11/28/2012

ULGC Guest Editing The Funambulist: Natura Non Facit Saltum, On the Concept of Adaptation

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was invited to write a text for a blog that I read with a certain pleasure. This text titled "Natura Non Facit Saltum: On the concept of Adaptation" is now online on The Funambulist. The Funambulist was founded by New-York-based architect and theoretician Léopold Lambert. He is also the author of the book Weaponized Architecture. The Impossibility of Innocence, published by dpr-barcelona, if you remember I mentioned my impatience to get my copy. The book will be available in France very soon (French readers, I will let you know  about the date and the bookstores where you will get your copy. And this will be a great opportunity to have my interview with dpr-barcelona on their editorial, publishing, and curatorial activities). For now, the book is available at Amazon UK.

Back to my contribution. If you don't know The Funambulist yet, this will be an enjoyable occasion and opportunity to discover this blog. Léopold Lambert addresses topics such as urban military, spaciocide, architectural-urban-politics, and other interesting topics. It's a theoretical blog very close to blogs like Subtopia, to limit to only one example, and Eyal Weizman's essays.

The story behind this guest editing project is simple. Two months ago, I received an email from him to guest edit a special post. While being editorially different, I accepted his invitation since it is an honor to be invited by The Funambulist. Let me add a second reason: I am a passionate reader of The Funambulist.

My text addresses the concept of adaptation, a concept very important to weave new hypotheses not only in architectural-urban term, but also in political, economic, social and ecological terms in a time when changing issues are drawing an uncertain and unstable future. It is also a research in progress for future posts at some point.

Below an abstract:

Several weeks ago, I was passively listening to a French radio, an evening economic programme in which two economists were polemically discussing France's economic situation in times of economic crisis. As this discussion, as usual, smoothly shifted into a very cacophonie (in French in the text), my interest for this programme faded away…, when an unexpected comment came to my notice: one economist admitted that, in a period of economic depletion, when future is uncertain, we are forced to adapt to pressing issues. Yet adaptation being a short-term solution in contrast with resilience, we consequently have to redefine our economic model.
I shall be introducing with a definition of adaptation. While being disputed in the biological field, I shall propose a common definition from the biology side. In evolutionary biology, adaptation is defined as a trait, a process of the continuous adjustment of a system to its environments. Adaptation, then, contributes to the fitness and survival of individuals or organisms(1). Environment, then, thus, is defined as a dynamic performative micro and macro milieus, which, in turn, together generate an ecosystem, a non-linear interrelationship of environmental topographical and structural intensities, and human and nonhuman activities. In few words, environment is made of stimuli that impact its components which, in turn, are forced to fit with these changes,… or go extinct. Human being, as an individual, is able to respond to environmental changes with socio-cultural physiological growth adjustments.
(…)
Adaptation is becoming implicit in a part of the architectural field. Morphogenetic design investigates the discipline of biology — evolutionary biology, genetics, synthetic life research, developmental biology —, borrowing its vocabulary such as adaptation, differentiation, cell growth, self-organization, mutation, emergence, so on. The introduction of biological field allows a shifting spatial paradigm and advanced sustainability that connect material systems with environmental stress, the resulting provisions and opportunities for inhabitants(2) (initially note 5). A part of research in morphogenetic design focuses on how an individual or organism responds, then, adapts to environmental input. When a habitat is affected, three main consequences appear that will impact its population: habitat tracking, genetic change or extinction. By exploring adaptation of individuals or organisms to their environment, morphogenetic design explores different ways of strategizing morphological and ecological behaviors reliant on an evolutionary design process(3) (initially note 6).

The full article is available on The Funambulist.


Endnotes
(1): Kitano Hiraoki, 2002, Systems biology: a brief overview. Science, Vol. 295. See also: Krimbas Costas B., 2004. "On fitness. Biology and philosophy", Vol. 19, Issue 2.
(2) (in the original text: note 5): Hensel Michael, Menges Achim, Weinstock Michael, 2006. "Towards self-organisational and multiple-performance capacity in architecture", in Architectural Design, Vol. 76, Issue 2.
(3) (in the original text: note 6): Menges Achim, 2004. "Morpho-Ecologies: Approaching complex environments", in Architectural Design, Vol. 74, Issue 3.


