CCA-WRI Research Fellows 2023

Residency, 1 July 2023 to 30 September 2023

Above/Below/Between: Light on a Damaged Planet

The recognition of the manifold meanings and architectural mediations of light, which are becoming only more salient in our era of ecological crises, is common to both the CCA and the Window Research Institute. This emergent ecological reality is creating new practices, designs, and other social and material manifestations of architectural design that are above, below, and between; atmospheric, underground, and attentive to increasingly damaged landscapes all around us. Whether through increased average temperatures, more prevalent drought patterns, or sea level rise, light on this damaged planet is materially responsive to our human-impacted ecosystem. Apertures condense and make palpable this source of light and the need to question its root causes.

This affinity has led to our working with the WRI to jointly provide conditions for deep inquiries into the phenomenon of light. This collaboration represents a new model of fellowship for the CCA; whereas our institution observes an ever-expanding array of architectural subjects, the WRI holds a specific focus on light and windows, in their technological, cultural, and societal dimensions.

The second iteration of the CCA-WRI Research Fellowship Program Above/Below/Between: Light on a Damaged Planet continued to seek to understand architecture’s varied relationships to the changing material constitution of the light spectrum. In 2023 we welcomed three CCA-WRI Fellows turning their attention to the second element in the diffusion of light across our solar societies: below, and the underground with its relative absence of light. The design of underground spaces, whether for retail, data storage, safety from warfare and climate disaster, is an ongoing concern. The CCA holds a unique collection of materials related to the Underground Space Center (USC) at the University of Minnesota. The USC, founded in 1978, was dedicated to the study of ‘earth-shelters’ as a response to the 1970s oil crisis and the need for more efficient means to heat and cool domestic environments. This is one entry point into an array of CCA Collection materials that can articulate how contemporary experiences of solar damage extend into the history of design.

While 2023 Fellows could focus on the underground as a space of experimentation, future domesticity, and/or extraction, we encouraged research proposals that address a range of topics, particularly those that take the theme of damaged light and solarity as a social condition more broadly in new directions:

• The underground and expanded definitions of ‘shelter’
• Underground urbanisms (in relation to density, climate, real estate speculation, etc)
• The underground and anti-verticality
• Underground spaces and nostalgia/disuse/retreat/illicitness
• Solar design, particularly as a material
• Light as a form of social capital
• Solar landscapes, whether dry, arid, or desert
• Luminescence as a historical, geographical, and social process

Andrea Dutto
RWTH Aachen University

“Earth-Shelter Builders and the Code”

Oxana Gourinovitch
RWTH Aachen University

“The Subdued State: The Under- and Overground Built Environments of the Uranium Industries in the GDR”

Tomomi Miyata
Tokyo Institute of Technology

“Visual Function in Earth shelters from the View Point of Emergency Sustainability”


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