new project which required the demolition of the complex. The city managed to buy back that smallest and oldest part of the brewery—although not the most beautiful part—so as not to wipe out all of the industrial heritage of the city. But then of course, as many people as there were in the city there were as many ideas about what to do with the building. And at the same time nobody knew what the value of the building was or what could be done with it. We understood that within this vacuum, the question of writing a scenario for a museum was just one of the items on the table. We proposed to do a study that would investigate the potential of the building seeing our role as a scenarist of possibilities for what that building could mean in the city’s future. We created a management plan for how the building could serve the needs of cultural programs and, because there wasn’t enough money to support them, a commercial program. The building was small, but located well enough to support a small congress center that could finance the cultural programs on the condition that it was flexible enough to work with the culturally programmed spaces. It becomes a true urban building in the sense that the people coming there for a congress are confronted with a lot more than just their reason for coming. In Lamont, as well as in later projects, you disrupt conventional spatial configurations in the city precisely to create scenarios. Instead of attempting to outline exactly what those spaces ought to be used for these proposals are ambivalent about the relationship to their context. What kind of outcomes are you trying to produce with that ambivalence, that ambiguity? Being a scenarist instead of having a mandate for architecture forced us to reposition ourselves in the process of this project. Of course, writing the scenario for a building cannot be disconnected from spatial thinking or even structural thinking. By projecting many urban scenarios we


fig. 5 In the Lamot Congress and Heritage Center, an urban-scale surgical operation exposes the piano nobile.

created a project that is somehow open, hybrid, and transformable toward multiple users and owners of that building. This was our intention when dimensioning, organizing, and connecting the spaces in a very practical way, so that the building is made to work with all of the projected urban scenarios. We also aligned these intentions to the building’s timeline— when the building would be open and closed—asking how it can be more open, how it will speak to someone who lives there and passes it everyday, and how it will be useful in the long term. When you bear in mind all the possible scenarios, you feel a kind of organized chaos. This crossing of different actions is the key to this project and it came about by us being forced into the role of scenarist. We solved the tension between the roles of scenarist and architect by making a book with one hundred key architectural decisions and interventions that were required to make the architectural concept viable. These one hundred key details or decisions, such as circulation, safety,



fig. 6 (facing, above) Cultural and commercial programs are intricately mixed, so commerce is influenced by culture and culture reacts to commerce. fig. 7 (facing, below) Accessibility, orientation, light, and views are prioritized in the conversion of the existing building. Lamont's programmatic stack is comprised of a 24/7 commercial base with shops, restaurants, and a micro-brewery; an elevated urban foyer for informal cultural consumption; and a critical mass of function spaces (lounges, auditorium, treasure chamber, banquet hall, kunsthalle).

color, connection details, glass transparency and location, were purely architectural because we understood that conceptualizing could not be disconnected from detailing. Sometimes a detail is directly connected to a concept. This process was a fantastic experience in understanding what is actually crucial to the process of architecture and it forced us to argue for the direct relationship between architectural invention and the purpose it has in people’s lives. In many of your projects, you initiated a public dialogue where one didn’t exist before. We’re curious about the nature of these conversations and how the architect may be uniquely qualified to start conversations within the public realm. When beginning a project, our goal is to start a dialogue between people, to grow together and work toward a possible solution that we can then bring to the table as an architect. What we learned in this early project of Lamot is that you can actually use design to write the brief together. This conflicts with how our society is organized at the moment, which starts with the client (mostly in these cases the local government) getting a mandate to buy expertise to produce a brief. Then that brief goes to a developer or somebody to make a proposal with maybe another architect to do the project. And then maybe the project is sold, and its third life starts, which is the life of the users. The process is disconnected so the separate parts cannot inform one another. In Lamot and many of the projects that came after, this conventional division is connected so the end users are already engaged in the beginning definition of a project. The architect is the one party that is able to connect the dialogue, the creation of a vision, and the formation of these into an engagement model—three parts of the process that must work together. We often feel that as architects we are seen as having a mandate to deliver spatial and technical expertise within a certain framework that already exists. But the question of what actually has to be done is more complex because it is not only about these forms of expertise. It requires specific processes where the conditions of the project are disconnected from the project’s goals because conditions are things that limit people. Beyond the conditions you need to create a shared vision that begins vague but becomes sharper. We have a design tool for making it sharper that we call the process book. In the first weeks of a project we collect all the ideas so that we don’t lose anything and gradually we begin to give the book structure and edit things out. The document is alive and provides a complete vision of the design and its goals. In the end, our role as an architect shifts from being an expert toward being someone that creates knowledge in co-creative environments—let’s say, co-creative knowledge. And design is a fantastic tool because it makes concrete all the different ideas people have, giving people the opportunity to react to their own ideas in relation to the ideas of others. It makes the conversation very tangible while also creating a connection between people through the process of making together. More than just seeing it as a required action to do work in the city, you’ve managed to see openness as an opportunity and you include


as many individuals and voices as possible. Simplicity and complexity can coexist in a project. Often we produce simple proposals which are enormously complex in the sense that they absorb different dimensions. I think one of the most important things for a project to be sustainable is for it to absorb complexity. To create cities you absolutely need to engage a lot more people. This is usually seen as inefficient or an obstacle, but we see it as an opportunity that we make possible through how we organize our architectural and urban decision making. And we’ve even found that you can move faster when you slow down the process. We just finished a 12,000 m2 building for student housing where there was a very difficult relationship between the developer and the city; they failed to agree on many things. But we were able to progress quickly from the competition to construction (in exactly one year) because our proposal appropriated a process. In the beginning we said that we had one condition: we get to design the process of developing the project and that this process is going to be co-creative.

fig. 8 In the TID Tower, the simple form of the building is generated by transforming an ellipse at the base into a rectangle at the top.

In addition to starting a conversation with the public, you are also revealing the limits of a project, or beliefs that the client may not have realized they had about the project. How do you think your process allows for the excavation of these often hidden conditions and beliefs? When going from aspirations to ambitions to concrete, it helps to formalize the undefined. This is one of the most important things in the design process—that things become clear, not only for you, but for everyone involved. And everyone’s views become clearer only when they are brought into relationship with others. Of course, the designer has an important and difficult role because you must serve while also leading. The designer must lead not in saying "this is the solution," but in organizing and giving structure to the information, and sometimes, having the lucidity to see possible connections between things on the table. The American psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom has described the psychiatrist’s necessary facility as "the capacity for waiting for the meaning to emerge."1 In a way, design is about this too. It is about waiting and observing patterns; it’s about seeing and knowing when to push ahead. I think ‘form’ and ‘formality’ have the capacity to bring meaning. Our projects are surprisingly formal, for instance the TID Tower in Tirana, Albania. It is absolutely a formal project, but at the same time it has a very open mind that is informed by many possible scenarios, by many things in Albanian society, by the local capacities; it is informed by history and by dreams of the future. It is formal at the same time that it is open, and it’s a beautiful example that projects can have open, collaborative processes that result in formal and spatially-particular buildings. Of course, formality can be absolutely one-dimensional, existing just for its own acrobacy—just to shout—but when you are in Tirana you feel immediately how this tower has been informed, how many layers it has, how complex it is, how multiple it is. Sometimes people say that open buildings are very dull, but it’s not true. The TID Tower seems to exemplify a quality of your work that can


1 Irvin D. Yalom is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University and the author of both textbooks and novels such as Existential Psychotherapy, Love’s Executioner, When Nietzsche Wept, Lying on the Couch, and Momma and the Meaning of Life.


be seen in many of your other projects, where you eschew grand gestures, or the architectural one-liner, in favor of coordinating relationships.

fig. 9 (preceding) The construction process rejected the poorly reproduced international building standards found elsewhere in Tirana and replaced

Skandebeg Square, also in Tirana, is a good example of this. It is the largest construction site of vegetation in Europe in the last five years. When the competition was commissioned in 2008, we searched for an Albanian team member who would be strong enough to inform the project and entered together with Anri Sala, an Albanian artist living in Berlin. After winning the competition we realized that a lot of the underground infrastructure needed to be updated, which was not included in the competition brief. After three years of building only part of the underground infrastructure, the project was stopped by a newly elected mayor of the opposite political party. The director developed a new project while protecting the infrastructure that was already constructed underground. I was upset that our project was not continuing, but I was sure that one day it would resume in one shape or another. But I was also certain that our original design was not fitting the reality of Tirana; the project was not informed enough by the context, by the people involved in the process and by different civic institutions because of political fighting. The project reopened last year, and because we had time to learn more about the context, about what is important in future cities, and about how to set up collaborative processes, we established an open design process in six months time. Through this process we organized a conversation in the prime minister’s office, debates, models, working sessions, and a strict agenda that allowed us to produce a redesign based on the original proposal’s principles that were still relevant. Because this process was open and informative, many people now understand what this project in their city center is about. In this case it was an advantage to install our own co-creative process because it has


them with solutions calibrated to a manageable precision. fig. 10 The generic floor layout accommodates any program, while the skin, which is 50 percent open, filters the Mediterranean light of Tirana and generates a range of unexpected shadows.

fig. 11 The tower’s prime location means it is visible from the main boulevard entering the city as well as Skandebeg Square.

resulted in new projects. Skandebeg Square is being extended by other proposals into a promenade, tripling government investment by opening up a dialogue about the city’s trajectory. I am happy that the mayor brought back our project in the end. Waiting five more years has made the context more mature, it has made our office more mature, and we now believe that the open process truly requires that the architect lead without knowing where the project is going. You can only know that on your way a few things can happen: the project might stop, it might change, it might be extended, but the end result is better for it. From the beginning, your design prioritized an urban and social transformation in the city of Tirana more than a discrete architectural space or object. When this project was developing, how did you conceive of it as beginning a chain of transformations? Our competition entry was based on the principle that the design was an act of leaving open other possible actions to come. When the project resumed we were able to develop it more successfully because we could see it in relation to potential future projects and we were in contact with all the different users around the square and even internationally. The design of Skandebeg Square is really simple. It forms a kind of line through a very dense part of the city where many of the monuments are found. This line is part of a vegetated district in which there are many new and developing projects. In a way, the project is so generic and simple, but at the same time formally nonnegotiable. It is so stupidly strong that it can absorb everything, but at the same time nobody doubts it. In that sense, it gives direction while it also allows people to play with it and use it towards their ends. It started from some general principles of creating a place to meet and breathe in a healthy way in a city that is suffocating today.


fig. 12 (left) Skandebeg Square is located along an axis between the city’s outlying lakes. fig. 13 (right) Functioning like antechambers, the surrounding gardens mediate the contradicting qualities of the city’s congestion and the square’s emptiness. fig. 14 (facing) Designed as a void within the city fabric, Skandebeg Square offers a survey of Tirana’s history through views of the Skandebeg statue, the clock tower, the city’s oldest mosque, and many other historically significant buildings.

Ironically, a process that doubted everything along the way resulted in a project that could not be doubted... Some acts are not doubtable because they are so obvious, because people can engage with them, play with them, alter them, and, no matter what changes, the project becomes stronger because people are engaged. In Skandebeg Square, this engagement helps create a transition between the city and its center. Tirana is a city between lakes that are connected with boulevards. There are a few really interesting moments where boulevards cross, and at one of those crossing points is Skandebeg Square. Communism has left the city center with a lot of vacant spaces that today have the potential to become a green corridor between the lakes. The square and its urban forest is a model for what can become a really fantastic city center, which is not only interesting for residents of Tirana, but also for people traveling from abroad toward the Balkan area. We are now designing an urban ecology around the square, setting up an education center which provides both the materials for planting and the knowledge for how to create urban ecosystems. Urban ecosystems require a diversity of conditions, so we see this project not as an end point but as the beginning of a mentality change. We are now connecting this project to different knowledge centers and finding a budget for the next five years to study how this ecology concept will survive in the center. The ecosystem is designed to be self-sustainable, only using irrigation for the first four years and incorporating both low and high plants, trees, and systems that allow wildlife to come into the city. We want to monitor


this and build a model for other places in the city because the square will not survive on its own, but only as part of a larger system. The square is connected to other dynamics in the city; it is a link to other disciplines, programs, buildings and urbanisms. It is a moment where things come together, where things meet, where, in a very physical way, you can celebrate the future that everyone is building together. Only then does it become a tool to dream the next project. In this way, we see architecture more as a tool than a result; a tool to shape a society in transition. Because of how complex the problems are, you must design with many different disciplines. I know that as an architect I can visualize things; I can put things on paper that others are not able to. Perhaps people can write or discuss, but I can help them with their imagination by putting it on paper. I am only a servant, but through my pen, I am also steering the process. It may be that the boundaries between disciplines break down as a consequence of understanding architecture as a ‘tool’ or the architect as a ‘servant.’ When you situate your design within a larger process that gives shape to a society in transition, is there no longer a need to think "this is our territory and that’s your territory"? Absolutely, you have to be holistic. You have to become a scientist, an artist, and an architect. You have to become many things. This isn’t to say you have to be an expert in all domains, but you have to accept the fact that you do not know everything, but you are informed through the people around you to guide a project. Of course, you are always depending on the context and conditions of that very moment. A project’s result is always the best that could be done at that moment—not "the best." There is a special quality in the fact that it is not the best, that it is good enough, because it allows openness for others to continue it. If you make "the best" project, then people just watch it and praise it and feel small next to it—you do not create engagement, only admiration. And with admiration, you are telling society, "sorry, you cannot move it one meter." I am not saying that the "good enough" project does not provoke admiration, but it is a kind of admiration that engages people to take it up because they see where they can take it further. This is not only a more holistic approach because it covers many different disciplines, but also holistic in terms of time horizons. This way you are not just making a project to affirm yourself towards history, but you allow it to be taken further on. Perhaps we could conclude by saying that it seems you are optimistic about the future role of the architect in society. This attitude came about through the frustration we had in many commissions where the role of the architect was reduced to that of a limited expert. In these situations the project is only judged by its efficiency, its budget, and its schedule; that’s an enormous reduction that does not reflect the true value of what an architect can do. In 51N4E, we understand that we must take the role of the connector, the one who creates knowledge from complexity, together with everyone else. Yes, I am very optimistic because this is a role that society needs so badly. It isn’t the most efficient or simplest role; it is a difficult role, but I think this is the real gap today where architects can jump in. 97

fig. 15 Skandebeg Square is a precise 170 x 170 meter moment within the existing chaos of the city.


Information Tactics

Data and technology are exploited in the name of optimization, creating a so-called “smart city� populated, but not operated by, its inhabitants. In what ways can we use information to create a more responsive city sustained by generative and visible processes?

