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Broken Measure: An Agent of Anthropogenic Landscapes
A conversation with Luis Druschke on his project at the copper mine of Skouriotissa, Cyprus, and the necessity of rethinking anthropogenic landscapes of extraction as deeply entrenched within the very definition of architecture.

Developed within the context of TU Delft, “Broken Measure: An Agent of Anthropogenic Landscapes'' by Luis Drushke situates itself in the context of an afterlife scenario of a post-industrial landscape, namely the copper mine of Skouriotissa, Cyprus. By investigating the vast, productive hinterland that is the backdrop of the territory we inhabit and the source of wealth in modern times, the project seeks to reveal a system of human domination over nature, a system that is based on a mathematical, seemingly objectified measure relating to the land as an exploitable resource. In this conversation with Luis, we explore the ambitions of the project as one which wants to break our hegemonic influence over nature and where Every Catastrophe is a Rebirth of Nature.

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KOOZ What prompted the project?

LD In the context of our contemporary climate emergency and the decarbonization of the built environment, the project was prompted by the necessity of drawing public consciousness on our ghost territories of extraction where the real source of wealth is located.1 The project is rooted in an expanded notion of architecture that comprehends landscapes of extraction as part of the built environment. Besides the apparent reason that these landscapes supply our cities with resources, this approach also resonates with the very idea of architecture as a discipline defined by the creation of space. Therefore, the project was prompted by the ambition of looking at our landscape differently, understanding it as in-process rather than definite, as dynamic rather than static, and challenging the existing interpretation to subjugate land to serve us humans.

The project was prompted by the necessity of drawing public consciousness on our ghost territories of extraction where the real source of wealth is located.

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KOOZ What questions does the project raise and which does it address?

LD The questions this project raises primarily concern the topic of the agency of nature. Acknowledging that landscapes of extraction, in this example an open cast mine, should be perceived as architectural objects deeply entangled in their context, raises various questions.

How are post-industrial landscapes composed?
What are the tectonics of artificial landscapes?

Ultimately, understanding the existence of a salient system that is imposed over nature to maximize profit and efficiency prompts the question of how to dismantle human hegemony over nature and how to increase the agency of non-human actors.

The project situates itself in the context of the solutionist discourse of climate change mitigation not in seeking salvation in the application of hyper-technological innovations, but rather in promoting nature´s intrinsic ability for self-regulation and in postulating a very close observation of our environment.

How are post-industrial landscapes composed? What are the tectonics of artificial landscapes?

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KOOZ What informed the location of Skouriotissa’s copper mine in Cyprus as site for the speculation?

LD The specific site of Skouriotissa in Cyprus broadens the scope of a mere ground-intervention by incorporating layers of historical, social, and political influences. To date, and since 1974, the northern part of Cyprus, where the copper mine of Skouriotissa is located on the Cypriot border of the buffer zone, is controlled by Turkey and demarcated by a UN cease fire zone. The mine thus exists as a manifestation of the environmental entanglement of water, air, and soil in a politically contentious area whilst exemplifying the point of encounter between technological advancement and the creation of different landscapes of extraction, with a resulting increasingly disastrous environmental impact. Whilst in antiquity, Skouriotissa used to be an underground mine that resulted in big slag heaps in the adjacent landscape, with the advent of industrialization, it transformed into a large-scale open cast mine that has been expanded since.

The project aims to reveal modern rationality at the very core of human´s domination over nature is strongly informed by this technological development.

KOOZ How does the project approach and define the role of the architect within our contemporary anthropogenic landscape?

LD I am happy to address this question as there are still voices that approach projects like this one claiming that “these are not architecture”. As previously mentioned, anthropogenic landscapes of extraction correspond to the very definition of architecture as a discipline which is deeply entrenched with the creation of space.

More importantly, the project explores the practice of architecture as one which transcends the design of buildings as objects to explore the metabolic interdependencies of material accumulations. The tremendous environmental impact of industrial landscapes of extraction is in direct relation to the vibrant cities which modern architects have and are continuously planning worldwide. Hence, I think the architect is in a crucial position to dismantle the increasing polarization of productive landscapes and urban agglomerations.

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Anthropogenic landscapes of extraction correspond to the very definition of architecture as a discipline which is deeply entrenched with the creation of space.

KOOZ The project deploys a series of devices, what is the role and use of these in relation to the landscape?

LD The designed devices deployed are based on different kinds of soil displacements. The analysis of processes of self-regulation revealed different morphologies of soil movements that can be traced back to the tectonics of the mine and to natural influences such as water and wind. The project suggests a categorization of soil displacements based on scale and morphology into micro-catastrophes, landslides, sand drifts, and landslides caused by water. These different processes of self-regulation in which nature slowly reclaims its territory are supported by devices that sense, measure, initiate, and re-enact the environment. That is how the intervention fosters the destruction of the imposed system that exploits nature. The very idea of the measure (a natural measure rather than a quantitative one) is used as an active agent of anthropogenic landscapes.

"Broken Measure: An Agent of Anthropogenic Landscapes" by Luis Druschke.

KOOZ What is for you the power of the architectural imaginary?

LD Paraphrasing Schorske, there are times in which we grapple with an existing social and political order and moments when it is our very desire to posit an alternative.2

Un-built imaginaries allow for unfiltered representations of societal, cultural, political, and environmental issues which have the ability to posit alternatives to the status quo. These visions are not bound to the constraints of a system but rather must transcend the architectural realm and find a voice in the collective discourse. Otherwise, they merely become a message to other architects.

Bio

Luis Druschke is an architecture master student at The Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment TU Delft with a deep interest in exploring the tools of design, writing, and research to promote a more inclusive ecology. Whilst graduating at the Borders&Territories chair, he works on a research project linked to the research initiative “Elements of Productive Urban Greening” in the frame of the European Green Deal. Luis has worked for different offices including MVRDV, Rotterdam, and Fakt – Office for Architecture, Berlin. Prior to that, he graduated with a BSc from TU Berlin. His final project has been shortlisted for the Baunetz Campus Award.

Notes

1 Bruno Latour, Exhibition ZKM on Critical Zones (2020)
2 Carlos Schorkse, Fin-de-Sciecle Vienna: Politics and Culture, (1980)

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Published
27 Oct 2022
Reading time
10 minutes
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