11/27/2012

Towards an Adaptable Infrastructure?

I am hardly working on a series of posts, including that on Kate Orff. The video below can be related to the forthcoming post on Kate Orff insofar as it deals with the current condition of New York State's infrastructure (about the question of infrastructure: if you have a chance, I recommend to read Quaderns' issue 262 on Para-Infrastructure, among many other papers, magazines, essays on this question of re-calibrating infrastructure).

This superstorm Sandy revealed the obsolescence and vulnerability of New York State's infrastructural model (see a selection of papers, articles: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). I will not go deeper in this question as I am working on this aforementioned post related to Kate Orff. In few words, I will posit that concepts of response, change, adaptation, non-linear, softness, differentiation, mitigation, vulnerability, problem-addressing, scalability, self-sustained, self-reliance, mutability, adaptability…, pose new hypotheses in terms of re-calibrating landscape infrastructure. Sandy — but also Irene, Katrina, Xynthia (in France),  and other natural disasters not related to climate changes such as Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami, to limit to these examples — has revealed that humans and infrastructures are not only interconnected as well as reliant upon landscape.

In this video, Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior research scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, argues that climate change will have a serious impact in New York State's infrastructural system. 'Critical structure' as she termed: bridges, sewage systems, but also public health and agriculture.

With a clear evidence: coastal and waterborne zones are concerned with natural disasters, global warming consequences. Unpreparedness will become more and more critical.

This, of course, raises loads of questions: What do these natural disasters and these global-warming-related natural shifts teach us about our relation with landscape, our approach to implementing and our uncertain futures? How can we problem-address these mutable, unpredictable issues?

In the framework of The Taubman College Symposium organized by Etienne Turpin, Seth Denizen and Paulo Tavares propose a first path,
Scaling our designs and desires to the geologic would require us to assemble responsively with the non-human scale of geo-forces in play on this planet.
In a simplest word, making a geologic turn as a possible way to re-articulate infrastructures, communities, and imaginations in relation with landscape.


credit video: A Crisis Foretold: Studies Warned New York Infrastructure Critically Threatened by Climate Change, originally appeared on The Democracy Now.

Source: The Democracy Now!

11/25/2012

Global Infrastructure | Keller Easterling ı The Geopolitics of Subtraction, Domus 963

While impatiently waiting for Keller Easterling's new piece, Extrastatecraft, I continue my investigation on this theoretician of architecture with a new piece, written by Keller Easterling for Domus magazine issue 963.
In this piece titled The Geopolitics of Subtraction, Keller Easterling explores what she calls a new counterintuitive economic model: the infrastructure of subtraction. The place: Yasuni National Park, Ecuador, known to be the most biologically place on earth… but also the place of unexploited reserves of 846 million barrels of oil. That is: a conflicted landscape.

[A]t Yasuni, another project further complicates the puzzle and mention of it brings all enthusiastic meetings about "being Yasunised" to an awkward silence. The Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA), a coalition of South American nations, plans to engineer a widened river channel that would allow freight to flow all the way to the Pacific, thus bypassing the Panama Canal and directly contacting shipping routes to Asia and the rest of the world. This Manta-Manaus multimodal corridor would connect the free zone port of Manaus on the Amazon River in Brazil with the Pacific port of Manta in Ecuador. The NAPO River although narrower than the Amazon, would receive westward traffic, thus saving 25 days of shipping time. There are plans to put an additional container port on the Napo en route just to the west of the Yasuni preserve. While the corridor is seen as the source of new business and new relationships with other countries in South America, this shortcut to China would draw containerships full of Brazilian goods through the middle of the Yasuni-ITT preserve and other forested areas on the Napo basin. The development engine — galvanised around a familiar tune — is already at work on the project.
This would be an extraordinary example of global collective action, that would allow not only reduce global warming, which benefits the whole planet, but also introduce a new economic logic for the 21st century, which assigns a value to things over than merchandise.
The president Rafael Correa said.


