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Towards Sentience: Leif Estrada Lab Talk

CCA Architecture
1111 8th Street, San Francisco
Digital Craft Lab (2nd Floor, Studio S1)

Rejection of the dichotomous image created by ‘the manmade’ and ‘the idealized’ untouched image of Nature was brought on by technological advancements humans developed for modifying all known Natures. Such production brings upon an anxiety as to what was once natural. Through our ability to create and conceptualize hybrids of biotic and abiotic systems, we have also facilitated the evolution and image of novel ecologies.

Furthermore, design is consistently introduced to “tame” newly-ostracized biologic systems to human will. To legitimize uncanny creations, humans find and extract any economic and practical capacities. However, despite levels of human control, there is always a moment in which a system will fail. Today’s systemic failures, re-situate novel ecologies in the contemporary realm of “uncontrolled environments.” Can responsive systems learn from the living landscapes? Can sentient machines mitigate foreseeable systemic failures, as well as facilitate the emergence of novel ecologies?

Leif Estrada is a designer and researcher in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and technology.  He received graduate degrees in an advanced post-professional Master in Design Studies degree, with a concentration in Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology (MDesS-ULE), and a second-professional degree, Master in Landscape Architecture (MLA I AP) at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.  He served as research lab manager at Harvard’s Responsive Environments and Artifacts Laboratory (REAL) under Bradley Cantrell.

His graduate research and thesis, entitled Towards Sentience: Attuning the Los Angeles River's Fluvial Morphology was awarded the 2016 Thesis Prize by the Faculty of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Advanced Studies at Harvard GSD.  To date, his research has been published and translated in Chinese, French and Spanish and has been exhibited in many design institutions. 

He is an alumnus of CCA’s Bachelor of Architecture program.