BALS Year 1 Studio 1 2013-14

We Refugees: Sanctuaries, Enclaves, Archipelagos

Course Title: Landscape Design Studio 1 (ARCH 2102)
Instructors: Adam Bobbette, Yin Lun Chan

The title of this course, We Refugees, is taken from a short polemical essay by the mid-20th century German-Jewish

philosopher Hannah Arendt. For her, living in New York City in exile from Nazi persecution, the position of the refugee was to be affirmed and taken advantage of for its unique perspective on the contemporary world. She affirms the outsider for whom flight and exile create the conditions to take both the risk and responsibility for human (and non-human) social and political action.

This course meet Arendt’s invocation not through a study of the figure of the refugee, but the spaces which house her and she traverses. Broadly, this course analysed in detail the interrelated spaces of the refugee: the refuge, sanctuary, enclave and archipelago. In particular, its focus was on the ground that these spaces have shaped and are, in turn, shaped by. Students were introduced to historical case studies and a survey of contemporary theories in the humanities and social sciences. Additionally, students were introduced to and required to engage contemporary and often contentious issues surrounding spaces of refuge and sanctuary, such as cosmopolitanism versus nationalism, nomadism and sedentarism, bio-politics, interspecies thriving, entanglement theory, internationalism versus localism, foreigner versus native, essentialisms, orientalism, etc… The spaces studied included, for example, the refugee camp, death camp, cloister, pirate cove, garden, endangered species sanctuaries, women’s shelters, linguistic enclaves, and internment camps. These case studies provided a lens through which students were able to interrogate critically the contemporary world and its archipelagos of sanctuaries, refuges, and enclaves. It was also a modelling-intensive semester. Model building was the central representational and analytical technique mobilised by the course; drawing was largely used for the exploration of model building. Students were introduced to advanced model-making techniques. Precision, care and clarity were mixed with creativity and experimentation in the explorations of modelling. Iterative processes of trial and error, variations on a theme, diagrammatic versus spatial, tectonic versus representational strategies were explored in each assignment. The model was thus deployed as a vehicle for academic research.

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