Originally appeared on College of Chemical & Life Sciences
The ITT oil block, the College of Chemical & Life Sciences said, is located in the easternmost corner of Ecuador's Amazon region, within Yasuni National Park, an area of 9,820 sq. km, between the Napo and Curaray rivers in Napo and Pastaza provinces in Amazonian Ecuador. This park is mostly a rain forest, and the home of 150 amphibian species, local-scale trees, bat species, birds and mammals.
Yet this area also is the subject of a series of threats from oil extraction to colonization, to deforestation and landscape degradation, particularly watersheds to illegal logging and hunting, to colonization due to road building, and so on.

Ecuador is one of a coalition of countries that have both tropical rain forests and oil — a block that may be changing the rules about resource extraction from developing countries. In Dubai in the 1970s, access to oil and gas resources was granted in return for an offset. Investors had to fund an auxiliary, non-oil industry led by a Dubai national that would augment the economy. The supposedly cast-iron logics of dominant forms of capital might characterise the offset as a pre-capitalist form of bargaining. Yet as countries like Ecuador exercise similar forms of leverage, they are perhaps creating a more ingrained habit of capital, one that recognises multiple markets and values where social contagions are a currency — one equal in importance to carbon credits or other financial vehicles. Since it was launched in 2010, the protocol has proven to be especially mediagenic, attracting the support and funding of movie stars and world leaders, and enough of the 3.5 billion to continue the project. In a world that can monetise anything, this mixes leftist politics with the fecundity of nature ad the symbolic capital of doing the right thing. At the Yasuni-ITT headquarters they even use a word that somehow substitutes monetise — "Yasunise."
Threats also are at any scale: from local, to regional, to, even, global scales.
Yet, at Yasuni, another project further complicates the puzzle and mention of it brings all enthusiastic meetings about "being Yasunised" to an awkward silence. The Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA), a coalition of South American nations, plans to engineer a widened river channel that would allow nations, plans to engineer a widened river channel that would allow freight to flow all the way to the Pacific, thus bypassing the Panama Canal and directly contacting shipping routes to Asia and the rest of the world. This Manta-Manaus on the Amazon River in Brazil with the Pacific port of Manta in Ecuador. The Napo River, although narrower than the Amazon, would receive westward traffic, thus saving 25 days of shipping time. There are plans to put an additional container port on the Napo en route just to the west of the Yasuni preserve. While the corridor is seen as the source of new business and new relationships with other countries in South America, this shortcut to China would draw containerships full of Brazilian goods through the middle of the Yasuni-ITT preserve and other forested areas on the Napo basin. The development engine — galvanised around a familiar tune — is already at work on the project.
Read the full article in the recent issue of Domus for a better understanding of Keller Easterling's concept "Infrastructure of subtraction" as this is a very complex but important issue at any scale: ecological, economic, social, environmental, infrastructural…



While writing this post, I am watching a lecture Keller Easterling presented at GSAPP Columbia University, in 2010. The title is Disposition. In this lecture, she examines a series of concepts around her favorite topic, global infrastructure, such as disposition, but also active form, quality, meaninglessness/irrationality, and so on. It's an interesting lecture for those of us with an interest on global infrastructure, and more broadly architecture and theory.

