THE PLAN Journal (TPJ) intends to disseminate and promote innovative, thought-provoking and relevant research, studies and criticism in architecture and urbanism. The criteria for selecting contributions will be innovation, clarity of purpose and method, and potential transformational impact on disciplinary fields or the broader socio-cultural context. The ultimate purpose of the TPJ is to enrich the dialog between research and professional fields, in order to encourage both applicable new knowledge and intellectually driven modes of practice. (Maurizio Sabini)

LATEST ARTICLES

 Open Access
THEORY
Conference Report

The Danish Way. The Rising Architecture Week 2017 in Aarhus

by: Maurizio Sabini VOLUME 3/2018 - Issue 1 , Pages: 15 - 31 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2018.03.01.02, published: 2017-11-12

The Rising/Architecture Week 2017 was held in Aarhus as part of the Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017 initiatives. The array of conversations, debates, and exchange of ideas generated at Rising 2017 proved once more the vitality and the maturity of Danish design culture. 

Rooted on a strong Modernist tradition, Danish design culture weaves a savvy mix of promoting and further sharpening its brand, as well as of stimulating thoughtful reflections on relevant disciplinary and societal issues. The conference was intelligently used as vehicle to showcase the good work that is being produced not just in Copenhagen but across Central Denmark and to bring in a diverse pool of international designers, planners, critics, and thinkers. What can be called the Danish Way to design culture offers the opportunity “to rise,” above the conventional and the predictable, for an exciting view over a possible better world.

 Open Access
CRITICISM
Exhibition Review

Make New Critical Stories. A View on the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial

by: Maurizio Sabini VOLUME 3/2018 - Issue 1 , Pages: 1 - 13 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2018.03.01.01, published: 2017-10-13

The 2017 edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, Make New History, like any other similar event, has caused debate and controversy. Beyond inevitable flaws and shortcomings, the CAB though deserves to be appreciated for the quality of most of the exhibited projects, works or installations, some of which managed also to offer what was missing in this CAB’s main theme: a critical perspective. The theme itself of the CAB is challenged, but the good works of many international architects and artists, well selected by the Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, is appreciated for their contributions to a critical discourse in our field, for their “critical stories.” Through a discussion of the curators’ hypothesis and of some of the most interesting works, as well as of some critical contributions included in the exhibition catalog, this review tries to offer a critical assessment for an event that, fortunately, has already acquired an outstanding position within the architecture cultural landscape of our time.

 Open Access
Essay

“Polyvalent Adaptation”: Design in a Temporal Context of Uncertain High-Risk Futures

by: Alexander L. Ring VOLUME 2/2017 - Issue 2 [RESILIENT EDGES], Pages: 415 - 439 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.02.19, published: 2017-12-21

If greenhouse gas emissions ceased today, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries due to the time scale of climate change. This demands a fundamental shift from solely mitigating impacts to adapting to this new reality. Architects can play a key role but are often restrained by outmoded disciplinary norms, and financial and regulatory limitations.
What we require is a new design paradigm that extends beyond site-specific needs and draws on the context of our high-risk future. “Polyvalent Adaptation” could significantly impact the profession and the future of our communities. This approach combines two concepts that are not new to architecture or to discussions surrounding sustainability and climate change, but, when married, amplify each others’ potential. Combining the temporal concepts of polyvalence and adaptation provides a new lens for tackling the conflict between the permanence of the built environment and the changing climate. From this perspective, projects can be designed and constructed to meet current needs, to provide projective agency capable of assisting in the aftermath of extreme weather, and to become support infrastructures for new settlement patterns.

 Open Access
Article

(Geo)Design Coastal Cities: Design with Data (and Nature too)

by: Ming-Chun Lee , José L.S. Gamez VOLUME 2/2017 - Issue 2 [RESILIENT EDGES], Pages: 385 - 414 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.02.18, published: 2017-12-20

The geography of a coastal city, such as its native geological, biological, and physical conditions, plays an important role in understanding the impacts of climate change upon the area. To better identify strategies for adaption to global climate change, planners and designers need better tools and techniques to learn and analyze the geographical context of their cities on coastlines worldwide. This article describes an urban design studio conducted in the spring of 2014. Students in this class explored the future of North Carolina coastal cities in light of rising global sea level. Geodesign using GIS and other visualization tools enabled the students to focus on urban morphology, development patterns, and environmental characteristics of the city in order to identify new interventions that can support a new set of relationships between urbanity and nature.

 Open Access
Essay

Resilient Edges: Exploring a Socio-Ecological Urban Design Approach in Metro Manila

by: Stephen Gray , Mary Anne Ocampo VOLUME 2/2017 - Issue 2 [RESILIENT EDGES], Pages: 341 - 383 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.02.17, published: 2017-12-21

With the notable uptick of natural disasters impacting densely-populated areas, attention to the subject of urban resilience has increased among ecologists, economists, engineers, social scientists, and designers. But despite an extraordinary cross-disciplinary interest in a single subject, the urban resilience discourse has remained largely siloed by discipline. This essay builds on concepts of resilience from ecology and social science and positions urban design (in itself at the intersection of architecture, planning, and landscape architecture) as uniquely situated for integrating and operationalizing various concepts of urban resilience. The authors propose a socio-ecological urban design approach that bridges natural, human, and spatial systems and is empirically grounded in historical research, field observations, and interviews with informal settler families (ISFs) living along the shoreline of Laguna de Bay in Metro Manila. The findings revealed that while many were affected by regular flooding and issues of housing security, these were not necessarily deciding factors when determining where to live. In response to programs which emphasize out-of-city relocation, authors developed three principles of urban resilience that instead spatially integrate formal and informal communities. 

