SCENARIO 6: MIGRATION – Coming Soon


 
At long last, we are getting ready to release SCENARIO 6: MIGRATION later this month. Since we put out the call for submissions just over a year ago, a cascade of current events around the world has prompted us to reassess the theme and reinforced for us the timeliness and urgency of this topic. From the U.S. election to a profoundly changed political climate in Europe, to increasingly visible changes in natural systems facing the early effects of climate change, migration is all around us. The topic is a complicated one, and there were some elements and perspectives on Migration that we were keen to include in the issue. We felt we needed more time to properly address the breadth and urgency of the topic of migration. We are excited to be putting the finishing touches on this issue as we speak and think you will enjoy it. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, let us share with you some of the stories from around the internet that we are reading, watching, and listening to, all of them reverberating in one way or another around the many facets of the topic of migration–of people, of animals, of materials, of landscapes. Enjoy!

 
What we’re reading:

This stunning and brutal account of human trafficking and Nigerian girls risking everything to make their way across the deserts of Libya to reach Europe. Fleeing Boko Haram. Probably not what architects mean when they talk about adaptive reuse. Photographer Richard Mosse talks about repurposing a camera made for long-range battle surveillance to show humanity in refugee camps. Forensic anthropologists document the human tragedy of immigration through the remains of 550 bodies found in a single county in South Texas. Trump’s wall may also impact thousands of plant and animal species. Saltwater migration is already killing coastal forests at the leading edge of climate change.

The planning and construction of detention centers in rural areas effectively robs detainees of their right to an attorney. How Washington blew its best chance to fix immigration years ago. On those days when America seems heartless, know that this small town welcomes 1,500 refugees a year. While Americans envy the generosity of kinder Presidents, some Canadians doubt the #WelcomeToCanada campaign. Trump’s Paris climate agreement speech, annotated by an expert in energy and foreign policy. Why scientists are bad at explaining climate change.

Immigration is changing languages and people are modulating how they use the term migration. Globalization and industrial agriculture have created an unprecedented microbial migration. Pronghorn antelopes learn to use highway overpasses on the first federally designated migration corridor in North America, while the Department of Transportation wonders if grizzlies, fish, and monarch butterflies may benefit from highways. Tracing human migration through music and nocturnal bird flight through acoustic monitoring. And in Somalia where nomadic tribes migrate in search of water and pasture, climate change is acting as the catalyst of conflict and displacement.

 

What we’re listening to:

The language of human migration is ever-shifting and political: migrant, immigrant, asylum-seeker, and refugee. The journey of an unaccompanied minor from Honduras to the United States. 99% Invisible’s excellent two-part series on the history of Sanctuary Cities.

 

Happy exploring,
 
Stephanie Carlisle and Nicholas Pevzner
Editors-in-Chief // Scenario Journal

 

Image credit:  An aerial view of Za’atri refugee camp, Jordan. Photo by United Nations Photo.

Reporting From the Front: Venice Architecture Biennale

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Curator Alejandro Aravena at entrance to Arsenale exhibitions, with leftover metal studs from last year’s Art Biennale hanging above. Photo by Laila Seewang

 

This year’s Venice Biennale took the theme of “The Front” as its curatorial premise. Curator Alejandro Aravena, in his introduction, highlighted the many fronts necessary to tackle in the battle to improve the quality of the built environment: “segregation, inequalities, peripheries, access to sanitation, natural disasters, housing shortage, migration, informality, crime, traffic, waste, pollution and participation of communities,” a set of concerns reflected in his choice of exhibitors on display at the Arsenale. The first room displays the leftover metal studs from the 2015 Art Biennale as a way of introducing us — as designers, but also as clients and users — to all-too-common wasted material that often underlies artistic and architectural expression.  Although the theme is developed across scales and disciplines — from planning, infrastructure, architecture to furniture — many of the exhibitors foreground the benefits of ground-up design that result when social, environmental, and political lessons trump economic factors. In the national pavilions ‘fronts’ were interpreted more liberally, three of which are worth concentrating on in more detail.

 

FRONT 1: Technology (meets beauty)

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Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo by Oliver Dubuis

Craftsmanship has come to be expected from Swiss architecture, usually in white concrete. While this year’s Swiss pavilion confirms these material expectations, the form it takes is unexpected. Inside the simple modern pavilion curator Sandra Oehy has placed an enormous white lump that pushes uncomfortably up against the pitched clerestory roof, and it is a delightful surprise.

