TOXI CITY: Urbanism in the Anthropocene

by Sabari Gopakumar, 2017-18
Advisor: Adam Marcus

This project proposes a new architecture and urbanism for the polluted Bellandur lake, in the city of Bangalore, India. The Bellandur lake is the largest of a network of lakes that supplies fresh water to the city. Due to rapid expansion, many of these lakes are paved over or polluted by untreated sewage and industrial waste. The condition of the lake periodically manifests as white, toxic, and carcinogenic foam that blows over the city. Remediation efforts are too slow, expensive, and ineffective, and the lake continues to be a threat to the city which faces drought conditions every year. Questioning the tendency to marginalize these unnatural and toxic environments of industrial urban life, this project proposes a series of elevated platforms and urban corridors that utilize a tensegrity structural system to protect from the toxic environment yet also reveal its sublime nature. The structures create protected lagoons that help remediate the water crisis by collecting fresh water. It explores the architectural opportunities of quarantine and proposes a new model for urbanism in extreme environments where architecture allows the city to reconnect with the lake.


by Eric Fura, 2017-2018
Advisor: Adam Marcus

Wastescape reclaims some of the most public territory of San Francisco—the Southeast Wastewater Treatment Plant—as public-occupied space through architectural intervention and addition. Eighty percent of the city’s sewage and storm water drain to and are treated at this facility before being released back into our shared resource, the San Francisco Bay. Wastescape connects neighborhoods and creates wildlife habitat in a territory of infrastructure previously impervious to the surrounding communities, operating as public asset rather than nuisance. The project questions our current understanding of what constitutes “nature” in an urban context, substituting traditional forms of ecology with constructed and purpose-built ecologies. Questions of acceptable risk are juxtaposed with issues of gentrification as visitors are exposed to the processes of water treatment. This new access corridor of walkways, bird canopies, and public space provokes alternative usage opportunities at the intersection of infrastructure and urbanism.

If a Mine Collapses and Nobody is Around, Does it Make a Sound?

by Patrick Monte, 2017-2018
Advisor: Adam Marcus

If a mine... is a series of spherical observatories located on the site of a cataclysmic landslide that occurred at Utah’s Bingham Canyon Copper Mine in 2013. The mine, notably the largest human excavation, is considered as a site for speculating upon architecture and architectural experience that traverses human, industrial, and geological scales. In particular, the project is conceived as a cultural form for reclaiming the mine and a monument to the impacts of human terraforming and resource extraction. Spherical observatories connected by traversing walkways frame and curate a landscape that scales the industrial and geological and creates an experience of the site that may last several hours, days, or even a week. Each observatory isolates and synthesizes an element of the historic 2013 landslide as a cultural artifact, positioned in relation to each other and the landscape in ways which seek to challenge environmental aesthetics.

Plume & Poche

by Carlos Sabogal, 2017-2018
Advisor: Adam Marcus

This project reimagines the typology of the house by speculating how material performance can provide variable qualities of thermal experience. Thermal gradients of intensity emit from the building, shaping qualitative boundaries that change the way we live at home. The poche of the wall is multiplied from single to double poche to spatial plume, amplifying programmatic thermal conditions within the home. Conditions change from sunrise to sunset, providing new opportunities for other programs. The house is designed through the manipulation of mass and form of robotically applied concrete, creating a variable spectrum of climate environments. The form is derived from airflows and thermal studies and references traditional vernacular typologies of adobe or mud-brick dwellings. The house is formally and programmatically optimized through thermal simulation and live thermal analysis. The house is a genotype that can be placed in different climate scenarios and reprogrammed to adapt to the environment.

City of Disassembly

by Georine Pierre, 2017-2018
Advisor: Thom Faulders

Our contemporary capitalist world is composed of distributed territories of production, consumption, and waste. Sites of consumption dominate first-world cities, while sites of production and waste are increasingly offshored to the developing world. This thesis asks: What is architecture’s capacity to intervene in such mechanisms, re-integrating these disparate streams into a closed system, a “factory without a factory”? By exploiting the potential links between domestic and industrial processes, could new qualities of life arise in an industrial machine-city, in which production, consumption and waste activities are co-mingled?

The thesis offers a potential site of experimentation within the communities and informal settlements that have emerged within e-waste dump sites in developing countries—specifically, Agbogbloshie, an e-waste recovery district near Accra, Ghana. By examining landscapes formed from e-waste disposal, the project provides new extraction and disassembly-based templates for architecture and urbanism that aim for a symbiosis of economic, political, and social systems.