Author : Sunny Lam

University : Woodbury School of Architecture

Status : MArch1, 2013

Advisors : Jennifer Bonner, John Southern

Title : Fostered Ecologies

The laboratory / exhibition center is built for the purpose of scientists researching ways of  integrating old extinct ecologies back into Owens Lake Valley and as a place that would reinvigorate public interest back into the area. Located on the intersection of the four ecologies in Owens Lake Valley, Fostered Ecologies was inspired from the results of the proposed machinic ecology.  The machinic ecology left massive voids in the landscape that over time spawned microecologies that were never able to exist before in the high desert.

Fostered Ecologies is a mat building that has been altered as the product of two things: the aforementioned machinic ecology and the four ecologies brought on by the LADWP. The six holes that were left behind by the machinic ecology act as the foundations of the building – literally and figuratively. The building floats on the unstable earth by digging deep into the earth with the foundation holes. Each hole, with the exception of the civic ecology, houses a different ecology that once existed and thrived in Owens Lake Valley. These holes harbor different programs such as research labs, public engagement areas, atriums, and also functions as the primary light source. The idea of the four ecologies is that where the ecologies actually collide at the intersection, there is an immense amount of pressure and tension, thus the building reacts by acting as a reliever of those forces.

The groundscape where the center is built on is lifted to create a new groundscape on the roof – an extension of the surrounding ground, and one that allows and encourages the public to explore not only the holes from above but the implementations that the DWP has installed on the site. Employed as a precedent, Alison and Peter Smithson’s House of the Future’s ideas on exhibition were kept in mind – the public were kept outside and had viewing windows, while the actors were sequestered inside.  Playing on that notion the scientists and public generally have their own circulation  with the public being on the rooftop and the scientists being in the basement.  There are areas of only either or but the ground floor starts to create a blur between the  notion that the public and scientists can’t interact with each other. The  six foundation holes actively engages the public and scientists by harboring and exhibiting different ecologies on different levels – some can only be seen from above, some can be seen from only certain angles, some can be explored by public, and some can only be explored by the scientists. The holes not only acts as a spawnpoint and research area for the ecologies and also promotes the scientists and public to engage in discussions that will eventually bring life back into the area.