Credit video: Keller Easterling | Disposition || GSAPP, Columbia University

11/13/2012

Weekread 002 ı Everything Else

I am currently read Future Practice again, a book based on a series of conversations with architects, designers, urban activists, historians, speculators, etc. His author, Rory Hyde, is also architect, editor — Volume Magazine; he seems to appreciate audio format — he defined himself as an occasional broadcaster; he co-broadcasted an audio program during the first week of the Venice Architecture Biennial — as a medium to discuss architecture. I let his biography aside as I am planning to interview him about his book in an broadcast format very soon (hope the end of this November or the beginning of December).
I propose, again, some glimpses of his book Future Practice. As wrote in a previous post Rory Hyde discussed with his guests about their point of view on the future of architectural practice, and more broadly the future of architecture: from Jeanne Gang to Bruce Mau to, Wouter Vanstiphout, to Natalie Jereminjenko, to Bryan Boyer
Below some glimpses. I am starting with Natalie Jeremijenko:
RH: One of your strategies to challenge this pervasive notion is to let animals back into our world, our parents told us animals were carriers of germs and diseases, but in your projects we can text the fish, the birds can talk to us and we should be lucky to cohabit with mice. Can a closer communication with animals paradoxically make us healthier?
NJ: Yes, it's absolutely critical. I suppose the big representational challenge we face is to overcome this ethnic cleansing-inspired myth that germs are bad, when in fact we know that's not true. A robust and resilient system is a biodiverse one, and vice versa. A healthy biodiverse system is actually what will give us the capacity to endure a less predictable climate, and that's by definition the system we need to maximise the most. To look at it from a body perspective, our own human macro biome is made up of more nonhuman cells than human ones. So this idea that we could get rid of germs is primarily the reason why we've got there excruciatingly high levels of crohn's disease, autoimmune diseases and digestive issues. The body is a landscape for many other organisms, and we have to understand the landscapes we inhabit as complex socio-ecological systems that are health and work when they are biodiverse.
RH: This idea of the edge is a central theme of your thesis, what you call the zone 'between the lived and the built'. You state this 'is the domain that presents the architect with a great deal of difficulty', and yet to many architects this space is probably invisible, or it is at least accepted that there's an inevitable break between what is designed and how it is inhabited. How do you conceive of this space, and why is it difficult?
MD: It hinges on the presumption that the role of architect is to design a building, and when the work is finished, you leave and the building then goes into a second stage occupation. This idea that you're somehow an expert because you design buildings always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. It's frustrating that the discipline of architecture is poorly understood; it is both culturally critical and pervasive, but at the same time as an architect you get pigeonholed into the production of buildings alone. So there's an idea that maybe you can extend your role beyond the final completion — maybe there's an overlap, and maybe you're interested in the way people occupy buildings, and the way you might make very small changes to intercede in those occupations. I just enjoy not having an explicit boundary of what is considered architecture.
Camila Bustamante:

RH: I know the project is not about politics and you don't mention it explicitly, but I think it's important to discuss because for you, and perhaps for people from Lima, the politics is implicit…
CB: Yes, I don' really talk about it that way because I was also a little scared/ Once you do a project with the metro, it's immediately related to president Garcia, especially as he is now back in power again twenty years later. Which is more or less why I chose the map and the signage as a platform. I wanted to work with an established set of 'neutral' symbols, to try to address this issue in a more pragmatic and tangible way. So I tried to be careful to mention this as something neutral. Because, yes, I was also scared…
Bruce Mau:

RH: It's probably useful to now discuss you efforts to tackle these challenges through the work you're doing with the Massive Change Network, and this transition you've made from a designer in a studio to more a public figure spreading the word. In particular, I'm interested in this word 'network' and what that means in terms of how your organisation is put together.
BM: I think you're onto the key idea, which is network. A little over a year ago I stopped working in the studio, I'd got to a certain point in my work where it wasn't satisfying for me for a lot of reasons, I'd done it for twenty five years and it just became time. And we saw this other opportunity around education and design that needed to be developed, and as we got into the research we discovered that less than one percent of the word's population has had access to education beyond high school. And just think of the revolution of possibility that we've produced with this tiny fraction. When I first read it I was just like 'that can't be true! Is it true?' [laughs] Most people think it's between twelve and twenty percent, and you realise wow, they're off by an order of magnitude.
Before, having Rory Hyde on board for an audio discussion, I warmly suggest to grab a copy of the book.
In my wish list, you will find two highly expected book (it seems that The Landscape Future would be expected in December): Bracket 2 Goes Soft and Alejandro Zaera Polo's The Sniper's Log. These two books are announced for this month…

