In July 2012, amongst remote Southeast Asian waters far from any continental coastlines, a municipal ceremony was held to mark the establishment of China’s newest and southernmost prefecture-level city, Sansha. Covering a picturesque 13 km2 of island, rock, shoal, reef, bank, and cay in addition to 200 km2 of vast ocean water, the archipelago city constitutes a peculiar case of municipal zoning at sea.
Part of the Biennale Architettura di Venezia 2016 Collateral Events section, the public program entitled Branding Islands Making Nations is conceived to be held in the format of a case study competition intended to open the discourse on added value in design, expanding upon the 15th International Architecture Exhibition’s call to arms by inviting an extended field of spatial practitioners.
The research investigates an architecture of seemingly minor or banal objects with nevertheless enormous territorial implications: markers, outposts, stations, and centers of sovereignty.
In fall 2014, we took part in a competition to redesign 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, NYC. The Institute for Rational Urban Mobility’s (IRUM) Vision42 Competition encouraged entrants to imagine an 'enhanced public environment' for the major crosstown street. We did not win this competition and we did not expect to. Rather than trying to win, we wanted to make a statement, probing our own understanding of ethics in urban design.
The centre of gravity in world affairs has shifted. Suddenly, remote patches of water normally used for fishing have become the focus of international controversy and massive infrastructural efforts. Host to the most critical lanes of commercial shipping traffic on earth, where overfishing empties the water near shorelines and economic growth has outpaced oil supplies, the South China Sea is crisscrossed by contradictory territorial claims.
Through a series of research by design studies, the studio Demapping Waters investigated how landscape architecture has become central to the geopolitics of claiming sovereignty through establishing a territorial footprint. The speculative design projects narrated by students in the course eventually foresaw actual tactics and events subsequently unfolding in the South China Sea.
The Institute for Rational Urban Mobility’s (IRUM) Vision42 Competition encouraged entrants to imagine an enhanced public environment for 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, NYC. Rather than implementing IRUM’s projected two-way 2.5-mile track, the project proposes to deploy the identical track length to form a one-way track loop, and thus to demarcate an exclusionary special economic zone (SEZ).
Through a series of research by design studies, the studio Equipping Walls investigated how the architectural project of dwelling combines the very nature of surface enlargement with operations stemming from storage themes.
The University of Kassel’s Documenta Center of Information and Communication Competition encouraged entrants to imagine a multi-functional hybrid and temporary venue for exchange during the 13th edition of the 100-day event in Kassel. Rather than implementing the organizer’s extensive multi-functional requirements in the transparency implied, the project proposes an opaque large-scale thickened wall. It investigates the paradoxical notion of the wall both as element for separation as well as generator of interest and exchange.