This thesis originated in the observation that in nature every piece of land undergoes a predictable process in terms of plant species leading to a theoretic state of dynamic equilibrium called a ‘climax condition.’ This state is characterized by long lived plant species, resource demand equalling resource supply, and the resistance of the plant and animal communities to change. It followed that the question being explored with this project is if it is possible to have a similar state for the ‘human habitat.’ Is it possible that the human environment could better contribute to human needs and not be as detrimental to natural processes?
While this remained the central question of the thesis, the exploration of the concept evolved throughout the course of the project. Initially, the method of inquiry centered around defining the human environment in terms of social and ecological ‘engagement.’ This was based on the observation that our current human environments exhibit differing relationships between humans and how they dwell in and experience suburban and urban environments. Urban environments were seen as exhibiting a high degree of ‘engagement’ in terms of how a person moves through the urban fabric, but the dwellings were seen as being restrictive in allowing the individual to ‘engage’ their immediate living environment. Conversely, the suburban environment was seen as allowing for a high degree of ‘engagement’ at the dwelling, however the dwelling was isolated from other moments of engagement (work, shopping, school) within the greater landscape.
As the project progressed, the exploration of ‘engagement’ was thought to be an aspect of the social landscape, and a more holistic view of social and ecological concerns within the human environment was better seen through an exploration of Productive Landscapes. These productive landscapes initially described environments of high social (cultural) value in terms of recreational and cultural connections between people; and ecological value in terms of water and air purification. This was further expanded to include the ability of architecture to also become a producer of energy in addition to the inclusion of agricultural production. The project was then utilized as a means to test how urban architecture can become a producer of energy and food, while offsetting detrimental impacts to the ecology of the region, and providing for better cultural connections for the inhabitants.
Status: School Project
Location: Natick, MA, US