Underground Anxieties: 2023 CCA-WRI Research Symposium

Seminar, in English, Online, 10 August 2023, 9 a.m. to noon

Join 2023 CCA-WRI Fellows Andrea Alberto Dutto, Oxana Gourinovitch, and Tomomi Miyata as they share their research on how the underground has evolved as a space of Cold War anxiety and resource extraction, to contemporary concerns around climate and other unnational disasters from which the earth can provide shelter.

In the first half of the symposium, the fellows will speak about their individual research projects, which move across uses of the underground as a space full of potential through the absence of light.

Dutto will examine how in the late 1970s the counterculture embraced the underground, transitioning from ephemeral geodesic domes to more durable, costly structures. Regions experiencing extreme weather conditions, particularly in the United States, became a hub for amateurs to experiment with underground typologies and share manuals on their often outlaw attempts to mitigate the impact of back-to-back oil crises on housing bills. The authors devised temporary devices, prototypes, and techniques to circumvent building codes while also incorporating unique and alternative lifestyles into their designs.

Gourinovitch will address the visibilities and invisibilities—physical, spatial, political, archival, semantic, epistemological—of radiogenic ecologies created by two industries/corporate entities that facilitated the beginning of the nuclear age: the Soviet-German uranium mining corporation Wismut AG and its North American counterpart, the Canadian Eldorado Ltd. She will track how a politics of extractionism, magnified by the urges of the military complex, translated the logic of underground mining into principles of overground spatial organization, with infrastructure becoming of paramount importance. Infrastructure replaced the traditional industrial towns of “solid” modernity (Zygmunt Bauman) on both sides of Iron Curtain, thus challenging the dialectics of capitalist vs. non-capitalist environmental and societal justice.

Finally, Miyata will expand on an ethnographic form of research pursued to describe the light and visual environments that people require while dwelling within emergency shelters for extended periods of time. Alongside this, she will present a fascinating verbal, visual, and data-driven study of the CCA’s offices and research spaces undertaken in order to develop a hypothesis on how human behavior within the CCA is subject to changes in available light, especially when sources of light are dimmed.

In the second half of the symposium Dutto, Gourinovitch, and Miyata will be joined by CCA-WRI committee members Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (Co-Founder of Atelier Bow-Wow and Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology) and Jungyoon Kim (Co-Founding Principal of PARKKIM and Assistant Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture, Harvard, GSD) who will respond to their research projects.

Please register to attend online.


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