It is possible to enter the lump. And inside is a world that resembles what one imagines the innards of a Louise Bourgeois sculpture to be, but with the same peacefulness one would expect from more elegant Swiss architecture. The result is quietly extra-human — more crafted nature than architecture. The experience is unequivocally beautiful.

Schweizer Pavillon von Christian Kerez am 23. Mai 2016 in Venedig fotografiert. (KEYSTONE/Gaetan Bally)

Christian Kerez, Incidental Space, Installation View, Swiss Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo by Keystone/Gaëtan Bally

The front that architect and exhibitor Christian Kerez refers to is that of the architectural design process itself: specifically, the technological front by which space is conceived and produced. For the pavilion, titled “Incidental Space,” he and his students first created material compositions out of wax, sand, or nails in wood, and digitally assembled their casts into a singular form. The resulting piece was 3D printed to form a solid around which the final piece, only 2cm thick, was cast. It is hard to say whether the result is beautiful because of this tortured process or in spite of it, but against any of the descriptions the curatorial team have offered, I would say that the theme they are approaching with this project is not (only) one of design process, it is that of beauty. I asked Kerez how he chose iteration 180 out of 300: was it intuitive, or was he looking for beauty, and he was slow to answer. Architects don’t often speak about wanting to make beauty today — the risk of aiming for beauty as opposed to complexity is that it will always fail, as one person’s beauty will be another’s banality, especially if experienced amid a crowd filled with expectations after reading an entire ARCH+ issue dedicated to the pavilion’s design. Kerez smiled, and replied that he was looking for something illegible and complex.

 

FRONT 2: Environment (meets respect)

“Remoteness — like wilderness, is an imperial myth and a colonial lie. There is no frontier — no terra nullius, there never was. Canada, no matter how apparently remote, has live boundaries, edges, peripheries, thresholds and lived histories. Today there are only frontlines. Doctrines of (mineral) discovery latent in the ideologies of remote (resource) exploration are coming to an abrupt end on new fronts of action and resistance.”

Undermining Empire: A Landscape Manifesto for the Next Century.

The Canadians tackled the idea of the frontier itself, and appropriately enough weren’t even allowed to exhibit in their pavilion which was closed for extended renovations, but rather had to negotiate their territory for almost a year and a half with administration and neighboring pavilions in order to hold their landscape intervention outdoors in the Giardini. A wall of large sacks filled with gold ore extracted by a failed Canadian company in Sardinia barricades the way to the closed Canadian pavilion, eyed by biennale visitors on the first day as they walked through the area. At 3pm on Friday afternoon the crowd gathered around a circular quilt of beaver pelts, for the unfolding of the story.

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OPSYS / RVTR / Ryerson University Ecological Design Lab / Studio Blackwell / Hume Atelier, Extraction, Canadian Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition.
Photo by Laila Seewang

Part-exhibition, part-performance and part-protest, the story was about Extraction – specifically Canada’s roots as an extraction economy and its role in extraction practices around the world. Precisely positioned at the junction between the British and French pavilions, whose empires are also historically implicated in these same practices, the circular quilt was uncovered to reveal a large milled Corian inverted map of the world installed in the ground, with a cast solid gold survey stake at its center.

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OPSYS / RVTR / Ryerson University Ecological Design Lab / Studio Blackwell / Hume Atelier, Extraction, Canadian Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition.
Photo ©2016 OPSYS

In the complex entanglement between colonial politics, land occupation, and environmental impact, the Canadian story plays out with particular reference to indigenous First Nations, represented for the opening by Eriel Tchekwie Deranger from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Treaty 8 Lands: one of many communities that have been affected by the scale of the practice that accompanied the transition from use-value to trade-value. It is in this sense that the European colonization of the territory of Canada can be seen as a starting point for the extraction story: the removal of valued resources from the places where they are found in order to fuel urbanization across the globe, and the construction of the very idea of territory to enable this forced removal.

06_©2016 OPSYS - Pedro Aparicio - Boram Lee - Altiplano

Pedro Aparicio, Boram Lee, Estudio Altiplano, Film Still from
A Walk in the Park of Empires, ©2016 OPSYS

Focusing on the land in this way simultaneously allows one to understand the forces that co-construct both urban and natural environments, and highlights the very physical nature of political and economic contestations. While the curators of this year’s Canadian pavilion chose to confront their own country’s darker relationships with extraction and the political, financial and social disenfranchisement that comes with it, this story could be told by many countries. The criticism that “the state operates like an open pit mine” is a provocation that should resonate with anyone looking at A Brief History of Empire, the video history of 800 years of mining told with 800 images in 800 seconds, viewed through the solid gold oculus inserted into the earth at the center of the Canadian intervention.

