In the Hurricane, On the Land

Sam Carter-Shamai, Jingru (Cyan) Cheng and Chen Zhan, Tania Gutiérrez-Monroy, Martyna Miller, Neady Oduor, Erin Putalik, Tiffany Shaw, Masamichi Tamura

Robert Adams, Longmont, Colorado, 1973. Gelatin silver print, 15.1 x 19.2 cm. CCA Collection © Robert Adams, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

To be “in the hurricane” is to live and work with shoreline erosion, droughts, and intense storms—it is to recognize how the contemporary climate crisis transcends all and entangles us collectively in its gyre. We live in a time of collective disorientation that affects marginalized communities, often land-dependent ones more than others.

The CCA-Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Program is currently undertaking a project that prioritizes new and urgent modes of orientation that ask earthbound designers and their allies to ground and value land: lands held by others in care and lands that have been claimed, reclaimed, and not ceded. The program includes research and design projects that are site-specific, climate-dependent, historically attuned, and collaborative. As a collective and all-encompassing state, being “in the hurricane” for grounded, land-caring practices that match the intensity of the storm.

Land-dependent design practices that focus on shaping land through social and ecological relationships hold the potential to create, support, and advocate for lands that ensure our survival in an increasingly divided world. This research program brings together practitioners and researchers working across landscape architecture, architecture, and allied practices who value how land is anchored by community building, situated interventions, and defined by everyday ecological realities. It foregrounds regenerative land practices that cut across disciplinary boundaries between architects and landscape architects to centre ecological conditions such as soil health, geology, botany, and more.

Landscape architecture, architecture, and their allied fields can learn to listen to damaged lands that have been forced to be resilient. Land-dependent design holds the potential to become a shared mode of inquiry, one that can create new collaborative practices addressing ecologies and lands, constructions of landscapes and infrastructures, and architectural works. For practitioners, researchers, and activists in landscape architecture, urban planning, Indigenous studies, postcolonial studies, political ecology, and beyond, to hold land in care is to consider where we stand.

The project will run for 18 months and involve three workshops with invited experts. Mellon Researchers will contribute to various objectives and outcomes of the research project by producing individual projects in conversation with the group and with the CCA, by contributing to a shared collective project conceived by the group, and by critically engaging with the CCA Collection and library holdings.

This program foregrounds land dependent-design as a mode of collective action that can address the current material manifestations of the climate crisis. The program’s participants will probe and redraw the social and professional boundaries of architecture and landscape architecture to advance a shared method for navigating the aftermaths of un/natural disasters. With historical and theoretical precision, projects will explore how land-based interventions can become a form of public advocacy and activism, either today, in the past, or looking toward the future.

Mellon Researchers

Sam Carter-Shamai will engage with his family’s historic connection to the lands on Carter’s Creek (Chesapeake Bay/Tidewater Virginia) to explore diasporic identity, intergenerational resilience, and the stewardship of embodied culture though community institutions, particularly in coastal regions vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Carter-Shamai is chair of the Neighborhood Land Trust and the 2024-2025 Early Career Canadian Urban Leader at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities.

Jingru (Cyan) Cheng and Chen Zhan are developing a framework of field-based practice that empirically confronts the interconnectedness embedded in the built environment via supply chains and ecosystems. They do so by carrying out their own fieldwork in the Mekong River Basin while engaging in conversations with a diverse range of field-based practitioners. Cheng (Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize Fellow) and Zhan (ARB architect, anthropologist, independent filmmaker) are a duo based in the United Kingdom and China, working at the intersection of architecture, anthropology, and filmmaking.

Tania Gutiérrez-Monroy proposes a spatial reading of the networks of Indigenous resistance created by the Congreso Nacional Indígena (Mexico). The project will focus on the forms of protest through which Indigenous activists engage the key understanding of humans as being “one with the land.” Working through ways of transforming her scholarship into activism, Gutiérrez-Monroy is an Assistant professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Martyna Miller proposes a project of collective care around the post-hurricane land and landscape of Bory Tucholskie, Poland. It is based on monitoring in parallel the changes in the landscape and on community work creating a platform to express feelings of loss, entanglements with the forest as it was before the catastrophe, now, and in the possible future. Miller is an interdisciplinary artist, anthropologist and co-founder of the DOMIE project in Poznań, Poland.

Neady Oduor’s research focuses on land dispossession that removes the marginalized from Indigenous, ancestral, and acquired land. Through documentary as a research, advocacy, and fundraising tool, Oduor is working on creating a living archival practice that documents the stories of 40 women in Kariobangi (Nairobi, Kenya) who were evicted and displaced from their land during the COVID-19 pandemic. Oduor is a Kenyan architect, designer, feminist, researcher, and an organizer with the Women’s Collective Kenya.

Erin Putalik’s project is situated within the broader context of the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast, but it is specifically grounded within the Eastern Shore of Virginia, in Accomack County, on the southern shore of the Pocomoke Sound and north end of Beasley Bay. Putalik will investigate the relationships between historical farming infrastructure and contemporary land-based practices on the Eastern Shore. Putalik is an Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture and Architecture at University of Virginia, School of Architecture.

Tiffany Shaw proposes to regenerate land practices, facilitate storytelling and memory recollection, and build connections back to the land that her family was transitioned away from within her lifetime. This project surfaces the politics of Indigenous title and ecological change within a resource heavy region. Shaw will travel to Fort McMurray (Alberta, Canada) to search for her families’ traplines that they no longer hold rights to. Shaw is a Métis architect (Reimagine Architects), artist, curator and Principal of Reimagine Gathering in Edmonton.

Masamichi Tamura will combine landscape ecology and architectural survey to examine water as a protagonist of urban material continuity and explore its alternative representations through fieldwork in Yukigaya-Ishikawadai strip in Tokyo, a generic residential area across an urbanized river valley. This research will offer typological insights and landscape design advocacy that relate organic and inorganic actors to enhance urban communities sharing latent climate risks. Tamura is a doctoral student in Architecture at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan.

CCA-Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Project

CCA-Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Project Convenors
Giovanna Borasi, Director, CCA
Rafico Ruiz, Associate Director, Research, CCA

External advisors
Azzurra Cox, University of Pennsylvania
Jane Mah Hutton, University of Waterloo
Momoyo Kaijima, ETH Zurich/Atelier Bow Wow

This is the CCA’s sixth and final Mellon Multidisciplinary Research Project; please consult our past projects.


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