Life in the Woods: production and consumption of the urban forest, 2011. MArch Thesis.
"By drawing the boundaries within which their exchange and production occur, human communities label certain subsets of their surrounding ecosystems as resources, and so locate the meeting places between economics and ecology." William Cronon, Changes in the Land,1983
“Managed woodlands forge important connections between people, nature, and responsible resource use by offering citizens the opportunity to be involved in their own sustenance, to understand the connections between patterns of consumption and their environmental consequences, and to witness the link between forested habitats and biodiversity.” Wildlands and Woodlands, Harvard Forest, 2010
Abstract: The use of wood is fraught with paradox. Wood as a building material is embraced for its naturalness, while the cutting of trees is indicted as a destruction of nature. Wood is lauded for its structural properties and visual appearance, but challenged for its lack of durability and dimensional stability; all traits tied to the original tree. The controversial field of transgenics further complicates matters as scientists now work to genetically modify trees for improved yield and performance. Many environmentalists argue that the risk of infecting native tree populations is too great, while others see potential for sparing native populations by using purpose-grown alternatives. Both camps claim to be working to halt global climate change. How can we locate today's wood industry within this disparity? Dilemmas inherent to wood use are entangled with conflicting attitudes towards nature. The urban forest is uniquely poised to address this debate through an opportunity to intersect nature and industry within the public realm.
Phasing phytoremediation, timber and biomass production over time, the strategy of this thesis is to co-opt a network of underutilized and contaminated parcels in Boston's developing Innovation District as a system of productive landscapes. Transgenic trees are here considered as a means of stretching a given species' function and yield, and offer new opportunities for design. Initial years of tree growth provide plots that double as public green space while improved parcels are open for future development. On one such plot, the project envisions a wooden architecture that accounts for its own material, energy, and even the soil upon which it is built. By integrating systems of production and consumption into the public life of the city, the relationship between people and natural resources can be reestablished; the paradox made public.
Productive Encroachment : Growing Puerto Ayora one MANgrove at a Time, 2011. MArch Studio
The city of Puerto Ayora is nestled in Academy Bay on the southern side of Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. A coastal town, Puerto Ayora has been expanding northward in the direction opposite the sea, sandwiched between two multi-story high cliffs to the east and west. Tourism, however, has predominantly existed in the form of yachts and cruise ships docked offshore. As this lucrative industry grows, so will the number of hotels built within the city limits, thus pushing residential habitation into protected inland habitats. Although sensitivity to wildlife and valued vegetation remains a central issue no matter where development occurs, expansion towards the ocean can be viewed as an interesting alternative.
One major feature of the native coastline of Santa Cruz Island are the mangrove swamps, few of which remain in their entirety on this particular island. Touristic and urban development is one of the leading causes of destruction of the mangrove swamps worldwide, along with large scale shrimp farming, which has devastated large swaths of mangrove on mainland Ecuador. The mangrove, however, in its ability to inhabit the space between land and sea, is an extremely benefi cial tree both on the local and global scale. It provides a nutritious and protected habitat for young organisms, such as shrimp, slows wave energy and buffers against tsunamis, thereby assisting with erosion control, and mangrove swamps sequester carbon at a rate of 1.5 tons of carbon per hectare per year. Most interestingly, due to the natural propagation cycle of mangrove, they accrete sediment beneath their root structure, effectively producing land.
In investigating a way to develop along Puerto Ayora's coastline, the productive nature of the mangrove swamp is considered as a means for the city to encroach upon nature while simultaneously cultivating its growth. Tourism is the single largest industry on Santa Cruz and also the most sought after means of employment. Other industries such as farming and construction are less desirable as tourism is considered the most profi table. But local industry is sorely in need of reconsideration in light of how dependent the Islands are on imports from the mainland. Looking at hybrid models, there could be a way to combine industry, such as farming, with tourism to provide another option entirely. This project proposes such a hybrid condition in combining a small-scale shrimp farming facility with an agro-tourist resort. In this way, housing could be developed for farmers who are also employed in tourism to provide the agro-tourist with a unique experience in the Galapagos Islands.
Mediating Weathers, 2010. MArch Studio
This project is about weather, specifi cally a kind of third weather that is present within the home, located in the in between spaces; panes of glass, wall cavities, even entire rooms in the case of the greenhouse and root cellar. Using Processing and Arduino, the ubiquitous glass block was taken as a site of intervention and augmentation. Its transformation led to the development of several wall systems comprising a kind of all-weather house. Project development included working prototypes and models.