I had the pleasure to teach one of the Advanced Topic studios this Fall at the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture and working with Frank Melendez in the LSU School of Architecture we had the students explore responsive technologies in sites within the Atchafalaya Basin. For those unfamiliar with the basin it is a distributary of the Mississippi and Red Rivers creating a large tract of swamps and wetlands. The Atchafalya River runs through the basin leading out to the Gulf of Mexico.
The studio was divided into two phases, in the first 5 weeks the students developed proposals for the City Sense competition. The students were asked to imagine how realtime sensing technologies would affect the basin in terms of settlement, ecosystem management and/or infrastructural strategies. Three site prototypes were selected as a cross section of settlement types; Morgan City (urban), Butte LaRose (rural), and the Hunting Camp (isolated).
The students worked in teams to submit 4 strong proposals. In general the proposals were broad but engaged the content nicely, I was surprised by the variety which was nice to see. One of the strongest proposals was entitled Ecolibrium that proposed a realtime visualization and management system that would create a new ecological equilibrium based on a system over hyper inputs.
The second Phase of the semester focused on getting the students more intimately involved with some of the responsive technologies prototyping hardware/software such as Arduino, Firefly and Grasshopper. Earlier in the first weeks of the semester the students had a chance to meet with Andy Payne when we were on a field trip to Cambridge/Boston and they were very excited about the possibilities that have been enabled using Firefly.
The students focused on tools for approximately two weeks working intensively with Michael McCune and David Merlin from DOTS here in Baton Rouge. The students engaged the technologies as they designed a device that would engaged environmental phenomena and begin to manipulate either the phenomena, space and/or ecological systems. This involved three stages.
The studio was extremely rewarding and I was really proud of the student’s work. The final review asked the students to re-imagine the original competition proposals in smaller teams. The final review guide can be found here.
The course page contains a brief syllabus and description of the phases. I will post some of the student projects in subsequent posts, links below.
The studio was filled with other great proposals as well, if I have time I will try to post as many as possible. The full set of proposals are in the linked PDF.