On Grounding: Between public utility and public space Tom Bliska

fig. 1 (facing) Axon and section of old typology (lattice tower) reclaimed

When energy is discussed in architectural terms, it is typically focused on production (the amount of energy generated on site as a remedial tactic) or consumption (how a building operates with respect to current models of efficiency). Rarely is the process of transmission, or the spaces produced through its logic, discussed as a relevant feature of the built environment. "On Grounding" questions how transmission line infrastructure coexists with urban landscapes on both social and energetic terms. The current model of energy distribution produces diffuse benefits with concentrated costs: electricity is widely available, but only a few are asked to inhabit the spaces necessary to close the gap between production and consumption. In cities like Tokyo, where aging mid-twentieth century transmission infrastructure is under constant update and reconstruction, retrofit typologies are introduced that contribute to both a local energy economy and, through accumulation, a civic dialog on public space. In recognizing these objects as potentially significant urban actors within the city, we can reorient perceptions of energy use by spatializing a public resource. By analyzing the social occupation and everyday use of these “off limits” spaces, we can introduce a series of options for their necessary reconstruction that respond to their urban environments, generating new relationships and transforming public utility into public amenity. Tokyo’s transmission pylons dance through residential neighborhoods, touching down in front yards and inner block courtyards, on street corners and outside apartment complex entryways. What emerges is a taxonomy of social life in small infrastructural spaces: the footprints of the towers have


been colonized as parking spaces, gardens, laundry rooms, automated convenience stores, eating patios, and shrines: de facto public spaces emerging from the immense spatial constraints typical of Tokyo’s urban condition (fig. 2). There is an uncommon coupling between built form and activity in these spaces—activity squeezed into infrastructure. Urban Strategy The Kitazawa line, the closest encroachment of high voltage transmission lines to the city center, is taken as an urban transect to become a new electric corridor for Tokyo—a concentrated set of prototypes with a common language that spatializes ignored infrastructure into vibrant linear public service (fig. 3). Each retrofit is understood as a vital programmatic element, which together define a collective network of way points that serve as a recognition of the spatial connection between electrical production and consumption. Retrofits along this corridor work with both the original post-war era steel lattice towers and their typical replacements—prefabricated steel tube sections anchored to a significantly deeper foundation. Already, the Tokyo Electric Power Company has replaced nineteen of the original eighty-nine towers. This thesis thus speculates on the expansion of an ongoing project confronting the challenges of replacing twentieth century infrastructure. A third generation of tower is also proposed: a hybrid civic infrastructure that provides both thermal and electrical energy while shielding residents from the potential health hazards of electromagnetic fields. In exploring the scope and language of these typologies of intervention, I took the three primary facets of safety—electric current, electric fields, and magnetic fields—as formal drivers for architectural design, as well as a necessary part of a social project to reorient public perception of transmission towers. Each typology was given a tower as a protagonist for


fig. 2 Existing social uses of transmission pylon footprints

shinjuku station

shinjuku gyoen

89: Substation

substation 4

88: Lattice Tower (9325.8 m^2) 87: Lattice Tower (9325.8 m^2) 86: Lattice Tower (4773.4 m^2) 85: Lattice Tower (9614.4 m^2) 84: Lattice Tower (42898 m^2)

meiji jingu gaien

83: Lattice Tower (42898 m^2) 82: Lattice Tower (9369.3 m^2) 81: Steel Tube (5274.3 m^2)

yoyogi park

80: Steel Tube (4352.8 m^2)

test site 1: central courtyard

la n


79: Steel Tube (30702.7 m^2)

77: Lattice Tower (5341.4 m^2) 76: Lattice Tower (5203.2 m^2) 75: Lattice Tower (10356 m^2) 74: Steel Tube (4968.6 m^2)

(fo ss il fu el p

78: Lattice Tower (17204.5 m^2)

test site 2: urban infill retrofit // large

73: Lattice Tower (1164.3 m^2)

test site 3: front yard

72: Lattice Tower (3204.7 m^2) 71: Lattice Tower (568.9 m^2) 70: Steel Tube (5678.6 m^2)

kV 154

ne n li ssio smi tran

69: Steel Tube (4105.7 m^2)

shibuya station

68: Steel Tube (7466.2 m^2) 67: Steel Tube (5849.3 m^2) 66: Steel Tube (2505.5 m^2) 65: Steel Tube (7398.5 m^2) 64: Steel Tube (4253.8 m^2) 63: Lattice Tower (6797.7 m^2) 62: Lattice Tower (4815.8 m^2) 61: Lattice Tower (3428.1 m^2) 60: Lattice Tower (2336.7 m^2) 59: Lattice Tower (5248.5 m^2) 58: Lattice Tower (3018.6 m^2)

substation 3

57: Lattice Tower (3268 m^2) 56: Lattice Tower (5346 m^2) 55: Lattice Tower (3999.4 m^2) 54:Substation

test site 4: parking lot

53: Lattice Tower (3063.9 m^2) 52: Lattice Tower (2851.4 m^2) 50: Steel Tube (14087.1 m^2) 49: Steel Tube (4225.4 m^2) 48: Lattice Tower (3077.9 m^2) 47: Lattice Tower (3083.3 m^2) 46: Lattice Tower (2135.2 m^2) 45: Lattice Tower (5228.2 m^2) 44: Lattice Tower (4783.7 m^2) 43: Lattice Tower (5675.5 m^2) 42: Lattice Tower (10040.3 m^2) 41: Lattice Tower (1661 m^2) 40: Lattice Tower (1769.2 m^2) 39: Lattice Tower (6091.1 m^2) 38: Lattice Tower (3939.8 m^2) 37: Lattice Tower (5083.7 m^2) 36: Lattice Tower (5662.5 m^2)

test site 5: shrine corner retrofit // small

35: Lattice Tower (6403.2 m^2) 34: Steel Tube (5462.1 m^2) 33: Lattice Tower (2263.3 m^2)

komazawa olympic park

32: Lattice Tower (4703.7 m^2) 31: Lattice Tower (5408.7 m^2) 30: Lattice Tower (6060.5 m^2)

ring road 8

ring road 6

29: Lattice Tower (6298.3 m^2) 28: Lattice Tower (5081.2 m^2) 27: Lattice Tower (5138.9 m^2)

substation 2

26: Lattice Tower (6823.6 m^2) 25: Steel Tube (8263 m^2) 24: Lattice Tower (8076.3 m^2) 23: Lattice Tower (8076.3 m^2) 22: Lattice Tower (6077.4 m^2) 21: Lattice Tower (7917.1 m^2) 20: Lattice Tower (6150.1 m^2) 19: Lattice Tower (11179.7 m^2) 18: Substation

test site 6: alley edge

17: Lattice Tower (10694.7 m^2) 16: Lattice Tower (6168.4 m^2) 15: Lattice Tower (56133 m^2) 14: Lattice Tower (5650.1 m^2) 13: Steel Tube (57753.8 m^2) 12: Lattice Tower (67750.5 m^2)

test site 7: sports complex retrofit // med

11: Lattice Tower (67750.5 m^2) 10: Steel Tube (67750.5 m^2) 9: Steel Tube (67750.5 m^2)

t ion iss nsm tra d n rou erg und

ity oc

er nt ce

8: Steel Tube (31171.3 m^2) 7: Lattice Tower (5271.9 m^2)

tama river

substation 1

6: Lattice Tower (7645.9 m^2) 5-1: Lattice Tower (5434.2 m^2) 5: Lattice Tower (7377.2 m^2) 4: Train (8546.4 m^2) 3: Train (8546.4 m^2) 2: Train (7468.3 m^2)

ring road 7

1: Train (14970.1 m^2) 0: Substation


fig. 3 Mapping of the Kitazawa transmission line, a new ‘electric corridor’ for Tokyo

testing at the architectural scale. Architectural strategy: three protagonists Electrically isolated inserts are fitted into existing lattice pylons, humanizing off-limit islands and complementing existing uses of the footprints below. Initial inserts are meant to be temporary—many of these towers will only last a few more years before a more substantial structural renovation is required. Structural retrofits are allowed to couple directly to the tower only after decommissioning. “Tower 72” becomes a didactic figure, an expression of human-scale energy production through the translation of mechanical energy from the exercise room to a changing light display above (fig. 1). A new copper screen shields the space as the existing volume takes on a new social function. The estimated lifespan of a lattice tower is around sixty years, after which their replacements are fitted with new public functions and systems. “Tower 13,” located on the sports complex of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, is circled with a bathroom and shower facility, serving as a connection between the two datums of sports fields above and the street


below (fig. 4). The existing structure is leveraged to support a new cable roof enclosure, which is electrically decoupled from the tower above with composite strain insulators. New processes of rainwater collection and filtration are layered onto the existing infrastructure and integrated into the bathroom systems. A block-scale system of thermal exchange is proposed as the basis for a new architectural hybrid that can take on the dual functions of electricity transmission and civic building. Through an analysis of Japanese zoning codes (fig. 5), which prescribe solar envelopes based on sloping setbacks from the street, new hybrid parcels are produced, which combine the logic of transmission towers—necessary height, maintenance access, and setbacks from live wires—with the scale of the neighborhood. This neighborhood system becomes the basis for the new infrastructural experience of the building, anchoring key programs within volumes delineated by electric and magnetic field paradigms (fig. 6). In “Tower 33”—a test site chosen for proximity to dense transportation hubs—block-scale compressors are aligned with the refrigeration spaces for a public kitchen under an EMF soffit, while solar hot water heaters are arranged around a sauna (fig. 7). The towers


fig. 4 Axonometric of new typology (reclaimed steel tube)

A: low-rise residential districts

B: mid + high-rise residential districts

category 1 height control district

zoning code | use district shape restrictions

category 2 height control district

category 3 height control district

zoning code | height control districts

zoning combination matrix

category 1 height control district

transmission tower zoning

category 2 height control district

category 3 height control district

hybrid zoning parcels | building + infrastructure


fig. 5 Zoning diagrams based on Japanese solar envelope building codes Hybrid parcels were created that balanced solar access with the height requirements of transmission lines.

decrease overall peak load demands on the transmission system while also acting as a thermal resource well that reaches out to the neighborhood. Proximity to them thus provides a direct benefit to nearby residents, both energetically and socially. In many ways, the current condition of hybridity is defined by a denial of the social experience of this system—describing it as outside of the urban aesthetic, a naturalization of a very particular and impermanent infrastructure. Through interrogating its performance in spaces of existing human overlap, we can imagine the futures for this system as more democratic, resilient, didactic, and altogether more meaningful.


north side solar envelope

copper screen holds zoning volume, with circulation + balconies carved away from interior tower massing follows hybrid zoning parcel

grounding wire through infrastructural core

productive thermal space as hinge of public kitchen layout

shielding soffit splits between public + transient program

infrastructural core for thermal exchange anchors key program

fig. 6 Hybrid civic infrastructure: Formal massing and programmatic diagrams


distribution core for neighborhood scale thermal exchange system

( laundry terrace )

( solar hot water heater + sauna )

( guest house floor layout )

+15 year | transmission swap

+5 year | energy exchange

( compressors + cold storage )

+1 year | lattice retrofit

( public kitchen )

( mu metal EMF soffit )

fig. 7 Hybrid civic infrastructure: Exploded axonometric with thermally oriented program


Mining Manhattan: A new urban model for recycling electronic waste Jongwan Kwon

fig. 1 (facing) Display model of e-waste collection network

This project proposes an electronic waste recycling center in downtown Manhattan as the test site for a new ecosystem of material production and consumption. Discarded electronic materials represent the single fastest growing source of municipal waste, which is often illegally exported to developing countries before being processed into reusable materials. As urban societies increasingly rely on digital devices that are becoming obsolete at rapid rates, a new model for managing e-waste is desperately needed. This project employs architecture to raise awareness, illuminate deficiencies in the current model of e-waste management, and orchestrate an alternative model to current practices. Micro-collection points throughout the island collect approximately one hundred tons of e-waste daily. The waste is then transported to the recycling center, which serves the entire island. The architecture transforms e-waste into commodifiable resources to make new products. Not only is the architecture a machine for creating new material, but it becomes a site for exchanging knowledge by allowing the public to engage and participate with the recycling processes. By exploiting the site’s latent symbolic and logistical value, this project proposes a new urban consumption cycle. The story of new minerals: e-waste Discarded electronic materials represent the single fastest growing source of municipal waste. TVs, cellphones, computers, refrigerators, monitors—we are closer to our digital devices than ever before, yet fast to cast them aside once they have become obsolete (fig. 2). In 2014, the



fig. 2 Timeline of electronics and the rise of e-waste Modern inventions of electronics and increased consumption have led to an exponential growth of e-waste. 1 C.P. Baldé, F. Wang, R. Kuehr, and J. Huisman, The global e-waste monitor 2014, Bonn: United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, 2015.






Nintendo Gameboy, a portable video game system released

Philips’ 100 milionth TV set Macintosh 128K is released Motorola DynaTAC 8000X (brick phone) released 1984


Apple Lisa is released as Apple’s first personal computer Sony releases the first consumer camcorder called the BETAMOVIE BMC-100P

Sony introduces first CD player, CDP-101


CD (Compact Disc) becomes the first digital storage format commercially available to the public

Mining Manhattan: tactics for recycling e-waste New York City is the capital of electronic consumption and e-waste production in the U.S. Manhattan alone produces over 50,000 tons of







Walkman, the first stereo cassette player

Apple II is introduced becoming the first highly successful personal computer 1977





Sony introduces BetaMax, first video tape recorder

Pong becomes the first commercially successful arcade video game, sparking massive growth in the video game industry 1972


Sony introduces Triniton, its line of aperture grille cathode ray tube television, KV-1310 1968


Sony launces the first IC radio, ICR-100 1967



Sony launces the first compact transitor VTR, PV-100 1963

world produced over 41.8 million tons of electronic waste. By the end of 2017, the global volume of discarded electronic waste will weigh almost as much as two hundred Empire State Buildings.1 But where does our electronic waste go? Most electronic waste is illegally exported to developing countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, India, and China, before being processed into reusable materials. Due to loopholes in custom codes and poor monitoring of these exports, 80 percent of the so-called “reusable electronics” are actually trash. Ghana’s “digital dumping ground” receives 1,000 shipping containers of e-waste every year. Children and adults burn the contents of these containers to extract precious metals, such as gold and copper. Since electronic devices also contain toxic materials, like lead and mercury, this burning releases airborne toxic chemicals, which has led to hazardous living conditions and environmental catastrophes. While the United States leads the world in e-waste production, it is one of the few countries that still refuses to ratify the Basel Convention—established in 1989 to abandon the international toxic waste trade. Except for a few countries such as Haiti, Afghanistan, and the United States, 165 countries ratified the Convention. The fact that the United States is the only developed country absent from the world waste treaty not only raises questions of environmental justice and moral responsibility, but also underscores that a new model for managing e-waste is desperately needed (fig. 3).

