Fall 2021Archipelago 3.0: Storytelling, Activism, Re-Building
Of red dirt and spoiled fruits, Albert Town, Jamaica
 The rural farming community of Albert Town is nestled between a
battle of extraction and legacy.
On the offensive, is the mining industry which is threatening to excavate the site in order to obtain bauxite ore, used to make aluminum. Jamaica was the lead exporter of the material in the 1950s and most recently, has been investing heavily in the industry to reclaim that legacy.
On the defensive lies Cockpit Country, the last remaining rainforest on the island which would be negatively impacted by the excavation due to its proximity to Albert Town. The rainforest is a mountainous range which provides 40% of the island's fresh drinking water, and is home to thousands of native species and plants which would be at risk.
 Along with the ecological impact, the spirit of resistance which lies heavily in Jamaican culture from the days of colonization, is also at risk. The terrain played a key role in the Maroons' (a community of escaped enslaved and Indigenous people) defeat the British for autonomy in 1739. This victory not only resulted in sovereignty for the Maroons and their descendants but also cemented their protection of the terrain.
How can architecture be used as a form of resistance? To strengthen? To conserve? To memorialize?
The Chinese population has soared from 981 million to 1.4 billion since 1980, but the great metropolises have declined in the relative share of the urban population. The number of official "cities" has grown from 193 to 687 since 1978. Those small to medium-sized cities house nearly 1 billion people, and most live in the Xiaoqu(小区) housing or communities. The Xiao'qu has become a common housing typology and a generational living style. This unique housing typology is very much influenced by modern Chinese history, politics and ideologies, and life in Xiao'qu has changed the conventional family model. Resident's of Xiao'qu can finish most of their daily routine within the community, which determines their recognition of identity. Although the residence has low control over the construction of the community, the community has a high degree of autonomy. By cooperating with the Resident's Committee, it is possible to propose a community-wide design to optimize the community and social environment.
The City: a Story Retold
Creating a connection to the tangible using intangible means.
These houses only existed in a moment in time but they no longer exist. They are reconstructed through different artifacts, oral histories, old photos and documentation.
The repurposing of failed monuments.
This contradictive gathering place illustrates the joy of the people; and their drive to reinvent these built landscapes, releasing them from their past.
The monument is destroyed and constantly rebuilt.
In the face of constant conflict, unrest and war, the City is thorn apart and reconstructed. Buildings are replaced with ruins, ruins with buildings. This constant state of reconstruction and the layering of informal architecture has led to a loss of what was. The connection with past neighbourhoods and home is lost for the people of the City.
Alejandra Chauca Velez
The Fragmented City, Lima
Lima’s historical city center tells the stories of those who inhabit and have inhabited it. It is an urban fabric composed of streets, blocks and buildings that reflect the history of a city that has lived many lives. Lima is a palimpsest, established through its “sediments of time”, and matter that is simultaneously absent and present through its built fabric. At the same time, Lima is faced with a Dilemma.
There has been a constant state of erasure and cover up, that has left the city with hidden layers below ground. Its historic center is in a complete state of disrepair, the buildings are crumbling and burning down, creating a constant process of slow collapse that is eating away at the bones of the city. This leaves its inhabitants no other choice but to abandon their homes.
When does a city cease to exist? When does its urban fabric disappear or when its inhabitants have to leave?
The Washing Place, Mumbai
The washing place explores the social and architectural pressures of the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai India. The unique program superimposed with infrastructure and social issues left over frim the British role, brings to light an interesting but precarious way of life - relying solely on light infrastructure.
The Map is Not the Territory, Carrying Place Trail, Ontario
For thousands of years the Carrying Place Trail existed between what is now Toronto and Lake Simcoe. This land portage connected Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay and was shorter than going around the Ontario Peninsula. It connected the east coast with central America on the Parries and in the Mississippi river basin.
Sustained development has erased historic markers leaving scattered remnants in a fragmented landscape. These fragments are an archipelago - artefacts and stories lost to an ocean of time.
How can architecture enable the discovery of old values, new thoughts, and make new connections between people, community, and place?
The erasure of the Carrying Place Trail obscures a pivotal moment in history but the memory of the Carrying Place Trail remains. Layered beneath a present urban map is an existing topographic landform that has been disruptively cut. Four stations at significant moments of disruption create gathering places that recognize the land and allow people of all nations in the community to re-discover fragmented islands in the archipelago.
Land, Ownership, and Sacred Places, Downtown Toronto
One third of church buildings across Canada are projected to close within the next decade due to the plunging membership. Most church buildings in rural areas are being abandoned but churches in cities, especially in the case of Toronto are being sold to developers to be repurposed into premium condominiums to accommodate the demands of post secularized urban living for better or for worse.
