2021 Urban Design Thesis Prize: Adam Mekies’ “Aggregate, Aggregation + Geotechnical Urbanism”

Laptop computer

by Adam Mekies (MLAUD ’21) — Recipient of the Urban Design Thesis Prize

Within the architectural engineering and construction industry, we have developed diagrammatic representations and software translations of cultural patterns, extruded 2D cities, and built architecture of processed materials palettes. We are not yet able to diagrammatically compute the translation (intent to manifestation) of wild contexts and materials systems. This thesis seeks a hybrid software approach to the bulk manipulations of aggregate, somewhere between that of a wild randomization and a highly refined aesthetic.

By developing new software tools toward the aggregation of “wild” (e.g., rock, soils, and organic matter) rather than “cultured” (cast-in-place concrete, steel beams, and prefabricated urbanism), we may not only achieve new opportunities in the ecological landscape definition of the terms, but also provide tooling for new forms of urban aggregate across more dynamic and less predictable cultural conditions, so called geotechnical urbanism(s). This experimentation is applied conceptually to sea level rise and coastal urbanism surrounding the Boston Harbor.

Visit the 2021 Virtual Commencement Exhibition to see more from this and other prize-winning projects.