Museum of Trade
Jake Spangler and Kane Hassebrock (Fourth Year Students at Iowa State University)[ARCH 401: “MUSEUM FOR THE HISTORIES OF NATURE: TOWARD AN ANAMORPHIC ARCHITECTURE” , Taught by ROSS EXO ADAMS]
The intervention focuses on the movement of modular units that use real time carbon data to expose origins of power in relation to global carbon markets. The project aims at creating new networks, challenging traditional flows, and promoting critical conversation around the topics of climate change. Through an anamorphic lens, the proposal takes the established ideas of what museums are and uses them in a nontraditional intervention with the Miami Beach Convention Center, as means of encouraging dialogue around the complex carbon trading economy. The spatial performance seeks to engage the convention center though shifting modules, complex and unpredictable layouts, and changing social interactions. It is responsive, it shocks visitors, it creates new relations.
This project doesn’t pose a solution, but rather exposes a specific category of climate change. This space is intended to operate as a normal convention space would, but also provide opportunities for people to confront the reality of what is happening regarding carbon trading and how they, or their company, relates to the spectacle they are participating in.
Who influences you graphically?
Throughout the development of our project, we were influenced by multiple people and platforms at different stages in our thought process. We first watched a film called Manufactured Landscapes by Edward Burtynsky and were initially influenced by his framing techniques, which he uses to control how people perceive the scale of industrial landscapes.
Metabolist principles of adaptable and changeable urbanism as well as Cedric Price’s Fun Palace were in general both influential in helping us formulate concepts through drawing and large sections. In our final black and white images, Jack Self’s project, The Ingot, was a key influence, both graphically and ideologically.
What is your take on colour? What defined the use of a monochromatic palette?
A monochromatic colour palette was used as a way of highlighting important project components. An essential part of our proposal deals with the exposure of power relations between the nations and corporations involved in the controversial carbon trade market. The black and white colour scheme calls attention to the binary relation between modular units used to construct the changing and differentiated interior landscape. This relation is visually and spatially experienced when a unit is moved between ‘territories’ – representing real world countries involved in the carbon trading market – on the convention floor.
Gold was used as accent to emphasize the significance of the gantry crane’s role. The crane functions as the driver behind the movement of modules and as the mechanism that continually reshuffles the convention floor.
What defined the selection of moment through which you choose to reveal the speculative project?
The most crucial aspect of our design is the movement of the individual modules. These modules consist of galleries, convention floor space, circulation space, information hubs, and trading hubs. Every time a module is moved two things occur: a void is left, and a space is occupied elsewhere – similar to a ‘cut and fill’ method. Finding a view to evoke both of these conditions was how we decided where to position a viewer and what part of the movement they see. We present two main interior perspectives, showing each of these spaces.
Could you expand on what you think a museum is today and your appropriation and development of this notion within the project?
“The nineteenth century version of a museum, where knowledge is presented as ‘curated truth’ to be passively consumed, will no longer suffice.”
By deconstructing the museum typology, we experimented with how architecture can intervene in changing discourses and the instrumentalization of nature. A critical stance on natural history museums and their role today was taken regarding the institution’s presentation of knowledge. By conceptualizing nature as a culturally produced category, our proposal seeks to open up new understandings of nature and disrupt the challenges climate change continues to present.
Within our proposal, the museum module contains designated galleries holding artifacts, stories, and environments that are strategically placed in areas of the convention landscape as a way to target individuals actively moving in and about the floor space.
What case studies, texts etc did you consult throughout the project?
Initially, we looked at two case studies in order to begin understanding how to think about climate change from a critical perspective. The first was a passage from Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary by Emily Eliza Scott. The passage discusses two forms of visual culture used to illustrate climate change: satellite images or single lone pictures, either scaled too close or too distant. The importance of finding a perspective that moves across scales spatially and temporally was essential. The
second case study was an initiative called The Natural History Museum, by the artist collective Not an Alternative, which makes a point to highlight socio-political forces that shape nature as well as the funding and political operations within museums of natural history. The documentaries we were interested in were Manufactured Landscapes by Edward Burtynsky and Banking Nature by Denis Delestrac and Sandrine Feydel. Throughout our research we used a range of texts to help curate our position regarding carbon trading, such as Turbulent Worlds by Melinda Cooper, Goodbye Miami by Jeff Goodell, United Nations archives, and Junkspace by Rem Koolhaas.
What prompted this project and the approach established to climate change?
This project was prompted by a growing curiosity in inventing new ways in which knowledge can be challenged and publicly debated around climate change. The Miami Beach Convention Center presents itself as a provoking architectural space in which to intervene. An infrastructure that hosts major cultural and commercial shows, sporting events, and international exhibitions such as this creates a compelling opportunity to experiment with new approaches to architecture in the age of climate change.
Our interest in carbon trading originates with our skeptical stance on markets of this nature. Questionable intentions, unreliable emission schemes, vague regulations, and unethical practice provoked our response and approach towards this topic.
Are you interested in developing this thesis further? If so how?
For this specific project, we felt we reached the conclusion we had hoped for and were largely satisfied with its end result. It’s possible that we could develop other directions we explored earlier in our process, such as a virtual architectural world functioning in a similar way, but the current iteration is complete. What is more important is continually examining the intersection of architecture and climate change, and to produce architectural proposals that attempt to enact change or evoke thought.
Kane Hassebrock and Jake Spangler are 4th year architecture students at Iowa State University, currently studying abroad in Rome, Italy. They will graduate with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2019.