Diploma 4 Sampling the technosphere, prints on aluminium, detail

The Coast of Europe

John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog

The technosphere - the quasi-autonomous interrelations between humans, domesticated animals and plants, plus the energy, material and information flows that sustain them - is rapidly becoming a new paradigm of the Earth. A dynamic and volatile system comparable to the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere and the biosphere, it operates largely by consuming and processing fossil fuels and modifying environmental processes. It is a new intensification shaping relations between technologies, humans and non-human entities. It is an architecture in the making that influences how humans sense and affect the Earth.

We investigate through design: how can architectural knowledge intercept these processes of transformation, measure them, interact with them and form them? Fathoming, sounding, measuring and evaluating - sensing the material basis of the technosphere - involves a set of procedures that reveal how architecture today faces a shift in agency: what we thought we controlled is now becoming a vast self-organising system of geological amplitude. By sampling specific conditions of intensification, we characterise the transformations of the European project as an architecture, a physical set of processes undergoing unprecedented reorganisation.

We consider how the entry into the Anthropocene and the rise of the technosphere are transforming relations of cohabitation in the European peninsula - the stretches of land wedged between the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, North Sea, the Baltic and the Arctic Ocean. Open on all sides, the architectures shaping the contemporary European project face multiple forces and are crossed by many divergent circulations of ideas, languages, cultures, goods, information and people. They are both registering the epochal transformations in their material structures and relaying across a multiplicity of institutional, sensory, control and planning devices. The project is to envision new ways to articulate and distribute agencies of the shifting relations between material processes and institutional procedures. It is to recompose the many trajectories of the unstable European project into new territories for an open future.

Unit Staff

John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog are co-founders of Territorial Agency, an independent organisation that combines architecture, analysis, advocacy and action for integrated spatial transformation of contemporary territories. Recent projects include The Museum of Oil; Anthropocene Observatory; the Museum of Infrastructural Unconscious; North; Unfinishable Markermeer; Kiruna. They are fellows at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London, where John also convenes the MA and is a PhD candidate. He has been research advisor at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, and previously led the research activities of ETH Zurich/Studio Basel - Contemporary City Institute, and he is a founding member of Multiplicity. Ann-Sofi is a PhD research fellow at AHO in Oslo. She was previously a researcher at ETH Studio Basel.

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