In light of our current political crisis around climate change, what can architecture possibly
contribute toward a new planetary imaginary of our contemporary environment beyond
environmentalism? Despite its urgency and relevance, climate change has yet to be
conceptualized as a cultural and political source around which our discourses on
architectural representation and imagination can shape.
Nine Islands: Matters Around Architecture positions climate change as a cultural and political
idea that requires a renewed architectural imagination. Through a focus on the underconceptualized
long-span of architectural materiality, Nine Islands situates certain problems
brought by climate change and the Anthropocene—such as resource extraction, materiality,
obsolescence, and waste—in architectural terms. Instead of conceptualizing the environment
as purely natural that needs to be preserved and protect¬ed or as solely systemic that needs
to be mastered and managed, it offers another kind of environmental imagination for
architecture, one that aims to re-boost our geo-cosmic effect from within.
Nine Islands: Matters Around Architecture examines the under-conceptualized spatial and
temporal long-span of architectural materiality. From the extraction of a particular raw matter
from a specific geographic location, to its processing, transportation, and construction into a
desired finished effect in a building, and to its demolition and waste, the spatial and temporal
span of architectural materiality is very wide (geographic) and deep (geological).
The project speculates on this long-span through nine case studies (nine islands) by looking
at particularly lavish or widely used nine building materials: certain types of marble, wood,
glass, travertine, copper, aluminum, concrete, leather, and plastic.
This project was presented to the public through an exhibition, which was comprised of nine
drawings and nine models. The upper part of each model consists of a Monument, an
archetypical building mass that is finished with a specific material. As an opposition to the
upper part, the lower part of each model consists of a Rock, a formless landmass from which
the raw matter is extracted.
The double signification of the raw and the finished is also evidenced in the drawings of the
project. Consisted of two parts, each drawing depicts two different snapshots from the longspan
of one of the nine materials.
While the upper part of each drawing positions one building material through a particular
architectural lens, the lower part depicts a daily life scene from the wider life span of the
same material (extraction at the quarry, demolition of the building ruin, management of the
waste mount in the ocean etc.). As the upper drawings depict architectural spaces or
specifications as still-lifes with traces of everyday life without the presence of humans, the
lower drawings showcase over-populated human activity and presence in the extraction,
production, transportation, construction, demolition or waste site.
This collapse of the architectural and the geographic aims to call attention to the underconceptualized space in between.