Forming the American Landscape: The Electrical Grid & Protocols of Urban Assemblage

In this exhibition, patterns of urban and territorial infrastructure (electrical power) are re-considered as metabolic processes in order to develop a strategic framework for the re-wiring of these networks of production, distribution, and consumption in relation to the assembly of the city and its corresponding territorial region. The differentiation of the electrical grid’s inherent systems are re-mapped to describe the purpose and expression of its functions, components, mechanisms and predilections in order to shape new adaptive urban morphologies in relationship to each system’s parameters that include; the operation of the system as a purpose and expression of its function; the internal system as a physical network of spatial, material, and temporal flows; and the external system as environmental factors and points of exchange with other systems. 

Infrastructure “characterized by expansive systems that link supply and demand, and involve interconnected assets performing different functions and enabling the operability of their respective networks” is posited as a key driver of urban form. 

The relationships of the interrelated components of the infrastructure are to be described as a catalogue of protocols with a set of rules inherent to their own function with procedures for implementation and networking that organize the urban matter. These protocols are initially mapped and then re-programmed with the capacity to inscribe forms of adaptation that generate alternative spatial urban patterns in response to a range of criteria of change; from unpredictable catastrophic instances, such as severe weather events, through to long term predicted sea level rise, and as yet undefined technological advances that will change the way we live. 

This exhibition is supported by the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities and the Office for Urbanization