Blu-Ray, a new optical disc storage medium is released Philip launch a 3D scanner

iPhone revolutionizes handheld phone and multipedia capabilities

iPhone 3G




iPhone 4s




USA 2013

Galaxy S-2 announced 2011



iPhone 4 Galaxy S iPad tablet 2010




Sony’s QRIO bipedal entertainment robot released

Nintendo DS is released. It would go on to become the most popular hand-held console, selling over 113million units 2004

Microsoft XBOX enjoys big success following its global release 2003


Sony launches AIBO entertainment robot series 1999

First iPod, a portable media player

First iMac. The extremely user-friendly computer would go on to enjoy “industry-altering success” 1998


DVD (Divital Video Disc) is invented. The optical disc is primarily used for video and data storage 1997

Sony PlayStation 2 released

First US HDTV boardcasts aired in limited circulation Kodak DC-25, the first point-and-shoot digital camera to record onto removable compactflash cards 1996


Sony PlayStation, video game system is released. The system, which used discs instead of cartridges, would go on to sell over 102million units 1995




Pentium Microprocessor, making personal computers faster and more energy efficient

Mac Powerbook 100 is released. Revolutionizes portable computer line Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) is released. It will go on to sell 49.1million units 1991



e-waste per year. However, with a proper collection system, there is great potential for e-waste recycling as electronic devices contain a number of recyclable resources—everything from plastic, copper, and aluminum to precious metals, such as silver, gold, and palladium. Old desktop computers contain up to 2.3 kg of copper from the wiring. One thousand recycled cellphones can recover 9 kg copper, 250 g of silver, 24 g of gold, and 9 g of palladium (fig. 4). These materials can be used to make jewelry, plating, and electronics. While four companies—Best Buy, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and Staples—have recently started to accept e-waste to support cities’ new e-waste disposal ban programs, most people continue to illegally dump unwanted electronics due to insufficient drop-off points and limited acceptance range. In response, this project unites local U.S. post offices with the existing e-waste collection system to create a broader collection network with logistical efficiency (fig. 5). This will increase the recycling rate and raise public awareness of e-waste management and the importance of safe and legal disposal. In contrast to typical waste management facilities built outside of urban areas, this recycling system establishes a new scale and perspective for a waste infrastructure that encourages consumer participation. A new afterlife for e-waste Located on the Gansevoort peninsula in downtown Manhattan, the site of the new recycling center is a wasteland—a landfill and former waste incinerator (fig. 7). The recycling center is proposed as part of Manhattan’s autonomous ecosystem of material production and


fig. 3 Domestic e-waste production levels and global e-waste trade routes The United States produced 7,072,000 tons of e-waste in 2014, most of which traveled to developing countries such as China, India, Ghana, and Nigeria.



fig. 4 (previous, above) Recyclable metal resources in electronics (per kg): aluminum, iron, nickel, copper, palladium, silver, and gold fig. 5 (previous, below) New e-waste recycling flow to prevent illegal waste export from going to landfills and incinerators fig. 6 Storyboard of public engagement in e-waste recycling

fig. 7 (above) New e-waste recycling center on Gansevoort peninsula

fig. 8 (below) Roofscape of e-waste recycling center

consumption. The center is the port of e-waste arrival, a factory for recycled resources, a waterfront park, and a museum where people can closely engage e-waste (figs. 6 and 8). The architecture draws people in, out, and around the recycling center, showcasing a full range of processes. The process of collecting, moving, and recycling waste becomes a civic spectacle. Adjacent to the High Line and the Whitney museum, the recycling center extends the experience of spectacle, voyeuristic public interaction, and tourism into this new realm of recycling waste. Interlaced with recycling and processing, a range of public programs invite individuals to actively engage with the waste material itself. As a form of active participation in resolving the larger problem, metal art workshops and DIY maker spaces encourage people to develop new and creative reuses for disposed electronics. Recycled and recovered metals will supply local manufacturing industries producing “Made in NYC” products. Electronic devices are the new urban minerals embedded in our daily lives. Through urban and social tactics, the project employs architecture to raise awareness, illuminate deficiencies in the current model of e-waste management, and orchestrate an alternative model to current practices. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”—obsolete devices enjoy a second life. 116

CASDAM: Custom Architectural Structure Design Application powered by Microtasking Gaizka Altuna Charterina

fig. 1 (facing) CASDAM homepage

1 Milena Marin, "Microtasking," The Engine Room Library, https://library.

2 Jeff Howe, “The Rise of Crowdsourcing,” Wired, https://

CASDAM (Custom Architectural Structure Design Application powered by Microtasking) is the result of research that explores the possible applications of crowdsourcing to architectural design. The program was developed through the research seminar “Build It Together,” which was facilitated through the Master in Advanced Architectural Design at the Technical Superior School of Architecture of Madrid. The purpose of this text is to explain how CASDAM works. However, before explaining how CASDAM functions, it is necessary to briefly introduce crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is a type of labor division that is based on outsourcing work (usually through microtasks) to the anonymous mass of internet users.1 Generally, the participants perform microtasks that are fast and easy for humans but difficult to relay using algorithms. The massive amount of data that results from the completion of microtasks is then usually processed and managed by a computer to achieve the desired results. The term “crowdsourcing” was coined in 2006 by Jeff Howe in his article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing,” which was published in Wired.2 Since then, crowdsourcing has been the subject of numerous research projects and applications which have achieved incredible results. Prominent examples include MalariaSpot, Planet Hunters, and Foldit. One way of ensuring that a crowdsourcing model functions correctly is through designing the process and its subsequent division into microtasks. Usually architectural design processes are complex; however, some processes tend to follow quite simple paths and can be easy to systematize. For example, it is possible to describe the design of a structure in a few steps: definition of structural system, definition of spatial


Actions Performed by Non-Professional Users

Spatial System Selection Image 03

Schedule definition

Image 04

Spatial Distribution Selection Structural System Selection Image 06

Discretized Structural Fragment combination

Image 08

Material Selection

Image 09

Joint type Selection Image 11

Spatial Customization Image 12

Printing order


Actions Display of different spatial system options Display of different spatial system options

Data Bases Spatial System Data Base Data Type: - Minimal Spatial Fragment Types - Logic of combination and grouping of the minimal spatial fragments

Calculation of possible optimal spatial distribution definitions Image 05

Display of possible optimal spatial distribution definitions Display of different structural systems options

Structural Type Data Base Data Type: - Definition of the general way of perform of the structure

Image 07

Display of combinable discretized structural fragments

Discretized Structural Fragment Data Base Data Type: - Compatible discretized structural fragments for the minimal spatial fragments

Display of different material options

Selection of the appropiate dimensioned fragments

Image 10

Material Data Base Data Type: - Weight (N/m) - Strength (N/mm2) - Section area (mm2)

Dimensioned fragment Data Base

Data Type: - Material Type - Discretized Structural Fragment - IN Forces - OUT Forces

Joint Data Base

Display of different joint options

Data Type: - Force transmission type - Compatible materials - Detail

Display of current structure

Display of definitive structure Structural plan generation Print

distribution, design of discretized structure, and definition of unions and calculation. For this reason, the first approach to applying crowdsourcing to architectural design is through work on structural design. CASDAM is a conceptual, digital platform where non-expert users can self-design custom, self-constructible structures. Through microtasks made by expert users, it is possible to expand and optimize the options that the platform can provide to non-expert users. To this end, the different design phases of a structure can be systematized and separated into small packages of microtasks. The results of these tasks can later be reorganized, depending on the demands of the non-expert users, to compose technically solvent custom structural designs. The workflow Within CASDAM it is possible to identify three types of actors: professional users, non-professional users, and the machine (fig. 2). Professional users are responsible for generating information through microtasks. Non-professional users can follow a linear process to design an architectural structure, using data provided by professional users. The main role


Professional User-Machine Interface////Professional User-Machine Interface////Professional User-Machine Interface////Professional User-Machine Interface////Professional User-Machine Interface////Professional User-Machine Interface////Professional User-Machine Interface////Professional

Image 02

Non professional User-Machine Interface ////Non professional User-Machine Interface ////Non professional User-Machine Interface ////Non professional User-Machine Interface ////Non professional User-Machine Interface ////Non professional User-Machine Interface

Beginning Image 01

Actions Performed by Professionals Users

Actions and Data Management Performed by Machines

MT01. Microtask 01: Proposals for space systems

MT02. Microtask 02: Proposals for structural type

MT03. Microtask 03: Proposals for discretized structural fragment

MT04. Microtask 04: Proposals for Materials

MT05. Microtask 05: Calculation of fragments with different material inputs

MT06. Microtask 06: Proposals for structural joints

fig. 2 CASDAM workflow

fig. 3 User type selection screen

of the machine is to collect the data generated by professional users and assist non-professional users in correctly assembling it. Choice of user type In the user selection screen (fig. 3), the user must choose their type. Users accessing the platform as professionals will be able to perform microtasks to expand the databases. Users who access as non-professionals can self-design a customized architectural structure generated from data produced by professional users. Selection of a schedule definition and spatial distribution The user must define the schedule of the selected structure (fig. 5). In this case, the Nemausus system has been abstracted by a professional user as a combination of duplex and simplex. The professional user must define the number of simplex, duplex and levels. Then, the user must choose one of the distributions suggested by the computer. Combination system The computer stores all the possible spatial combinations in a three-dimensional matrix where positions are given by the simplex number, the duplex number, and the number of levels. The software requirements defined by the non-professional user to suggest the closest options within a matrix. Structural system selection In this section the non-professional user chooses a structural system. The structural system is divided into different elements that are mechanically related (fig 7). Professional users can work with these items independently. They can modify their mechanical properties or propose new solutions. These elements can be freely reassembled, as long as given mechanical conditions are respected.


fig. 4 Spatial selection screen

fig. 5 Schedule selection screen


fig. 6 Combination system screen

Combination of discretized structural fragments On this screen (fig. 8), the non-professional users combine discretized structural fragments proposed by professional users. Logics for the selection of appropriate dimensioned fragments Once the discretized model and the materials have been chosen, the machine proposes the dimensions of the different elements. To accomplish this, the computer uses a database generated by professional users which contains diverse variants of dimensioned structural fragments. These


fig. 7 Logic of the structural system


fig. 8 Discretized structural fragments

fig. 9 Material selection screen


fig. 10 (above) Dimensioned fragment selection fig. 11 (below) Joint selection screen


fig. 12 Spatial customization screen

variants are sized to resist an incoming force (IN). The reactions that they transmit (OUT) are also specified. In this way, the different fragment variants can be freely combined if and only if the reactions transmitted (OUT) by the upper fraction are less than the incoming force that can support the lower fraction (IN). Joint type selection In this section, the non-professional user chooses the constructive solution for different joints. The options are proposals that have been previously developed by professional users. Spatial customization In this last section, the non-professional user finishes customizing their structure to adapt it to their initial requirements. In this case, the non-professional user must remove three simplex and one duplex element. Finally, the user will be able to order a printed design drawing.


Civic Hydrants: A new urban water system Owen Weinstein

fig. 1 (facing) Hydrant + drinking fountain A simple modification transforms the hydrant into a dynamic civic actor.

Centralized water infrastructure is inherently vulnerable to failure. The command and control logic that governs these systems is effective yet opaque to the public. Despite efforts to communicate these systems, the reality for many Americans remains that where their drinking water comes from and where it goes is a mystery. The combination of the inherent vulnerabilities of a centralized infrastructure and the social vulnerabilities of a physically separate and an experientially opaque system leads to a wide range of failures. Fire hydrants are one of the more public manifestations of centralized water systems. In most cities, fire hydrants are pressurized from the same water mains as drinking water, making them a potential source of potable water. Because their placement is dependent on population density and building use, they are ubiquitous. Unlike other public amenities (libraries, schools, and parks), fire hydrants are consistently maintained regardless of the socio-economic power of a neighborhood. Fire hydrant failure in disadvantaged areas affects communities of power, thus directly encouraging universal maintenance. Therefore, if they become a public amenity in addition to being a fire suppression device, their public capacity will also be maintained. Fire hydrants are a front-line opportunity for the creation of civic space and generation of engagement in infrastructure. The shifting public understanding of fire hydrants resulting from their public retooling will help cities increase their social reliances and infrastructural justice. This will require a new understanding of safety and ownership when we talk about public water.


The patent history of fire hydrants in America tells a story of control and fear of public access (fig. 2). One need only explore a typical patent description to find the problems of fire hydrants viewed as emergency and theft:

fig. 2 Typical US patent for “improving” the fire hydrant Pollard, Jerry K. Fire hydrant locking device. US Patent 5,469,724 A, filed January 12, 1994, and issued

Municipal fire hydrants, also known as fire plugs, provide an invaluable and immediate source of water for firefighters when called upon to respond to fires in either residential, commercial, or industrial structures. In times of emergency, fire hydrants can also provide a secondary source of potable water should the municipal fresh water distribution system become contaminated...However, due to the fact that fire hydrants provide a ready and accessible source of clean and fresh water, problems have arisen with theft of water from unmetered fire hydrants.1 Here we see how powers of centralization view the problem of fire hydrants as their “ready and accessible source of clean and fresh water.” This comes from the practical need for working fire hydrants in case of emergency. However, it fails to recognize or celebrate the fact that this problem is its own solution. The public will always demand access to clean drinking water in public spaces. Whether to cool off in the summer or water a neglected tree box, citizens will gain access legally or illegally. The better “protected” a fire hydrant is, the more damage will be done to it to gain access. This protectionist handling of public water only creates an arms race of hardening infrastructure and more dramatic failures when it is “illicitly” accessed. This mentality also makes the hydrant either invisible to the public or a symbol of an inaccessible social resource. It is not surprising that breaking open hydrants is a source of concern and frequent problem for municipal water systems—especially in a hot and humid climate—as well as a source of pride verging on a right of passage in underserved communities. Nowhere is this tension clearer than in the vast pools of information on how to break open fire hydrants and the


November 28, 1995.

1 Pollard, Jerry K. Fire hydrant locking device. US Patent 5,469,724 A, filed January 12, 1994, and issued November 28, 1995.

2 Nozowitz, Dan, “New Yorkers Have Been Illicitly Cracking Open Fire Hydrants For Centuries,” Atlas Obscura, July 30, 2015, http://www.

fig. 3 (left) D.C. Fire Hydrant map Hydrants are ubiquitous and could be accessible. fig. 4 (right) D.C. parks map Parks in D.C. have a wide range of concentrations and maintenance.

3 Sarah Anne Hughes, “D.C. Tested Public Schools’ Water for Lead. More Than 60 Had High Levels,” Washington City Paper, June 27,2016, http://www. article/20782859/dc-tested-publicschools-water-for-lead-more-than60-had-high-levels.

numerous articles on the social history of hydrant breakage.2 "Civic Hydrant" is predicated on the idea that it is cheaper and more socially just to provide modifications and hybridizations to hydrants that make them a resource available to the public. It requires that cities view clean drinking water as a public right rather than a commercial good. Given that most water utilities are publicly subsidized, this is not an unreasonable shift. If the water of fire hydrants is made available, the iconography of the hydrant shifts from “power removed” to “common resource.” The proposals are intended to evoke the power of historic civic water amenities, such as the fountains of Rome or public drinking fountains of Barcelona. Returning practical and ritual use of water back to the street and public life in a modern context is both poetic and pragmatic. The proposal examines the water systems of Washington D.C., building a design test based on a year of research into public access to water systems. The author is a D.C. native and has a baseline of understanding of the social, political, and spatial realities of the city. All proposals were explored in the context of “would this be accepted in my own backyard?” Although at times constraining, this benchmark helps to avoid the potential trivialization of the real need for access to clean water in Washington D.C. It is important when talking about issues of safe drinking water to remember that this is an issue impacting the capital of the richest nation on Earth as well as the most rural areas of the developing world. D.C. has a deeply troubled history with drinking water. The city has a recurring issue of lead in the drinking water. First brought to public attention in the early 2000s, the issue continues to crop up, most recently in June 2016 in public school water fountains.3 The Virginia Tech professor who investigated the Flint Michigan crisis estimated that the D.C. failure of the early 2000s was twenty to thirty times worse than Flint. This estimate reflects the number of people affected and the length of time the problem was unrecognized. Equally problematic was the active cover-up


by the public authorities. The water authority has mostly addressed the issues and today, D.C. has averagely high water quality for a city with historic lead pipes.4 Even so, much of the public still does not know the extent of the previous deception. Both the scope of the problem and the history of a cover-up mentality demand a public accountability system for Washington D.C. "Civic Hydrants" explores how the existing D.C. fire hydrant systems can be modified to provide access and awareness to the potable drinking water system that currently exists unrecognized, unmonitored, and taken for granted on nearly every corner of the city. By making municipal water a visible and active part of daily life, the hydrants become a necessary instrument of a public accountability. Every hydrant becomes a potential test site for the citizen scientist and rallying point for the public advocate. D.C. has over 10,000 fire hydrants—potential civic spaces on every corner—especially where there are no or limited public parks (figs. 3 and 4). The density and placement of hydrants respond to population and land use. Because of the safety concerns related to fire, they are distributed and maintained more consistently than city parks. The safety concerns increase the need for fire hydrant maintenance and thus the maintenance of their integral amenities. Figures 5 through 10 show several of the studies developed to meet the opportunities and challenges of a civic hydrant system. Of primary concern was summer comfort. Most fire hydrants are broken into in summer months to cool off (figs. 5 and 6). By providing splash fields or foot pools, the fire hydrant hybrids anticipate and meet this need without compromising the system pressure needed to fight fires. This system does not rely on intervention or supervision by firefighters like many current urban systems for summer time fire hydrant access. This makes a clear statement that the water of the city belongs to the citizens and requires no permission or supervision. The second set of proposals is in service of nonhuman actors in the city (figs. 7 and 8). As we continue to expand our understanding of user and citizen, it is important to provide for the animal and plant communities that are essential to the health and well-being of cities. These proposals address another type of breakage for watering, but they also bring elements of joy to the streetscape. A third, more loosely defined type of hybrid was designed in service of public awareness/engagement (figs. 9 and 10). Here the hydrant modifications endeavor to make the hydrants actors in their own right and express their presence in the city. They also serve as publicly accessible metrics of water quality and render system failures visible at the scale of a pedestrian. Civic hydrants bring the system of drinking water into the public eye. The quality of the water is visible, taste-able, testable. If the fountain stops working, it is broken for all to see. The monitoring of the system becomes the responsibility of the community that enjoys its practical benefits year round—not only in emergency conditions. The hydrant becomes a permanent place to gather and a symbol of the shared resource and responsibility of potable water.


