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Making Ground: A study of time and landscape

Part 2 Project 2014
Pow-Chween Wan
Queen's University Belfast Belfast UK
“What Time is this Place?” a foretelling question asked by Kevin Lynch (1972), as he explored how communities manage environmental change. Architecture today is challenged by the need to both respect the past and confront the certainty of an uncertain future, as globalisation of societies, technologies, and economies transform the world along diverse and unforeseen pathways.

The thesis aims to address the profound relationship of architecture and time. Based at North Bull Island which sits on the marginal landscape of Dublin Bay, it seeks to highlight the enigma of design in a truly dynamic landscape and the struggle to navigate timescales, natural processes, and the inevitable uncertainty of the physical world.

The departure point of the thesis is triggered by thinkers who typically frame their understanding and response to landscape change as a dialogue with an evolving and emergent landscape. Alexander Pope (1731) wrote of the environmental conversation which informs landscape design, consulting an enduring genius loci—the water, topography, and vegetation. The thesis thus aims to also look into the fact that landscapes typically presuppose a relatively predictable temporal frame, which provides opportunity for careful scrutiny and leisurely exchanges with the genius loci, as the piers are scattered like abstracted forests across the shifting waters and sands of Bull Island in Dublin.

‘Making Ground’ in essence is a proposal to encourage sedimentation conditions along marshlands near North Bull Island, actively encouraging the creation, preservation and propagation of these ecologies to revert its increasing decline.

The formation of North Bull Island is only a few hundred years old, essentially a drainage basin within Dublin Bay. The thesis seeks for strategies of adaptation to this evolving environment. The paradigm of order and control over nature is questioned in favour of strategies that respect, modify and engage natural processes at work. The architectural intervention acts as a combination of hard and soft engineering technique to increase accretion levels within the test site which is necessary to stabilise marsh area in risk.

Pow-Chween Wan

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2014
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