Design Earth “Geostories”

Cooper Union (7 E 7th Street)

poster for Design Earth “Geostories”

This event has ended.

At Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery

Climate change is irrevocably transforming the Earth, making thoughtful and projective sustainable design practices more necessary than ever. Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment, an exhibition presented by The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, brings together four speculative research projects by Design Earth, that visualize climate change on a planetary scale.

Design Earth is a collaborative design-research practice led by architects Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy. Through their research, the pair questions how the environment is changing due to human interference and the built world. Each of the four site and subject-specific projects, gathered together for the first time after being on view at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Oslo Architecture Triennale, Sharjah Biennial, and Seoul Biennale, features 33 large-scale drawings printed on canvas and mounted on wood. The work invites the public to engage with the Earth and humanity’s relation to it.

“Geostories considers a series of environmental questions and fictional interpretations of their answers from a physical, economical, and representational point of view,” says Ghosn. “Through our drawings, we aim to create a new world vision that forces us to confront our global reality and rethink nature, the city, and our part in both. As a result, we hope our work becomes a manifesto for facing climate change.”

“We wanted to imagine and redesign what would be the biggest question of all – the Earth – and from there render sensible the dimensions of our world and create a geographic worldview,” says Jazairy. “Our drawings capture the underlying connections between technology and an ecological crisis and tell a story that conceptualizes these problems. Using architecture as a relational and speculative medium, we highlight both the reality and how it might be changed.”

The projects include questions ranging from crises in our oceans to deserts and how our activities around energy use, resource explotation, and the built environment may trigger larger environmental problems. “After Oil” speculates on the future geography of the Persian Gulf through three specific sites: Das Island (extraction), Strait of Hormuz (transit logistics), and Bubiyan Island (climate change). Of “Oil and Ice” weaves two intertwined concerns of climate change: the energy intensive desalination industries in the Arabian Gulf and melting glaciers in Antarctica. “Pacific Aquarium” uses the object and space of a traditional aquarium in an attempt to make sense of the ocean’s transformation and our role — due to economic desires — in those changes. In this case, each “aquarium” zone considers the impact of deep-sea mining in the Pacific Ocean’s Clarion Clipperton Zone, which houses an unique diversity and abundance of life. Finally, “Trash Peaks” appropriates the object of the irworobongdo, a traditional Korean folding screen that portrays the majesty of the royal court, to reconsider how we live with our garbage. Through the various folds, it tells a story of waste and urbanization in Seoul, from how waste flows to its logistics and labor.

“Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy tap into the reckoning that as our informatic reach on global phenomena accelerates, our historic conceptions of the built world are somehow becoming obsolete,” says Nader Tehrani, Dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. “Their work on data at the trans-regional scale, whether on energy or waste, offers us challenges that we can no longer escape. Moreover, somewhere between built realities and utopian dreams, they offer visions that tap into the architectural imagination of what scale we might need to operate at in order to recalibrate the city.”

Ghosn and Jazairy’s Design Earth practice is widely recognized, having exhibited internationally at venues such as Venice Architecture Biennale, Seoul Biennale, Design Biennial Boston, Lisbon Triennale, MIT Keller Gallery, and Sursock Museum in Beirut. They have received the Young Architects Prize from Architectural League of New York and awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Faculty Design, Jacques Rougerie Foundation International Architecture Competition, and more. They are founding members of the journal New Geographies and authors of Geographies of Trash. Their forthcoming publication, entitled Geostories, is funded by a Graham Foundation Grant.

An architect and geographer, Ghosn is currently assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Architecture + Planning. Her work critically frames the urban technological condition at the intersection of politics and aesthetics. She holds a Doctor of Design from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Master in Geography from University College London, and a Bachelor of Architecture from American University of Beirut.

Jazairy is a licensed architect who serves as assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan and is currently visiting research scientist at MIT. His research investigates spaces of exception — such as institutional campuses, free zones, and city-states — as predominant forms of contemporary urbanization. El Hadi holds a Doctorate of Design from Harvard, a Master of Architecture from Cornell, and a Bachelor of Architecture from La Cambre in Brussels.



from October 17, 2017 to December 02, 2017

Opening Reception on 2017-10-17 from 18:30


Design Earth

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