How the Field[s] Meet

How the Field[s] Meet
Suzanne Kolarik Underwood Prize
Joon Ma
Princeton University M.Arch
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To this day, biological field studies are mostly conducted in the "wilderness" unaffected by human influences. According to the bioscience oxford journal, 96% of field stations are located away from metropolitan areas. While scientists have moved away from cities to study the natural environment, convergence of forces that constitute the greater ecology occur in urban areas. The "field" is no longer located away from civilization, rather it stands or has been standing in front of us all along.

We have progressively fragmented and occupied the natural environment and created distinct divisions and metrics to occupy these spaces. For humans, edges are black and white, measured and quantified, but ecological transformations defy the boundaries set by us. Over time, nature infiltrates into our built environment both in big and small waves. The changes we are seeing today are no longer about how we see the world around us but more about how the nature sees us and responds to our actions.

Modern ecological studies were developed through the petri dish, but the expanded field Identified, requires new apparatus and methods of studying these conditions. Given that these new conditions deal with both the natural and built environment, and mediating between the edges defined by humans and nature, architecture must play a role in designing the spatial parameters of these studies: in particular, in facilitating, mediating, and observing the liminal zones.

The following projects – The Building Edge, The Forest Ring, and The Coastal Lines – bring together new interpretations of what it means to subject architecture to be experimented on with a deep connection to material culture, structure, spatial organization, and ecological transformation.

The project pairs the element of research apparatus and public interface in their designs.

Sited in Floyd Bennett Field, de-comissioned naval base airport in Jamaica Bay New York, the site is uniquely positioned to study these ecological transformations as nature has already infiltrated into the built environment. Ecological transformation work in its own timeline in varying scales. It is fragile yet dynamic, shaped by humans yet resilient. The three stations are strategically positioned to both observe and facilitate the transformations on and along different edges of the site. In particular between, the water, the vegetation, the coast, and the built environment.

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