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Adaptive Landscape

Part 1 Project 1999
Katie Lee Carter
London Metropolitan University | UK
My exploration began from an inquiry into the adaptation of human skin particularly the identification of the primary conditions of metamorphosis, interstitial spaces, primal instruments, evolving landscape and incubation.

An interactive body piece was developed to which the external environment could be read as an aural response.
The piece consisted of three interconnected parts, a latex skin, worn on the stomach, a receptive arm piece, connected via cords and magnetic tape, and an earpiece. The distorted and stretched stomach relayed a physical connection resulting in particular sonic feedback loop. These are identified as sound paths heard in isolation or layered as sonic feedback. I was able to experience the non-tangible physical environment of my body space.

The building occupies a 1km section through an island landscape which has a number of topographies; sea, beach, dune, marsh, dyke and forest. A zoo is located along this strip of land identifying the horizontal plane as the ‘skin’ to which the animal territories are injected.

A continuous concrete spine of services and promenades runs along the sectional axis and links all of the territories. A secondary landscape of viewing platforms and subterranean routes is superimposed while the boundary for each territory is inserted into the landscape as a series of non-invasive barriers. A continuous visual link between all animals is maintained.

Katie Lee Carter

Kate Carter’s series of projects focus on skin as a responsive and adaptive landscape. She proposed that the skin of her body could be read and reacted to in a similar manner as to the skin of the earth. With an interactive body piece she investigated the possibility that the surface of her stomach, which stretched and distorted as she moved, could compose a ‘soundscape’ – a landscape of sonic responses. It became possible to hear the topography of her skin just as one could feel the texture with ones fingertips.

Her proposal of a zoo for the Dutch tourist island of Terschelling utilised a strip of land on which she envisaged a fantastic panorama inhabited by non–idigenous wild animals. She tackled the intricacies of animal management, landscape manipulation and human traffic with tight planning and imaginative architectural devices. This is coupled with a charming sensitivity to the needs of not only the animals, but also of the human visitors.

Her architecture produces the unique sensation of inhabiting the surface of the landscape and the territory of the wild animal. This is achieved via an eventful journey through marsh, forest, dune and beach where the animal territories (a series of floating concrete plates and seemingly boundless enclosures) are entwined with viewing platforms, circulation routes and subterranean tunnels.

Her project takes a thoughtful and elegant approach to the seemingly conflicting requirements of architectural enclosure and of the landscape which ranges from +17m to –3m below sea–level. She developed an intelligent and graceful structure laced with grooves and rivulets for the dispersal of groundwater below her building element. Further investigation informed her use of submarine structures and concrete monocoque construction. Kate’s project is a technically, programmatically and physically ambitious proposal for a place that can offer an exceptional environment.

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