Design Agency within Earth Systems (Part 3)

Organised by Jose Alfredo Ramirez, Lindsay Bremner and Ed Wall with Key Note Speakers: Neil Brenner (UTL, Harvard GSD); Stuart Elden (Warwick University); El Hadi Jazairy and Rania Ghosn (Design Earth); Marti Franch (EMF Landscape Architecture) + more

8,000 meters above sea level exists what climbers call the ‘death zone’. This altitude marks the limit for human habitation, above which our species cannot survive. We thrive in the ‘life zone’ – the earth’s land surfaces and oceans, its geological layers beneath, the dynamic atmosphere above – all affected by gravitational and magnetic forces beyond. This living world is constantly being transformed by our social, economic and political interactions revealing our intricate dependencies on the the earth and its systems. Terms such as ‘Anthropocene’ and ‘Capitalocene’ have drawn attention to the role of political economy in transforming these earth systems and positioned design as a major geological force shaping the planet.

The ‘Design Agency within Earth Systems’ symposium invites participants to look through these planetary lenses to reflect upon the complicity of design in the destruction of the planet; to question the two dimensional, land based political technologies, by which we order our lives and our relations to the earth; to explore the material dimensions of air, ground and ocean as inter-twinings of socio-political and earth systems; and to imagine relations between socio-political and earth systems differently through design.

Jose Alfredo Ramirez is Co-Director of the AA Landscape Urbanism MArch/MSc Graduate Programme, founder of the international Landscape Urbanism practice Groundlab and director of the AA Mexico Visiting School.

Lindsay Bremner is Professor of Architecture in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster and Director of Architectural Research (2012-2017). She currently holds the Monsoon Assemblages, European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant no. 679873, investigating the confluence of changing monsoon weather and neoliberal agendas in south Asian cities.

Ed Wall is Academic Leader Landscape at the University of Greenwich, Visiting Professor at Politecnico di Milano (DiAP) and, in 2017, was City of Vienna Visiting Professor: Urban culture, public space and the future – Urban equity and the global agenda (TU Wien/SKuOR). He is the founding director of the research and design practice Project Studio and he has written widely on landscapes, cities and public space. Ed is currently guest-editing a future landscape issue of Architectural Design (AD) to be published by Wiley in 2020.

Stuart Elden is Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, UK and Monash Warwick Professor in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, Australia. He is the author of five books, including Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty(University of Minnesota Press, 2009); and The Birth of Territory (University of Chicago Press, 2013). He runs a blog at which has regular updates on the writing of his books on Foucault.

Neil Brenner is Professor of Urban Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). His writing and teaching focus on the theoretical, conceptual, methodological and cartographic dimensions of urban questions. His work builds upon, and seeks to extend, the fields of critical urban and regional studies, comparative geopolitical economy and radical sociospatial theory.

Design Earth is a collaborative practice led by El Hadi Jazairy and Rania Ghosn. The office’s work engages the geographic to open up a range of aesthetic and political concerns for architecture and urbanism. Literally, ‘earth-writing’ from the Greek geo (earth) and graphia (writing), the practice of making geographies involves the coupled undertakings of “writing about,” projecting or representing the earth and also “writing on,” marking, forming or presenting again a world.

Marti Franch is the founder manager of EMF. EMF landscape architects is an interdisciplinary research-led practice of independent experts in the field of urban and environmental design exercising internationally. EMF explores hybrid ways between ecological systems & cultural constructs to inform projects and build multifunctional productive landscapes. Martin is a Landscape Architect and Engineer in Agricultural Sciences


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