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OFF GRID: Mojave Desert & The Inhabitance Of Evasion

Part 1 Project 2014
Astrid Von Heideken
Sophie Tait
Lubna Ibrahim
Emilio Sullivan
William Bellamy
Matei Mitrache
Subin Koo
Jessica Hodgson
Patrick Dobson-Perez
Lee Kelemen
Oliver Parkinson
Alice Hardy
Flavian Berar
Paalan Lakhani
Songyang Zhou
Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) London UK
During the autumn of 2013 we embarked on an ambitious group project: The design and construction of 15 collapsible structures to serve as transient laboratories and overnight accommodation on a 2-week road trip through the Mojave desert in the west of the United States. Each of them custom-made to respond to a very specific site condition; deployable to chart the site, gather data, gain an understanding of the fluctuating behaviour of the desert landscape.

The site, 64,750 sq/km of disconsolate landscape at the boundary of the three states Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. A land of infinite possibilities, layered with histories from the gold rush to the cold war, from the ancient Hopi culture to the age of environmental technologies. Our journey took us along the old Route 66, past dried salt lakes, site of the robot races, area 51, the CIAs secret underground research base, the gigantic Hoover Dam, Acrosanti, the utopian commune run by grass-roots eco-eccentrics, past ghost towns, abandoned silver mines and Joshua tree groves. Decay occurs in slow motion, hardly altered by the force of nature, preserved for an eternity.

Even today the call of the wild echoes across the barren landscape, tempting eccentric scientists, adventurers, fortune seekers, alternative communities and felons to venture into the unknown. For over a century the Mojave Desert has been destination for organisations and individuals in search of autonomy, isolation or a new beginning; an anarchic landscape, a social “tabula rasa”.

This portfolio brings together our research. It is organized into 4 chapters as follows:

Community & Habitat
Weather
Ecology & Survival
Land & Movement

The research section introduces the topic thematically, setting the social, geographic and scientific context and the project section evaluates our prototypes in use. Each of our 15 structures engages with a very specific aspect of the site, altogether they combine into a catalogue of architectural possibilities delicately responsive to extreme environmental conditions; a new type of architecture that is in dialogue with its surroundings, can adapt, transform and accommodate the changing needs of its inhabitants.

Astrid Von Heideken
Sophie Tait
Lubna Ibrahim
Emilio Sullivan
William Bellamy
Matei Mitrache
Subin Koo
Jessica Hodgson
Patrick Dobson-Perez
Lee Kelemen
Oliver Parkinson
Alice Hardy
Flavian Berar
Paalan Lakhani
Songyang Zhou

Tutor(s)


2014
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