Author : Jennifer Ng

University : University of Michigan, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Status : MArch, 2015

Advisor : Kathy Velikov

Title : Aeriform Ecologies | An Atmospheric Archive for Industrial Effluvium

[ Aeriform Ecologies ] observes the effluent flows of industrial activities related to petroleum and fossil energy extraction by viewing these gaseous by-products as spatial runoffs and extensions of its infrastructures.

The thesis further investigates these flows as an [ exclusionary device ] that is able to disregard and dematerialize conventionally observed geo-spatial boundaries, while regarding these emissions as a form of capturable and occupiable material for spatial production.  

The project proposes the harvesting of gaseous discharge from an emission-ridden troposphere using unmanned dirigibles that traverse the globe. These receptacles leverage air pollution for the production of a remote station located in the Queen Maud Mountains of Antarctica that monitors and archives atmospheric conditions. In the end stages of sampling and gathering, these emission harvesters accumulate and transform into geological formations akin to the [ mountainous landscape ] it is situated within. The inception of this autocatalytic ecology attempts to reconceive modes of inhabitation for the [ post-human condition ] using the emergent traits of growth and accretion found in biochemical processes. Arguing that architectural motives of design can be reimagined through an alternative complex logic that is intricately tied to the anthropogenic conditions of industrialization and technology. This discursive analysis is further examined through the programmatic design of a small-scaled research station which resides within these telluric growths.

Using the philosophical framework of the [ hyperobject ] as described by Timothy Morton, contemporary perceptions of air pollution, are dissected in tangent to exploring a mode of design thinking involving the unanticipated spatial, occupiable opportunities of atmospheric pollutants and its proposed systems. The project speculates on the viability of designing architectural space through the curious and primal undertones of inhabiting a pseudo-geological landform comprised of aeriform matter.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Jennifer Ng_ Aeriform Ecologies hopes to reimagine architectural motives for design through an alternative complex logic that is intricately tied to the anthropogenic conditions of industrialization and technology. It hopes to reconceive contemporary perceptions of air emissions in tangent to the unanticipated spatial qualities of atmosphere, while speculating on the viability & curious undertones of inhabiting a pseudo-geological landform comprised of industrial aeriform matter.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
JN_ I love to learn and think. I enjoy musing about the workings of immense entities that surround us, such as the universe of time, space but also how we think, perceive; how the brain works. I’m also extremely interested in graphite sketching, photography, reading about the cosmos, travelling and most recently, DIY science experiments.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
JN_ Engaging in different modes of thinking about and of the world. There’s something vital about learning to heighten your ability to understand the direct physiological and psychological ramifications of space, but it is just as crucial to be completely aware of the social, cultural and economical world issues that embody the discipline. Having this macroscopic view allows for the capturing of pertinent design problems that are able to address both the scale of the user and the larger discursive explorations.

S//A : Describe your dream project
JN_ To design the spatial amalgamation of what it means to be human, and to have the opportunity to observe the curation of all the artifacts, technology and ideas that we have produced (and will produce) is such an intoxicating idea. I’m not sure what form of architectural product this would be… However, having the chance to speculate on the different spatial methods needed to represent our existence and ultimately, how it would be perceived and experienced in summation, would be an incredible project to take on.