4 Katherine Shaver and Dana Hedgpath, “D.C.’s Decade-Old Problem of Lead in Water Gets New Attention during Flint Crisis,” The Washington Post, March 17, 2016, accessed March 21, 2017, doc/1P2-39423447.html?refid=easy_ hf.

fig. 5 Hydrant + splash field A button-activated splash field invites citizens to cool off at their hydrant on their own schedule.

fig. 6 Hydrant + cooling bench Provides a cool moment of reprise in warmer months


fig. 7 Hydrant + water station Makes potable water easily available for a wide array of application

fig. 8 Hydrant + wetland Provides infrastructure for wetland growth


fig. 9 Hydrant + micro aquarium Provides a viable metric of the water quality and an opportunity for aquatic education in informal settings

fig. 10 Hydrant + clothes washing Provides a space for historically communal clothes washing


"Ville Spatiale" Revisited: Colonizing the urban roofscape with mass timber Seth McDowell

fig. 1 (facing) Framing for vertical extensions 1

“I believe that the city (or building) is not a finished product, but rather an endless process with continuous transformations in every moment.”1 — Yona Friedman

"Halic Center by Yona Friedman," Istanbul Design Biennial, October 15, 2012,

Yona Friedman’s writings and drawings of "Ville Spatiale (The Spatial City)", first proposed in 1956, expressed his concerns with the unchecked growth of the contemporary city and the inflexibility of urban environments in which buildings could not be easily altered to accommodate abrupt change. "Ville Spatiale" is an unrealized project motivated by the mid-century housing shortage in France and by Friedman’s deep belief that housing should allow for the free will of individual inhabitants. His responses, which now span over fifty years, propose space-frames to be built over existing cities in which all components of the dwelling units (walls, ceilings, even water and power supply) could be changed easily or adapted to accommodate new requirements. In contrast to many of his contemporaries at the time, Friedman and his collective, Group d’e´tudes de architecture mobile (GEAM), wished to preserve existing cities and build new, flexible additions fifteen to twenty meters above them. Yona Friedman has been searching for an architecture of tactical adaptation. In Friedman’s "Ville Spatiale", a framework is erected first. The dwelling units—conceived and built by the inhabitants— then fill in the voids of the structure. The project is conceived as an adaptable system that can be constructed anywhere and respond to any climate, city and culture. The goal here is to revisit Friedman’s strategies in order to propose innovative, legal methods for colonizing the roofscapes of the world’s most


populated cities with mass timber construction. My hypothesis is that the expanding availability and variety of composite wood systems can act to facilitate concepts of adaptability, space-frame construction, and lightness—prompting practical methods for extending a city’s existing building fabric vertically. The materiality of mass timber could allow for the realization of Friedman’s floating, indeterminate cities. It is critical to begin taking measures to employ the roof as a new ground for the world’s growing urban population. The issue of how to house the expanding urbanity is one of the most significant challenges facing humanity today, with estimates suggesting two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Too often, proposed solutions to this problem show little regard for the existing framework of our cities, choosing instead to replace old with new, at great environmental, social, and cultural cost. The greatest design challenge, then, is not only to build new structures at higher densities but also to build upon the existing fabric of our cities—knitting together old and new while adding density. With this direction, architecture takes the format of an exquisite corpse, and buildings are not seen as fixed, complete products, but rather indeterminate structures that expand vertically. Here, we will focus on the potential of mass timber construction as a solution for adapting existing buildings of concrete, steel, or masonry with vertical additions. Engineered wood products and lean construction methods for wood prefabrication allow designers to build taller structures that are much lighter than steel and concrete while still meeting strict criteria for fire resistance and seismic challenges. “There’s a whole bunch


fig. 2 Site axon Adaptation of the abandoned West Heating Plant, a 20th century artifact of coal energy

2 Jenni Marsh, "Spreading like Wildfire: Why wooden skyscrapers are springing up across the world," CNN, August 8, 2016, http://www. 3 Metsä Wood. Plan B: The City Above The City Competition Guide. Metsä Wood, 2016.

4 Michael Green, "Why We Should Build Wooden Skyscrapers." Lecture, TED2013, Long Beach, February 2013, https://www.ted. com/talks/michael_green_why_we_ should_build_wooden_skyscrapers.

5 AID Architecture in Development, “Tai Kok Tsui, Hong Kong: Rooftop Dwellings," Architecture in Development, June 12, 2011, http:// www.architectureindevelopment. org/project.php?id=40.

6 Naomi Ng and Sofie Buch Hoyer, "Hong Kong's sky slums highlight wealth gap," CNN, January 12, 2015, world/asia/hong-kong-rooftop-

of new materials made out of wood that are structurally able to build big buildings,” says Dr. Michael Ramage, of the Center for Natural Material Innovation at Cambridge University.2 Pairing this new materiality of engineered timber products with Friedman’s space-frame precedents will generate realistic, lightweight, flexible solutions for building heightening. The properties of wood are utilized best when building up. “The tallest trees in the world grow to forty stories tall. There is no reason why our buildings too, cannot reach even higher in wood.”3 After wood members reach the minimal sizes to qualify as heavy timber, fire resistance is no longer a limiting factor. Utilizing the inherent strength of wood fiber there are countless new possibilities to explore. “We need to start building up, and stop tearing down. We have an alternative. A building extension constructed with a timber frame can be a fast, sustainable and inexpensive solution.”4 Approximately 25 percent of existing urban buildings in the developed world are strong enough to carry additional floors made of wood. Wood is the only traditional, structural building material light enough to build with quickly on existing structures. This topic has significant implications in the US where 90 percent of single family homes are built from light wood framing. The minimal skills needed to work with wood, the abundance of the renewable resource, and the variety of forms in which it can be molded make it an excellent material for addressing concerns of adaptability. Building additions to single family homes made of light wood framing are commonplace and reveal the ease with which wood allows for altercations and expansions. What has been done less frequently until now, however, are large-scale extensions of office buildings, hotels or large residential buildings. Yet as new timber building height records are attained every year, the approach is becoming increasingly popular. Friedman’s "Ville Spatiale" is a utopian vision of adaptation born out of the socialist and technological agendas of its time. His impulse to adapt rather than destroy establishes a progressive position for ecological and cultural sustainability. With his flexible, indeterminate, rooftop mega-structure we have a recipe for urban expansion that contributes to land and building conservation. Adaptation is achieved on multiple scales from city to furniture as inhabitants can easily alter their living environments to respond to specific individual, cultural, and climatic needs. In cities like Hong Kong, where 18 percent of the population lives in poverty, and where a family can wait as long as three years for a flat in a public housing estate, the rooftop represents one of the few affordable and available terrains to inhabit. The concepts of "Ville Spatiale" emerge as an ad-hoc strategy for colonization.5 Hong Kong presents a dystopian case study for Friedman’s notion of an elevated, adaptable city above the city. Temporary, unapproved housing structures built on the rooftops of existing buildings have existed in Hong Kong for more than half a century and provide accommodation for low-income, marginalized people, such as migrants from Mainland China and Southeast Asia. Currently, “there are so many rooftop houses that the government doesn’t even bother keeping track of them, and there is no data on illegal rooftop houses or other structures.”6 Most houses range in size from 100 to 300 square feet and most are a single story tall. Efforts have been made to crack down on these rooftop dwellings, but the phenomenon is too widespread to be effectively managed, especially since



there is an acute shortage of affordable housing in Hong Kong. Only those rooftop structures deemed to be immediate hazards are ordered to be demolished; the rest are allowed to stay. These informal settlements on Hong Kong’s roofs present the ugly realities of Friedman’s desires for improvisation in architecture. While domestic space is created and managed by the inhabitants, these structures suffer the common problems of informal constructions. They are unregulated and often create unsafe, unsanitary living conditions. What these self-constructed rooftop villages in Hong Kong are missing is Friedman’s space frame—a comprehensive infrastructure that regulates individual freedoms. Prototype: "Adaptive Platform" "Adaptive Platform" is a housing design prototype developed by mcdowellespinosa that marries the concerns of adaptability and indeterminacy identified by Friedman with the new aspirations of engineered timber (fig. 1). "Adaptive Platform" deploys a modular wood platform framing system to extend and revive the abandoned West Heating Plant in Washington, D.C. (fig. 2). This is a flexible system for constructing a light, modular building on top of a load bearing masonry building. The West Heating Plant, built in 1948, is a National Landmark Building, but was abandoned after the city transitioned to more renewable forms of energy production. The structure’s future remains uncertain, but the new construction on top of this abandoned structure will generate a minimum of 108 residential units for the thriving, expensive neighborhood of Georgetown. The dwelling units are organized around a shifting logic that allows each resident to have an exterior space and a corner window (fig. 3). The structure introduces intermediate, “infrastructural” levels that provide co-working space for the inhabitants and house the mechanical services. These infrastructure levels service four to six levels below their own level—eliminating waste produced by long mechanical, plumbing, and electrical runs. The residential units fluctuate in length to provide a variety of domestic sizes and to maximize the exterior exposure. This building extension is made of 90% wood. Both the structural system and cladding systems incorporate engineered lumber products. The North facade is conceived as a thermal veil and is composed of multiple layers of polycarbonate cladding to maintain a lightness while letting in light (fig. 4). The construction logic for the Adaptive Platform deploys two scales of assembly—expanding upon Friedman’s notion of the frame and the plugin dwelling unit. First, a prefabricated LVL Portal Frame is constructed under developer/contractor supervision. This portal frame provides the infrastructure and spatial regulation for the prefabricated dwelling units and is erected like a series of tables stacked upon each other. Embedded in the frame is a pulley system that allows for continuous construction high above the existing city, without the use of external cranes. After the portal frame is constructed and stabilized, modular timber panels are lifted into place and occupy the frame, creating a collection of private enclosures for residents and intermediate territories for shared activities. These modular panels are made from Kerto-S LVL beams and floor framing and Kerto Spruce Plywood wall panels (fig. 5).


fig. 3 (facing) Corner window detail The housing units shift along the Nourth/South elevations to allow for maximum exposure, enabling every unit to have a corner window.

The strategy works to provide the individual freedom championed by "Ville Spatiale", while maintaining enough regulation to enable safe, secure construction. Inhabitants have a range a spatial flexibilities and control. In their individual units they exhibit full control over surface articulation and furniture arrangements. Then, just outside of this individual ownership is the “urban yard”—a territory where space is configured and reconfigured by all inhabitants that share the level. Temporary partitions or furniture may be arranged to support various, temporal events within the urban yard. Then, at every fourth or sixth level a collective infrastructure floor provides clear, unobstructed floor area for co-working possibilities and accessing building systems. "Adaptive Platform" takes the American invention of platform framing and super-sizes it. It is a mega-platform framing system, which ultimately leads to an extremely flexible, lightweight, indeterminate method for growing buildings and cities vertically (fig. 7). While Friedman’s proposals for "Ville Spatiale" separated the existing city below and the elevated city above, Adaptive Platform is dependent


fig. 4 (above) North elevation fig. 5 (facing) Transverse building section Modular Kerto-Ripa floor, wall, and roof components allow the building to extend vertically on a 10 foot increment.

upon the existing roofscape for its foundation. Here, the roof is literally the ground, and thus part of this tactical operation is negotiating the relationship between the existing building and the new extension. For this tricky negotiation we can look at the work of architect Stéphane Malka who is developing a prefabricated rooftop housing system in Paris. Malka has developed strategies for making rooftop dwellings in the city affordable by waving land costs and obtaining rooftop rights through an exchange for upgrading and renovating the existing building’s common areas and services. For the Adaptive Platform prototype, the project is positioned on the roof of the abandoned West Heating Plant in Washington DC. This was a strategic move that examines how the rooftop colonization program could utilize abandoned or underused buildings within the urban fabric (fig. 6). Conclusions It is now a cliché, but by 2050 seven out of ten people on Earth will live in cities, and urbanization is outpacing our ability to build safe, comfortable, affordable housing. As demand for housing in urban areas continues to grow, default approaches seek to demolish low rise building stock, plug vacant lots, or occupy peripheral sites. All three of these strategies deal more with what Friedman calls “violation” than adaptation. We are looking to find another way—a way that looks to adapt what we already have. Building heightening by means of mass timber construction—whether it is in the format of space frames, platform framing, or modular construction—is a solution for adaptation. It is a solution that can be applied in Paris, Hong Kong, and Washington D.C. Ideas for building above the city span from Yona Friedman’s 1956 "Ville Spatiale" to contemporary rooftop villages in Hong Kong, prompting this new proposal "Adaptive Platform," which illustrates how our emerging urbanity can adapt the roof-scape and colonize the sky.


fig. 6 (above) Street presence View from Pennsylvania Avenue. fig. 7 (facing) Section perspective showing view of variation produced from standardization

Future Potentials of Design Practice: Thoughts by Nina-Marie Lister

Nina-Marie Lister is graduate program director and associate professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning. A registered professional planner (MCIP, RPP) trained in ecology, environmental science and landscape planning, she is the founding principal of PLANDFORM, a creative studio practice exploring the relationship between landscape, ecology, and urbanism.

Future Potentials of Design Practice, Thoughts by Nina-Marie Lister Pia von Barby and Hallie Miller

fig. 1 (facing) Nina-Marie Lister speaking on a panel during the Woltz Symposium: Ecologies of Prosperity for the Living City at the University of Virginia.

