Architecture's Landscape | From Forest to Frame: Mass timber in the Pacific Northwest (1980-2015)

Thumbnail

Event details

Date and time 01.03.2021 15:3016:30  
Online https://epfl.zoom.us/j/99758098828
Speaker Laila Seewang is assistant professor in the School of Architecture at Portland State University where she teaches design studios and architectural and urban history and theory. She also sits on the Board of Directors of Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative. She is a registered architect and an architectural historian and theorist whose research uses infrastructure as a lens through which to study environmental and urban design, in particular during the nineteenth century. She is currently working on a book manuscript that looks at the role that public water infrastructure played in Berlin’s nineteenth-century municipal development, and researching the infrastructure of timber modernism in the Pacific Northwest. She is the co-editor of a special double issue of Architectural Theory Review, Timber Constructed: Towards an Alternative Material History (2021) and has also written about German architectural historiography, public toilets in Berlin, brick manufacturing in Brandenburg, and rapid sand filters in central Massachusetts.
Category Conferences - Seminars
Architecture’s Landscape examines different environments created for and by architectural production in order to broaden the notion of design as practice that extends beyond the building.  Architectural history and theory are increasingly concerned with the impacts that the construction industry has on the environment, from extraction to carbon footprints to waste production. These lectures analyse the specific nature of these impacts by using infrastructure as a lens through which to view architectural production as a flow of materials across multiples scales, from environment to network to building to detail. It simultaneously challenges the narratives that are used to describe these architectures. This work unravels a series of material flow chains to reposition the building as only one part of the designed flow of wood, water, and clay.

While questions about the relation of architecture to its environment are increasingly prevalent among architectural historians and theorists in general, materiality offers a very tangible way of making visible architecture’s complicity in larger environmental issues. These lectures are a methodological proposition: can we, as architectural theorists, designers, or historians, resituate architecture into an expanded narrative about design whereby materiality is both the built (building) and unbuilt (landscape), but also the visible (structures) as well as the invisible (through policies and institutions)? By looking at design in this way, can we understand the choices made within the assemblage as design choices that paired infrastructure with narrative? Together, these lectures offer a new approach to understanding architecture by focusing on design—environmental design, technological design, building design, and the design of material flows.

From Forest to Frame: Mass timber in the Pacific Northwest
It is argued that using timber for buildings can produce more sustainable cities. Can it also create a more resilient material flow chain, a timber territory? This lecture looks at the relationship of the timber territory in the Pacific Northwest in relation to innovations in mass timber. It asks, in what way do we need to update our narratives about timber architecture, and the way we manage forests, in order to produce not just a sustainable new building typology, but a resilient regional landscape. Mapping timber territory as an assemblage, this lecture investigates volcano eruptions, the Pacific log trade, deforestation, spotted owls, and stories of frontier independence to challenge the long-standing presumptions of ‘place’ in regional architecture by asking, what kind of place has the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest actually defined, both abroad and locally.

This lecture is the first of three given within the frame of the ALICE y1 programme.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free

Event broadcasted in

Share