A Parallel Walden: A Landscape of Civil Disobedience

“… Air, water, wood: all are enhanced to produce hyperecology, a parallel Walden, a new rainforest. Landscape has become Junkspace, foliage as spoilage: trees are tortured, lawns cover human manipulations like thick pelts or even toupees, sprinklers water according to mathematical timetables…
—Rem Koolhaas, Junkspace
“Nature is over, there is no nature anymore.”
—Slavoj i-ek
Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) founder Rem Koolhaas last year provocatively announced his legendary U-turn at GSD Harvard proclaiming that he will abandon urbanism to focus on the countryside: the territory becomes an area for work and speculation; it is “the next big thing.” We will follow in the illustrious footsteps of Rem and our studio will take a series of fieldtrips to the Great Outdoors. We will make base-camp at the legendary Walden Pond 15 miles west of Boston. Walden Pond is significant for its association with Henry David Thoreau, the polymath philosopher, poet and naturalist, who built a small minimal cabin near the shore where he wrote Walden; or, Life in the Woods which appeared in 1854. Also Walter Gropius built his New England inspired modernist residence close by and regularly took his early morning swim in Walden Pond. The Parallel Walden studio will act as a laboratory to develop new ideas and concepts for nature and wilderness in the 21st century. After a forensic autopsy of Walden Pond and environs students are invited to produce a new manifesto for a parallel Walden and transform a 35-acre former landfill adjacent to Walden to act as catalyst for change. The intent of the studio is to re-activate the notion of Walden as cultural manifestation and provide expression of new emerging concepts of hyper ecology. As part of our research we will investigate the wider discourse between art, architecture and nature and study the various solitary cabins of the likes of le Corbusier, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Philip Johnson, the latter who described his glass house as a “pavilion for viewing nature,” and referred to its lush setting as “expensive wallpaper.”
Course Schedule:
Thursday / Friday 2:00 – 6:00 pm
Plus Site Visit September 6 and 7 and Studio September 28 and 29