 

FRONT 3: Construction (meets fairness)

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Dominika Janicka, Martyna Janicka, and Michal Gdak, Fair Building, Polish Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Exhibition. Photo by Anne Kockelkorn

The ability to understand that these stories from the front, as presented by the national pavilions, are transferable across nations, is a commendable strength of this year’s Biennale.  This is most clear in Poland’s contribution, by curator Dominika Janicka, which focuses on the construction worker as the actor at the frontier of building practice. In a minimal presentation, five screens inside the pavilion give us the point-of-view of builders as they perform their daily work on a residential high-rise construction site. Hands turning, eyes gazing to the city beyond, or looking for firm footing, we become the builders for a moment. For design professionals, the primary visitors during the preview days, this is a rather uncommon vantage point. The Polish construction worker plays on a caricature certainly, but again the story is transferable to any large-scale project: one wall counts the number of unreported construction accidents, unpaid overtime, fast-track short cuts, and all the other unfair labor practices generated by global property development. The fact that “Fair Building,” the title of the Polish exhibition, is a frontier makes it sadly obvious that what should be theoretically simple is in fact rather far away on the horizon for most of the world’s designed environments.

The Biennale, in Kerez’s words, is a protected space for deviance, and there are many experimental and critical fronts on display at the Biennale this year. The three fronts of technology, environment, and construction explicitly tackled the overt concerns of the design fields at large, but it is their respective implicit fronts – beauty, respect, and fairness – that offer the best suggestions for how to open up the horizon of concerns for contemporary practice. And this is what seems to underlie Aravena’s call for experiment and criticism this year: we either have to move our values away from the financial frontiers that we have our eyes fixed upon all too often, or we should own up to our complicity in making finance the only horizon we, and the people we design for, can see. Given the importance of the Biennale for the design professions, there is hope and possibility that some of this deviance will seep out of the Giardini and into our design practice.

Scenario 6: Migration – Open Call Closing Soon

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This has been a year of migration, in what promises to be a new normal of shifting populations and whole landscapes responding to changing climate and grinding conflict. We would like to remind our readers about our current Call for Submissions, which closes next week on May 28th. SCENARIO 6: Migration is seeking critical essays, provocations, and design projects that explore the relationship between migration patterns and our designed landscape.

 

The open call prompts us to think about the spatial, social and environmental impacts of flows, habitats, coasts, borders, and populations on the move: Is promoting connectivity always the answer, or does it make native populations more vulnerable to invasion? Which flows do we want to encourage, and which to block? Stirred into motion by the stresses of historic planetary change, how can populations on the move keep up, and what kind of assistance can design offer?

 

We hope you will consider submitting. Full submission details can be found at https://scenariojournal.com/submit/

 

Call For Submissions: SCENARIO 6 Migration

We are pleased to announce the open Call for Submissions for the next issue of Scenario Journal. This upcoming issue will explore the patterns, processes and repercussions of migration. We are looking for pieces that take on topic of populations on the move, from a variety of perspectives, regions, species. We’re interested in socially provocative, architecturally strange, ecologically driven projects. We’re looking for well-researched, vividly illustrated writing that helps us see landscapes and communities in a new light. Please submit your provocations.

If you haven’t had a chance to dig into our last issue: SCENARIO 5: Extraction, we think you’ll enjoy it. Content, as always, is open-access and free of charge.
S6_Call For Submissions

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Deadline: May 28th, 2016

Populations move. Plants disperse genes by way of seeds and pollen; wetlands accrete and erode; animals forage, mate, roam. Humans leave their homes in search of work, land, education, safety, and opportunity. Migration is a process by which organisms track resources, discover, and escape. The patterns of migration reflect spatial and temporal changes in the landscape. Species also shape the environment as they move through it.

The design of our cities can facilitate or inhibit migration. All interventions in the built environment have cascading effects across the ecosystem. Patterns of movement rely on complex networks of relationships and drivers that can easily be disturbed, or enhanced, by a dam, a highway, a border fence, a subdivision, a grove of trees, a feral cat. How do we make sense of these relationships? Is promoting connectivity always the answer, or does it make native populations more vulnerable to invasion? Which flows do we want to encourage, and which to block? Stirred into motion by the stresses of historic planetary change, how can populations on the move keep up, and what kind of assistance can design offer?