Looking at your work and research projects, we were wondering how your projects critique the inert frameworks and systems of cities. In questioning the role of the non-designer/non-expert, how can the individual engage in the design process in a manner that is more than reactionary? The way to frame the answer, or a provocation for future discussion, is to provide the caveat that I have spent most of my adult life trying to move away from binary thinking that says "one way or the other way." We know that in a complex world we need to find strategies that are inclusive and robust. We need multiple scales of operation, multiple voices, talents, and expertise types. This immediately precludes a top-down design strategy or a grass roots bottom up co-option of a design strategy, but maybe not at the same time, maybe they are different points of entry into a system of decision making. I have always been interested in working with designers because they tend to work in a very fluid environment—they tend to be highly intuitive, they value their own intuition, and they trust it. Coupled with the background of rigorous scientific framework, you have a robust set of potentials for engagement, yet each of our professions tend to work in isolation. My scientist colleagues will wait until all the data is in before making a recommendation; their credibility and legitimacy as experts hinges on that. Designers do not have a lot of time to wait for perfect data and, at the risk of sounding flippant, they are not so interested in it because it takes away from the freedom or intuition of creativity. A healthy balance, even if it is in disequilibrium, sometimes


requires the more heavy-handed approach of empirical science, and other times there is room for a more lighthearted intuitive approach aided by designers—it depends on the project. Without question, in my practice and my experience, we need both, not either/or. When you ask me about a top-down design approach, there is no question in my mind that we do not live in a time where the grand designer paints with a magic brush and creates a master plan. We do not have that anymore; the master plan is dead. The world in which I work is much more nuanced and textured. My world is full of opportunities for storytelling and fact-finding at multiple scales, and often times within the same project. The second part of your question has to do with the empowerment of the community for whom or with whom you are designing. We do not get paid to do three things: we do not get paid to collaborate; we do not get paid for the time it takes to develop a shared understanding and shared vocabulary; and we certainly do not get paid to follow up, or track how a project is working, nor to gather data to see how it is unfolding, and then feed that data back into our vision a living strategic document. Our systems of procurement do not allow that, so we still stick to the world of the magic money shot, the great paper master plan that is supposed to be a finite ending. In fact, that is a very brittle way of doing business. You used the term inert frameworks; I interpreted that wrongly to mean a rigid frame for decision-making, and I think we need to bust out of that, and we cannot do it alone. We need a great amount of disciplinary types of knowledge that are perhaps a little promiscuous—they are cross pollinated and a little rough around the edges. We can develop a more rigorous and robust way of creating solutions when we are inclusive and collaborate at the right moments, but still recognize the capacity and knowledge of the designer as the facilitator, orchestrator, maybe curator. You talked about the power of representation and communication and yet the master plan is still in use because it is an understood way of communicating, especially for those who are not in the design field. What do we use instead of the master plan? We must find that, right? We cannot continue to perpetuate images of a static moment in time—that perfect money shot that wins the design competition. We all know what that looks like because you are taught by those examples, but those are stories in and of themselves—single windows of an imaginary moment, an imaginary project before it is built. Those images, I infer, are ways to capture the public imagination, to inspire people to action and, in many cases, inspire money to flow. We know that when people tell us there is not enough money for a project, what they are really saying is there is not enough will for a project. Designers are often recruited to tell incredibly powerful and compelling visual stories about what something might look like. The problem is, those are flat. Even in the beautiful three dimensional modes of representation we have, even with 3D printing, we are still telling stories that are relatively static. I look to layered storytelling that uses multiple modes of representation, perhaps audio or video, where a story is never told in just one image but rather a series of layers. These stories play out


as interviews and exchanges of dialogue; sometimes they are captured in simple call-outs of what the stewards and residents of a project would think or do and how they would approach it. I think there are multiple opportunities for a different, thicker description. Of course, I am not a designer myself—I have no proper design training. That is one of the great pleasures of working with designers. I learn two things: how to help inform the design to make it robust, and, where necessary based on credible evidence, how to help crack open constraints that perhaps prevent people from understanding the full potential of a design story or a narrative. Yes, there are multiple modes of representation. The master plan as an idea is terribly constraining—this idea that something is finished before it has started. But it is not alive, and it does not have the opportunity to evolve because that is the world we are planning. Collectively, we need to have an open mind to crafting the kind of communication that tells a powerful, compelling set of stories about what kinds of futures we want to inhabit because then we can make them. That is where the agency of design is so powerful because you as designers are trained to think visually, spatially, representationally. Whether it is through diagramming, mapping or collage and photography, the media are multiple, and the media are the message. The design process is a popular topic of debate in our school—the idea of collaboration between actors inside of and outside of the design field, and creating new synergies between individuals. How do you think this approach changes the product of the design process, the actual outcome, and the process itself? That is a very thoughtful question and one that helps us to articulate collectively the spectrum between process and product—they are inevitably connected. In professional practice, we get paid to deliver a product, and the process becomes invisible. While as a planner, and someone who has basic training in the natural sciences, I can speak less to the product itself, I am very interested in how process is connected to product. I have spent a long time studying processes to understand complex living systems and processes of decision making. I could say, and I would strongly argue, landscape architecture is by definition interested in process because the material palette and medium within which you work is alive and constantly changing. The processes that you entrain in making decisions for design products have to emulate the living medium within which you work. They need to be unfolding, cross pollinating, and hybridizing to some extent but not at the expense of rootedness within the discipline. I think there is always this tension between the core and the periphery of what design is about. When working with design teams, I am very interested in asking them to routinely document their process to the extent that it is possible. Sometimes it is hard to tell a story that in the end sounds like a neat, linear beginning, middle and end, when of course it is highly iterative and there are many permutations. Where possible, documenting pivot points, thresholds, changes in direction, how a decision was arrived at, even if it is in part intuitive, the kind of data that goes into it, the type


you chose to look at, the type you chose to reject—those are all powerful documenting processes that provide a more rigorous base for research and design. Where landscape architecture is potentially weak is that it does not have a robust canon of research methodology or methodologies. and you can shape that. There is a wonderful moment right now, particularly given the recognition of more adaptive complex systems in which we work—they need documentation, visibility, and legibility. We need to show what we are learning and how we engage with those systems. I cannot get funding for research when there is no box to tick off on "research method" in a particular discipline. Somewhere in my national granting agency, landscape architecture is hidden under fine arts, which is hidden within architecture or vice versa. The point is, there is no recognized tradition for it. Maybe there does not need to be a box to tick off, but rather several. We need to be a little bit more freewheeling with where we borrow methodological modes of inquiry from. We should start to document and take stock of that. It enriches, thickens, and deepens the work that we do. Ultimately, it lends legitimacy and credibility.


Hybrid Tactics

Material, spatial, ecological, and programmatic hybridity can enhance the utility and longevity of design interventions. How can tactical operations capitalize on synergies to produce adaptive environments? How can a progressive understanding of the interrelation of the human and nonhuman inform the composition of the city?

Fickle City Batul Abbas

fig. 1 (facing) A small shop’s atmospheric takeover of sidewalk space and a tree

These urban tactics are existing and proposed methods of engaging and designing for the small scale, the atmospheric, and the emotional in the city. These tactics are creative, incomplete, and responsive to human emotion. These tactics are specific, imprecise, improvised, and flexible. They are the best kind of fickle. Dispersed systems The push for the small scale stems from a practical need and desire for solutions autonomous from the government due to distrust, inefficiency, or inadequacy in providing services to people. There is a drive from designers to respond to large-scale infrastructural problems with solutions that are decentralized, individualized, autonomous, and dispersed. Large-scale infrastructure comes in the shape of physical material infrastructure and urban systems and networks: wells and water pumping facilities, transmission towers, street markets, and waste collection. As designers, we are inspired by specific responses to political generalities, responses of bottom-up autonomy, of light-touch, unfixed, fickle armatures that revolutionize relationships and access in cities. These tactics are responses to massively capitalized infrastructure projects with everything from water treatment to food distribution. By hacking, decentralizing, dispersing, and scaling down, these tactics are highly invested in and tied to the individual, to emotion, and to atmosphere. In order for individuals to care about an operation, they must have a need that is met or feel an emotional connection to the system and its parts. In order to care about an operation, individuals must have knowledge about the operation. The


question then becomes, how can we develop an emotional connection to these necesary large-scale services and those who provide them? I am using observations of Mexico City as a case study for understanding the emotional compositions of a variety of dispersed networks, widening the definition of what we perceive as infrastructure.

fig. 2

Case study: Mexico City When I was in Mexico City in January, there were a series of events ranging from the banal to the extraordinary that made me see the necessity and adaptive ability of dispersed systems. My friend and fellow student Bonnie-Kate Walker and I met with the director of a non-profit that specializes in rainwater harvesting. Over a single cup of coffee, ninety minutes, and a chain-smoking-fueled, high-energy conversation, he explained the strong culture of ingenuity and imagination across Mexico City. One story about taxi drivers is a striking demonstration of this culture. During the crisis of the 1985 earthquake, a seminal moment in Mexico City’s modern history, it was not the government, but the people that saved themselves and one another. Taxi drivers were one of many groups that filled immediate needs: drivers were running errands and delivering food to communities in crisis across the city. This was not government mandated but self-organization based on necessity. This tactical culture of self-building, autonomy from government services, and ingenuity has continued beyond the time of disaster relief and into everyday culture.

across city bounds

Climatic democracy Mexico City is relying on water that has been underground for more than 1,000 years.1 Impervious cover such as concrete and asphalt prevent aquifer recharge, despite flash flooding during seasonal heavy rains. That is the ultimate contradiction of the city: there is rain, but no water. Bonnie-Kate and I tagged along to a community meeting organized by


Collecting and sorting trash on a street corner fig. 3 (facing) Diagram showing the climatic forces resulting in differing water quality

1 Candiani, Vera S. Dreaming of Dry Land: Envrionmental Transformation in Colonial Mexico City. Stanford University Press, 2014.


non-profit Isla Urbana. The community is situated within the forested, mountainous, southwestern edge of the city, where the groundwater quality is high due to a lack of concrete (fig. 3). The contradiction: communities with high quality groundwater have unreliable access to potable water from the government. The goal of rainwater harvesting via small scale filtration infrastructure in individual’s homes is for vulnerable populations to achieve water autonomy. Citywide underground pipe networks fail to provide adequate water supply to certain communities on the outskirts of the city. Achieving autonomy from this system, although imperfect, affords individuals the opportunity to manage their own potable water from the most democratic of sources: climate. Social waste systems Waste collection in the city is hardly an atmospheric or emotional experience for most people. I sat at the edge of a bench on the sidewalk, across from a small coffee shop, captivated by a garbage truck that was stopped at the corner. Five men hopped off the truck, and one of them started to walk up and down the block ringing a loud bell, alerting residents to bring their trash out to the curb. Meanwhile, three of the collectors shot off down the street in different directions, while the last one stood surrounded by bins of different sizes, manually organizing glass, paper, plastics, organic matter, and landfill trash. They were there for an hour, collecting, chatting with people along the block as they dropped off their trash. The truck ignition was off, people were moving, sorting, organizing, working together. Social behavior and highly detail-oriented attention to people and work created this atmosphere. Trees create spaces Across the city, there are maintenance practices that attract people, enliven public spaces, and allow for public maintenance as a form of experimentation. The medians and sidewalks of Mexico City are bundled with a rich diversity of trees and plantings, giving a feeling of being


fig. 4 (above) Section sketch of spontaneous tree growth espaliered across fencing fig. 5 (facing) Section sketch of a Magnolia tree, shaping the street with canopy and overpowering the sidewalk with root growth



fig. 6 (facing) A ritual altar built in the space of a tree fig. 7 (above) Plants produce spaces for shops on the sidewalk

immersed in a tropical forest and making visible an incredible love and care for plants throughout the city. On one city block, I noticed small trees sprouting from the root system of a large street tree. These small trees were espaliered across the steel fence surrounding the tree bed, pulling an experimental element into maintenance done by people who work on that block or with that tree (fig. 4). Street trees are planted to create a particular spatial condition along the street. As the tree grows, new spatial conditions are created: each tree creates its own space that we can then respond to and develop. Space is not only created by trees being planted, planted trees create their own spaces. Across Mexico City, many of the spaces created by trees are developed with self-built religious altars, pockets of lively tranquility (fig. 6). Spaces created by trees are recognized and developed as opportunities to enrich public space. Dispersed love As I walked around Mexico City, it was impossible to deny the visibility of teenage love, in public plazas, subways cars, parks, sidewalks, hand-inhand, making out, gazing into each other’s eyes. These spaces in public parks and street medians are the only non-commercial spaces available for teenagers (without money) to hang out outside of strict Catholic households (figs. 8 and 9). Tropical big-leafed trees and shrubs protect private moments, open public plazas allow for anonymity amidst large crowds, massive stone seating gives lovers weighty boundaries. Bonnie-Kate and I experienced the power of teenage love in the notoriously rough neighborhood of Tepito. A local non-profit was hosting a rap battle for young people in a small, fenced public courtyard in the mid-afternoon. What was described to us as unsafe and violent was contrarily permeated with public displays of love, music, poetry, hip-hop, neighborhood pride, and


figs. 8 and 9 (facing) Teenagers find intimate spaces for expression in the security of a public fountain

bonding and teasing between teens. Can justice be achieved by fulfilling these spatial needs of teenage love? American philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues for the importance of sustaining and acknowledging such public emotions: “[A democratic society] will succeed only if it finds ways to make the human lovable, inhibiting disgust and shame.”2 She argues that intense public emotions cannot be addressed only in times of crisis: “All of the core emotions that sustain a decent society have their roots in, or are forms of, love...If love is needed even in [a] well-ordered is needed all the more urgently in real, imperfect societies that aspire to justice.”3 Walking the streets of a city, we love, squabble, argue, eavesdrop, connect and disconnect with loved ones and strangers publicly. Conclusion Every piece of infrastructure, or armature, can be broken down into its component parts, and every component or dispersed piece can be built up into a larger scale. Not every system needs to be built in a small-scale way. The small scale exists in the large scale, just as the small scale in aggregation becomes the large scale. Enabling emotional connections to infrastructural systems is a response to the failures of large scale modernized infrastructural systems.


2 Martha Craven Nussbaum, Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2013), 16.

3 Nussbaum, Political Emotions, 15.



















second decade of the twenty-first century, 1 Inan theunprecedented glut in crude oil prices led to

skyrocketing levels of personal consumption and carbon emissions. In a desperate attempt to avert ecological disaster and maintain global order, the United Nations introduced the Resource Scarcity Act of 2020. The authors of RSA 2020, as it became known, decided that the best way to curb soaring levels of personal consumption in the Developed

World was to implement a single, but severe, restriction on the one thing that made consumer culture possible: Storage. The U.N. correctly predicted that limiting Storage would create a de facto tax on consumption, thereby forcing markets to generate a post-petroleum consumer economy. The mandate was simple but sent shock waves around the globe. The legislation consisted of just one sentence:

The Resource Scarcity Act 2020 requires that everyone store all of their stuff in a U.N. registered Cube© equal in size to a 2020 Honda Accord. All my stuff in here?!! Tell me this is a joke. This is a joke, right?

is the story of the Post-Storage City. It all with plastic cubes. Twitter crashed with the hashtag 2 This began in 2020, a year that famed astrologer and “#WTF?” as distribution teams deposited the newspaper columnist Jeane Dixon once claimed would bring Armageddon, but instead marked the death of consumer culture in the Developed World. The end came in the form of a fleet of white trucks that left manufacturing plants across the globe to deliver a seemingly endless supply of pristine white Cubes© to consumers in Singapore, Cincinnati and Sydney alike. Befuddled citizens, many of whom assumed that Cube© Day was a Y2k-like myth, awoke to an alien landscape littered

Cubes©, each 500 cubic feet in volume, onto front lawns, alleys and driveways around the world. Each Cube© came with a set of instructions from the U.N. As families gathered to read over the details of RSA 2020, they realized that the new restrictions on Storage would change their lives forever. By the time the dust settled, lifestyles had shifted, economies were distorted and cities transformed.


June 2019, an M.I.T. research team 3 Inestimated that the average American

household dedicated 30% of their home to Storage. These estimates proved woefully conservative, however, as the painful reality of life in the Post-Storage City began to set in. The U.N. delivered one Cube© to everyone in the world over the age of sixteen, informing Owners that their Cubes© could be broken down into modules, relocated, shared, or even rented on the open market for a profit. Soon, sorting and stacking became a critical life skill and semi-pro packing leagues formed. Storage parties replaced Tupperware parties and “closing the lid” on the Cube© became an evening ritual. People also had to contend with inevitable Cube© audits, carried


N OW !

out by newly formed Storage Units composed of former I.R.S. workers, now unemployed because of the elimination of luxury taxes. People across the economic spectrum suffered the indignity of regular visits from roaming Storage Units, who swooped in and required households to deposit all of their belongings into Cubes©, verifying that each fell within approved Storage limits. Instead of burdening offenders with fines, Storage Units asked violators to host Storage sales, where neighbors stopped by to take whatever items they desired, so long as they had the room to Store the stuff in their own Cube©. Particularly kind neighbors might hold important heirlooms until the Storage scofflaws were able put their Cube© affairs in order.


S ! ! E G A ) BRO! R O STMON (BIG C’

Cube Distribution: Each Adult Gets One Cube



Sir, we’ve been getting some calls from your neighbors regarding suspicious storage.

We’re going to need to take a look in your cube.

The Storage Units showed up unannounced and asked the Storage scoff-laws to put their Cube© affairs in order as soon as possible.

Can’t believe I’m getting paid to take these classic records!!

