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(22-23) Architecture On A Damaged Planet

Architecture for Living on a Damaged Planet

Mater Dissertation studio 2022-23
Promotors: Rachel Armstrong, Pieterjan Ginckels, Breg Horemans, Rolf Hughes
Campus Ghent

  1. topic = developing imaginaries and methods for next generation sustainable architecture that (bio)remediates, method = based on book written as a collaborative text called “Arts for Living on a Damaged Planet,” and eventual site of your studio/master dissertation. Site is free choice for student.
  2. whether your studio/master dissertation would specifically connect with Brussels themes. No, not specifically.

Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene, 2020

The Anthropocene identifies humans as the cause of climate change. Architecture plays a significant part, contributing 40% of the world’s total global carbon footprint. The very idea that humankind reigns over the natural world and can “exploit” it without consequences, is the conceptual catalyst for the Anthropocene.

To make possible next-generation sustainable architectures, which aim to cause no environmental harm and become bioremediating systems that heal our living spaces, we need to re-think our relationship to the damaged world around us so that we may think and act differently. But what role should we play? Are we nature’s masters? Or saviours? Are there other ways to imagine our relationships with other species and the natural world?

This dissertation studio is based on the ground-breaking book “Arts for Living on a Damaged Planet,” a collaborative piece of work that is separated into two parts: “Monsters and the Art of Living” and “Ghosts on a Damaged Planet. It is an unusual publication as, to understand the various arguments, the reader must physically turn the book upside down to get from one part to the other. Drawing on these principles for (literally) turning around (and over) the damaging paradigms of the Anthropocene, we will study the different chapters of this book using the original chapter content from scholars, activists, artists, and creative writers, as a way of exploring how the very act of living can change the relationship between humans and non-humans—and thereby, nature itself.

Final dissertations will be based on artistic research methods (e.g. drawings, photographs, diagrams, models, video, performance, dance, site-specific installation, sound art, fiction-writing etc.) as well as a written reflection, which is either based on an analysis of a specific chapter, or on the themes of ghosts and monsters. Through this investigation students will be empowered to develop an original architectural perspective, and/or identify specific toolsets for changing our relationship to a damaged world, so that through architectural practices, we can become part of a regenerative ecosystem of agents that contributes to the planet’s enlivening.

Themes: Anthropocene, next-generation sustainability, artistic research methods, imaginaries, interdisciplinarity, critical analysis, prototyping ideas

Rationale: This dissertation is led by tutors with complementary skill sets (biological sciences, arts, artistic research, architecture, emerging technologies, creative writing) providing the analytic, critical and synthetic learning environment where students can explore and apply their thinking to realise their ideas through writing and design practice.

Required reading

Anna Tsing Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt, (Editors). (2017) Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Recommended reading

Armstrong, R. (2021). Safe as houses: More-than-human design for a post-pandemic world. London: Lund Humphries.

Fischel, S. (2017). The Microbial State: Global Thriving and the Body Politic. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hird, M. (2009). The Origins of Sociable Life: Evolution after Science Studies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hughes, R. and Armstrong, R. (2021). The Art of Experiment: Post-pandemic Knowledge Practices. London: Routledge.