Ashley Scott Kelly

Design Analytics

Instructor: Ashley Scott Kelly

At The University of Hong Kong

Course abstract

Design, as do most disciplines, has a particularly difficult relationship with nature. It's also doubly difficult to commit the act of "design" in places detached (farther than simply "distant") from the urban, such as national parks. This advanced computation-theory seminar follows Chinese infrastructure investment into the world's most biodiverse regions, defining a set of architectonic languages for environmental conservation. Laura Kurgan noted in her 2004 exhibit "Monochrome Landscapes" that territories of a single color, such as the Amazon, are often the most contested. For their term projects, students explore methods to visually narrate the dynamics of such densely mosaicked landscapes in the context of the Peruvian Amazon: forests, logging, degradation, and settlements implicated by a transoceanic highway that crosses coastal desert, highland, montane and cloud forests, and the Amazon Basin.

Design Analytics proposes a unique amalgam of computational design and environmental planning. Conservation and development discourses frequently decouple the global-regional from the local specifics of place. Building upon previous seminars as part of Harvard's South America Project, we critically return to the local, organic and ecologic as moments of exception and the strongest point of entry for the fields of architecture and landscape. Lectures and seminar discussions interrogate contemporary discourse on representation and computation, which is then situated in the critical context of conservation and regional development programmes and the technologies enabling them. Through foundational and experimental lessons in GIS, topologies, databases, complex surface creation, and data manipulation, students gain greater dexterity and control over their geometry, data types, and cross-platform workflows useful from regional to site-scale works and information visualization. Students purpose the spatial matrix as a tool for working between complex vector geometry (e.g., contours, reserve boundaries, agricultural settlements) and heavy data (deforestation, endemic species distributions, etc.), in essence, that which is so complex it cannot be represented by lines and polygons. Student projects culminate in highly-articulate plans and 3D-printed surfaces of a one-square-kilometer section of the rainforest.

Large-scale versus artisinal gold mining in Madre de Dios, Peru. By LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
Large-scale versus artisinal gold mining in Madre de Dios, Peru. By LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
Endemic distributions in Alto Mayo, San Martin, Peru. By NGO Tsz Kei Twiggy, 2014.
Endemic distributions in Alto Mayo, San Martin, Peru. By NGO Tsz Kei Twiggy, 2014.
Deforestation patterns from conversion to oil palm, Loreto, Peru. By WANG Yun Summer, 2014.
Deforestation patterns from conversion to oil palm, Loreto, Peru. By WANG Yun Summer, 2014.
Revealing inconsistencies in forest measure for Alto Mayo Protected Forest, San Martin, Peru. By XU Meng Yvonne, 2014.
Revealing inconsistencies in forest measure for Alto Mayo Protected Forest, San Martin, Peru. By XU Meng Yvonne, 2014.
3D-printed diagrammatic models showing forest transitions in the Peruvian Amazon. By LIU Stephanie, XIAO Han Pat, and LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
3D-printed diagrammatic models showing forest transitions in the Peruvian Amazon. By LIU Stephanie, XIAO Han Pat, and LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
Deforestation patterns and their primary causes in the Peruvian Amazon. By ZHANG Zihui Ffion, 2014.
Deforestation patterns and their primary causes in the Peruvian Amazon. By ZHANG Zihui Ffion, 2014.
Diagrammatic model showing larges-scale and artisanal gold-mining in the Peruvian Amazon. By LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
Diagrammatic model showing larges-scale and artisanal gold-mining in the Peruvian Amazon. By LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
Map of student project sites, 2014.
Map of student project sites, 2014.
3d-printed model. By LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
3d-printed model. By LEE Man Yee Mandy, 2014.
3d-printed model. By LU Stephanie, 2014.
3d-printed model. By LU Stephanie, 2014.