9/28/2009

WAP 2.0 : My favorite finalists are

I've already talked about WAP 2.0 competition in a previous thread, I will not go back to the presentation of this fascinating competition. In this thread, I only present my favorite finalists (for the other fascinating finalits, please check WAP 2.0 website) and Lateral Office with "P1117 Coupling Infrastructures: Water Economies/Ecologies". I included a quick presentation of my third favorite finalist — because I fistly decided to choose only two favorite finalists — UrbanLab "1,000,000,000 Global Water Refugees"
The first finalist is Rael San Fratello Architects's "P1145 Border Wall as Infrastructure" proposal.
I am particularly interested in the relationship between architecture and political. I usually follow Teddy Cruz's reseach and architectural projects on the border of Mexico and USA, particularly on Tijuana and San Diego Border Neighborhoods (I will add in this list of architects/activits Paris-based aaa). A detailed presentation of his research is available in Verb Crisis. Architecture and Urbanism are used as critical tools for rethinking our society, and also Architecture and Urbanism themselves. As we know, this border has affected not only the very space-making and city-building on both USA and Mexico, but also their ecological agenda. For Teddy Cruz, the border wall is a "geography of conflict". This is what Rael San Fratello Architects attempted to demonstrate. their proposal "Border Wall as Infrastructure" consists of:
[T]here exists far more potential in a construction project that is estimated to cost up to $1,325.75 per linear foot." Recognizing the high cost, limited effectiveness and unintended natural consequences of the new, multi-layered US/Mexico border wall (disruption of animal habitats, diversion of water runoff that has caused new flooding in nearby towns), this proposal names 30 alternatives (covering nearly the whole of the Mexican alphabet, literally from Aqueduct wall to Zen wall) that might better combat the energy crisis, risk of death from dehydration, disruption of animal habitat, loss of vegetation, negative labor relations, missing creative vision and lack of cross-cultural appreciation likely in the government sponsored version.
To a certain extent, this proposal unfolds a political act. This is why I decided to select them as my favorite finalists. They attempt to analyse the impact of the demarcation of this territory in terms, not only, of spatiality, but also of sustainability, economy, social, and politics, that affects the everyday life of inhabitants (especially in Tijuana side).
Here is a quick illustrated overview of their proposal:

Who are Rael San Fratello Architects? This Oakland-based young architecture firm has been founded by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello. Their works have been published by a numerous of magazines such as Metropolis Magazine, Domus, Praxis (see Praxis # 10 "Urban Matters"), Architect Magazine. Rael San Fratello Architects are defined as Environmental Activists through design.
They developed this project with Emily Licht.

The second is Lateral Office's proposal. They explored water crisis. If they selected Southwest regions for their case studies, their proposal is the illustration of today water problem. I may be naive but I am astonished to see that today, in the 21st century, water is still a problem that must be urgently solved not only in terms of lack of water, but also of distribution and storage.
Here is the presentation of their proposal:
"P1117 Coupling Infrastructures: Water Economies/Ecologies

Proposal location: case studies include Salton Sea, Mono Lake, and Owens Lake in California and Pyramid Lake in Nevada yet proposal is applicable to numerous locations, particularly in the southwest.
Primary issues: This proposal focuses on America's impending water crisis, particularly in cities in the southwest where growth is high and water availability is limited, by rethinking water use, distribution, and storage. Using the Salton Sea as a model site, the proposal envisions "converting the Sea back to its recreational use while allowing multiple economic opportunities for the production of water, salt, and more efficient greenhouses." Here "infrastructure [becomes] an extension of nature." Island pods provide for salt harvesting, recreation, and new animal habitats.

Some illustrations will, I hope, give the reader an overview of their proposal:




Lateral Office is a Toronto-based architecture firm founded by Mason White, Lola Sheppard. The office is compounded of the both founders and Neeraj Bhatia. Lateral Office developed a large number of projects in various fields — architecture, urbanism and research such as History Rising: Dubai's Visible Cities for ACSA conference in 2006, to quote but a few. They developed an open source blog entitled Infranet lab in which they regularly post the results of their research. I appreciate their blog that I visit since this week. I discovered their work via WAP 2.0 competition. Further information on their works is available in PDF format.
Of course the other finalists have proposed fascinating projects. For instance the third favorite finalist (that I have not included because I decided to choose only two but) American architecture firm UrbanLab (Chicago)'s proposal "1,000,000,000 Global Water refugee" explores what I noticed above : the water crisis that affects some regions (this time, the lack of water) of our earth. For their proposal, they studied different locations in America — Milwaukee, Buffal, Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland). Their project outlined "the strategy for redensification of under-utilized post-indutrial landscapes by relocating populations threatened by water scarcity".
Some illustrations:


UrbanLab combines Architecture and Design to explore the mutation of the 21st century city. This Chicago-based architecture firm have been founded by Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn. Their projects include single and multi-family projects, new commercial and conversions of industrial buildings into live and workspace lofts, restaurant interiors, and museum installations. They, also, develop research on city and its transformation (and contradictions) such as their project Growing Water.
For this project "1,000,000,000 Global Water Refugees", Lee Greenberg, Jeff Macias, and Katherine Eberly were the other members.
I wish a good luck for these finalists.
Another competition that has just announced the result is Reinvent Cities. The winner is Paris and Santiago-based Ignacio Echeverria. But I will post a thread on this result and this competition that I just discovered.
Last news : WAP 2.0 announces the Symposium WPA 2.0: Working Public Architecture, the Monday 16 November 2009 at Washington DC. For further information, please check WAP 2.0 website.

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