Abstract

Territories of Nowhere, is interested in the conditions and territories of nowhere. In the terms of this investigation, ‘nowhere’ connotes an urban condition; it refers to the less precisely defined physical territory. These nebulous and elusive territories are dynamic in that they behave in response to existing but invisible energy fields, manifested in weather patterns, toxic threat, new geography, and evolving political borders. Nowhere is the artifact, the plume, the weather front, the hidden and invisible inputs that are manifested. An absence of defined limits enables these conditions to be mobile and independent. Ignasi Sola-Morales describes these conditions, stating that, “they are foreign to the urban system, mentally exterior in the physical interior of the city, its negative image, as much a critique as a possible alternative”. These conditions operate outside of the formal infrastructure of the built environment, allowing new transient geographies to emerge that transcend geographic and political boundaries. These geographies provide opportunity for architectural speculation.

This territory is a physical expression of our fear of the other, the alternative, the utopian, the future. These invisible elements of threat and fear are a material artifact of society’s excess consumption, of perceived infinite natural resources, resulting in the conditions of threat and risk. The only way we have to perceive these things that exist, is through the measuring, testing, and monitoring of invisible elements of risk and threat. This proposal is interested in the connection of risk and knowledge, in response to the conditions and territories of nowhere.

Situated in the territory of the Pacific Ocean, a place of transition, the proposal will be tested where the fluctuating and ephemeral conditions of [nowhere] explored in the research are manifested. The site is seemingly void, and absence of use, of activity, promises the space of the possible, of expectation. This project aims at providing methods for sensing, monitoring, testing, and revealing the everyday conditions of toxicity and radiation. It is the connection from the unknown, unpredictable aspect of risk and the physical places we occupy. The proposal will be tested through the re-rigging of the Pacific Ocean, an urban network of transient data buoy stations and cruise ship terminals.

This thesis proposes a transient and nebulous geography that challenges the notion of architecture as a solid, static, and fixed object. This methodology of elusiveness is transient but also restructuring itself; one that is interested in the sea’s occupants, operations, and political boundaries. Occupation is no longer operating in relation to boundaries, exclusions / inclusions and controlled access, but relative to new geographies created that transcend political borders.

Architecture rarely addresses variable and elusive data sets that are inherent in understanding context today; and rarely provides a framework for making space or for understanding and occupying these variable fields. Instead of looking for the architectural forms, this proposal is interested in looking for the forces, the flows, the energies, the rhythms that exist in our built environments. Instead of thinking of these territories as unwanted by-products of our excess energy, they have the potential to provide us with a perspective on how we approach and engage with these nowhere conditions.

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