Cultivating Scale: Territorial Planting Strategies

Plants are the matrix in which the earth’s habits are formed and are therefore the basic unit for understanding dynamic ecological relationships. They are a physical force, altering circumstances in such a way that their growth, mobility and adaption actually modify the environments in which they exist. As an alternative to the conventional perspective of design achieved through analysis of site this course offers a methodology that explores individual species and their discrete character as indicators of regional dynamics, of scalable design and environmental transformation. Working from the micro to the macro scale, this approach encourages a reading that treats each species as a character embedded with its own particular intelligence. Acknowledging that plants have played a dynamic role in shaping the history, land, identity and culture of the planet is critical to engaging with its contemporary associations. The description of an individual species offers an alternative to the reading of the land on which it originated, acting as a chronicle of local geography, topography, hydrology and tradition that amalgamate as defining features of an entire territory. This course examines plants as active agents in complex territorial transformations, inviting students to participate through consideration of a single species as means to amalgamate scale, industry, achievement, control and exploration, using innovative written histories and unique representational components. Buried in the logic of individual species- from food crop to botanical wonder- is the intrinsic ability for it to adapt opportunistically and radically re-create an environment. Live matter displays an incredible range of mobility, and yet our systems of representation have evolved to favor static and arrested arrangements of shape over process. The course is thematically divided into sections that consider a range of representational techniques offered in lecture format, and literary narratives and botanical histories, using invited lectures by theorists and analyzing readings, which reinforce the methodology.