Chipping, Shredding and Layering – Experiments in Geological Design Thinking
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In the recent history of the earth, the last 200 years specifically, human activity has changed the very stratigraphy of the planet. This is a direct result of industrialization at the turn of the 19th century, which was followed by rapid urbanization and exponential development across the globe. This stratigraphic layer of human induced disturbance is being churned and spread across the Earth’s surface to reveal all the environmental, sociological, and political indiscretions of the human species. The total story of the anthropocene is being exposed as one anthropogenic crust, that when examined closely, will tell all future epochs what, exactly, happened during this short period of time when humans roamed the planet. The research and design methodology in Chipping, Shredding and Layering is distilled into two parts: An Anthropogenic Geology and Materials at our disposal. An Anthropogenic Geology will focus on a geologic investigation of the material that currently constructs the Port Lands in Toronto, Ontario. It explores the modern narrative of building material in the city and draws relationships between extraction sites, sites of production, and sites of disposal. Part two: Materials at our disposal will explore ways to design using these difficult materials through three geologic design experiments. Each experiment focuses on a singular material that has been identified as difficult to dispose of and explores how it can be used periodically over both short and extended periods of time to create public spaces that change annually. Each material category has been identified as occurring in abundance on site during the excavation for the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project and looks to utilize it in the aftermath. Using these geological design experiments, this thesis explores a speculative future where the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection Project incorporates three design experiments made of unusual materials for public spaces. Each experiment identifies ways to use excavated material to create new unconventional public landscapes. Though they may not have the capital value, or the green turf expected of large park projects, each experiment identifies significant parts of the site history and intentionally designs the long-term future of the park ensuring its continual success. Each experiment focuses on the accumulation and depletion of material, and how that might spark social agency or how, given a framework, naturally the site will make “living with the mess” an enlightening experience.  Donna Jeanne Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Experimental Futures (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016).
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Morgan Wright (2019). Chipping, Shredding and Layering – Experiments in Geological Design Thinking. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14810