What a sucker!


year 2021 proved to be messy as discarded 4 The tchotchkes littered roadways, streams, and of the Post-Storage City set in, chaos erupted in the streets. Protestors felt that their basic human need, not excess, remained an issue. As the reality

fields. Neighborhood associations organized massive garage sales, but nobody came. Material items acquired negative economic value as people desperately tried to rid themselves of unneeded possessions. The national trade deficit ended as barges full of junk left ports in New York and Long Beach, destined for far-off lands where material

and consumer rights were under assault by the U.N. The ACLU launched lawsuits and world governments convened emergency meetings to figure out what to do.


One day son, this will all be yours. Oh boy can’t wait...

angst soon gave way to ingenuity as exchanges replaced purchases. People began to 5 Happily, people began to make friends with their Cubes©. meticulously curate their possessions, taking pride Communities realized that, where Storage was concerned, there was power in numbers. Storage groups formed, motivated by a need to eliminate redundancy. In the Post-Storage City, blenders and barbecues became shared infrastructure, and

in their ability to make wise consumer choices. A public culture of Storage emerged in a brave new world where selling stuff suddenly became more expensive than buying stuff.

In 2020 there were 4.4 million people living in metropolitan Boston, 1.4% of the total US population. With 250,844,644 passenger vehicles in the United States, Boston at the time had approximately 3,511,825 cars. With the advent of RSA 2012, 50% of the drivers gave up their cars, opening up 284,457,825 square feet of real estate that was previously dedicated to parking. Assuming an average single family home size of 2,561 square feet and an average household size of 2.59 residents, Boston instantly had room for 111,073 new homes and 287,679 new residents. What’s more, since the average single family home was 30% smaller after removing storage spaces, Boston developers were able to build 165,864 new homes, allowing 429,589 new residents to move to Boston. So in an amazing and unexpected turn of events, RSA 2020 had the unexpected impact of reversing urban sprawl... Post-Storage landscape dramatically 6 The transformed the physical space of the

city. Simply put, cities began to feel very empty. The single-family house, once the primary site of personal Storage, regained one third of its capacity as residents purged garages, basements, attics, cupboards, and closets. Public building typologies like shopping malls, libraries, and warehouses immediately became obsolete. A campaign of radical retrofitting began to take place. RSA


2020’s viability hinged on the flexibility of the Cube© system and people’s ability to adapt their domestic spaces. Designers generated multiple adaptations to accommodate diverse consumer lifestyles. Still, three dominant behavioral patterns emerged: some people chose to retrofit their existing basements, garages, and attics to accommodate the Cube©, others utilized the Cube© to produce more extensive modifications to the singlefamily home, and still others entered into complex Storage Co-ops.

Hey I’ll give you free rent if I can store my car in your cube?


A public culture of Storage began to emerge in a world where selling stuff was suddenly more expensive than buying stuff. Great! Now that we’ve gotten ridden of our closets, we can build an apartment for my mother.

Grandma’s moving in?

Co-ops typically organized themselves in business as citizens across the globe reconsidered 7 Storage at the scale of the block, allowing neighbors their life priorities. Ultimately, half of the citizens

with similar interests to share equipment and resources. Over time, new Storage constituencies emerged as people adapted to life in the PostStorage City. Perhaps the largest demographic divide came when people realized that they did not have enough space to Store both their car and their stuff. This forced them to face a decision of Solomonic proportions: cars or Cubes©? The choice between car and Cube© proved difficult for many. Life counselors saw a dramatic increase

chose to maintain their car and sell their stuff; the other half chose to keep their stuff and get rid of their car, committing to travel by train, bus, and bicycle. In the Post-Storage city, the primary demographic split occurred among those who chose cars and those who chose stuff. With 50 percent fewer cars on the road, the tax base for road maintenance declined precipitously and many routes fell into disrepair.


Mat Block Typology

Oh that’s the new neighbor! Maybe I’ll lend her some of my Cube© space!

Wow I wonder if anyone here has a little space to spare...?

Commune Typology

Hey Joe would you like to borrow my bike again this weekend?

Thanks! Hey, you can play my records while I ride!

Neighborhood communities soon realized that, where Storage was concerned, there was real power in numbers. 171

Party Wall Typology

I never thought I’d be sharing my closet with a bunch of city-slickers...

Tell me about it.

car owners began migrating 8 Eventually, towards the remaining road infrastructure.

These areas became known as Car Zones. Others began to re-inhabit newly available land previously occupied by road and parking infrastructure. These areas became known as No Car Zones. In these areas, large mixed-use super-blocks emerged that featured new property arrangements and architectural typologies. One common scenario involved the swapping of Storage for land, as home owners agreed to let tenants build a shelter on the owner’s lot in exchange for a share of the tenant’s Storage Cube©. This arrangement became known as Tenant Housing. The following block typologies represented some of the most popular collective arrangements in the Post-Storage City: the Mat Typology, the Commune Typology, and the Party Wall Typology. New public programs also emerged within the No Car Zones to mitigate the hardships of life in the Post-Storage City. There was a surging interest in the art of pantomime, as it offered entertainment without the use of material props. Urban miming soon replaced urban knitting as a focus of social activity for young people. RSA 2020 also had unforeseen but widespread effects on the

processes of manufacturing and consumption. The industrial supply chain historically relied on Storage as a lubricant to maintain a smooth and efficient manufacturing process. The Post-Storage supply chain, alternatively, relied on Just-In-Time Delivery technologies, which delivered processed goods in smaller quantities and shipped more often. Traditional retail, an industry that relied heavily on Storage, became obsolete as RSA 2020 placed severe restrictions on stock levels. Distributors bundled orders for consumers at local Distribution Centers, which established themselves as an important new architectural typology. In the Post-Storage City, the Distribution Center replaced the showroom floor, offering an ultra-efficient delivery node for consumer goods. Citizens no longer browsed and shopped from retail displays, instead selecting and ordering items online, then stopping by the Distribution Center to pick them up. The Distribution Center soon became a critical hub in the Post-Storage economy. Land prices around the Centers increased dramatically and dense infill fabric emerged on adjacent blocks. The land around Distribution Centers soon became the preferred locations for offices, restaurants, schools, public institutions, and mass transit. 172

No Car Zone Car Zone

A single white Cube© sent shock waves across consumer landscapes from Singapore to Cincinnati, changing the way that people stored their stuff, and ultimately, changing the way that they lived their lives.

Boston 2030

the traditional city sprawled in concentric By 2030, clear distinctions began to materialize 9 Where rings from a dense center, the Post-Storage between portions of the city served by cars and

City emerged as a polycentric network of diverse clusters, each accommodating dense housing and intense pockets of economic activity. By the year 2025, the distribution of Storage Cubes© led to widespread vacancies within residential blocks and neighborhoods. Streets began to deteriorate as half the population abandoned driving as a primary means of transportation. The relative decline of the automobile meant that existing transit lines took on increased importance. The first five years of PostStorage living saw car-free people cluster around existing transit stops, while new capital investment concentrated along existing transportation spines. Soon developers began to strategically locate the first wave of Distribution Centers adjacent to transit stops. Residents who lived closest to Distribution Centers responded by taking on Storage Tenants to increase their personal storage capacity. Blocks began to infill, Distribution Centers grew, and a feedback loop emerged. This is how the transformation of the Post-Storage City began. 173

portions of the city served by transit. People who chose Cubes© over cars lived within walking distance of Transportation and Distribution Centers. These areas enjoyed high densities and accommodated a mix of Home Owners and Storage Tenants. Neighbors reclaimed abandoned streets to accommodate public program. People who chose cars over Cubes©, on the other hand, lived in more traditional low-density suburban fabric. Many of these Owners took on a single Storage Tenant so that they would have an extra Cube© to store their car. Local governments maintained road access and the physical fabric of these areas did not change much at all. The continual demand for access to Distribution Centers meant that intermediate portions of the city became attractive locations for infill development. This required municipalities to invest in transit and developers to invest in Distribution Centers.



did not take long for the form of the Post- transportation networks. Ultimately, the Post10 ItStorage City to come into focus: the Hub- Storage City of 2050 did not arise from a centralized and-Spoke model of the traditional city gave way to a polycentric field of connected transit and distribution nodes. The space in between these nodes did not change much as people continued to use their car for trips to school, work and home. On Saturdays, however, Car Owners left their cars in the Cube© and made extended visits to catch up with friends who lived in the walkable nodes. As cities consolidated around new Distribution and existing Transportation nodes, expansion into the suburban and exurban landscape ended. Cities could no longer be described with a single image—the skyline panorama­­ —but instead gained distinction through a diverse mixture of block configurations, Distribution Clusters, and

planning process. Instead, it resulted from the accumulation of individual decisions, coordinated primarily by Home Owners at the scale of the lot and the block. Just as Otis’ elevator gave rise to the skyscraper, and Ford’s Model T fueled growth in the post-war American suburb, the United Nations Secretary General’s single white Cube© sent shock waves across consumer landscapes worldwide, changing the way that people stored their stuff, and ultimately, the way that they lived their lives.



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Super Mercado: Markets as generators of public space Matthew Scarnaty

fig. 1 (facing) Typologies of intervention system on non-market days (left) and market days (right) 1 “Mexico City’s Colorful Tianguis,” Planet Stories, February 26, 2016, planet-stories/mexico-city-scolorful-tianguis-7d05e8acdca0#. q3l4wagx6.

2 Rachel Laudan, “Mexico’s Popular Tianguis,” Zester Daily, August 6, 2010, cooking/mexicos-popular-tianguismarket-mexico-city/.

For Mexico City’s street medians, occupancy is split between extremes. Two days a week, the city’s tianguis (street markets) colonize the leftover strips of land between traffic lanes, filling the street with life, color, and community. These pop-up shopping districts act as important but temporary centers of commercial, social, and civic life.1 In stark contrast to the vibrancy of market day, these valuable spaces are, for most of the week, abandoned. Underutilized spaces like the median present distinct opportunities to engage with communities unserved by formal systems of resource distribution and public space. "Super Mercado" imagines an intermediate form of occupation between the extremes of vacancy and heavy market-day use by providing the necessary minimum infrastructure to foster new forms of civic space while also improving conditions of the market. Mexico City’s tianguis are in the lineage of ancient Aztec market culture and systems of trade. While recent history has seen numerous attempts to formalize or relocate these markets, tianguis are still today important places of economic and social exchange. With little overhead cost, these markets provide basic goods at a lower price and often in more convenient locations than traditional brick and mortar stores. This is particularly important in lower income neighborhoods that lack physical or economic access to grocery stores (fig. 2).2 The tianguis, however, are not without problems. As legislation continues to limit the places where street markets can legally operate, increased density in the remaining locations has changed the character of these markets. Tightly packed rows of tents effectively stop vehicular







traffic and create linear pedestrian circulation patterns. Once common market features, such as space to eat, strike up a conversation, or even cross from one side of the market to the other, have been squeezed out to maximize retail space. Ill-equipped for use as market space, medians lack the necessary resources for cleaning up and washing down afterwards. As a result, the surrounding neighborhoods are often left littered with piles of trash and organic waste. In addition, medians are rarely well-lit at night and, because they are often paved with impervious concrete, are unable to absorb large amounts of water and reduce flooding during the rainy season.3 The use of these medians reflects a set of creative, rebellious acts in re-appropriating space. Vendors’ stalls, tents, and tarps are often interwoven to form a quasi-public space that is shaded and dry. Instead of being packed up and brought home by vendors, what if parts of the market structure stayed on-site, serving other public purposes? Mexico City is experiencing privatization of public spaces and services. Looking to increase revenue and reduce costs associated with upkeep, many once-public spaces have fallen into the hands of private interests, reducing the already limited number of civic spaces. This trend extends beyond physical space, with public services also being privatized. Notably, increasingly expensive water services such as sanitation, wastewater treatment, and drinking water management are shifting towards private providers.4 Focusing on the median as a cross section of these issues, "Super


fig. 2 Current tianguis locations in Iztapalapa, Mexico City

3 Encisco L. Angélica, “Se Extiende La Privatización Del Agua En Todo El País: Campero,” La Jornada, April 11, 2010, http://www.jornada.unam. mx/2011/04/11/index.php?se ction=sociedad&article=047n1soc.

Market Day Every Day

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Pepenadore Pepenadore Pepenadore Pepenadore Pepenadore Tent Vendor Tent Vendor Tent TentVendor Tent Vendor Customer Vendor Customer Customer Customer Customer Market Market Organizer Organizer Market Market Market Organizer Organizer OrganizerGround Ground Vendor Vendor Ground Ground Ground Vendor Vendor Vendor


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Teenager Teenager Teenager Teenager Teenager Family Family Family Family Family Chess Players Chess Players Chess ChessChess Players Players Players Reader Reader Reader Reader Reader Children Children Children Children Children Social Social Group Group Social Social Social Group GroupGroup

fig. 3 Urban actors (corresponds to fig. 4)

Mercado" imagines a series of interventions that create a localized system of resource distribution and serve as scaffolding for colonization by neighborhood residents (figs. 3 and 4). The system of nodes along the median embraces the logic of appropriation and acts as an armature for residents to capture the full potential of underutilized space (fig. 1). Based on an analysis of the needs of various actors that occupy the median, many elements are designed to be moved, adjusted, and added on to, while others are fixed to maximize efficiency. Nodes are placed to disrupt linear circulation patterns, creating gaps for pedestrians to cross and moments of pause to gather. The interventions capture water and electricity while also providing a place to store and sort waste (figs. 5-10). The electricity generated is used to provide additional lighting, charging stations, and Wi-Fi to surrounding neighborhood residents who often lack access to the internet. The node structures themselves act as seating and tables, activating ad-hoc public commons in parts of the city that critically lack access to public space. Drawing from strategies of resourcefulness associated with street life in Mexico City, this project identifies cheap and salvaged construction materials to reduce cost and waste. By tweaking the existing street fabric, this network of interventions creates a flexible framework for facilitating more efficient and localized means of resource distribution, emergent and meaningful public space, and more equitable market places.


non-market day

fig. 4 Intervention system on a typical street median


market day



solar cells water collection lighting


tent attachments

water storage

gathering space



fig. 5 Transmission tower parts

fig. 6 Node typology

dismantle & replace

initial construction

0 yrs

PHASE 1 stain rust

25-30 yrs

fig. 9 Transmission tower life cycle



PHASE 2 abrasive rust



PHASE 2 extensive abrasive rust

PHASE 4 structural failure

40 yrs

solar cells water collection


lighting turbine wi-fi

bleacher seating

trash recyclying

water storage compost bin



fig. 7 Bleacher typology


fig. 8 Compactor typology


Photovoltaic Fabric


Water Testing Bags


Transmission Tower



Market Crates

fig. 10 Additional materials




ossuary provides a final resting place for bones collected from the floating tombs and marks the edge of the island, over time becoming a part of it

places of pause -18’






places of pause provide seating areas and outlooks for rest and contemplation with views to the Long Island Sound


floating tomb

floating tombs represent one year of burial, floating for 5 years while the body decomposes, bones are brought to the ossuary, the tomb is recycled and the process begins again



impressions left for future occupations: planting art istallations ceremonies ritual events


cuts into the island welcomes the water and allows for drainage during storm surges


poplar tree allees frame existing grave sites and guide main pathways that connect the shores of the island


N arrival

arrival to the island is from the southern tip, marking the beginning of the journey through the island

site plan scale 1:1500

6 Feet Above: Redefining potter’s field Spring Braccia-Beck

fig. 1 (facing) Site plan (1:1500) Proposed memorial archipelago for Hart Island

Hart Island is New York City’s potter’s field. A hidden and forgotten place, it is the burial ground for the city’s indigent, unclaimed, and unidentified dead. Hart Island is a place and a system steeped in history and convention, yet facing real and immediate issues of urban, social, and natural change. As such, it must be approached with a bold, inventive, and sensitive response that questions and challenges the conventional systems in place. This project aims to unearth the process of death in an urban context, redefining the potter’s field and Hart Island as a public place of meaning and inclusivity for both the living and the dead. Historically, New York’s potter’s fields have been pushed to the limits of the city, jumping northward with urban growth until landing on the remote Hart Island in 1868. The sites of New York’s previous potter’s fields are now some of the city’s best known public spaces, including Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, and Bryant Park. However, Hart Island, a 101-acre island located in the East Bronx where the East River meets the Long Island Sound, falls just within the city limits yet is unknown to most. It marks the edge of the city, a place of disappearance, and a multi-layered space of social rejection and buried history. An active burial ground since 1868, one million people have been buried on the island. Burial plots were initially located on the northern end of the island, while several social institutions, including a jail, a tuberculosis hospital, a reformatory, and a mental asylum, occupied the southern half of the island. Until the 1980s, burials were still taking place in the north; however, all living programs had left the island. Buildings



