A project that explores how architects are ‘storytellers for the environment’ and prefabricated housing systems designed for future mobility are included in Dezeen’s latest school show by students from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Also included is a project that addresses fire resilience in California and one that focuses on the role that cultural identity plays in architecture today.
University: University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture
Course: Master of Architecture (M.Arch), Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design (M.S.AUD), Bachelor of Art in Architectural Studies (B.A.)
Tutors: Kutan Ayata, Neil Denari, Georgina Huljich, Mariana Ibañez, Jeffrey Inaba, David Jimenez Iniesta, Jimenez Lai, Jason Payne, Heather Roberge, Natasha Sandmeier, Mohamed Sharif and Nathan Su
“UCLA Architecture and Urban Design is a champion of ideas and their articulate expression. Our exceptional faculty teach students to engage the world around them, see ideas as productive forms of response, and leverage design and writing to express newly curated perspectives.
“Through rigorous inquiry, we interrogate contemporary architectural and urban issues and propose possible futures with equal measures of expertise, optimism and vision. These ideas are grounded in a critical engagement with the history and theory of architecture and the future contingencies of contemporary culture.
“Rumble is our end-of-year exhibition. It is an opportunity to discuss individual projects within a larger context of contemporary ideas and discourses, revealing how the questions and projects that motivate us have matured and developed under the direction of our talented students and the collective stewardship of faculty. Below is a snapshot of student work from Rumble 2021. Visit our website to learn more.”
Saline Dreams 4*: Ecoinfrastructural Architecture by Nate Waddell
“This project involves the engineered ecology and resultant aesthetic implications of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Dust Mitigation Project at Owens Lake – a large site in eastern California of significant environmental, historical, political, and infrastructural significance.
“Until recently the largest single source of dust pollution in the US, the studio examines control methods developed by LADWP to manage this complex landscape: a complex synthesis of fields, pools, plants, animals, microorganisms, chemicals, minerals, roads, berms, dams, plumbing, power lines, grading, gravel, roads, sensors, and salt that is only partially visible to the human eye. The effects of these reworkings of the landscape are striking, inevitably aesthetic in their expression.”
Digging and Flying by Lauren Mitchell
“Let’s start at the first principles: architecture as the mediation between earth and sky. To build, one must – generally, but not continuously – excavate a substructure, then erect a superstructure. In this total act of construction, managing forces through engineering allow us to make decisions (design process) on how we engage with geo-kinetics like gravity and rotation.
“I believe that architecture is always about digging and flying. This studio dramatises that relationship and has developed a community garden and food hall located on Devonwood Park in the San Fernando Valley.”
Stranger Than Fiction Two: Earthrise by Maira Yasir and Yuxin Tian
“Blending technological innovation with visual storytelling and worldbuilding, this studio gives rise to worlds and stories that ask fundamental questions about how our lives weave between myth and machine, fact and folklore, between ecology and allegory.
“Architects have always been storytellers for the environment, and this past year of global transformation proves that there is no better time than now to champion the futures we want and to advocate, through the story, a world of possibility and hope. Wander by Maira Yasir and Yuxin Tian takes us on a journey through the landscapes of memory in search of a shared childhood experience.”
Climate Caravan: Mobility is Resilience by Misty (Yufei) Liang and Monica (Yixuan) Zhang
“Housing production is encumbered financially and environmentally by the private land to which it is tied. To decouple home and land from its associated notions of permanence, this studio proposes prefabricated housing systems designed for future mobility and new community organisations afforded by unit aggregation.
“Migration scenarios articulate critical stances regarding how and where we might live, the relationships between units, the adaptability and aesthetics of this future housing, and its relationship to existing infrastructure. Accepting the inevitability of migration as a form of climate adaptation and resilience, this studio imagines our future climate caravans.”
Common(s) Ground by Owen Bradbury Aranda, Alexander Morris and Nick Kleinberg
“Common(s) Ground investigated the various forms of negotiation among individuals, the communities they belong to, and the private and public entities that regulate and participate in their spatial reality. This project focused on the complex relationships between public space, infrastructure and buildings in order to develop new models for living and sharing.”
Future (Hi)stories of the City by Morgan Jacobs and Xavier Ramirez
“Architecture as a built form is a clumsy medium to speculate on the present. The slow pace of its becoming material, the convoluted manner of its medium, the unmeasurable immaterial qualities it radiates makes architecture an insufficient tool to shape and counter the daily transformations of our world.
“The reality is that architectural speculation is perpetually stuck between its incapacity to effectively influence and frame rapidly evolving conditions of the present and the unpredictable context of future existence.
“Similarly, the speculations at the scale of the city operate between now and eventual, as one must presently consider the conditions of a distant future for the city and beyond to take hold, for the evolving conditions to unfold.
“Instead of projecting yet another set of new future visions, this project established a vantage point in 2060 and documented speculative (hi)stories of the next 40 years. This project by Morgan Jacobs and Xavier Ramirez documents the transformation of Nevada lithium extraction fields into a national park.”
FireLand by Byeong Uk (Daniel) Lee, Hanxue Wu, Tianyang Xu
“In recent years, Los Angeles Metropolitan Region – a place naturally predisposed for wildfire activity with its hot and dry Mediterranean climate and rugged topography, has seen a dramatic increase in wildfire intensity and frequency.
“These changing environmental conditions pose an urgency of addressing this wildfire risk by encouraging the reframing of conventional urban design and planning techniques through contemporary models more dynamic, more elastic and more faceted than conventional static plan-based ones. One of two parallel studios, FireLand addressed the question of fire-risk reduction and fire-resilience in California across a range of perspectives.”
Drive-In/Drive-Thru by Dylan Hart
“Learning from ancient urban plazas – confluences of voids, market stalls and city stages – the brief for this studio cross-bred two automobile-reliant programs: a multiplex drive-in theatre and a 90,000 GSF food distribution centre.
“In Drive-In/Drive-Thru multiplex, the movement of cars and people are elevated to equal importance, forcing the occupation and design of vast and variegated building sections to reside in a realm beyond landscape urbanism. The broad array of resultant project types signal a new kind of urbanism, one where land is transformed into the ground and in turn into variants of landform urbanism.”
Sin Nombre [Nameless]: The New National Museum of the American Latino by Samantha Radice and Bella Rosa
“Capitalising on the large social and cultural processes currently unfolding in America, this studio questioned what role cultural identity plays – and should play – in today’s architectural environment. Cultural identity is meant to be that of the individual, for instance, that of the architect. And collective identity is that of a particular, though loosely defined group such as the LatinX Community.
“This project aims to encourage a conversation which doesn’t shy away from a formal and aesthetic agenda, but attempts to locate and integrate its possible radical project within a larger cultural and sociopolitical context.”
The Family Portrait: Drama is the Diagram by Cullen Fu
“Family drama, though commonplace and seemingly insignificant, is as old as human history and as impactful as culture-defining works of literature. In 2020, the global pandemic Covid-19 forced many people to work from home. Consequently, almost every domicile has had to experience some degree of heightened exposure with family members.
“This increased togetherness could either be a healing space to alleviate existing issues between family members or a pressure-cooker to rapidly intensify past drama. This project explored single-family homes. Reflecting upon family drama, students generated organisational diagrams, wrote archetypal arcs and represented narratives with storyboards of the house.”
This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and University of California, Los Angeles. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.