Architecture, Energy, Matter 1:

Fracked Urbanism - 2013/14
United Kingdom
Lindsay Bremner & Roberto Bottazzi

This studio was framed by three big, interrelated ideas:

1 The Anthropocene, the idea that since human life began on earth, our species has interfered with it to such an extent that new geological conditions have emerged. This means that it is no longer possible to distinguish between what used to be called nature and what used to be called culture. Instead we now live in a complex technically mediated system of material, energies and information flows, evolving according to its own history in ways we do not necessarily control and barely understand.

2 Thinking about architecture and urbanism as matter, energy and data i.e. as density, flow and information. Buildings, cities and infrastructures are intensities within the Anthropocene, mobilising it in ever evolving ways. These systems were analysed and visualised in space and time using computational tools and intervened in through design.

3 Architecture, infrastructure and urbanism are deeply entangled with geology. They are geological agents, mobilising geological matter and speeding up geological time. Buildings in fact, are geology. How can this intimacy be exploited through design? How can design intervene strategically and instrumentally to reshape or redirect flows of geological matter, energy and data?
During the first semester of the year, we investigated these ideas via the shale gas fracturing (fracking) industries in the USA and the UK. We identified risks associated with fracking, such as geological instability, water pollution, health-related disease, biodiversity loss etc. and developed spatial and architectural strategies to address them. These were spatialised as masterplans and prototypes. During the second semester of the year, we developed architectural propositions in response to pervasive global conditions of anthropogenic climate change, ambient intelligence, information technology and the privatization of the public sphere on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. We developed hybrid architectural programmes (Micro Public Places) that combined new institutional architectures, buildings, urbanism and computation. Their objective was to re-animate public life and engage the public imaginary in issues related to resource extraction, the Anthropocene and global warming.

Study trip to Berlin and field trip to the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset.

Critics: Nabil Ahmed, Laura Allen, Nick Axel, David Dernie, Tom Fox, Jon Goodbun, Kate Heron, Janike Kampevold Larsen, Adrian Lohoud, Constance Lou, Lilit Mnatsakanyan, Douglas Murphy, John Palmesino, Rosa Schiano Phan, Francecso Sebregondi, Ann-Sofi-Ronnskog, Ronald Wall, Liam Young.

Thanks: Alan Holiday, Chairman Dorset Geologists Association for the geological tour of the Isle of Purbeck Christos Antonopoulos and Jeg Dudley for assistance in digital workshops