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Environmental Architecture (MA)

RS2: The Orang-orang and the Hutan


Addressing inter-sectional knowledges and spatial structures entangled within social and ecological tensions of a forest under fire, the studio will interrogate bio-resources––both extracted and extracted from––through the specific, elemental materials and processes that comprise the inhabited forest of Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. The global push for ‘clean’ energy, prolific development economies, increased availability of new technologies, and expanded networked territories and capacities are rapidly reconfiguring traditional methods and communities of resource extraction. Increasing access to global production networks and global commodity chains significantly alter traditional structures of exploitation—unlocking new resource markets. These new markets are actively reorganising relationships––both seen and unseen––across vast territories of resource-rich terrain, particularly in the global south.

Learning from Borneo—an island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei—students work from the elemental to the geopolitical to design pathways of research and spatial interventions that highlight and engage with disputes between environmental conservation, land rights policies, anthropogenic ecologies and economic evolutions.

RS2 proposes an alternative way of thinking and designing architecture and environments through platforms––physical and virtual––that act as forms of a collective political practice.

The studio encourages students to think simultaneously in multiple scales and across media, proposing architectural models and strategies for a wide array of collectives engaged in sites of environmental conflict. Each year, students work collectively to think about and with environments in order to allow an architecture to emerge that might shift paradigms of empowerment towards justice. In 2019-2020, students built onto the work of previous cohorts by expanding the architecture of the digital platform into sensory media and physical networks.

Research partners:

The studio engages with both government and non-government organisations in Indonesia, including the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, BNPB (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana / National Disaster Management Agency), Kemitraan (Partnership for Governance Reform, Indonesia), BRG (Peatland Restoration Agency, Indonesia), and Pantau Gambut (an international organisation of 23 NGOs, including the World Research Institute, focusing on peatland knowledge and education practices). As primary collaborators, and Walhi (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia) work closely with the studio to design spaces and interfaces for applied research and experimental response to environmental changes.

Additionally, the programme joins an international group of artists, researchers, and curators in a cross-cultural, curatorial, and artistic investigation into the environmental impacts of tropical peat forest destruction across Southeast Asia and Latin America. Led by the Centre for Contemporary Art in Singapore, the ‘Haze Lab’ endeavours to question the many new social relations, bodily and ecological impacts found locally and globally, through art and design practices. A series of workshops and exhibitions will be held across Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe and the UK.

WALHI (Wahana Liangkungan Hidup Indonesia)

A member of Friends of the Earth International and the largest independent, non-profit environmental organisation in Indonesia. Nation-wide, their extensive network of researchers, community members, and environmental activists allow us to engage with residents of peatland ecologies––building our knowledge from indigenous epistemologies and engaging with participatory methods of knowledge building and dissemination.

This is a platform run by the Yayasan Peta Bencana as a free, transparent platform for emergency response and disaster management in megacities in South and Southeast Asia. Operationally based in Jakarta, the PetaBencana team offers a rich resource that helps to develop long-term relationships and communities of sharing that can offer pathways to action in both slow- and quick-onset environmental disaster events.

16 December 2020
15:30 (GMT + 0)
Various online events - 16-18 December, 2020


Exploring & celebrating the incredible work of City Design & Environmental Architecture graduates
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