1843 randalls +wards island


1836 waldorf astoria

1823 bryant park

1807 union square park


1797 washington square park

1794 madison square park


had fallen into ruin, and the island became inhabited only by the dead. Burials began incrementally filling the space. Hart Island is operated by Nthe New York City Department of Corrections, and low-security inmates from nearby Rikers Island bury the dead in mass graves. Approximately 150 simple pine coffins are stacked in seventy-by-twenty foot trenches. Because the Department of Corrections operates the island, security is high and public access has been severely limited. There is one ferry from neighboring City Island that provides transportation for corrections officers, inmates, and bodies to Hart Island. Public visitation is greatly inhibited with pre-registered visits possible only once per month. Topographically, the island is quite flat, typically peaking at only fourteen feet above sea level. The original burial ground to the north is the exception; its highest point reaching forty feet. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy showed the very real and eminent threats of sea level rise and storm surge to the burial-covered island. According to sea level predictions, by 2100, high tide could cut the island in half and inundate grave sites. As the potter’s field of New York City, it is important that the final disposition process be neutral, inclusive, and accessible to the public. However, the current mass grave burial system is mismanaged, hidden from the public, and highly susceptible to rising waters. How can a new system be designed to create a hybrid public place for both the living and the dead? Existing conditions of public inaccessibility, rising sea levels, and an


fig. 2 Shifting potter’s fields in NYC These spaces migrated northward with urban growth until landing on Hart Island in 1868. fig. 3 (facing) Hart Island existing site plan with projected sea level rise in year 2100

morgue truck to transport bodies in simple pine coffins

fig. 4 Hart Island existing mass burial process

fig. 5 (facing) Section and plan of proposed floating tomb


20’ x 70’ x 6’ trench

coffins stacked 3 high, 2 across

150 adult coffins per trench

1 marker per plot

graves recycled

unsustainable burial system prompt the proposal of a redefined potter’s field as a memorial archipelago. This memorial archipelago is comprised of the following: a remediated existing Hart Island, a new system of floating tombs, and a new ossuary. This tactical approach is sensitive to the island’s history and encourages public visitation. A spine of circulation and sea wall infrastructure delineates the eastern perimeter of the island, marking the edge of the city. Secondary paths reach from this edge, framing existing grave sites and ruins while also providing viewing points to the arc of floating tombs. Intentional cuts into the island encourage inundation and storm drainage, emphasizing time through changing water levels. The proposed arc of floating tombs unearths the process of death and embraces the natural decomposition of the body. The natural process of decay is societally rejected through embalming and burial; however, these methods only delay the inevitable process. A body not buried in soil decomposes quickly to skeletal remains, and with appropriate ventilation, drainage, heat, and moisture, the body can be encouraged to decompose at a higher rate. Compared to other non-burial methods of disposition such as cremation and chemically-driven processes, embracing decomposition has the potential to be more environmentally responsible, less expensive, and less invasive. The proposed system encourages the decomposition of the body in a respectful and efficient process, as bodies are covered in a biodegradable shroud and individually laid to rest within the floating tomb. Each floating tomb represents one year of burial, able to hold 1,500

bodies. Five floating tombs provide for the future capacity of Hart Island. The floating tomb incorporates a treatment wetland, in which the organic byproducts of decomposition drain. These nutrients generate plant and ecosystem growth within the wetland, becoming a visible expression of the process of decay. Once the body has completely skeletonized, the bones are then collected and placed in an ossuary on Hart Island. The ossuary, a series of gabion walls that build up the northeastern side of the island, looks toward the open water of the Long Island Sound. The bones become a permanent part of the island as water and sand flow through the ossuary structures. The proposed tombs create a sustainable memorial arc of awareness and dignity, floating with the tides between the island and the city. Their polycarbonate materiality indicates lightness and transparency, reflective during the day and glowing with light in the evening. They are independent of sea level rise, allow for Hart Island to be fully accessible to the public, and evoke an awareness and reconceptualization of the process of death.

ma rch



e jun






dra in


proposed system






body covered with biodegradable shroud

floating tomb recycled for a new year



5 years

bones collected and laid in ossuary






nutrients drained to treatment wetland


laid to rest in tomb with greenhouse conditions

1 year = 1536 bodies 1 month = 128 bodies 1 week = 32 bodies

each floating tomb holds one year’s dead each segment holds one month’s dead each segment divides into weeks for efficent operations


year 1


fig. 6 Proposed systems for Hart Island


year 3

burials and tombs

year 5


year 6


year 82 (2100 sea level)



fig. 7 Hart Island southern and northern sections with ossuary


8’: 2100 5’: 2050 southern section 3’:1’-0” 2025 scale: 1/8” = 0’: 2016 southern section scale: 1/8” = 1’-0” southern section scale: 1/8” = 1’-0”


Obsessive Gardening: Cultivating response-ability with Gertrude Jekyll Luke Harris

fig. 1 (facing) “Habit borrowed from a Sussex monastery on my gardener P. Brown,” Gertrude Jekyll Collection, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley. Jekyll’s numerous photographs acted as visual notes and documentation of her work. Here her gardener stands next to a strand of Himalayan Giant Lilies at Munstead Wood.

1 Gertrude Jekyll, Gardens for Small Country Houses, (Edinburgh: Grimsay Press, 2008), 36.

2 Judith Tankard and Martin Wood, Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood: Writing, Horticulture, Photography, Homebuilding (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1996), 4.

I like to imagine Gertrude Jekyll waking up at Munstead Wood, her home in Surrey, England, and beginning the day in her garden. It is early spring before the last frost; the day is cold and the sky gray. I picture her with her hands in the dirt, mixing compost with soil to prepare the ground for the upcoming planting season. Jekyll lived at Munstead Wood from 1897 to her death in 1932, expanding and changing the garden every season, building on the successes and failures of the previous years. The garden emerged out of a continuous relationship between the gardener, site, climate, and the plant and animal species that intentionally or unintentionally made their way into it. Perhaps I am drawn to this image of Gertrude Jekyll because I struggle to garden. I have started several, but I have always moved apartments or changed cities before developing the long-term relationship with a garden that I see at Munstead Wood. I look to Gertrude Jekyll as a guide to becoming attuned to the voices of others through practices of gardening. Gertrude Jekyll was an obsessive gardener. She designed scores of gardens around England and published fourteen books, but her greatest passion was her own garden at Munstead Wood. She described the site as, “15 acres of the poorest possible soil, sloping a little down towards the north [with] a thin skin of peaty earth on the upper part.”1 Roughly triangular in shape and including woodland and flower gardens, the site was designed in a piecemeal manner, responding to the existing conditions of the site, with “no definite planning at the beginning.”2 The garden continued to evolve each year, responding to the growth of plants and the changing relationship between garden and gardener.


There is much to learn from Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood and, in fact, from all obsessive gardeners. In the midst of an ecological crisis enabled by a nature/culture binary that separates the human from the “environment,” we need models of human and nonhuman relationships that move beyond capitalist extraction, domination, or instrumentalism and towards something like care. Obsessive gardeners are our guides to becoming intimately entangled with nonhumans in collaborative partnerships. Gardeners are mired in their gardens; they are passionate, dirt-smeared, entangled, and earthbound. By attending to the practices of gardening embedded in the discipline of landscape architecture, I explore how obsessive gardening elicits intimacy across difference. The garden, understood as a collection of practices, precipitates risky and “noninnocent” forms of intimacy between humans and nonhumans.3 These garden relationships between humans, plants, animals, and microbes, in which “the partners are never set once and for all,”4 provide models of interspecies intimacy that open up “alternative ethics of living” with nonhuman nature.5 In this essay, I follow Gertrude Jekyll through Munstead Wood to describe how gardening cultivates an attunement to nonhuman agency. Drawing on Carla Hustak and Natasha Myers’ idea of affective ecology, I conclude by arguing that understanding the garden as an assemblage of creative and experimental bodies leads us towards an ethic of mutual response-ability and care. The matter of the garden In her book Wood and Garden, Jekyll describes an encounter with a visitor who, impressed by the 10’ tall stems of Cardiocrinum giganteum, said that she did not believe Jekyll’s claims of poor soil. Cardiocrinum


fig. 2 “Spring Garden looking West Tittlebat,” Gertrude Jekyll Collection, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley.

3 I use “noninnocent” here to refer to relationships and forms of intimacy that do not claim innocence or objectivity. Instead, they are partial, biased, potentially dangerous, and, most importantly, generative. See: Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 16. 4 Donna Haraway, “The Promises of Monsters,” in The Haraway Reader (New York: Routledge, 2003), 91. 5 Lauren Berlant, “Cruel Optimism,” in The Affect Theory Reader, ed. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 105.

6 Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden: Notes and Thoughts, Practical and Critical, of a Working Amateur (Suffolk: Antique Collectors Club, 1981), 200.

7 Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 200.

8 Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 3. 9 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, viii.

10 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, 21.

11 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, 14.

12 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, ix.

13 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, 23. 14 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, 24.

giganteum, the Himalayan Giant Lily, is a difficult plant to grow in Jekyll’s sandy soil, and Jekyll had tried for years to establish it. Jekyll led the visitor further along the path until they came across an excavation 12’ across and 4’ deep. In Jekyll’s account, the visitor exclaimed, “Are you quarrying stone, or is it the cellar for a building?”6 It was, of course, the groundwork for the planting of another strand of Giant Lilies. Once the pit was dug, it was filled with several cartloads of dahlia tops, which were then chopped up and mixed with sand. Additional layers of organic material were then added, which Jekyll describes: cabbage-stumps, bean-haulm, soft weeds that have been hoed up, and all the greenest stuff from the rubbish-heap. Every layer will be chopped and pounded… By this time the hole will be filled to within a foot of the top; and now we must get together some better stuff – road scrapings and trimmings mixed with some older rubbish heap mould, and for the top of all, some of our precious loam.7 This story highlights how the planting of lilies is an exercise in manipulating transmutable matter—some living, some not—all interacting and relating in specific ways to form the garden. The garden is caught up in processes of transformation; living matter becomes dead matter, which becomes the “mould” that provides nutrients for the Giant Lilies. To better describe this process, it is helpful to bring Jane Bennett’s theory of vibrant matter into the garden. Bennett argues that the understanding of matter as inert and static has precipitated the devastating ecological crisis in which we are currently embedded. Bennett attempts to “give voice to the vitality intrinsic to materiality.”8 By vitality, she means the “capacity of things…to act as quasi agents or forces with trajectories, propensities, or tendencies of their own.”9 She does not see things as individuals acting in isolation because, “an actant never really acts alone. Its efficacy or agency always depends on the collaboration, cooperation, or interactive interference of many bodies and forces.”10 Though we are made up of and surrounded by vital materiality, we rarely apprehend this. Bennett identifies an ethical project of cultivating “the ability to discern nonhuman vitality, to become perceptually open to it.”11 I argue that this extension of agency to matter is not radical to gardeners, who are constantly responding to the actions of plants, soil, weather, animals, and insects. All good gardeners are already adept at “detecting (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling) [the] fuller range of nonhuman powers circulating around and within human bodies.”12 Following this thinking, we can conceive of the actors mobilized in the planting of the giant lilies as an assemblage of multiple bodies possessing agency. Following Deleuze and Guattari, Bennett defines assemblages as, “ad hoc groupings of diverse elements, of vibrant materialities of all sorts.”13 They are “living, throbbing confederations that…are not governed by any central head.”14 Assemblages are useful models for the garden, though Bennett’s definition suggests things piled together haphazardly and without order. In contrast, to describe the garden, I use assemblage to convey a very specific and precise series of relationships that define the form and ecology of the garden. This kind of assemblage echoes anthropologist Anna Tsing’s description of “polyphonic assemblages” that are structured by “multiple temporal rhythms


and trajectories.”15 In this single moment in the garden, multiple actors exerted forces and affected the possible growth and flowering of lilies. The assemblage includes living and nonliving bodies: minerals, microbes, nutrients, Jekyll herself, decomposing dahlia tops, cabbage stumps, laborers, Cardiocrinum giganteum seeds, and even environmental phenomena such as rain, sunlight, and climate that determine the eventual fate of the lilies. The garden is an assemblage which recognizes the diversity of actors, but does not level power relationships. The human retains a degree of power, but control is tenuous at best; as any gardener knows, it is impossible to fully impose one’s will on the garden. An affective ecology of gardens The articulation of an animate garden, with its own trajectories, desires, and agency creates space to discuss how the garden involves and affects the gardener. Drawing on philosopher Baruch Spinoza, Jane Bennett relies on a notion of affect “which refers broadly to the capacity of any body for activity and responsiveness.”16 Broadly, theories of affect introduce methods for understanding how bodies influence other bodies through forces of encounter. In the introduction to the Affect Theory Reader, Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seigworth describe that, “affect is found in those intensities that pass body to body (human, non-human, part-body and otherwise), in those resonances that circulate about between and sometimes stick to bodies and worlds.”17 Recognizing that it is not just human bodies that affect and are affected, Carla Hustak and Natasha Myers propose a theory of “affective ecology…shaped by pleasure, play, and experimental propositions.”18 Studying Charles Darwin’s obsession with the relationship between pollinators and the Ophrys genus of orchids, they propose that: It is in encounters between orchids, insects, and scientists that we find openings for an ecology of interspecies intimacies and subtle propositions… in which questions of species difference are always conjugated with attentions to affect, entanglement, and rupture; it is an affective ecology in which creativity and curiosity characterize the experimental forms of life of all kinds of practitioners, not only the human ones.19 Affective ecology understands how the bodies that make up the garden involve one another in each other’s concerns. The authors propose that plants and animals are “inventive practitioners,” gardeners in their own right, who “experiment as they craft interspecies lives and worlds.”20 In their reading of Darwin’s laboratory studies of pollinators and orchids, Darwin became “affectively entangled in the event of fertilization.”21 Affect opens up ways of understanding how humans and nonhumans are compelled to action by the aesthetic, chemical, sensory, somatic influences of other bodies. Gregg and Seigworth write that, “Affect, at its most anthropomorphic, is the name we give those forces—visceral forces beneath, alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing, vital forces insisting beyond emotion—that can serve to drive us to movement, toward thought and extension.”22 Returning to Munstead Wood, we can picture Gertrude Jekyll moving through the garden, constantly affected and influenced by the plants and materials surrounding her. Understood as an affective ecology


fig. 3 (facing) Iris Stylosa, Munstead 1882 This watercolor of the Iris stylosa painted by Jekyll is evidence of her fascination with the flower and her training as a painter. This image is a scan of a postcard provided by the Godalming Museum, Surrey. Reproduced with permission of the Godalming Museum. 15 Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), 23.

16 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, xii. 17 Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth , “An Inventory of Shimmers,” in The Affect Theory Reader, ed. Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 1. 18 Carla Hustak and Natasha Myers, “Involutionary Momentum: Affective Ecologies and the Sciences of Plant/ Insect Encounters,” Differences 23 (2012), 78.

