UBC Graduate Research

Design Before Extinction Buchanan Dee, Brendan


The Holocene Extinction is upon us—species around the world are dying at an extraordinary rate, earning the designation of a mass extinction. In the expansion of our own habitat, the built environment, humans have transformed the planet according to our ethics and desires, wielding the power to both improve and destroy places around us. The built environment is a record of our treatment of other species, a collective project shaped by ideologies, aesthetics, and economies. Architecture and landscape architecture are complicit in the phenomenon of extinction, responsible for normalizing the designs and ideals that have contributed to the decline of other species and cultures. This thesis examines the historical relationship of the built environment to biodiversity in three local sites of conflict: the captivity of cetaceans, the hardening of the coastline, and the protection of deep-sea environments. Each history is followed by an intervention presented as a critique of existing practices, speculating as how we might realign both our values and the built environment in response to mass extinction.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International