Churches as they stand now are both cultural legacy whilst the symbol of colonialist ideology and atrocities. Whether positive or negative however, the church architecture is endowed with historical values. The church conversion to private properties serving only those who can afford them may not be the ideal solution when there may be possibilities for them to remain as places of congregation.
In light of Truth and Reconciliation Act (TRC), the government is making effort to make things right with the First Nations people, though the mandate and vision are largely based on the western world view. In contrast, the church denominations that were involved in the operation of residential schools have done little beyond making apologies. What could churches then do regarding TRC and reparation for the residential school victims?
Examining church properties as sites of decolonization could potentially draw attention to underlying issues that are tied to the church redevelopment: the sense of estrangement experienced by urban dwellers due to neoliberalization of historical and religious public assets, settler colonialism tied to the notion of properties and the archetypal form of church architecture. The aim is to open the door for ways reconciliation could be concretely manifested, going beyond symbolic memorialization where a new found public gathering space could be realized.
To do so, the research contrasts the notion of Indigenous land stewardship with that of property ownership. By surveying and documenting lost Indigenous landscapes and associated cultural values, the thesis proposes to reinstate what has been buried. The oral stories embedded in the lost landscapes will serve as a guidepost for making visible what has been defaced. The project seeks to unearth this forgotten story which could then be re-experienced as an alternative common ground where native peoples as well as non aboriginals congregate.
Ruin(ed), Kupari, Croatia
Ruin[ed] takes you on a tour down the Adriatic Coast of former Yugoslavia. It explores the intersectionality between war and tourism by visiting a series of coastal monuments that are evidence to a long history of conflict. Questions of historical, architectural, cultural, and environmental heritage are raised through this catalog of derelict buildings effected by war and tourism.
There are lessons in preservation that can be extracted from each of the sites (Goli Otok, St. Nicholas Fortress, Vis Submarine Bunker and Tunnels, Lokrum Monastery, and the Kupari Hotel Complex) which span from the intervention of no intervention, to restoration, to stewardship. This project seeks to understand alternative methods in which derelict tourist sites can continue to exist without falling victim to capitalist ideologies of tourism.
Eerie Shores, Leamington, Ontario
Eerie Shores tells the story of a small southern Ontario town. Leamington met the challenge of keeping up with the fast paced globalized world. In turn it continues to lose its sense of uniqueness and drifts further from sustainability and resilience practices it once boasted.
Each Chapter focuses on a site in Leamington and its pertaining issues: the threat to the coast line due to rising water, land erosion destroying beneficial habitats at Hillman Marsh, the destruction of forests and the impact this has on local habitats and farm soil, dikes draining into Lake Erie which contributes to the Algae bloom, and the harmful effects that can be seen from the greenhouse industry, specifically land loss and light pollution. Each of these issues is connected.
An Alternate Migration, the Sundarbans
The sea in the Bay of Bengal is rising, where hundreds of thousands of villagers on the low islands and coastlines on the south of Bangladesh live in fear of what their future might hold. Dikes and villages along the coastline continue to fllood everyday by high tide. But as the tide becomes rises everyday, the land begins to erode into the sea. Brackish and saltwater make the land too saline to farm. With only a fragile boundary to protect them, agricultural communities that have survived for generations off this land become environmental refugees.
The mangrove forest provides natural protection against high tides and flloods to the millions of people who live in the coastal regions of the Sundarbans. As saline water inches closer and closer inland, the forest begins to suffocate. Many coastal communities have already migrated north to urban centers and cities.
Low lying coastal areas lack the recognition and attention they deserve as people are routinely uprooted by coastal flooding. What is the tipping point or trigger that prompts their upstream journey in search of a new shelter? Where will they go?
The pattern for rural communities is to travel to large urban centers in search for a new life. Traditions and livelihood are lost along the way. Is there an alternate path to shelter and sanctuary? This alternate journey to safer grounds preserves livelihood, communities, and cultural practices. This new settlement can inhabit the waters edge as a destination of rebuilding.
As waters rise and swallow the land, a mass migration will prompt a need for comprehensive solutions. The Community Climate Change and Sundarbands Embankment Reconstruction Projects focus on community-driven approaches to build local resilience. These organizations allocate funds, equipment, manpower and tools to support local building techniques that help vulnerable communities against coastal flooding.
How can architecture inform new design solutions to develop from documenting and cataloging local communities and ways of life? Through the use of building techniques and understanding of the land conditions, new models for sustainable settlements can be developed that protects local communities and traditions.
This thesis will reimagine and define a series of networked sites or sanctuaries for the alternate migration. Scattered along the coastlines of the Bay of Bengal river systems, it will explore innovations in local tools and techniques to build resilience in local communities and propose new designs for resettlement, shelter and sanctuary along the waters edge.
© Archipelago Studio 2020 @ the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto.