Monsoon Assemblages 3:

Cosmopolitical Design in a River Basin - 2018/19
Lindsay Bremner, John Cook & Ben Pollock

This was the third and final of three DS 18 studios contributing to the research agenda of Monsoon Assemblages, a five-year long research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

This year the studio worked in Myanmar, a monsoonal territory currently being rapidly transformed by climatic, industrial and agricultural pressures. It was framed by the idea of 'cosmopolitical design.' This is based on the realisation that what used to be called nature (weather, climate, a river etc.) is no longer a stabilising pattern or a backdrop for human activity. Instead nature is created, instigated, composed and undone at every moment. It rejects the modernist idea of nature as external to human experience and able to be mastered by architects, engineers and scientists from the outside. Instead, it explores what design might be if it is practiced as an active process of manipulation and reworking nature from within, in which human and non-human ways of being and ways of knowing are taken into account.

The studio began by mapping the lrrewaddy River in Myanmar as matter, ecologies and flows. Students deepened these cartographic representations by simulating the river from the perspective of a nonhuman entity that inhabits it e.g. a fish species, dolphins, mercury, sediment. We went to Myanmar 1n November 2018, v1s1ting Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay, where students were able to undertake individual research on their chosen entity. This was followed by an exercise to design an instrument to augment the perspective of the chosen non-human entity and make it more perceptible to humans. This concluded the first semester 's work. In the second semester, students generated a programme and designed a new cosmopolitical forum in which the entity they had been researching and its human interlocuters could negotiate a shared future.
Guest Critiques:
Nerea Calvillo (University of Warwick, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies), David Chandler (UoW, Politics and International Relations Department), Beth Cullen (Monsoon Assemblages), Nick de Klerk (Aukert Swanke Architects), Melanie Dodd (Central St Martins), Tumpa Fellows, Christina Geros (Monsoon Assemblages), Jon Goodbun (RCA), Alex Gordon (Jestico + Whiles Architects), Susannah Hagan, Constance Lau, Jane McAllister (The CASS, London Metropolitan University), Oscar McDonald (Space Syntax). Laura Nica (Marek Wojciechowski Architects). Michael O'Hanlon (DSDHA). Richard Portchmouth (Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects). Calvin Sin (Jump Studios/ Populous), lulia Stefan (/ //digirep), Alice Thompson (MATA Architects), Alex Watt (Eric Parry Architects), Charles Weston Smith

Special Thanks:
The Quinton Hogg Trust and Monsoon Assemblages for funding the field trip

Monsoon Assemblages: Monsoon Assemblages is a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 679873)