"The current geological age, viewed as the periof during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment."
This architectural thesis from my final year of my architectural graduate studies explores the discipline of architecture by examining it's place in the current state of the world in a post-digital context. Originally, architecture came about to sculpt and manipulate natural resources to better serve humans; architecture was always, not an extension of the earth, but something else entirely. There has always been a threshold between the natural and the unnatural. There was a differentiation that occurred to the atmospheric condition that differentiated a city or a structure from the natural world around it.
In the 21st century, with the rise of the digitization of the planet through tools like Google Earth, the threshold between the natural and unnatural worlds has begun to blur. This fact not only changes our relationship to the earth as an object, but the role of the human as a sculpture of elements of the planet as a whole. Given that architecture has always been the discipline of sculpting natural materials to create unnatural spaces for humans, what happens to architecture aesthetically when we accept that everything is unnatural, and there is no longer a distinction?
The Antithesis of Aesthetic
In the extreme, the forces that create aesthetic no longer draw from the physical realm, but the digitization of the physical realm. It can actually be argued that the new architecture is actually an anti-architecture, since it will no longer respond to human forces, but distinctly anti-human forces. The new aesthetic is achieved through the intentional fortuitous misuse of the algorhythmic output of commonly used design software, like Photoshop. The ambiguity of scale of digital design methods helped to determine the relationship of the aesthetic as it applies to the planet; the output can be deployed at various scales to achieve micro and macro effects.
These new aesthetic rules are then re-applied to the buildings that service human use.
Plastic waste is now present in huge portions of the ocean both whole, and disintegrated to the particle level. Due to the fact that it is completely uncontrolled, it can be argued that plastic waste is now, unfortunately, as much a part of the ocean itself as water and salt. This presents an interesting architectural opportunity; in the same way that humans have harvested minerals and water to create concrete structures, I am representing the questions of the relationships between natural and unnatural with a system that harvests the denaturalized, now natural, resource of plastic waste in the oceans to create the new architecture. The site I chose was the uninhabited coast of Hawaii. This is an area that is heavily affected by the denaturalization of the ocean through plastic waste.
The project is a station, one of many scattered throughout the earth’s coasts that are infected with plastic waste. These stations harvest plastic by sending out boats that capture plastic waste by casting out nets, similar to fishing nets, and depositing their loads of plastic at the facility where they are processed into building materials. These materials form the facility itself, allowing the station to expand and build itself custom to the needs of the people that inhabit them. The residents are primarily environmentalists, students, and bohemians who come to live at the facilities for periods of several months at a time, where they carry out the functions of the facility. They go out on the boats to harvest plastic, take it back to be processed, and cook the meals, perform maintenance work under the guidance of the resident scientists. Given the communal nature of life on the station, the spaces encourage communal living with dining areas, social spaces.