Another book in my wish-list: The Space of Agonism by architect Markus Miessen and theorist Chantal Mouffe published by the excellent Sternberg Press. If you are familiar with Markus Miessen's research, The Violence of Participation includes a conversation between the architect and the theorist. Chantal Mouffe has been developing a research on conflictual consensus, also known (I admit to vulgarly summarize her thought into a few words) agonism
As announced on the website, the conversations "were alternately driven by Miessen's specific concerns regarding his ongoing investigation into conflict-based forms of participation as an alternative (spatial) practice in democratic systems, and Mouffe's understanding and theory of a "conflictual consensus." This book gathers a set of conversations from 2006 to 2011 and envisions new approaches to countering and responding to the globalizing thrust of neoliberalism.
Below an abstract from The Violence of Participation — MM for Markus Miessen, and CM for Chantal Mouffe:

MM: Any form of participation is already a form of conflict. In order to participate in any environment or given situation, one needs to understand the forces of conflict that act upon that environment. How can one move away from romanticized notions of participation into more proactive, conflictual models of engagement? What would you refer to as micro-political environments, and what and where do micro-political movements exist?
CM: Concerning the issue of space, I don't think that there is such a big difference between what you call micro-political, macro-political, and geo-political, because I think that this dimension of the political is something that can manifest itself at all levels. It is important not to believe that there are some levels that are more important than others. In a way, it is coming back to what I have said before in regards to organize the European Social Forum, they were against the idea, because they were saying the struggle should be at a global level. There is no point in having a European Social Forum, because it automatically privileges Europe. But I think that it is very important to have social forums at all levels: cities, regions, nations — all those levels and scales are very important. The agonistic struggle should take place at a multiplicity of levels and should not privilege the geo-political one or the micro-political one, but should instead realize that the political dimension is something that cannot be localized in a privileged space. It is a dimension that can manifest itself in all kinds of social relations, whatever the specific space is like. As many recent geographers have insisted, space is always something which is striated, to use an expression which Deleuze and Guattari are criticizing. Because what they are thinking of is a smooth and homogeneous space, while Doreen Massey argues that every form of space is always some configuration of power relations. It means that what I would call the hegemonic struggle, or the political struggle, must take place at all of those levels. There is a multiplicity of levels in which the agonistic struggle must be launched. This is why I think that there is a potential for politicization at multiple levels, and it is important to engage with all of those levels and not just to simply say, oh well, the global struggle is the most important one, because that is not the case. We need to really try to transform and articulate power relations at all levels at which they exist.


Makoko Floating School is in progress… A school for a waterborne city Lagos and its population of 7,937,932, a density of 7,941/square kilometers, and a total area of 999.6 square kilometers. 
Adeola Adeyemo wrote for Bellanaija:

The Heinrich Boael Stiftung and its partner organisation NLE, led by the Nigerian architect Kunle Adeyemi, rather believe that people will cope better with the risks of erosion and flooding if they incorporate the water into their daily life instead of trying to dominate it. Just as the informal fishing community "Makoko", located in the lagoon waters of Lagos, has been doing it for over hundred years: It is a community without any government support or infrastructure, the traditional authorities are responsible for the social organisation of the over 100,000 members. They live in wooden houses on stilt, transportation is by canoe only.

