MLA Thesis Section 3 2017-18

Related Staff : Valin, Ivan

Students: FAN Qi Kiki; HU Yiqian Ivy; MOK Siu Man Manman; ZHANG Shaoyin Shawn

Course Code: 7299
Course Title: MLA Thesis Section: Another Nature: Landscape, design and development in the urban (sub)tropics

If you want to find out how various cultures understand the natural world, go to their cities, locate the leading edge of new construction, and observe the strategic transformations taking place. . . . The urban horizon . . . is where the world comes into being and is thereafter systematically redefined. -Albert Pope, “Last Horizon” (2003) Recent discourse has attempted to place the landscape architecture at the center of an effort to revisit the image and role of nature in the contemporary city. Specifically, it promotes an organized (and organizing), “productive” landscape as the remedy for suburban sprawl, urban regeneration, post-industrial transition, and climate change. Emerging from thought- centers in the temperate West, these strategies are constructed through the ‘figures’ of parks, buffers, greenways, grounds and waterfronts; and valued through the ‘performances’ of water storage and filtration, food production, habitat, and resiliency. But what about those landscapes that lie outside of these norms? What of the landscape in the margins of our cities; remnant in its fragments and emerging from its substrates? Especially in the tropical and subtropical metropolises of Asia, Africa, and South America, the landscapes of the city are enmeshed within a process of continuous and unplanned development. The role these landscapes play in these urban environments are not fully known; its forms and images not explicitly codified. The “natures” in these places can be liminal or pervasive, beneficial or distressing. Terms like ‘ruderal’ and ‘wild’ tell us only that they are excluded from traditional notions of the cultivated, inhabited and managed landscape. Thesis work in this track will seek to bring these marginal landscapes back into our collective awareness and to develop frameworks for conceptualizing the urban condition in its full environmental and atmospheric diversity. Designs will demonstrate the provocative paradigms of nature in the city as it is balanced against notions of development and the constraints of health, sanitation, and settlement. Ultimately, students must also consider the medium of representation itself to grapple with the imagery of design/ research in a pre-professional, post-digital context.