FP_Watson Section 11-12

Final Project | Julia Watson, Assistant Professor

BEYOND BIOCULTURAL DIVERSITY
Re-coupling Culture and Nature

FP Students 2011-12 – Julia Watson Section

Aaron Vinsel
James Robert Wisniewski
(*) Peck Prize selection
In the midst of economic and biospheric crises, we have a unique opportunity to redirect the course of development unfolding with design explorations that seek to unravel the mounting evidence linking the co-existence of cultural and biological diversity. Intrusions in the landscape emerge from the impact of urbanization, agriculture, tourism and the compounded effects of climate change. As these drivers of change infiltrate different territories within the biosphere they migrate from urban agglomerations to remote landscapes. In these landscapes, the dual threat of overexploitation and mismanagement requires a new ethic of conservation and environmental stewardship. By ignoring these patterns we will risk approaching tipping points that could catastrophically reduce the capacity of ecosystems to provide essential services. These landscapes are increasingly found in developing countries and face the strain of expanding demands and patterns of consumption from developed nations.

The architect’s role in this mission is to re-couple culture and nature, connecting new design agendas to traditional ecological knowledge and scientific expertise.  In the process, new material technologies will be re-discovered that systematically restructure the landscape and improve social and economic conditions. In contested landscapes, we will be challenged to determine how design intervention as ecological prosthetic can be embedded at a moment of confluence. Conflicting environmental and economic agendas have opened up a window of opportunity to re-establish the biospheric agenda as the crucial foundation upon which future expansion will most successfully proceed. On this point, the thesis will be similarly founded on the goal of interrogating global drivers of ecological vulnerability by directly engaging the most valuable resources in landscapes: cultural and biological diversity.

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