 Open Access
Essay

Other Than Infrastructure: Leaving Room for the Fantastical in the Resilient Project

by: Michael Jefferson , Suzanne Lettieri VOLUME 2/2017 - Issue 2 [RESILIENT EDGES], Pages: 323 - 340 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.02.16, published: 2017-12-21

The manuscript reflects on the delightful and absurd qualities that might be harbored in routine infrastructures. Through a series of contemporary and historical examples the paper highlights how experience, material quality, narrative, and civic engagement can unlock new potentials in the mundane, and often intangible systems, which are intended to protect and serve those in flood prone territories. Understanding first that resilient water-management infrastructures exist along a spectrum of defense, and second that they each participate in their own extensive system of flows and processes, generates a set of opportunities for designers to interject and draw out new possibilities. Locating projects within these systems calls for two approaches:
1. identifying the “objecthood” of infrastructure; and 2. techniques for “unblackboxing” or bringing parts of now hidden systems to the foreground of the civic realm. The paper suggests that these two approaches aid in locating the whimsical within systems and offer calculated ways to confront flood mitigation methods that all too often privilege what is deemed as efficient over what is enjoyable.

 Open Access
Article

Interrupted Atolls: Riskscapes and Edge Imaginaries in Tuvalu

by: Elizabeth Yarina , Shoko Takemoto VOLUME 2/2017 - Issue 2 [RESILIENT EDGES], Pages: 287 - 321 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.02.15, published: 2017-12-20

Climate change puts the edge between land and sea in sharp relief; sea level rise is essentially a condition of drifting littoral edges.As rising seas threaten to encroach on land-based territories, cities and nations have responded by attempting to fix the edge at a moment in time, blocking the sea’s insidious creep. Atolls formed by coral reefs are mobile, living geographies, which resist attempts to harden their perimeter through structures such as seawalls. We explore how ideas and imaginaries associated with the “edge” between sea and land in the atoll-nation of Tuvalu illustrate competing “riskscapes” and objectives associated with the actors involved. This essay explores this interplay between politics, aid, technocratic solutions, media representations, global aspirations, local ambitions, and climate risk in Tuvalu through an examination of past/future seawalls and other proposals (realized and unrealized) for controlling atoll edges. Through the cases, we seek to re-politicize the edge, unpacking the difficulties surrounding adaptation issues in small-island states, and explore alternative models of “resilient edges” for atoll-dwellers living with climate changes.

 Open Access
Article

Cidade Oceanico. Environment and Urbanization in Rio de Janeiro

by: José Gámez , Jeffrey S. Nesbit VOLUME 2/2017 - Issue 2 [RESILIENT EDGES], Pages: 245 - 265 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.02.13, published: 2017-12-20

Using Rio de Janeiro as a case study in urbanization within the context of climate change, this multi-year urban design studio examines the challenges of addressing rising sea levels in one of Latin America’s largest cities. As a coastal metropolis, Rio requires that heterogeneous networks be woven between ecological and 21st century urban design processes. Yet, Rio continues to grow in low-lying, ecologically sensitive areas - and this has been exacerbated over recent decades by mega-event driven development coupled with inter-dependent informal urbanization. These forces characterize Zona Oeste, the focus area of the design initiative. This essay reflects on an international urban design pedagogy that seeks to integrate strategies to address climate change, rising sea levels, and unpredictable growth. Inherently, this project opens up a discussion into many sensitive questions regarding historical and cultural responsiveness. Filtered through the work of Lucio Costa, his proposals for Baja da Tijuca, and opportunities to re-engage the legacy of a modernist plan, students engage this rich context through a discursive design prompt with implications for both pedagogy and practice within and beyond Rio de Janeiro.

 Open Access
Essay

The SEA Is Coming: The Future of a Marine Research Facility

by: Ursula Emery McClure VOLUME 2/2017 - Issue 2 [RESILIENT EDGES], Pages: 221 - 244 doi: 10.15274/tpj.2017.02.02.12, published: 2017-11-21

This paper originates from a Louisiana State University School of Architecture Research Studio. Charged by the organization’s Director, the students investigated the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) facility and environment, and re-imagined both the building and landscape as a cutting-edge (albeit remote) research and educational destination. “The SEA Is Coming” Integrative-Design Studio proposes adaptation to climate change as a means to investigate the transformative capacity of a site. Going far beyond the boundaries of current (and future) building program, the studio method provoked profound rethinking of current conventions about coastal change and occupancy, design, community, the environment, and land use. LUMCON’s facility sits at the nexus of deltaic land, freshwater, brackish wetland, and salty ocean and provides access to all these systems. It has withstood the volatility of this environment: flooding, hurricanes, oil spills, the Gulf dead zone, salt-water intrusion, etc. Now over thirty-years-old, the building must adapt to changing conditions. The studio investigated LUMCON’s ability to continue functioning in its changing environment and further its indispensable research capabilities of the rapidly changing coastal landscape.

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