Doreen Adengo, Dr Finzi Saidi, Jabu Makhubu & Valentina Manente
Unit 15(x) Radical Landscapes aims to broaden architectural potential through the interrogation of natural processes and socio–economic interaction along and within wetlands. In keeping with its theme, Unit 15(x) explores the potential of discarded natural landscapes such as wetlands which have historically been cartographically excluded, exploited, dug-up, filled-in, built-over and dumped-on without fully understanding the vital natural processes that wetlands conduct. In 2018, Unit 15(x) will travel to Kampala, Uganda to explore the urban wetlands where the delicate balance between nature and human settlements is most poignant. Unit 15(x) derives its motivation from the cultural belief that the wetlands of Kampala where once seen as a scared place of replenishment and renewal by the Baganda, before being devalued as ‘waste lands’ by the British colonial rulers. Wetlands serve a natural purpose of controlling floods, biodiversity conservation and removal of pollutants by filtering runoff water as it heads towards the Lake Victoria. However wetlands are under threat due to urban expansion and unregulated activates as they are currently viewed as the last place to build. The current Ugandan government realizes the importance of conserving and protecting wetlands with a vision that favours exploring sustainable benefits of wetlands for the people of Uganda. Unit 15(x) is intrigued by the fluid boundary between land and water, architecture and landscape, rural and urban, cultural and spirituality, man and nature, work-play & home. The students’ proposals will be informed by critical observation of wetland inhabitants’ activities within the natural processes of the wetland zones. Through transformative pedagogy, Unit 15(x) students will use these observations to develop creative and speculative responses that challenge the ways we ‘WRITE, talk, see, tell, hear, listen, IMAGINE, DRAW and MAKE.’ The Major Design projects in 2018 will include the following- dwellings: industry, permaculture, farming, water treatment plants, traditional healing, flood control, habitat creation and public space,- all of which will demonstrate spatial and design interaction with wetlands in radical, resilient and sustainable ways. The central theme in all these projects will be to present evocative design arguments for the boundary, where the water and human activity on land meet.