Living in the Anthropocene

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“A landscape is a gathering in the making.” “All landscapes are made in moments of friction.” Anna Tsing

Studio Premise

The impact of humans on planet Earth is increasingly clear. Global warming and sea level rise, mass extinctions, ocean acidification, permafrost thawing and severe storms of increasing frequency are ever-clearer signs that people are changing planetary processes on a global scale. How do we inhabit an era where nature is no longer our key referent? How do we navigate a future that doesn’t clearly extend from our past and face a time of increasingly erratic change? What and how can design contribute?

Objectives

This LA 5010 1st semester 1st year  MLA studio was led by Professor Jamie Vanucchi in Fall 2017. Students developed their landscape architectural design process as a set of integrated, enfolding and unfolding design acts involving site selecting, site investigating, assessing, evaluating, analyzing, site programming and planning; site structuring, ordering, functioning, site imagining and representing and site constructing. Through territory mapping, ground truthing, and modeling, students identified proposed design strategies functioning at multiple scales along Cayuga Inlet in Ithaca, NY.  Two examples of student group work follow. Click the following images to enlarge.

 

Unbounding the Inlet, Variation in Edge Condition

by Catherine Kana and Elijah Ball, MLA candidates '20

Our design for the Cayuga Inlet begins with envisioning a restored natural flood process that breaks out of its man-made bounds. Driven by the allusion of nature having the ability to break engineered structures, we invite the power of the inlet to express a new form. 

Through research and mapping, a focus on ecological processes and land use along the inlet provided a framework to define territories. Wetlands, open spaces, barren, recreational, and vegetated areas were mapped in relation to flood risk areas. We mapped the changes in water level through the year, considered the species taking advantage of these fluctuations, and examined possible interventions that would accommodate the seasonal swelling and shrinking of the inlet's edge.

 

 

infrastructure of [dis]placement

by Sasha Anemone and Danielle Serigano, MLA candidates '20

 

We used a conceptual framework of placement and displacement to explore the organization of space as a social product. Analyzing our sites through this lens helped us to explore the history, policy, and development that organized existing relationships onsite and to see how a more responsive infrastructure might produce new sets of mutual and dynamic relationships between nonhuman biological systems and human communities.  

 

We identified fragmentation in the urban fabric as an indicator of nonresponsive infrastructure. Through power mapping, we analyzed forces that influence the site, both the immaterial forces with no connection or responsibility to place as well as the tangible physical relationships on a micro-scale.

 

Further study would be necessary to explore how a responsive infrastructure could integrate systems for community input, create an impulse toward engagement and protection, and form a powerful and intangible sense of rootedness and transcendence in the landscape.