“Ice contains no future, just the past, sealed away.” -- Haruki Murakami
Earth’s large ice bodies are the archives of our natural history. Sealed inside are records of flora, fauna, geology, and climate -- carefully preserved clues to our planet’s history and, inextricably, our own. Though ice only captures traces of our past, it nonetheless holds important warnings for our future -- one without ice.
For many years experts have described the planet-wide recession of our large ice bodies -- an important harbinger of climate change. And yet calls for action fail to produce an urgency of response commensurate to the catastrophe that is unfolding. Time scales of human action and understanding are out of sync with geological timescales, even in this time of their rapid acceleration.
ON THE ROCKS invites visitors to sit and contemplate the formation of ice over the course of a single winter. The slow flow of water over a pendulum creates a sculptural record in ice of the hut’s environment.
The tremendous successes of the central Toronto waterfront revitalization have drawn city-dwellers closer to the water, both physically and in our collective cultural imaginary. But outside of the downtown core, and for the vast majority of Torontonians, access points to the water are limited. Built on the existing breakwater infrastructure, the Urban Dock is a modular system which can be rolled out along the shorelines of west Toronto, Etobicoke and Scarborough and beyond.
The Dock transports Ontario’s lake landscapes to the city – bringing fishing, swimming, skating, and cottage culture within reach for all. Toronto’s breakwaters serve to protect the shoreline, while preventing coastal erosion. With the light-touch addition of the Urban Dock, the breakwaters will also serve as a point of connection between the city and its own Great Lake.
This simple 10'x10' open air lakefront shelter was designed to provide relief from the elements and enjoyment of the lake year round. The shelter projects over the sloped shoreline to give users a feeling of being on the water and in the trees (the owners call it the Treehouse) while creating storage space below. The pine used to construct the shelter was harvested by the owner and his grandson on a property nearby fifteen years ago.
"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." -Albert Camus
Postnatural Disaster explores the relationship between human activity and natural ecosystems, and our own complicity in the occurrence of natural disasters. Using the Alberta oil sands development as an example of a human-induced natural disaster, the installation proposes an architectural solution to support disaster response efforts, rather than a structure to shelter us from the consequences of our own actions.
A natural disaster is an extreme natural event that endangers human life and property. Our choices about where and how to settle, cultivate, industrialize and travel affect the risk of – and our vulnerability to – natural disasters.
The cumulative effects of human activity have reached the magnitude of a geological force. Though alarmingly quick on a geological time scale, anthropogenic effects occur over seemingly long periods by social and political measures. This fact, combined with a limited understanding of our place within the natural environment, makes it difficult to recognize, quantify, and respond to ecological impacts that are ultimately detrimental to human populations.
The installation brings you inside the operations centre of a hypothetical ecological monitoring network for oil sands development along the Athabasca River. The centre acts as the central nervous system: gathering, coordinating, and disseminating the information required to have informed regional, national, and global discussions about the implications of this extreme resource development project.
Location Harbourfront Centre Architecture Gallery, Toronto, ON
Client Harbourfront Centre
THE SISYPHUS PROJECT
The Sisyphus Project was a proposal for Land Art Generator Initiative's 2012 competition which invited teams to produce site-specific installations which provide aesthetically and pragmatically compelling solutions for the twenty-first century energy crisis. In 2012 the selected site was Fresh Kills Park, formerly Fresh Kills landfill, on Staten Island in New York City. The Fresh Kills site is a key monument to the relationship between aesthetics and amnesiac consumption. It is a topography drawn from a massively distributed world of objects which were consumed centrally by New York and then hidden from view. Like a retreating glacier depositing till or a river moving silt, the deposit of garbage at the Fresh Kills landfill has had a transformative effect upon the topography of the former marshland. Though occurring over a 55-year time span, rather than the geologic time scale of these natural phenomena, this downstream accretion of the byproducts of human life and industry from the neighbouring city has nonetheless resulted in a comparable transformation of the landscape. The daily iterations of this type of industrial erosion and deposition have formed strata of compressed epochs on Staten Island.
The Sisyphus project proposes a series of mechanical power generators which capitalise upon the anthropic topography of Fresh Kills park, and provides park visitors with an opportunity to become an integral part of the power production system. Upon entrance to the Sisyphus project, park visitors are given the opportunity to select a rock from a pile. This rock is to be carried or rolled to the top of the mound where the visitor is encouraged to roll the rock down a number of precision engineered gutter slopes. The gutter slopes contain the tumbling of the rock, ensuring that it does not release its energy outside of the generators in an uncontrolled manner. The moment of each impact is very important to both the function and spectacle of the HILL power generator system. Here the precise transference of energy from matter can be observed by visitors on the device platform. The gutter slopes narrow as they approach the generators, focusing the energy of the kinetic body upon the point of impact and maximizing the probability of an efficient energy transfer between the falling kinetic body and the HILL power generator. At the focal point of the gutter slope, the rock disappears underground where it meets the strike plate. The strike plate, once impacted, transfers the energy of the rock to a rack and pinion system connected to a fly wheel. The rack and pinion is forced away from the impact, and the rotation of the pinion is transferred to the motion of the flywheel. Visitors observe a distinctive 'shudder and spin' effect during this sequence. The energy from the rock is now stored in the flywheel, a consistently rotating mass in the centre of the platform. Energy can be removed from the flywheel and fed into the grid at times of need by tapping its rotation with an electromagnetic dynamo.