SCENARIO 6 welcomes the submission of critical essays, provocations, and design projects that explore the relationship between migration patterns and our designed landscape. As designers, planners, politicians, and ecologists shape urban and regional landscapes, what role will the ever-shifting flow of populations play?

Submission Requirements:

  • Design projects and photo essays should have a clear and focused text no longer than 1000 words, accompanied by 6-10 images.
  • Article-based submissions should range in length from 1000 to 4000 words.
  • We prefer to receive submissions as Microsoft Word documents with images embedded with the text. All sources and citations should be clearly indicated and included as footnotes or endnotes according to the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Send submissions to mail@scenariojournal.com, with ‘Submission′ in the subject line. Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • Please alert us if work has been previously published or if it has been submitted simultaneously to another publication.
Image (above) by Abhijit Shylanath

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SCENARIO 5 is Published

Postcards-OutlineText

We are pleased to announce the launch of the latest issue of Scenario Journal – Scenario 5: Extraction.

Extraction sustains our society. We rely on energy to power the technology in our lives but are disconnected from the landscapes that must be exploited to yield that energy. We dig and blast materials to construct and repair the physical infrastructure of our towns and cities, but rarely pause to think about the origin of the gravel, concrete, stone, and steel that comprise the built environment.

This issue of Scenario Journal explores a range of extraction landscapes, and the networks that sustain them. The pieces in this collection bring us to the sites of extraction of a range of materials (coal, oil, water, gravel, slate, cement, phosphate, copper and gold, as well as more intangible materials like wind, fish, and solar radiation). They tie together the materials and spaces of extraction with the underlying processes and flows that drive these landscape transformations. Collectively the pieces in this collection present extraction as a condition rooted in history, yet actively transforming the future of the landscape, and along with it communities, economies, technology, and equity.

Extraction collectively represents humanity’s most drastic and lasting imprint upon the geological and ecological patterns of the Earth. By looking closely at the relationship between resource consumption and networks of extraction, we aim to highlight the reciprocal nature of these paired landscapes, and to give designers, artists, planners, engineers, and urban citizens a spatial vocabulary for taking collective responsibility for landscape transformation.

Scenario 5: Extraction brings together critical essays, projective design proposals, rich photo pieces, historic research, and speculative fiction by Bradford Watson and Sean Burkholder, Gavin Bridge, J Henry Fair, Frank Matero, Guy Trangoš and Kerry Bobbins, Claudia Bode, Rob Holmes, Lauren Sosa and Christie Allen, Neyran Turan, Neeraj Bhatia, Nicholas Pevzner, Jamie Vanucchi, Elizabeth Yarina, Matthew Wiener, and Alexander Breedon.

The full issue of Scenario 5: Extraction can be found free of charge on this site. Its been a pleasure working with such a talented group of authors. We hope you enjoy reading this issue, and share it with your friends and colleagues.

Stephanie Carlisle and Nicholas Pevzner
Editors-in-Chief // Scenario Journal

 

Recent Events: The Architecture League 5KL: Water Symposium

5KL-Water

Photo by Charles O’Rear, desaturated from original.

 

February 7th marked the most recent event in the ongoing Five Thousand Pound Life series, The Architecture League of New York’s multi-year initiative of public eventsdigital releases, and design studies that look at the challenges of reimagining the American way of life to address climate change.

This is the third in the series of 5KL symposia, which so far have tackled EnergyLand, and now Water. Both focused and expansive, the Water symposium cast its net across three very different regions, each with its own water worries—Los Angeles, the Great Lakes, and New York. All three regions have rich histories enabled by daring feats of civil engineering. Aqueducts, reservoirs and thousands of miles of canals and pipes have allowed cities and regions to grow, but have also irrevocably altered natural hydrological patterns. Today, each region is struggling to manage these legacy infrastructures and adapt them to the challenges of the coming century.

