2022 Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize: Liwei Shen’s “The Echoes of Sky River – Two Pre-modern and Modern Atmospheric Assemblages”

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by Liwei Shen (MLA I ’22) — Recipient of the Landscape Architecture Thesis Prize.

The sky river in northwestern China, a weather-modification system currently under construction, builds a link between distant places geographically, culturally, and temporarily, indicating a single, interconnected atmospheric environment. This thesis discovers the formal and functional similarity between pre-modern landscapes for the weather and modern weather modification technologies in two sites with different cultural expressions. It proposes that the role of landscape architecture is to use hybrid spatial coexistence for cultural conservation and territorial connection to evoke a distant empathy and construct a techno-cultural alliance.

The thesis seeks to bridge the gap between two distinct landscape discourses: the scientific reaction to climate change globally, and the cultural sense of weather locally. It sees the role of the landscape architect extending to both extremes of scale: While exploring the dynamics of the atmosphere and extending the territory of hydrology, it simultaneously consolidates faith-based, productive, and technological alliances of interest in the community and residential scales to enable Indigenous and vulnerable communities to develop resilience in response to climate change.