The Ocean State

Collaboration is the future of design research. Sites are no longer fixed points, but emerge out of the assembly of essential conditions, the confluence of processes and engaged stakeholders— factors that require new models of practice and cooperation. This studio aims to take a step in the direction of integrated design, by working in collaboration instead of competition. This cooperative research will develop four integrated design proposals, with the support of a consortium of professionals, institutions and scientists who are assembled to address the extraordinary contingencies brought about by an augmented public awareness of climate change, global warming and sea level rise. Therefore, the studio will function parallel to this larger research project entitled ‘Structures of Resilience’, which will unfold along four sites sampled down the North Atlantic Coast. The studio will operate independently, while contributing to a common agenda shared between design programs at Princeton University, The City University of New York and University of Pennsylvania.

The studio production and design iterations will directly contribute to this ongoing research project, by considering the Northeast shoreline as a continuous condition. The research offers a reconsideration of shoreline conditions, parceled out of individual States according to active reconstruction projects that are funded by USACE’s (United States Army Corps of Engineers) framework for future resilience. Cooperation does not forfeit individual expression, so the studio will encourage work through inventive spatialization and visualization, in order to endorse specific procedures that require community consensus, supported by the investigations revealed by the other academic teams. Findings will be shared and tested, to foster an environment of productive criticism. The work will be at once public, legible, and comprehensive while shedding light on new forms of practice. In this regard, the students are supported by direct communication with professional climatologists, hydrologists, coastal geologists, and ecologists, who will contribute to a high level of resolution, while scientific modeling and projections are provided by the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. The objective of the studio is twofold: to speculate on the wholesale narrative of climate change while providing specific and actionable project recommendations, which could result in USACE feasibility studies and pilot projects.

Rhode Island is the subject of the GSD study, presenting an extensive shoreline that has only flirted with the potential of disaster, but remains dangerously vulnerable to future scenarios of extreme weather events. In reacting to the funding allocation, this study must be attentive to numerous wetland, riverine and lowland sites that will be defined as a staged and tested set of details, strategies and species palettes, which will inform new sets of program and invite original uses. At the same time, the theoretical agenda that lies between public awareness and private speculation must be acknowledged in order to maintain a position of proactive commitment rather than one of hopeless defense. The main deliverable of the GSD proposal is therefore a series of design recommendations that may not be site specific but are particular to identifiable conditions, a format that at once moves beyond the object-oriented and offers instead a language that can be shared, reproduced, reformed and ameliorated by various stakeholders.