by Cannon Ivers (MLA ’16), Devin Dobrowolski (MLA ’16) and Mary Catherine Miller (MLA ’16), winners of “A Beautiful Decay”, an endeavor of Miami-based initiative Save Before Quitting.
In a challenge to traditional ideas of landscape preservation, Wanderers, proposes alternative forms of touristic activity aimed at preserving the vernacular of Cape Cod region through the lens of managed disturbance. The project challenges the perception that this peripatetic dune landscape is fragile and threatened by proposing a strategy intended to channel the unpredictable movement of multiple agents: the nearly imperceptible migration of dunes, the rising and falling of tides and the creeping rhizomatous growth of vegetation across the landscape.
Sited along the Great Neck barrier beach, the proposal frames tourism as an agent and key player in the strategy to intervene and participate in the languid, drifting morphology of the dunes. As an alternative to conventional beachfront hotels or roadside motels, removed from the coastal elements that makes this region so unique, the proposal introduces a model of unfixed, ‘wandering’ structures that move seasonally with the dune landscape and rise and fall with the daily cycles of tides within the salt marsh. These nomadic structures could be temporarily occupied by seasonal visitors for a week, a night, or even just a few hours as retreats of total isolation and solitude, hideaways for creative endeavor, artistic invention, or restful introspection.
Of course, this is an unapologetically romantic ideal, but one that draws from a history of the sublime and beautiful dynamism of the landscape to look for alternatives to conventional modes of touristic practices and exchanges. As such Wanderers proposes a new type of ephemeral occupation in which architectural form becomes a device for measuring time and registering natural phenomenon, throwing the idea of permanence into question. Without the wandering structures, there is no measure of the movement or morphological change of the dunes. Fundamentally, Wanderers is a proposition for an alternative methods of the cultural and physical construction of landscape that privileges formation over foundation.