Wheelwright Prize Lecture: Aleksandra Jaeschke, “In Emergency Break Glass”

Image of a a long line of small buildings with a pink lighting glowing from them.

A recording of this event is available with audio description.

Event Description

In 2019, I embarked on a journey through a world covered with glass and sealed in plastic. 

The aspiration behind UNDER WRAPS, my initial Wheelwright Prize proposal, was to explore the culture and architecture of greenhouses focusing on the spatiality of horticultural operations and the interactions between plants and humans across a spectrum of contexts and cultures. My goal at that time was to compare the impact of different spatial arrangements—from a farm hoop house to a botanical conservatory and along an imaginary rural-urban transect, to speculate about strategies for a more equitable “greenhouse ruralism” and engaged “urban (horti)culture.” The former, I hoped back then, would hopefully empower the farmers and the latter engage urban dwellers in the act of caring for plants, our living substrate and the ultimate Other.  

Three years later and after one hundred and fifty days spent on the roads of eight countries scattered across three continents, I now wonder if the greenhouse can ever be the answer. Perhaps it is time to break the mold and abandon the greenhouse as a model and mindset with which to address the current ecological predicament. It is not too late to grab the intellectual emergency hammer! 


Black and white headshot of Aleksandra Jaeschke.Aleksandra Jaeschke, DDes ’18, is an architect and an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at The University of Texas at Austin. Born and raised in Poland, she holds a Doctor of Design degree from the Harvard GSD and an AA Diploma from the Architectural Association in London. 

Jaeschke’s interests range from ecological science and thought, through definitions and models for sustainability in architecture, to cross-scalar integrative design strategies. She has recently participated in an UrbanNext podcast series entitled Nature of Enclosure, contributed to LOG 51, participated in Log’rithms, a conversation series hosted by Log in the Italian Virtual Pavilion during the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, and curated Plant Potential, an event series focused on human-plant relations. A book based on her doctoral dissertation, entitled The Greening of America’s Building Codes: Promises and Paradoxes, is forthcoming from Princeton Architectural Press in December 2022. 

She is a licensed architect in Italy where she practiced at AION, a studio that she co-founded and co-directed with Andrea Di Stefano until her move to the U.S. In recognition of the work developed by AION, she received the 2011 Europe 40 Under 40 Award.  

In 2021, Jaeschke was the recipient of the DigitalFUTURES’s Inaugural Mark Cousins Theory Award. She received the Wheelwright Prize in 2019. 

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