Post Nature. An Institute for Engineered Ecologies. Studio 400
STUDIO: 4th Year Core Architecture Design Studio
INSTITUTION: School of Architecture, University of Cyprus UCy
PLACE/TIME: Nicosia, Cyprus, Winter Semester 2014
TUTORS: Christos Papastergiou, Christiana Ioannou
Many thanks to our crits this semester: Anna Papadopoulou, Adonis Kleanthous, Yiannis Papadopoulos, Odysseas Kontovourkis, Popi Iacovou, Socratis Stratis, Angella Petrou
Rafaella Christodoulou, Christina Panagi, Nikolas Georgiou, Philippos Michael, Panayiotis Savva, Anna Panagiotou, Rafaella Christophi, Ana Echeverria, Louisa Chiarlistou, Andria Georgiou, Sosanna Anaxagorou, Chrisavgi Konstanti, Maria Ioannou, Zoe Georgiou, Athina Nikolaou, Aristi Pavlou, Orestis Pavlides, Barbara Basile
The studio investigated the transition from the natural-centred condition to the human-centred condition. In other words, the transition from the understanding of nature as a primordial, unchangeable unity, with human being just a small part of it, towards the condition of nature as a structure that is totally constructed and controlled by human as an artificial form.
This transition is today experienced in cities, in an urban environment where nature is conceived as a sum of fragments. The human creates new forms of artificial nature, which resembles the true nature, and is even able to substitute nature, in laboratories or within the environment itself. The boundaries between artificial and natural are blurred and this has lead many scholars to question even the meaning of the very word ‘nature’.
In the studio we called this kind of artificial, manmade nature ‘post-nature’ (what comes after nature). We used ‘post-nature’ as a design subject per se: flora, fauna, the ground, the climate can be designed. New species, new environments, new ecosystems, even new weather conditions are created in laboratories.
AN INSTITUTE FOR ‘ENGINEERED ECOLOGIES’
This design subject of the studio was the space of an institute that would investigate a specific kind of post-nature, an artificial nature, weather from a biological, geological, climatological or other point of view. In the first part of the studio each team of students should specify a philosophy of intervention, a certain kind of post-nature, a specific artificial process and a programme and then should investigate by architectural design the structure that this process can take in the urban-natural environment.
The site of the institute was the National Forest Park of Athalassa, an urban park of 8,4 km2 at the periphery of Nicosia. The park, which is totally artificial, has been constantly forested since the early 20th century. In 1990 was declared a national Park and today it hosts and protects many species of flora and fauna, like mammals, serpents, insects and birds. The students starting from a thorough analysis of the site ended up in investigating subjects like the artificial soil, or the soil as a therapeutic substance, artificial technologies of photosynthesis, processes of water treatment, flooding, the research and management of bio-engineered species or the preservation of the species of fauna, like birds. Every project also evolved various strategies for involving the public into the institutional programme. Eventually every institution worked as a hybrid of a research/development part and a part that was dedicated to a public use, while the most successful projects managed in connecting the two parts in an inseparable programmatic entity.