Two faculty members from the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley won 2019 Architectural Education Awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) this month. Each year, ACSA honors architectural educators for exemplary work in areas such as building design, community collaborations, scholarship, and service. Award winners inspire and challenge students, contribute to the profession’s knowledge base, and extend their work beyond the borders of academy into practice and the public sector.
Faculty Design Award -- Assistant Professor of Architecture Neyran Turan
Assistant Professor of Architecture Neyran Turan was awarded the Faculty Design Award for “Nine Islands: Matters Around Architecture,” which positions climate change as a cultural and political idea that requires a renewed architectural imagination. Through a focus on the underconceptualized long-span of architectural materiality, Nine Islands situates certain problems brought by climate change and the Anthropocene—such as resource extraction, materiality, obsolescence, and waste—in architectural terms. Instead of conceptualizing the environment as purely natural that needs to be preserved and protected or as solely systemic that needs to be mastered and managed, it offers another kind of environmental imagination for architecture, one that aims to re-boost our geo-cosmic effect from within.
"Nine Islands: Matters Around Architecture" examines the under-conceptualized spatial and temporal long-span of architectural materiality. From the extraction of a particular raw matter from a specific geographic location, to its processing, transportation, and construction into a desired finished effect in a building, and to its demolition and waste, the spatial and temporal span of architectural materiality is very wide (geographic) and deep (geological).
The project speculates on this long-span through nine case studies (nine islands) by looking at particularly lavish or widely used nine building materials: certain types of marble, wood, glass, travertine, copper, aluminum, concrete, leather, and plastic.
This project was presented to the public through an exhibition, which was comprised of nine drawings and nine models. The upper part of each model consists of a Monument, an archetypical building mass that is finished with a specific material. As an opposition to the upper part, the lower part of each model consists of a Rock, a formless landmass from which the raw matter is extracted.
The double signification of the raw and the finished is also evidenced in the drawings of the project. Consisted of two parts, each drawing depicts two different snapshots from the longspan of one of the nine materials.
While the upper part of each drawing positions one building material through a particular architectural lens, the lower part depicts a daily life scene from the wider life span of the same material (extraction at the quarry, demolition of the building ruin, management of the waste mount in the ocean etc.). As the upper drawings depict architectural spaces or specifications as still-lifes with traces of everyday life without the presence of humans, the lower drawings showcase over-populated human activity and presence in the extraction, production, transportation, construction, demolition or waste site.
This collapse of the architectural and the geographic aims to call attention to the underconceptualized space in between.
JAE Best Article Award -- Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Richard Hindle
“Patent Scenarios for the Mississippi River,” an essay by Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Richard Hindle, also won a 2019 Journal of Architectural Education (JAE) Best Article Award. The article describes the dynamic relationship between patents and complex earth systems of the Mississippi River and explores the implications of four site-specific inventions granted between 1890 and 1901 that may have altered the morphology of the Mississippi and led to radically different futures for the river.
Hindle begins by explaining that throughout the last six centuries of Western technological progress the conflation of manufacturing, mechanization, and patents has resulted in a distinct object-oriented bias toward things. However, Hindle argues that a look back into the annals of the United States Patent and Trademark Office through the contemporary lens of the Anthropocene reveals that large-scale environmental systems, such as rivers and coasts, are also represented in patents and have been subject to the iterative and projective forces of patent innovation.
To illustrate the reciprocity between patents and complex earth systems, Hindle looks at the implications of US Patent 658,795, a method for building navigable channels in the bird's foot delta of the Mississippi; US Patent 452,989, syncopating floods, farming, and riparian ecology throughout the Mississippi's watershed; US Patent 488,422: spillways, tail races, and sediment recharge in the lower Mississippi Delta; and US Patent 687,387, self-dredging channel at the mouth of the Mississippi.
“Each invention, as described in the original patent document, has unique geographical dimensions and instrumentality that transcend the object orientation of typical patents and evoke the scale, scope, and contingencies of innovation in the Anthropocene,” Hindle writes. “As projections of speculative futures, the patents also frame new and discursive visions for the Mississippi River.”
Hindle concludes that as our understanding of the Anthropocene continues to evolve, from a geologic epoch to a projective framework for planetary management, the boundary between the technosphere and earth systems will collapse. At this frontier, the agency of architects, landscape architects, and planners will be reinvented in response to a shifting design paradigm that extends design thinking and “work” beyond discrete sites and buildings, and into large-scale and complex systems.
“Patents have a 600-year history of building complex infrastructures and sociotechnical systems,” he concludes. “Might the distinct agency, instrumentality, and legal mechanisms of the global patent system be employed to invent rivers and complex environmental systems of the future?”