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Design Under Sky discusses landscape architecture, the utilitarian but leaning towards the conceptual, thinking on modern occurrences and peripheral boundaries.  

DUS is the blog and personal design studio of Adam E. Anderson, a designer based out of the East Coast, currently a Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a designer at Landworks Studio.

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December 2011
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Entries in landform (1)


Metabolic Tectonic I

[Image by Vince Guallart. Denia Mountain.]


My recent work at RISD has led me to a final proposal in which I will be looking at the formal and chemical transformation of waste heaps to build a new landscape tectonic, particularly using the deployment of protocell and soil bio-technology.

RISD has dominated the schedule as of late so posting has been sparse, but this will begin a series of posts on my exploration and research of metabolic landform.

We'd like to consider a post-natural agenda that accepts the implausibility of recovering a pristine version of nature, but understand that the instinct of nature still exists within us, and around us. In the construction of our habitat, let us move beyond the role of landscape as a decorative device, or merely pragmatic sustainable infrastructure. A new framework can act as a catalyst for change, for a co-evolution of nature and man, progressing us towards non-autonomous landscapes that emphasize and value the inseparability of ourselves from the environment.

By constructing through the deployment of protocell technology we have the capacity to create devices that co-evolve with surrounding environmental conditions, metabolizing with that condition to establish a new landscape typology. This new metabolic landscape typology will make the once or soon to be un-inhabitable, habitable. Most importantly, this is a low-biotech solution, which uses ubiquitous materials that are available, durable, and affordable throughout the world..

Landfills and waste heaps are a landscape stratum that demarcates the human condition. Both sublime and tragic in their colossalness, they present a severe environmental detriment, but also an opportunity to use the remediation as a process to utilize its massive scale in creating a habitable condition.

One adequate and seemingly successful transformation of the landfill is through burial and park creation. This however is only a surface treatment, leaving a potentially collapsible landform, CO2 emission, and leachate [trash juice] which inevitably penetrates insufficient protective liners, and enters the groundwater system.

We will be looking at the potential of protocells, which have the capability to be chemically programmed to respond to certain environmental conditions. Through the design and development of a skeletal fabric structure as the form work for landfill, artificial landform is constructed. The landform however is not static. Stored protocells from the skeletal fabric are released and begin to chemically lithify the waste and leachate, preventing its release into the groundwater, and creating a structural landscape typology.

There is the potential for additional benefits of artificial landform generation beyond the obvious management and remediation of landfill. As our climate warms, and sea levels rise, our landscape systems need to adapt. With a new capability to build up quickly, we can begin to inhabit cooler atmospheres and avoid the encroaching sea rise. Micro-climates in interstice of landform can respond to a multitude of extreme atmospheric conditions.

At the moment we are not sure that this is even possible, but in reality, anything is possible, so we will proceed.