top of page
Severing Ties

Presented at ACSA 112 Disruptors on the Edge 14 March 2024 [1]

Presented at Architecture 101 Newcastle University 8 November 2023 [2]


ACSA 112 Conference Proceedings

ArQ (forthcoming)

[1] Severing Ties: A Pedagogy for Envisioning New Typologies of Environmentally-Attuned Architecture 



The relationship between architecture and landscape must undergo fundamental change to deal with the urgency of the climate crisis, adapt to changing cultural values, and support local environmental conditions. Although there has been progress in modifying architectural construction methods and implementing the use of sustainable materials, structures continue to depend on extractive infrastructure through integrated building systems such as electricity, telecom, heating, and cooling. The ongoing reliance on extractive infrastructure bonds architecture to exploitative technologies and industries, which has fundamentally altered its relation to landscape. At present, architecture relies on an abundance of fuel from distant locations to operate, and ignores its surroundings as a result.


In recent design studios, I ask students to generate alternate connections between architecture and environment. Specifically, I teach students how to critically disengage from extractive processes and systems, and instead knit architecture into local ecosystems. This is achieved through critical analysis of existing infrastructure and the design of new systems. Supported by the integration of interdisciplinary perspectives, the rewiring of systems results in new, speculative architectural typologies that engage reciprocally with complex ecologies.

According to this framework, students interrogate the role architecture plays in the sustenance of the environment and are challenged to design in ways that depart from the status quo. Lessons include a) direct observation and interpretation of nature, b) translation of observations and interpretation into systems-focused interventions, c) an integrative approach linking systems and objects, and d) exercises in ‘making worlds’ and ‘futuring,’ for forming speculative narratives about architecture’s future role in the environment. By addressing these issues, architecture becomes an instrument for reimagining human relationships with nature and serves as the basis for forming new bonds with the environment.

[2] Symbiotic Rites: Reimagining Architecture as a Support System for Landscapes 




As we face a growing urgency to rethink our approaches towards tackling climate change and environmental degradation, it’s time for architecture to reassess its current connections to the living world and how it will evolve moving forward. While progress has been made in modifying architectural construction to minimize environmental impacts, conventional architecture still lacks meaningful engagement with its surroundings and true embeddedness within surrounding ecologies. I argue that as a discipline, we must begin to focus our attention on imagining new connections between architecture and landscape. And that in this frame, architecture will begin enacting a sacred rite, or obligation, that we owe the environment. This ambition leverages architecture as a catalyst for reconfiguring infrastructure as a mechanism to actively support and heal the environment.

In this paper, I explore the possibilities of generating a new architectural typology to produce novel interactions between architecture and the environment. This new typology aims to fulfill human duties and obligations to the natural world. The formulation of this typology represents a paradigmatic shift in which architecture actively participates in environmental processes and is deeply, ecologically embedded in its surroundings. Examples of this embeddedness and engagement include connecting structures to hydrological processes in the landscape, and to material and chemical makeup of the living rhizo- and lithospheres. Examples of speculative student projects from my design studios will be shared to unveil initial interpretations of this emerging typology of environmental architecture.

bottom of page