The research seminar examines the anatomy of (wild)fires in the context of climatic disintegration and the dismantling of agro-cultural practices of collectively “laboring” the land. In particular, the seminar addresses the ecology of fire—associated benefits, hazards, social agents, and corresponding intuitional frameworks—relative to design. While examining the fires' components as a phenomenon with increased incidence in today’s extended drought periods and abandonment of rural territories, the seminar explores design questions and possibilities: How does fire happen and what catalyzes its occurrences? Where does it occur mostly? Which measures are in place for post-tragedy territories and community recovery? How can design anticipate and prevent? The seminar entails the examination of the cultural and anthropological domains of using fire as well as case studies on fire management and mitigation in communities under perennial threats. These include regions where wildfire is an enduring and ever-growing occurrence, such as in the Mediterranean-type climate regions (MCRs) including Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece), Australia, California, Canada, South Africa, and Chile. The year of 2017 witnessed unforeseen fire events worldwide with extreme magnitudes. The effects of such scales produced incalculable losses in human lives, environmental depletion, public health damages, and public expenditures. In the present times, where the increase of air temperatures and drier periods are expected to grow even more, the study of this phenomenon and its implications seems of strategic relevance for the design disciplines in their aim to build resilient communities in urban and rural territories.
Course structure: The class will meet on Fridays for 2 hours. There will be 1 hour of asynchronous time. This time will be used by the students, at a time of their choice, with a small exercise: each week, students will use this asynchronous time to prepare a 1 paragraph response and two questions to the suggested essays/ videos (2 max) released in the previous class. These reflections will be discussed in the following class. As part of the class preparation, the students will have links to extra video material included in the bibliography/ videography.