Climate Change, Geopolitics and the Peoples of the High Arctic

UNDERGRADUATE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN IV [2015] INSTRUCTOR: DAWN GILPIN

ANTHROPOCENE anTHrəpəˌsēn [noun] The current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate, geology, ecosystems and the environment.

[Wallenberg Thesis Studio] Raoul Wallenberg, a 1935 architecture graduate of the University of Michigan, has been called one of the 20th century’s most outstanding humanitarian heroes for saving over 100,000 Jews from death during the Holocaust. The Wallenberg Studio honors the legacy of one of Taubman College’s most important alumni.  Through an overall theme focused on broad humanitarian concerns. The senior design studio intends to ask, “what is architecture’s relationship to the humanitarian; how does architecture take up a position in the world?”

As a senior in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, I took part in the Wallenberg Studio, where the year’s selected theme was PARTICIPATION. Our graduating class was tasked with exploring the various meanings and constructs of “participation” within the framework of our lives, societies, and living spaces. At the beginning of the semester, my fellow studio members and I were asked to select a global or social TOPIC that we would spend most of the year thoroughly researching and studying using design techniques.  In the end, the intent was to utilize the exploratory work produced to design an architectural “intervention” related to our selected topic. I chose Climate Change and its impact on Arctic Sea Ice as my subject. I viewed this topic through various lenses by conducting countless hours of research and numerous design studies. I decided to focus my intervention on the Arctic’s disheartening yet inevitable future, where Sea Ice is seasonal, and the Arctic waters and landscape are open to new HUMAN ENTERPRISES. Due to massive economic and political drivers, future exploitation of Arctic resources is not only unavoidable; the wheels are already in motion. When humans are eventually able to exploit the Arctic, our methods need to be conscientious and foresighted. It must be a mantle for humanity that our Arctic campaigns do not risk the polar realm’s loss,

A sample of sketchbook notes and architectural studies completed during the development phase of the project can be found in the Field Notes section.