New York City is well supplied with drinking water because of the visionary and technically pioneering work of local leaders and civil engineers in the 19th century, who gave civic identity to the city’s water infrastructure system. Now we have moved from a century of engineering to a century of management. As Al Appleton, the former director of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection made clear in his talk, intelligently managing the old pipes and dams, the watershed lands, the sewage treatment, and waste disposal operations of this massive system is no easy task, although it is absolutely critical. Helping farmers fence pastures and control their waste flows in the vast Upstate watershed of the aqueduct system helps water quality downstream, saving billions over the new water filtration plants that would otherwise be needed. Reducing water use and runoff reduces wastewater treatment demands, which saves energy and waste disposal costs, freeing up money to staff up wastewater treatment plants so that they run more efficiently. Decision pathways are interconnected, and getting consensus from farmers, administrators, regulators, environmentalists and economists is a management task that lets New York’s historic and heroic public works continue to function. The upcoming challenges will revolve around retrofits for coastal protection and ongoing operation—such as what to do with billion-dollar low-lying wastewater treatment plants, and a sewer system designed with outfalls that will be underwater if this century’s expected sea level rise exceeds their 3.5-foot elevation above mean high tide.

The Great Lakes are grappling with their own challenges of how to manage water quality in an enormous transnational watershed that incorporates 8 states, a province and 40 tribal governments—a region so large that it makes its own weather, but whose stability is threatened by invasive species, urban and industrial effluents, and climate-driven changes to the precipitation patterns beyond the design criteria for current infrastructure. Here too, hydrology has been altered by great feats of civil engineering. The watersheds of the Great Lakes are now connected to the larger Mississippi River thanks to the historic reversal of the Chicago River in 1900; cities like Chicago have spent incredible sums of money on deep tunnels and reservoirs to comply with water quality regulations for the water that enters the Great Lakes and the river. Poorer cities like Detroit with legacy water and wastewater infrastructure that they can’t afford are experimenting with green infrastructure strategies for urban runoff, but are a long way from either compliance or a coherent civic identity for this new soft infrastructure.

5KL-Water Management in L.A.

A visualization of the complex flows of potable water in L.A. County, as developed by the CCSC at UCLA, 2014.

 

But it was Los Angles that stole the show, with the most dramatic example of the overlaps between the infrastructure of water, energy, food, and urbanization. Whereas heroic acts of civil engineering had historically enabled a metropolis to grow in the middle of a desert, the water supply is not only on the brink of collapse from dramatic decreases in snowpack that feeds the reservoirs, but is constantly stymied by a fragmented jurisdictional and ownership landscape that makes holistic water management next to impossible. Stephanie Pincetl from UCLA’s California Center of Sustainable Communities presented a dizzying visualization of the complex system of water governance in L.A. County, where water rates are set by over 100 water retailers, in 5 municipal water districts, across 4 basins overseen by 7 watermasters. Despite a four-year drought and shrinking snowpack that point to a very dry future for California, Pincetl suggests that L.A. doesn’t have a crisis of water, but rather a crisis of water management. Meanwhile, using an approach that blended political ecology and industrial ecology, Joshua Newell presented a powerful Life Cycle Analysis of the L.A. water system’s energy use, which exposes dramatic differences in energy consumption between the four aqueducts that supply the city. Local groundwater and recycled water don’t come out blameless on the energy use side, and surprisingly it is the LA Aqueduct that stole the water from Owens Valley that comes out on top as least energy-intensive to operate.

These diverse examples all point to a sense that biophysical, cultural and political landscapes are deeply intertwined. Understanding complex infrastructural systems requires thinking across both distance and disciplines. We need to foster collaboration between researchers from engineering, environmental science, economics, design and management both to model complex system performance, and to visualize the impact of these interventions. Effective communication will build a water-savvy public better informed and empowered to make responsible decisions in daily life that have far-reaching environmental impacts. Water management is a challenge of representation, communication, and imagination, and is as urgent today as in the days of thirst and cholera.

 

Call For Submissions: SCENARIO 5 Extraction

Welcome back to Scenario Journal.  If you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed us laying low for the last couple of months, as we’ve been focusing on teaching, recovering from our latest issue, Scenario 4: Building the Urban Forest, and taking a bit of time to recuperate and refocus on our primary mission — curating and developing original content that brings together a trans-disciplinary conversation at the intersection of design, science and technology. Back with fresh energy, we are happy to launch our latest call for submissions, looking at the landscapes of extraction that sustain urbanization. The call for Scenario 5: Extraction is now open; we hope to see many of you submit critical essays, provocations, original photography, and design projects on this fascinating and urgent topic.

