A recent exhibition at the Wedge gallery presented projects which emerged from the California City Laboratory – a graduate topic studio led by professor Berenika Boberska.
The studio operated like a design laboratory, where students imagined, tinkered, explored and eventually fabricated a 1:1 scale test prototype of a photovoltaic structure to be deployed in the peri-urban hinterlands beyond Los Angeles.
“The story of the American desert is fundamentally one of technology. What distinguishes it utterly from the other deserts to which it is superficially similar […] is this chemical reaction between the raw material of a landscape and the modern sciences that have occupied and acted on it, producing a hybrid space that is both the most natural and the most artificial of territories.” ~ JG Ballard
Students looked at the territories just beyond the sprawl of Los Angeles, at the dwelling outposts on the edge of the Mojave Desert, and speculated on the unexpected ways solar generating surfaces can actually become spatial, occupiable shared structures amongst and within these fragmentary outposts of normative suburbia – transforming them through a blossoming of atmospheric and poetic spaces.
Can solar technology move beyond the purely pragmatic and technocratic into more sensual, architectural, cultural realms? Can we occupy this landscape between the city and wilderness in more imaginative ways?
The students developed individual projects in response to the topic, and also constructed a collective design model of a near future neighborhood of California City.
This Spring 2016 semester California City Laboratory continues to make discoveries in the realm of peri-urban spaces, their blossoming and technologies – through thesis research conducted by Ahmed Baageel as part of the MSArch program.