Makoko Flooding School
Originally appeared on the facebook page of NLÉ

I, soon, will post a short email interview with Kate Orff about SCAPE's activities. Kate Orff and SCAPE, an agency she co-founded have been quoted in a recent article in the New York Times (See also these two articles from Inhabitat: Architects propose 'soft infrastructure' to protect NYC from the Next Big Storm; and New York Harbor School Students Suggest Oyster Reefs as Protection from Storm Surges). I asked her some questions about her work, and her approach to re-articulating coastal sites:
KO: When I say "the era of big infrastructure is over" I don't mean that we have to stop big, on the contrary, we need to think even bigger and strategically to be able to coordinate aggregate effects of many small and potentially dispersed and more effective and resilient infrastructure strategies - solar energy may be more dispersed, wind energy, agricultural systems, many of these systems can exist in small increments and be more effective and resilient to failure.
Oyster-Tecture | © SCAPE
Confluence | © SCAPE

November 15th, A twitter #citychat. MIT CoLab will organize a twitter chat on post-disaster planning, precisely on urban design and international humanitarian response after a disaster. This #citychat will start at 3:00 pm ET, 8:00 GMT 9:00pm CET and 12:00 noon (Pacific time)
About this topic of post-disaster this article I found on twitter. It is posted by Project for Public Spaces:

The term "community resilience" has been much debated in Government circles in recent years, with "resilience" commonly being defined as "returning to the previous state," or "bouncing back." Whilst this is a useful concept for Governments to consider, its use is limited when resilience is considered as a static "state" rather than a dynamic process through which community capacity is developed over time. It can be argued that community resilience is not just about returning to the previous state. In this context, community capacity can be thought of in terms of community attributes, such as the ability to self-manage and self-determine, the level of entrepreneurship, concern about issues/activism, volunteering and the general level of positivity/optimism about the future.
Architect Alison Killing of Killing Architects and her collaborator and architect Kate Crawford will discuss these topics this November 15th. Topics that I would like to submit are: zones-at-risk zoning, how to re-articulate traumatic areas, adaptive resilience in countries at-risk, among many others.
I recommend Killing Architects' research on post-disaster planning, a research titled (Re)constructing the city, which promotes integration of urban design into humanitarian response,

The rapid growth of cities has led to an urbanisation of vulnerability and a corresponding increase in urban disasters. Humanitarian agencies' experience over the past decades has been overwhelmingly rural, so that approaches to shelter and reconstruction and the tools and guidance which help to shape a response are rooted in a rural context. These rural approaches have too often proved to be inadequate to the challenges of cities, where humanitarians have been confronted by high population densities, a shortage of land and a complex and delicate economic and social ecosystem, a context for which their rural 'toolkits', assumptions and experiences have left them poorly equipped.
An initial study suggests that urban design practices do have an important part to play in the work of aid agencies in urban areas. These practices have not (yet) been adopted for two main reasons. Firstly, humanitarian agencies find it difficult to take a holistic approach to recovery, which it has been argued is necessary in the reconstruction of urban areas. The second issue is the mandates of humanitarian agencies and their focus on the individual, which creates difficulties in working at a larger, community scale, something which is regularly necessary in reconstructing urban areas.
An Urban housing collage in Champigny-sur-Marne, France by Paris-based Edouard François:
Urban Collage | © Edouard François Architects
This housing project is just completed.

I posted in my tumblr page a series of images that Polish photographer Pawel Starzec took years ago.
These images originally appeared on Cafe Babel. Fridom is a pan-European work-in-progress which documents squatting in Europe.
Warsaw | © Pawel Starzec
Image originally appeared on Cafe Babel
"Since 2010, Pawel has visited countries as diverse Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Norway, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland and Denmark, to document squats and life inside. Pictured, the first day of Warsaw's new squat" [Cafe Babel]




Source: Project for Public Spaces, NLE, The New York Times, Inhabitat (article I, article II), Killing Architects, Sternberg Press, Cafe Babel

11/09/2012

Video: PosConflicto Laboratory: Right to Housing

Guatemala-based Posconflicto Laboratory posted a video introducing their activity.
I have been following this laboratory since months with an increasing interest. Below the text that accompanies the video:

With the signing of the Peace Accords between the Government of Guatemala and the URNG in 1996, Central America's last armed conflict came to an end. In a post-conflict political situation, in spite of efforts in plans and policies, Central America has yet to revert a structural housing deficit. Without further delay, we declare the urgent necessity of a project to rethink architecture, the city, the territory and the idea of the political, to guarantee housing access to all — especially the most disfavoured and vulnerable.
We propose a Productive Housing Programme, with a pilot project in Guatemala City, directed towards the construction of a national and Central American housing policy. Fundamentally, the programme proposes to reinstall the principle of subsidiarity through the provision of a new political pact. It works based on a crossed subsidy model, self-sustaining in terms of wealth creation and social justice. And proposes the legal and financial instruments of decentralization to promote housing policy at a local level, within a national and regional level. In a laboratory method, architecture becomes the foreground and pro-active, and acts as a steering agent for the urgent provision of housing and the possibility of making city in Central America.
As a laboratory breakthrough, the Metropolitan Housing and Urban Development Agency was voted in favour by the Guatemala City Municipal Council, effectively constituting it on February 3rd 2012.
I am considering to interview PosConflicto Laboratory for detailed information about their activity, role of architecture in post-conflict space, and current needs in Central America.



Posconflicto Laboratory: MAKING CITY + PRODUCTIVE HOUSING PROGRAMME IN GUATEMALA & CENTRAL AMERICA from posconflictolab on Vimeo.

Credit video: Posconflicto Laboratory

11/06/2012

Softness, re-calibrating coastal sites ı Scape-Landscape Architecture P.L.L.C.

I, currently, am working on two interviews, and an invitation for a guest-editing project: one already submitted, another in preparation. The third, the invitation, I will say more soon. But however I cannot say more for now, the second interview and this invitation are interconnected. But more very soon.
Today, I post a video of the landscape architecture firm I would like to interview — this second interview mentioned above.
Scape/Landscape Architecture P.L.L.C. directed by landscape architect Kate Orff developed a research titled Oyster-Tecture in 2010, a project she described as follows:
We propose to nurture an active oyster culture that engages issues of water quality, rising tides, and community based development around Brooklyn's Red Hook and Gowanus Canal. An armature for the growth of native oysters and marine life is designed for the shallow waters of the Bay Ridge Flats just south of Red Hook. This living reef is constructed from a field of piles and a woven web reef is constructed from a field of piles and a woven web of "fuzzy rope" that supports oyster and mussel growth and builds a rich three-dimensional landscape mosaic. A watery regional park for the New York Harbor emerges that prefigures the city's return to the waterfront in the next century. The reef attenuates waves and cleans millions of gallons of Harbor water through harnessing the biotic processes of oysters, mussels and eelgrass, and enables neighborhood fabrics that welcome the water to develop further inland.
This project represents a vision for the future of the harbor. A small pilot project is currently in development for the Gowanus Bay that will host new forms of marine habitat, with a focus on mussels.
She recently was quoted in an interesting article titled Protecting the City. Before next Time, by Alan Feuer for the New York Times. In this article, Kate Orff said: "The era of the big infrastructure is over" namely: this expensive, static, inert infrastructure, already built, which has been showing serious limits over years, are admittedly obsolete. Its future, its adaptation to an environment subject to a set of ecological, economic, anthropogenic constraints are under scrutiny. 
Oyster-Tecture, New York City, 2010 | © Scape/Landscape Architecture P.L.L.C.
> "Waterworld: A reef constructed from rock and shell piles to host oyster growth, as seen in a rendering for a proposal in Brooklyn. Such a structure could filter water and mitigate storm surge." [The New York Times, November 3rd, 2012]

Scape/Landscape Architecture P.L.L.C.'s proposal, Oyster-Tecture, begs a set of questions that I will summerize in two flavors: softness, and adaptation. Put it simply, a less intrusive, expensive, but, mutable, flexible infrastructure — organic, too, a sort of living infrastructure — that enables more responsiveness in face of ecological — but not only: economic, social, anthropogenic — constraints. 
The interview on which I am working will articulate these two topics, softness and adaptation, around one and basic question: how can we re-articulate sites with complex ecologies — waterborne cities?
I hope we will find time for this interview. If so, I will let you know as quick as possible…




Credit video: Scape/Landscape Architecture P.L.L.C.

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