Scenario 5 Call for Submissions

Deadline for Submissions: January 31st, 2015

Extraction sustains our society. We rely on energy to power the technology in our lives, but are disconnected from the landscapes that must be exploited in order to yield that energy. We dig and blast materials to build and repair the physical infrastructure of our cities, but rarely think about the places from which they come. As the world population becomes more urban and more spatially removed from the landscapes that supply its raw materials and energy needs, as supply chains elongate and become more globalized, our reliance on remotely extracted natural resources only continues to increase, while our relationship to the landscapes of extraction recedes ever-further from daily view.

The logistical and infrastructural connections of the city to its hinterland effectively expand the urban territory— connecting sites of extraction, transmission and consumption. How do these landscapes fit into the larger urban social, economic, and ecological systems? What meaningful connections can contemporary cities make to their extraction landscapes? How can designers, mangers, and researchers operating on these sites engage public narratives, make visible natural resource flows, and energize cultural production? How might these sites engender new ecological opportunities, experiment with new techno-landscapes, and jump-start new possibilities for settlement? How do landscapes of extraction bridge the spatial disconnect between city and hinterland?

Scenario 5: Extraction welcomes the submission of critical essays, provocations, and design projects that explore the role, reality, and potential offered by landscapes of extraction.

Submission Requirements:

  • Design projects and photo essays should have a clear and focused text no longer than 1000 words, accompanied by 6-10 images.
  • Article-based submissions should range in length from 1000 to 4000 words.
  • We prefer to receive submissions as Microsoft Word documents with images embedded with the text. All sources and citations should be clearly indicated and included as footnotes or endnotes according to the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Please alert us if work has been previously published or if it has been submitted simultaneously to another publication.
  • Send submissions to mail@scenariojournal.com, with ‘ISSUE 5 Submission′ in the subject line. Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • DEADLINE: Submissions are due January 31st, 2015.
Image (above): Open coal mine Garzweiler by Bert Kaufmann

PennDesign Launches New Interdisciplinary Journal

LA+ Logo

Landscape architects often point to the interdisciplinary potential of their work, yet too often talk exclusively to other designers. Now comes a new publication from PennDesign that explicitly takes on the interdisciplinary challenge: LA+, as it will be known, will curate each issue through the multiple lenses of varied disciplines plus landscape architecture, all taking on a common topic.

The inaugural issue, to be published this coming Spring, LA+ WILD, explores the resurgent role of the concept of “wildness”—as wildness moves from a passive romantic ideal to an active process of design, involving “rewilding,” large-scale habitat restoration and species conservation, scientific experiments, the construction of novel ecosystems, and wildness’ effect on aesthetics and the human psyche. The issue includes pieces by ecologists, biologists, artists, bioengineers, landscape architects, climatologists, environmental historians, and philosophers, among others. Having seen the list of contributors, we’re very excited for the WILD issue, published and distributed by ORO Editions.

The bi-annual publication has already queued up a number of subsequent issue topics: LA+ PLEASURE, LA+ TYRANNY, and LA+ IDENTITY. Each one will be seeking submissions from a broad range of disciplines to complement the landscape architecture angle, stimulating cross-pollination and inspiration for designers. As Editor-in-Chief Tatum Hands explains, “We wanted to produce something completely different to the usual landscape design journal—which generally just features designers talking to other designers—and truly embrace the rhetoric that landscape architecture is an interdisciplinary field.”

As Richard Weller, the chair of Landscape Architecture at PennDesign describes it, LA+ was conceived to fill a certain void in landscape architectural publishing. “Whilst we have trade magazines on the one hand and refereed academic journals on the other there isn’t much in between and it’s in that space that the contemporary, thinking professional largely exists. Our sense is that there is a large readership who want information that is neither at the level of superficial promotion nor overly academic. So, LA+ seeks to be a bridge between the academy and practice and, most importantly, to link landscape architecture to other disciplines.”

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Exhibit: Lebbeus Woods at The Drawing Center

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Lebbeus Woods, Architect.
April 17, 2014 – June 15, 2004
THE DRAWING CENTER 35 Wooster Street, New York, NY

Lebbeus Woods, Architect, on exhibit at The Drawing Center, traces the career of Lebbeus Woods, a visionary architect whose responses to the sites of trauma have given us haunting designs — intricate, beautiful, full of memory, and ultimately optimistic. The show includes a number of Woods’ projects spanning 40 years of work, from the dynamic tensioned and cantilevered pods of bombed-out Sarajevo, to the “Freespaces” of Berlin during the time of the Wall, to the “ecological utopia” of his Demilitarized Zone in Korea, and to the San Francisco Earthquake houses. Impossibly intricate styrene study models, meticulously annotated sketchbooks, and fragments of writing accompany the powerful drawings in a space that is small yet filled with palpable humanism and love of craft.

