Investing in the Ground: Reflections on Scarcity, Remediation and Obdurate Form

This “groundwork” takes place within and on the ‘landscape” hence landscape, ground and field have a critical part to play in urbanism and architecture – hence the view of Stan Allen and others from Landscape Architecture and Landscape Urbanism etc. that it is the primary plane of any urban intervention and consideration of any part that takes place on it must consider its impact and contribution to the whole – but I believe not without considering its impact on the people who are there and who will inhabit it – which is usually scarcely considered any of these disciplines.

Critical Grounds

My essay ‘Investing in the Ground: Reflections on Scarcity, Remediation and Obdurate Form’ published in  Architectural Design, ‘Scarcity’, edited by Jon Goodbun. Extract below.

“In design practice, it is the ground, and its articulation, from which form is derived. The ground becomes, as Castro and Ramirez refer to it, a ‘design tool’. Many of the sites with which AALU and Groundlab have been engaged, for example, particularly those in China, suffer from scarcities of land fit for farming, or even inhabitation, due to soil pollution and degradation that require processes such as excavation, cutting, filling and capping in order to facilitate their remediation.  More than a problem-solving exercise, however, this type of ‘groundwork’ also provides an opportunity to generate artificial topographies with the formal capacity to structure relations between environmental, social, cultural and economic factors on a given site. The remediation of scarcity is grasped as an opportunity…

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