For a brief break from my usual travel-research commentary, I present for your viewing pleasure, casual perusal, comment, critique, etc - a selection of projects from the 2012 Berkeley M.Arch thesis, in no particular order, and not necessarily a "best of". Enjoy!
Pablo Zunzunegui: Phytopia
Set in a speculative future, the project explores the reinsertion of man into the Amazon without compromising either one’s existence. A new ecosystem is created, where machine intermingles with the native ecology.
The explorer and conquistador, Francisco de Orellana, believed that the Amazon was the home of a very sophisticated and populous civilization where everything was made of gold and food was abundant. He called it “El Dorado”.
No evidence for the existence of this old civilization has been found, and in fact, the reality is not so prosperous: The Amazon is being depleted and big cities are becoming even bigger. Overpopulation, social and economical disparity, pollution and pandemic diseases are latent problem. This brings me to the next speculation: A neo- indigenous civilization that escapes from this problematic urbanization migrates en masse to the forest. In the mature stages of the information age, autodidacticism has become a ubiquitous phenomenon. Hacker communities have taken the art and techniques of repurposing mechanisms to a larger scale.
These inhabitants will possess a multiplicity of skill sets. Members of the population could perform as researchers and scientists as well as farmers. Now the question is: How to sustain those activities when the existing natural conditions of the Amazon allows for either rainforest or human occupation, but not both?
A series of machines will work as mechanized canopies and will open and close creating a variation of porosity. This variation will maximize sun exposure through the day and minimize rainwater impact to the ground during heavy rains.
Bryan Allen: TerraToxis
There are 66,773 square kilometers in Japan that are above background levels of radioactive contamination as a direct result of the Fukushima disaster*. That’s 28.8% of the island of Honshu and 17.7% of the total land area of Japan*. That volume taken [only] five centimeters deep* is enough to burry Manhattan under 56.11 meters of contaminated soil. Traditional methods of remediation have failed in the hyper dense condition of Japan. It is no longer possible to apply the same scenarios that created the spatial condition of Chernobyl as an exclusion zone to never be entered.
We have been aware of the existence of radioactivity for 110 years. In that short time is has inexorably changed the world and defined the Atomic age. Now in that post glamorous Atomic age we learn about radioactivity’s affects though disasters. It has changed the way we think about zone, environment and building. It has the power to render vast areas uninhabitable, unfit for architecture or for inhabitation. This loss of formally urbanized or developed land is unacceptable. To continue the exponential outward expansion of the past is not only irresponsible but in as highlighted in Japan indeed impossible. As architects we can no longer accept business as usual. We are unique in our multiple functions of moderating aesthetic, functional, spatial, and technical concerns. Architecture must exist on these sites.
It is out nature to build, to restore, to survive, to learn, and evolve. This solution, for this time, for this place, for this problem, is TerraToxis.
The Los Angeles River has long been a space of contentions in the San Fernando Valley. Known for its beautiful beaches, bays and hills, Los Angeles is rarely associated with its river. Seen as both a natural river and a flood control structure, the river has long suffered this lack of identity. Some have likened the river to The Golden Gate Bridge, or Yosimite National Park, with it’s power to identify a region, while others have viewed it as a gutter, not worthy of a second glance. In reality, the river is actually both.
These conflicting opinions lead to an uncertain future for the Los Angeles River. The Environmental Protection Agency recently labeled the river a “navigable waterway” with the intention of accessing more funds for riverbed restoration. Simultaneously, the Army Corps of Engineers is left with the constant responsibility of protecting the public from season flood conditions. The river corridor is host to infrastructures including oil refinement, power transmission, agriculture, shipping and rail, sewer treatment and more. These competing forces bring in to question the methods of managing urban natural resources altogether.
Oriana Cole: Peripatetic Free-Spaces
This thesis focuses on charging the city of Los Angeles with a new system of transportation that will take advantage of the idiosyncratic freeway landscape of the region to create opportunities for public use. It will enact several mobility propositions to alleviate traffic and then, use liberated freeway sections to create transient and dynamic recreational spaces. These free-spaces will activate the notorious infrastructure resulting in a vigorous intersection of spaces, activities, public invention and urban life.
Nick Buccelli: Data Diving
Data Diving is a proposal for a cloud scale data center and destination sauna resort in the wilds of northern Sweden. Major internet companies have so many servers that the prospect of improved efficiency through specialized proprietary design is worth constructing 500,000 square foot data centers that cost up to $1 billion and channel flows of 100MW of power -- enough to run about 75,000 homes.
Built on greenfield sites with access to cheap and reliable energy and good broadband connectivity, ideally these sites experience average outdoor temperatures low enough to preclude the use of chillers.
Communities in northern sweden, heretofore known for a logging industry, reindeer herds, and---significantly for the data center industry---long winters, good fiberoptic connections, and a remarkably stable grid based on hydroelectric power, recognize these advantages and actively court IT sector development.
Data Diving envisions experiences that become possible as a significant and reliably continuous stream of "waste energy" from data centers supporting of global computing is taken as a given, and we incorporate a brand new building typology to a 21st century built environment.
Combining flows of data and energy based in global industry with the local environment, land conditions, and sauna culture, and utilizing recent innovations in data center design, this project opportunistically manipulates the data center's mechanical system, using an artificial landscape filled with hydronic tubes and mid-winter daisy blooms as a heat sink and a series of sauna huts and hot pools linked to the heat exchange cycle.
Sarah Witkin: Systems of Slaughter
While high performance sustainable technologies have become prevalent in the building industry, they are often concealed behind surfaces, missing the opportunity to galvanize social involvement in reducing our negative impact on a threatened ecosystem. This thesis aims to forge a new consciousness of sustainability through architecture that reveals the currently hidden processes that support modern life. Public programs meander through an industrial infrastructure, shaping a unique perspective of the workings of an urban pork slaughterhouse that treats and reuses its own wastewater. The stages of pork processing and treatment of waste materials are revealed via architectural elements that simultaneously fulfill both sensual and technological demands. As the normally shunned practices of animal slaughter and waste treatment are crafted for inclusion within the public realm, they are given new merit within the public conscience.
I am a graduate M.Arch/MLA student at UC Berkeley, and grateful recipient of the 2011-2012 John K. Branner Fellowship, an annual traveling fellowship awarded by the UC Berkeley Department of Architecture. I will spend the 2012 calendar year visiting public food markets in major cities on 5 continents to research the relationship between markets and the infrastructure of food systems, focusing on the cultural and urban design implications of local economies. This blog will follow my journey...