The drive to conceal and forget the remainders of our consumption is the result of an inability to accept the scale and nature of our own geologic force. The Sisyphus Project is an invitation for visitors to remember the tie between work and energy, and reflect upon the scale of consumption which our energy infrastructures allow us to achieve.
Collaborator Chester Rennie
Captains of Industry designed a series of capriccios as part of an exhibition by Etienne Turpin, entitled Stainlessness, at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. The capriccios depict the history of labour movements in four North American cities, understanding labour as a force capable of leaving a physical trace on the city. Etienne describes the exhibition in more detail:
"Stainlessness recuperates the tradition of the architectural 'capriccio' as a means to emphasize the history of labor movements in North America and to make legible the physical semblance of these movements in cities including Sudbury, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. While processes of urbanization have all but erased these struggles from our cities and left only ambivalent monuments to mark the past, the narrative of Stainlessness and its contemporary 'capriccios' assert the centrality of labor as a force capable of transforming the nature of cities, the culture of America, and the geologic deep-time marked by the Anthropocene."
The exhibited prints were letterpressed on handset aluminum plates at Signal-Return in Detroit.
All photos by Catie Newell.
Location Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan
Collaborator/Client Etienne Turpin
the geologic turn
Poster design for a symposium curated by Etienne Turpin at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan.
Client Etienne Turpin
Tar Creek supergrid
The former Tar Creek Lead and Zinc mine in and around the town of Picher, Oklahoma was our conceptual pilot project for the idea of Infrastructural Reclamation. Dozens of waste rock piles, some up to 13-storeys high, and contaminated ground and surface water are the legacy of mining operations in the area, which produced a significant portion of the lead used in the World Wars.
Solar energy generation is introduced as an economic catalyst on the site, but with a twist: the introduction of a structure that raises the solar energy infrastructure off the ground, creates the opportunity to host other activities on the site, as well as to remediate the polluted ground and waterways. The concrete structure, pre-fabricated using waste rock material from the site, is assembled in a modular fashion from a kit of parts that accommodates a variety of programs. Importantly, the hollow structure also acts as a conduit to carry water, energy, waste -- all the infrastructure for human habitation -- to all inhabited areas of the site.
The result is a three-tiered plan: the topmost layer is devoted to solar energy development and production: testing the latest solar technology and producing a surplus of energy for the site and its surroundings. This layer is also the starting point for water management on the site. Rainwater is collected as needed and transported through the structure to one of several treatment plants around the radial plan. The middle layer is the place of dwelling and exploration of the site. As the need for space grows, beams are added to create this inhabited layer: the beams act as a pedestrian and cycling circulation system, but also the infrastructure for dwelling and automated transit. Finally, the ground layer becomes a laboratory for bio-remediation of the ground and water systems. Passive treatment of both the waste water from the site and of the acid mine drainage is coupled with a connected system of boardwalks to allow inhabitants and visitors to experience both the industrial inheritance of the site and the renewed hope for its future.
Follow this link to watch a 1 minute video synopsis of the project.
reclaim (v) 1. retrieve or recover (something previously lost, given, or paid) 2. bring (waste land) under cultivation
In this thesis project, the highly affected landscapes of former mine sites are strategically repurposed as sites for the research, development, and production of clean energy: hubs of a new sustainable energy infrastructure for the United States.
This solution simultaneously reduces the impact of clean energy generation, catalyzes the productive reclamation of abandoned mines, and stimulates local and regional economies formerly dependant on resource extraction.
Proposed conversions for several existing mine sites demonstrate the potential of the proposal.
One layer becomes two: the single-pane glass facade of 80 Bloor is re-envisioned as a double facade consisting of an updated curtain wall and perforated metal skin. This deeper facade improves the building's performance while creating an iconic new look from both inside and out.
The perforated aluminum skin fulfills both functional and ornamental roles. Functionally, the skin shades the building, reducing summer heat gain, while framing views from inside. The louvered scaffold that supports the aluminum panels deepens with height, providing more shade for the sunnier upper floors. The metal skin also becomes more porous with height, acknowledging the improved views and the decreasing need for privacy. The pattern's density fluctuates from floor to floor in order to accommodate the variety of lighting conditions desired by different occupations, especially within the design field (a brighter floor would appeal to a design company, while a video game company requires low light levels).
The retail floors at the base of the building are nearly opaque, focussing views inwards. This provides the opportunity to incorporate the building's identity -- the 80 of 80 Bloor -- into the perforated pattern of the facade, and to highlight the shop entrances and displays. Significantly, this variety of conditions and complexity of pattern arise from a very simple system of cutting rectangles from aluminum panels. Though only skin-deep, this new facade substantially transforms the potential of 80 Bloor.
The strict rectilinear form of the traditional sukkah is encapsulated in the structural frame, but mapped onto a new shape that responds to features of the Union Square site.
The re-mapped frame acts as a scaffold for mobile interior wall panels that constitute the new configurable thick wall of the sukkah. In this way, the rigid grid structure becomes the platform for variety, convenience, and entertainment inside the sukkah.
The need to reconfigure the sukkah's interior spaces engenders community and cooperation and allows a degree of individual expression through customization.