19 Hustak and Myers, “Involutionary Momentum,” 106.

20 Hustak and Myers, “Involutionary Momentum,” 106. 21 Hustak and Myers, “Involutionary Momentum,” 79.

22 Gregg and Seigworth, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” 2.

that entangles the gardener, Munstead Wood is composed of a web of forces and affects, of bodies influencing each other through a series of encounters. The garden is constantly changing, “always becoming otherwise, however subtly, than what it already is, pulled beyond its seeming surface-boundedness by way of its relation to, indeed its composition of, the forces of encounter.”23 In her books, Gertrude Jekyll writes at length about her relationships to specific species, describing how they thrive in some areas of the garden and struggle in others. Through this, she recounts how the plant’s form, growth, appearance, sound, smell and behavior impelled her to action. Detailing her relationship with the Iris stylosa (now known as Iris unguicularis), a small, winter-blooming iris from Algeria, she describes how she first planted it in a border of well prepared, rich soil, but it “gave [her] only a thick mass of leaves a yard long.”24 To Jekyll, “it was clear that it wanted to be less well fed,” so she moved it to poorer soil and was rewarded with the flowers she desired. Concluding that the iris “seems to bloom all the better for having its root-run invaded by some stronger plant” she then successfully planted it with a large clump of Alstroemeria on one side and Plumbago larpentae on the other.25 The iris, the Plumbago, the Alstromeria, the soil, and Jekyll all interacted and influenced each other, resulting in the transitory composition of one moment in the garden. The story of how the flower ended up in the poor patch of soil in southern England sandwiched between the Alstromeria and the Plumbago larpentae is in itself a history of encounters that illustrates the ways plants and humans influence each other. Jekyll describes how she first saw the iris in the Mediterranean, “What a delight it was to see it for the first time in its home in the hilly wastes, a mile or two inland from the town of Algiers.”26 Growing on the rocks amongst other flowers, including another blue iris that was “unwilling to be acclimatised in England,” the iris intrigued Jekyll because of its “lovely” form, sweet smell, and its habit of blooming in the middle of winter when there is little other color.27 Though initially attracted by the blue-flowered iris, Jekyll eventually brought a much rarer white-flowered variety of Iris stylosa to her garden. Amateur gardener Reverend Edwyn Arkwright, an English resident of Algiers, encountered the white iris five miles from his home, and, admiring the “pretty flower,” dug up the plant and brought it to his garden.28 A year later, Italian botanist Gaetano Durando saw the plant in Arkwright’s home and recognized it as a unique specimen of white flowered Iris stylosa. He “proceeded to send off little bits to friends” and the Algerian iris made its way to Munstead Wood.29 This story of people moved to action by a flower and the changes wrought upon the flower in return should caution us from too quickly deciding, in philosopher Vinciane Despret’s terms, “what is cause and what is effect, what affects and what is affected.”30 This account of intimate entanglement between flowers and people reveals the garden as a place where actors affect each other and become-with one another over time. The setting, “articulates new ways of talking, new ways of being human with nonhuman.”31 Cultivating attunement When reading her books, one is struck by Jekyll’s careful attention to the


23 Gregg and Seigworth, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” 3.

24 Gregg and Seigworth, “An Inventory of Shimmers,” 3.

25 Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 13.

26 Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 14.

27 Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 14.

28 Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 15.

29 Jekyll, Wood and Garden, 15.

30 Vinciane Despret, “The Body We Care For: Figures of Anthropozoo-genesis,” Body and Society 10 (2004), 125. 31 Despret, “The Body We Care For,” 131.

fig. 4 “Clemantis Montana,” Gertrude Jekyll Collection, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley. Photo by Jekyll of the Main Flower Border at Munstead Wood. 32 Bennett, Vibrant Matter, xiv. 33 Jane Bennett, “Powers of the Hoard: Notes on Material Agency,” (presentation at the Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects in the Early Modern and Medieval Periods Conference, George Washington University, Washington DC, April 11-12, 2011). 34 Bennett, “Powers of the Hoard.”

activities of the plants in her garden; to their responses to their neighbors, the soil, moisture, and climate. Successful gardeners cultivate an attunement to the needs of the garden. Attunement is a sensitivity that renders the gardener responsive to the voices of others. Jane Bennett writes that we need “a cultivated, patient, sensory attentiveness to nonhuman forces operating outside and inside the human body.”32 This everyday practice of attunement to others is exactly what gardening can teach us in the Anthropocene, when the voices of nonhumans are faint and often ignored. In a 2011 lecture Jane Bennett analyzed the reality TV show Hoarders. She describes hoarders as people who are “preternaturally attuned to things,” positioning them more as artists then compulsive collectors.33 Bennett also says that, “the things with which [hoarders] live and that live with them in close proximity are less possessions… than pieces of self.”34 It is no stretch to extend this language to obsessive gardeners, who are attuned to the needs of the garden. Following Bennett’s lead, the garden becomes an extension of the self outward into the material world of plants, soils, and objects that compose the garden. The extension of the self into the garden is also a diffusion; it necessitates a mixing of self with others. Building on the ideas of affective ecology, we can understand the garden as a space of heightened attunement to the voices of others. I use


fig. 5 Dorothea Strachey - Rose McFarland,” Gertrude Jekyll Collection, Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley. Jekyll’s portraits show reveal intimacies between people and the garden. 35 Hustak and Myers, “Involutionary Momentum,” 100. 36 See, for example, Nik Fleming, “Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus,” BBC, November 11 2014, and Robert Macfarlane, “The Secrets of the Wood Wide Web,” The New Yorker, August 7, 2016.

37 Ursula K Le Guin, “Telling is Listening,” The Wave of the Mind: Talks & Essays on the Writer, the Reader & the Imagination (Boulder: Shambhala, 2004), 195. 38 Margulis used the phrase to describe symbiotic processes of evolution where “new kinds of cells, tissues, organs, and species evolve primarily through the long-lasting intimacy of strangers.” Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 60. 39 Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, 71. 40 Haraway, Staying with the Trouble,

the term "voice" here, though it may be misleading, since a growing body of literature on plant communication within the field of chemical ecology focuses on interspecies communication through chemical compounds, “a way of speaking in a chemical vocabulary.”35 And recently, research about mycorrhizal fungal networks enabling interspecies communication and nutrient transfer in forests was the subject of numerous popular articles.36 By highlighting these examples, I mean to open space for a broadly conceived understanding of interspecies communication that includes, but is not reducible to, the forms intentional signals and responses that concern chemical ecologists. Volatile organic compounds and mycorrhizal networks compliment impossible-to-analyze aesthetic and affective exchanges. While the mechanics of interspecies communication will necessarily remain occluded, science fiction writer and theorist Ursula K Le Guin provides a beautiful description of the entrainment of vibrating bodies that creates conceptual space for methods of communication outside of language: If you mount two clock pendulums side by side on the wall, they will gradually begin to swing together. They synchronize each other by picking up tiny vibrations they each transmit through the wall. Any two things that oscillate at about the same interval, if they’re physically near each other, will gradually tend to lock in and pulse at exactly the same interval. Things are lazy. It takes less energy to pulse cooperatively than to pulse in opposition. Physicists call this beautiful, economical laziness mutual phase locking, or entrainment. All living beings are oscillators. We vibrate. Amoeba or human, we pulse, move rhythmically, change rhythmically; we keep time. You can see it in the amoeba under the microscope, vibrating in frequencies on the atomic, the molecular, the subcellular, and the cellular levels. That constant, delicate, complex throbbing is the process of life itself made visible.37 I want to conclude by using Le Guin’s description of entrainment to envision the garden as composed of multiple vibrating bodies subtly entraining with each other. Perhaps this happens all the time, and it is only the obsessive gardeners who are attuned to these frequencies. This attunement engenders intimacy across difference, creating an “intimacy of strangers,” to use evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis’s phrase.38 Jekyll embraced this intimacy, becoming attuned to the voices of others and involved in the minute happenings and everyday evolutions of her garden. Following the obsessive gardeners, we should attempt to cultivate these intimacies with strangers, because intimacy leads to what Donna Haraway calls “response-ability;” a sensitivity towards others that inspires potentially risky and noninnocent actions as a response.39 Gardening is a model for cultivating practices of response-ability that allow us to “makewith – become-with, compose-with – the earth-bound.”40



BATUL ABBAS is a writer, garden designer, sister, illustrator of dreams, master of AutoCAD, woman of color, American, and an advocate for the internal and the introverted. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia Master of Landscape Architecture program. She has conducted fieldwork on spatial and political tactics in Mexico City, and most recently, in the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois along the Dakota Access Pipeline. You can follow her on Instagram @babbas213. BEGOÑA DE ABAJO CASTRILLO and CARLOS FERNÁNDEZ GARCÍA received Master of Science degrees in architecture from Columbia University in New York, where they studied as Fulbright Fellows. They studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (ETSAM) and were international students at IIT in Chicago and TU Delft respectively. At the beginning of their career de Abajo worked at the offices of Alvaro Siza and Foster and Partners while García worked as an independent architect. In 2013 they founded RAW/deAbajoGarcia, a professional office that assembles their experiences within the fields of design, construction and academia. García also holds a Ph.D. in Architecture from ETSAM, has held an architectural fellowship at the Spanish Academy in Rome, and has been a visiting researcher at Keio University in Tokyo. He is currently an associate professor at the Architectural Projects Department at ETSAM while de Abajo is currently developing her Ph.D., working and teaching at ETSAM as a research fellow. GAIZKA ALTUNA CHARTERINA is an architect at the Technical School of Architecture of San Sebastián. In 2015, Altuna Charterina graduated with a Master's degree in Advanced Architectural Projects from the School of Architecture of at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (ETSAM). He has been a member of the M-etxea group since 2010. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Doctorate in Advanced Architectural Projects program at ETSAM, an activity that integrates his professional career as an architect. He also teaches at ETSAM as a mentor in the CoLab teaching unit. TOM BLISKA received his Master of Architecture in 2016 from the University of Virginia. His current research focuses on the messy, productive, and difficult overlaps between infrastructure and public space in the contemporary city. He holds a Bachelor's degree in art history and studio art from Williams College. SPRING BRACCIA-BECK received her Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia in December 2016. During her studies at UVa, she focused on the experience of the human being within architecture, questioning how the built environment can better the human and natural condition. Her work ranges from addressing the impact of living environments on mental health to exploring the space that we inhabit after death. IAN CAINE and CURTIS ROTH, under the direction of RIENTS DIJKSTRA, are architects and urbanists. Ian Caine is an architect and urban designer who explores the form, processes, and impacts of


suburban expansion. He is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and researcher with the Spatial History Project at Stanford University. Caine’s design work has received multiple awards from the American Institute of Architects, as well as recognition in the Rising Tides, Build-a-Better-Burb, and Dry Futures international competitions. Caine holds a SMArchS degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BA in Political Science and MArch from Washington University, where he received the AIA School Medal. Curtis Roth is an assistant professor at the Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University and a 2015-2017 resident fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. He holds a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was previously a partner of OfficeUS, the U.S. Pavilion during the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. He investigates architecture’s processes of cultural, economic, and juridical valuation after the Internet through diverse media productions including movies, video games, Internet micro-economies, drawings, texts and occasionally IRL stuff. Rients Dijkstra is professor of urban design in Architecture and the Built Environment program at Delft University of Technology and founder of Maxwan architects + urbanists in Rotterdam. LIZ CAMUTI and HALLIE MILLER are Master of Landscape Architecture candidates at the University of Virginia. Camuti holds a Bachelor's degree in international agriculture and rural development from Cornell University. Camuti previously studied landscape architecture at Louisiana State University and worked as a landscape designer at Spackman Mossop + Michaels in New Orleans, LA where she nurtured her research interests in urban materiality and vacant land. Miller is a Master of Landscape Architecture candidate and the administrator of the Environmental Thought and Practice program at the University of Virginia. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and studio art from the State University New York College at Geneseo. Her research interests include investigations of psychological impacts of small scale interventions and human centered design practices. She also harbors an enduring love for all things snow and ice. PHOEBE CRISMAN, AIA is an associate professor of architecture and director of the Global Environments + Sustainability program at the University of Virginia. Educated at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Carnegie Mellon University, she is a licensed Architect and Urban Designer with Crisman+Petrus Architects. In her research and practice, she creates sustainable strategies and engagement processes to promote socio-economic revitAlization, environmental restoration, coastal resilience, and more just communities. LUKE HARRIS holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor's degree in international studies from Macalester College. He is a former editor of Lunch 11, and lives and


practices in Brooklyn, NY. He is currently pursuing a collective research project on the Dakota Access Pipeline that articulates the pipeline as a material and social actor, documenting the relationship between extraction economies, nonhuman agencies, and political action. JULIA JAMROZIK and CORYN KEMPSTER are Canadian designers and artists. Collaborating since 2003, they endeavor to create spaces, objects, and situations that interrupt the ordinary in a critically engaging and playful way. Jamrozik is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she studied both architecture and art history and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Julia has worked as an Architect at Herzog & de Meuron and taught architectural design studios at the ETH in Zurich. Her research interest focuses on public space, public buildings, and the role that an understanding of both playfulness and play can have in the shaping of these environments. Kempster has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Toronto and earned his Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a concentration in visual arts where he was a teaching assistant to Joan Jonas, Ute Meta Bauer, Antoni Muntadas, and Krzysztof Wodiczko. Coryn has worked as an architect at Herzog & de Meuron and as project director at Harry Gugger Studio in Basel, Switzerland. JONGWAN KWON is a teaching fellow and research associate in the architecture department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he teaches design studios. He holds a Master of Architecture and Urban Design Certificate from MIT and a Bachelor of Architecture Summa Cum Laude from Hanyang University in Korea. He was awarded the SOM Prize in Architecture, Design, and Urban Design in 2016. MARÍA LIDÓN de MIGUEL recently received a Master of Architecture from the UPV School of Architecture in Valencia, Spain. She is interested in what people feel towards the places that they inhabit and the necessary link between architecture and urbanism. NINA-MARIE LISTER is graduate program director and associate professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson Univrsity. From 2010-2014, she was Visiting Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. A registered professional planner (MCIP, RPP) trained in ecology, environmental science and landscape planning, she is the founding principal of PLANDFORM, a creative studio practice exploring the relationship between landscape, ecology, and urbanism. Lister’s research, teaching, and practice focus on the confluence of landscape infrastructure and ecological processes within contemporary metropolitan regions, with a particular focus on resilience and complex, adaptive systems design. Her work has also been featured in many international exhibitions, including the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale in which Lister is a collaborator on Canada’s entry, EXTRACTION. SETH McDOWELL is an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Virginia and a co-founding partner of the award winning architecture practice mcdowellespinosa. He received a Master


of Architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and a Bachelor of Science in Design from Clemson University. McDowell’s design work, writing, and teaching examines the topic of adaptive construction—a research trajectory that investigates new possibilities for material alchemy and emergent construction technique EARL MARK and AUSTIN EDWARDS are designers at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Mark is a professor of architecture at the University of Virginia, where he teaches, performs research, and has published in the areas of computer aided design, digital movie making and animation, computervision, and design research. Prior to arriving at UVA, Mark was a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Architecture, a senior teaching fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and visiting lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich. He holds a Ph.D. in Architecture with a minor in cognitive science from Harvard University, a Master of Science in Media Technology from the MIT Media Lab, a Master of Architecture from UNM, and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Mathematics from SUNY. Austin Edwards is a third-year architecture graduate student at the University of Virginia. Prior to his enrollment in the architecture program, Edwards graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University and interned for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at George C. Marshall Spaceflight Center, where he was rewarded for his design of an additively-manufactured engine structural component. MATTHEW SCARNATTY is a dual-degree landscape architecture and architecture graduate student who recently completed his final year at the University of Virginia. His research interests include productive cultural landscapes and adaptive reuse. OWEN WEINSTEIN, LEED AP holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from University of Cincinnati. A native of Washington, D.C., Owen is currently working as a designer for Studio G in Boston. He is also wrapping up independent research on the social, political, and spatial opportunities of urban water systems from his boat in Boston harbor where he lives.


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