While at first glance many of the projects appear futuristic or dystopian, his writing reveals an optimism, compassion, and resilience in the aftermath of trauma. By going to the deep, dark places of war and destruction, Woods tried to understand how to build on and with, these layers of trauma.

The show reveals the work of an architect and urbanist who cared deeply about the memory embedded in the physical apparatus of the city. His work projects a desire to grapple with and make sense of the past, rather than erasing the wounds of war. The work insists that the destruction of war-torn landscapes might create the preconditions of a new, and better, city and society.

Though he did not leave many built projects, Lebbeus Woods’ work and words have left a lasting influence on the many designers for whom he was a teacher, a mentor, a critic and an inspiration. This exhibit at the Drawing Center reminds us of the power of a few well-placed lines on paper.

Draw. Drawing is the tool of the architect on the move, on the run, the architect who is first of all a citizen of the stricken city and the new, dynamic stability. Pen, pencil, and paper are cheap, accessible. They can be used anywhere, and, if necessary, concealed. Drawings, too, can be easily hidden, or can be exhibited, published, filmed, digitized, and therefore widely disseminated, when the architect is ready to place them in the public domain. Until that time, the architect is freed by drawing’s inherent intimacy to explore the unfamiliar and the forbidden, to break the old rules and invent new ones. Drawings can be made anywhere there is light enough to see. They are instruments of spontaneous experimentation, fluidity of thought, mobility of invention. Unlike models, drawings can describe an immense range of scales with subtlety. And, most of all, drawings are fast. This is important because the architect’s work should not, by virtue of too-arduous labor, become an end in itself. All effort in projection aims at realization in building, and thus in living. This aim cannot be compromised by the fact that not all of the architect’s projections will, can, or should be built.”

Lebbeus Woods, Radical Reconstruction 1997

 

Lebbeus Woods, Architect closes this weekend at the Drawing Center.
Please go and see it if you can.
 

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Book Review: The Petropolis of Tomorrow

Petropolis of TomorowThe Petropolis of Tomorrow, edited by Neeraj Bhatia and Mary Casper

Off the coast of Brazil, dozens of floating oil rigs mark the first wave of an enormous boom in offshore oil extraction, with 45,000 workers already deployed offshore and more on the way. 70,000 helicopter trips every month ferry workers to and from the mainland. In the coming years, in order to service the drilling operations, the oil industry is expecting to build up to 50 new deep-water platforms, floating far beyond helicopter range. With this expansion, Brazil’s latent offshore oil industry is poised to shake up the region’s laws, economies and geopolitics, and to once again radically reshape the urban form of South America’s biggest nation and its capital city.

The Petropolis of Tomorrow focuses on the technologies, logics, logistics, and architectural possibilities of the floating mechanical islands that will serve this emerging oil boom. Edited by Neeraj Bhatia and Mary Casper, this ambitious book brings together critical essays by a number of architects and theorists, along with architectural projects, which are the products of design studios that Bhatia, now an Assistant Professor at California College of the Arts (CCA), ran at both Rice University and Cornell. Petropolis takes us on a historical and speculative exploration of oil frontiers, outposts, company towns, port cities, and artificial islands — as well as the lines of infrastructure, logistics, and capital that tie them together.

Bhatia is no stranger to infrastructure: as co-director of the research collective InfraNet Lab, founder of The Open Workshop, and co-editor of Bracket [goes soft], his work has revolved around the larger speculative agenda of territory and infrastructure as it relates to architecture.

Can networks and logistics of extraction engender city making? And what does design offer to such places (and presumably the people who live and work there)?

Petropolis explores three main ideas — first, how the idea of floating cities opens up a way to think about architecture that moves beyond objects and towards networks; second, how the geography and use of vast territories take shape around the infrastructures of extraction and production; and third, how the logistics and technical realities of extraction and transmission imprint themselves on cities and landscapes, shaping land use and subsequent urban development.  While the concepts may be heavy, the book explores them through a lush combination of photography, rich narrative, design provocations and critical theory and history — striving at once to introduce the reader to these striking landscapes, and to treat the critical topics with depth.

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