University of Michigan, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
critic: Kathy VELIKOV.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Jaime RIVERA: This novel infrastructure acts as a catalyst for reinvigorating a network of obsolete mines. . . .
Open pit mines, among other typological models of this class, formerly generated economic stability for workers and the cities which operated around them. The Synthetic Machines project is situated in Michigan at the Empire Mine, but it is the testing ground for new design possibilities at a global scale.
Once a mine has been exhausted by the human it follows in the traditional model of a wasteland or unoccupiable land mass. As the Empire Mine closes its iron ore chapter, Synthetic Machines intercepts the mine in its entropic state to germinate it with new organisms. The environment of the mine is a harsh one, leaving humans to do what is usually done with things seen to no longer be of use, and discard them. This limited view provided the lens by which this project found an adaptive response, a microscopic lens, where careful investigation found the kinds of organisms which thrive in such ruination. Currently, climatic changes in our environment have cultivated micro-organisms that have found ways of surviving in non-traditional ecosystems. These organisms, ‘extremophiles’, have adapted to their extreme environments and give us a glimpse of future modes of living.
The Synthetic Machines construct utilizes biomining processes and reimagines the current biomining technology into innovative machines of cultivation. The project is specked with synthetic machines which each contain organisms thriving in rich iron content. The machines are speculative designs of hyper-objects, as they relate to micro-architectural embodiments of the biomining process. These test subjects allow us to expand on constructed landscapes of experience, process and interplanetary thought.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
JR: This project was heavily influenced by Timothy Morton’s book Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology at the End of the World and by Kathy Velikov’s guidance throughout the semester.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
JR: Reading: Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology at the End of the World, Devices: A Manual of Architectural and Spatial Machines, Other Space Odysseys, Towards Speculative Realism, and On Growth and Form. Listening to: J Cole, Philip Glass, Kendrick Lamar, BORNS, and TV on the Radio. And watching: Planet Earth, The Martian, Interstellar, and Rick and Morty.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
JR: Liam Young; Sift Studio; rvtr; Neil Denari; Sean Lally; and Morphosis.
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