FP_Perry 13-14

Final Project | Chris Perry, Assistant Professor

GEOFUTURISM: ARCHITECTURE IN THE ANTHROPOCENE

FP Students 2013-14 – Chris Perry Section

Arthur Adams
Susan Bivone
Julia Grabazs (1)
Monika Grinbergs
Jessica Lapano, MArch
Shen Li
Michael Mancuso
Emily Mastropiero
Anthony Policastro
Benjamin Schneiderman, MArch (1)
Owen Thomas, MArch
Dorothy Underwood
John Wallace
Nicole Zumpano, MArch
(1) Awards Review selected student

We sow corn, we plant trees, we fertilize the soil by irrigation, we dam the rivers and direct them where we want.  In short, by means of our hands we try to create as it were a second nature within the natural world. Cicero

The rapid technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution, beginning in the nineteenth century and culminating in the postwar years of the 1950’s, brought with it a modern age characterized by optimistic themes of progress and futurism.  Within the discipline of architecture, Alison and Peter Smithson’s House of the Future (1956) personified such themes: a mass-produced plastic home for mass-consumption.  It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that concerns arose regarding the collateral effects of industrialization on both human and environmental health, eventually migrating into the creative disciplines of art, architecture, and landscape architecture.  In 1970, the same year that President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which resulted in the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency later that year, Robert Smithson completed Spiral Jetty, a large-scale “earthwork” located in the Great Salt Lake of Utah.  A rugged landform installation composed of mud, rock, and salt sited within a “natural” setting compromised by decades of industrial activity, Spiral Jetty personified the skepticism this new generation of artists held for the rhetoric of progress associated with industrialization, thereby providing a stark contrast to the postwar climate of the preceding decade and its exuberant celebration of mass-production and consumption.

Our contemporary moment can be seen as having many parallels with the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, and not unlike the first generation of Land Artists and “environmental” architects, contemporary artists, architects, and landscape architects are inevitably faced with the challenge of engaging the increasingly deleterious effects of industrialization.  Forty-three years after Nixon’s signing of NEPA, at which he declared that the 1970’s “absolutely must be the years when America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment”, President Barak Obama made a speech at Georgetown University on climate change in which he called for new and urgent legislation on environmental regulation, stating simply that “we need to act”.  If anything, the growing signs of environmental degradation that first became apparent to the public eye in the late 1960’s but were seen principally at local scales and as a national problem, have escalated into a global crisis.  What many scientists are now referring to as the Anthropocene, a new geological age characterized by man’s “anthropic” effects on the planet, lends tangible identity to this new period in which we live.

This Final Project section will investigate historical as well as contemporary cultural movements within the interrelated fields of art, architecture, and landscape architecture, specifically as they address the new geological age of the Anthropocene and with it larger questions regarding the fundamental relationship between man and nature. And in much the same way that the nascent literary genre climate fiction, or cli-fi, attempts to project a set of possible futures for the Anthropocenic age, the students in this section will be encouraged to speculate on a set of possible futures for a new century marked increasingly by the haunting effects of climate change, in which the needs of humans and those of the natural environment have become intertwined and the conventional distinctions between artificial and natural rendered more and more ambiguous. Ultimately, the students in this section will be encouraged to dream, albeit dream with rigor; they will be asked to conceive and design an architecture that is at once aware of the successes and failures of its past and rooted in the challenges and opportunities of its present, yet ultimately oriented toward the future.

///

Comments are closed.

Dean

Evan Douglis, Professor

Address

School of Architecture
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street - Greene Bldg.
Troy, NY 12180 - USA

Main Phones

Front Desk: (+1) 518-276-6466
Dean's Office: (+1) 518-276-6460
Undergrad Admissions: (+1) 518-276-8478
Graduate Admissions: (+1) 518-276-6877

.