EQUITY . ADVOCACY . ADAPTABILITY . VARIABILITY . SUSTAINABILITY
My research and practice are interwoven as they focus on extracting architecture from environments, rather than preconceived morphologies. Projects examine architecture’s ability to both reflect and respond to social and technological challenges. My approach is threefold:
First and foremost, I study environmental technology and details across scales and at the intersection of Architecture & Real Estate, a topic which culminated in my doctoral dissertation and recent publication, Detail Kultur – If Buildings Had DNA: Case Studies in Mutations. This project was supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. The publication serves as an important reference for practitioners and students alike, and the Chinese edition is in its second printing, with an Arabic and Russian edition being under way. The subject, even as my research is shifting to lenses of equity, advocacy, adaptability, variability, equilibrium, remains prominent in my current research and informs my professional and academic trajectories.
Secondly, I seek to engage unpredictable or unknown scenarios, particularly in ecologically dynamic scenarios. Projects have been as diverse as alternative communities in the desert and experimental performance spaces within dense urban fabrics. Recent research projects include the winning entry of the Performa 2015 competition, the designs for a 2017 Burning Man pavilion, the 2018 Temple in Black Rock City, and participation of SALTWORKS at the MAK-Center for Art & Architecture in L.A., focusing on fluid environments. Most recently I was invited to chair the research board of V-2, a Variability Hub for Humanity in London, UK. I hold a firm belief in architecture’s and real-estate’s ability to at once reflect and reshape the environments in which it finds itself. Temporal performance architecture is also the subject of my Extraction Laboratory, a Columbia GSAPP research hub. We have recently completed our Dry – Wet project. This workshop positioned itself at two extremes: first, traveling to one of the driest environments in the world—the UAE and the Rub’ al Khali desert— in contrast to one of the wettest environments, the Republic of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. We studied the potential excavation of an island, its real estate, and its environmental implications. This research explores identity in the absence of home, and homeland as it relates to climate migration. The output will translate temporality into palpable projects developed with the participating students.
The third strand examines tangibility and production, understanding research as an active engagement, punctuated by moments of reflectivity and documentation. I always emphasize a diverse culture of making: buildings, installations, exhibitions, performances, short films, documentaries, e-books, and VR-pamphlets. These projects generate sticky, intensely memorable, magnetic, even addictive architectural information, where virtual realities and physical analogues are parallel agents used to inspire, irritate, and ignite new dialogues. This creates a feedback loop; response-driven and limitless in implications.