Hernan Diaz Alonso discusses the SCI-Arc Gallery exhibition Environment[al] (June 15 to August 26, 2018) with curators Herwig Baumgartner and Marcelyn Gow, and featured designers Izaskun Chinchilla, Enric Ruiz Geli of Cloud 9; Gilles Restin; and Violeta Burckhardt and Günther Vogt of Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten; plus historian/theorists Marrikka Trotter from SCI-Arc and Vittoria Di Palma from USC.
The exhibit features work by Carme Pinós and Wolf Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au who are not present.
Hernan Diaz Alonso frames the exhibition as a provocation to push architectural discourse of sustainability and the environment out of superficial Greenwashing, technological fixes, and bad design.
Marcelyn Gow thanks the contributors, supporters, and student crew who realized the exhibit. Herwig Baumgartner describes the exhibition installation, designed by Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten, as a landscape of locally-sourced building waste (rubble from the Sixth Street Bridge, metal tank caps), accompanied by an audio map tracing the path of water from the Owens Valley to the ocean. The tank cap “bowls” contain sample environments or projects (videos projected into pools of water). Gow stresses that the exhibition addresses the question, “How can landscapes provoke us to be more aware of how we treat the built environment?”
Vittoria Di Palma discusses the exhibition as a dialogue about landscape, land art, and environment.
Marikka Trotter sees the exhibition as a correction to the notion of environment as something separate from people. Netween people and the environment there is always an infectious transfer, from us out, and from out to us.
Günther Vogt describes the exhibition design as a result of viewing cities as geological processes. He proposes designers should begin to view their use of materials as a geological process, analogous to Ferran Adrià’s molecular gastronomy developed at El Bulli.
Violetta Burckhardt proposes that the “nature” that figures in sustainability discourse should be viewed as a cultural production, rather than a commodity.
Enric Ruiz Geli contrasts the performance of materials as they are used in construction with the performance of a seed, which produces not only shelter but energy, air, water, and more. He notes that he is currently collaborating with Ferran Adrià on the home of the El Buli Foundation (Cap de Creus, Catalonia). He hopes architects can de-code architecture as molecular gastronomy has de-coded food. He also stresses the need for architects to be politically astute activists for sustainability.
Izaskun Chinchilla argues that the discourse of sustainability has been imposed on the discipline of architecture from the outside, and the initial response has been superficial – adding new features to the status quo – analogous to the way 19th century architects initially experimented with new materials and processes. In the same way that superficiality was eventually overcome, she sees architects developing new solutions regarding density, transportation, and growth. Also developing a new attitude of regarding the world not as a blank but as full, and expanding the span of time architects feel responsible for.
Gilles Restin views sustainability as a question of the current global system of production. He devised his intervention as a demonstration that a big infrastructure isn’t necessary.
Gow and the panelists discuss different understandings of the issues represented by all the different terms: landscape, territory, infrastructure landscape, borders, boundaries, etc. Panelists discuss the scale at which landscapes are currently being transformed.