The climate crisis poses the urgent question of how to make our built environment more resilient to the challenging atmospheric changes such as heat islands, rising temperature, intensified rainfall, and longer droughts. Landscape architecture has a long history in using growth and transformation as its agents to better inhabit this planet. This unprecedented crisis represents an opportunity, and equal responsibility, for landscape architecture to radically rethink its field.
A City as a Myriad Microclimates
Cities account for over 70% of global carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, while only taking up around 3% of the land space. As such, cities present a crucial opportunity to combatting the causes of climate change, while needing an urgent mitigating of its effects. A city can be understood as an imbrication of a myriad of microclimates. Buildings change wind patterns and sunlight exposure, while the streetscapes changes soil permeability, runoff, and solar radiation.
For each man-made micro-climate, there exists a comparable natural condition. Using the logic of nature, our cities can be transformed into complex urban ecologies.
Biospheric Urbanism is the study of the built environment as the interface between meteorology and geology. It aims at transforming the critical zone between above and below to better cope with uncertain changes in climate, while better using its underground resources.
The Option Studio will take New York City as its main subject of study in three acts.
The first act is to map the existing microclimates of the city, using all data available. This climatic cartography will help identify the most crucial area where each student decides to intervene.
The second act consists of conceiving a climatic project for the chosen area. A thorough analysis will be conducted of the existing physical conditions, with a special emphasis on the underground and its geology.
The third act is about the transformation of the chosen area into an urban ecology, effectively changing its microclimate. This will be achieved with the help of other fields like pedology, hydrology and ecology. The main ambition is to elaborate a pragmatic proposal that is based on a strong vision for the future.