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Urbanism, infrastructure, environments


What happens when risk and architecture collide? Today, the perceived risk of strange uncertain things is normally greater than the presumed risk of the status quo. This year our unit will develop a creative understanding of risk and the unknown, as a critical instrument and new form of design practice. Risk taking requires determination and persistence, but most of all optimism, trust and curiosity. Through a synthesis of making, drawing, animation and testing, we will investigate the role of risk in architecture as a process and experience of design. 

We will examine the ethics and poetics found in risk taking, and explore how the practice of architecture can become a mediator between research and informed speculation. We are interested in the artistic potential of working with technology, not only as a performance-oriented design parameter, but also as a process charged with aesthetic potential, craft, cultural identity and an ambition for sustainability. How can risk manifests itself in our working methods and outcomes?

We are living in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, where humans are the dominant force shaping the planet and where our own acts of design have forever changed the composition of the atmosphere. Though the Anthropocene appears to mark the moment humans have come to overpower nature, it is also an opportunity for radical speculation and innovation. 

Our transformation of urban, natural and (post) human landscapes are changing culture and daily life. Soon AI will programme our planet and we will be surrounded by architectural spaces that are entirely empty of people, such as unmanned ports, data banks and server farms. Temporally, it requires that we imagine ourselves as inhabitants not just of a human lifetime, but also of “deep time” – the dizzyingly profound eras of Earth history that extend both behind and ahead of the present. Currently, our globalised consumer society is risking rendering the earth’s surface beyond repair. What risks must we take as architects to facilitate an environment that supports a symbiotic coexistence between our buildings and ecology, and between technology and human beings? What types of shared spaces and landscapes will emerge? 

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