Tank Worlds are environmental models from two courses taught by Associate Professor Lisa Moffitt at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism: a thesis seminar titled ‘Miniaturising the Gigantic’ and a fourth year undergraduate studio titled ‘Tank Worlds: Hamilton Harbour‘. The two courses had differing structures and goals, but they shared a common mode of exploration: the construction of physical models within tanks of water. Tanks of water offer spaces of speculation about immersion in atmospheric and hydrological environments, engaging with the questions of scale, time, and materiality. They combine traditions of engineering experimentation within tanks of water to test principles of building ventilation with theoretical ideas of ‘worlding,’ or designing microcosms as devices of future-speculation.
Joel Tremblay, model setup.
Miniaturising the Gigantic
Students: Charles-Etienne Dery, Fiki Falola, Michele Gagnon, Sophie Ganan Gavela, Shelby Hagerman, Shaylyn Kelly, Jake Nogy, Robin Papp, Rehab Salama, Joel Tremblay, Brooke Zacharuk
This hybrid seminar/workshop grappled–through reading, discussion, and making–with the question: what are the implications of miniaturising (through architectural representation) the gigantic environmental domains affected by climate change? The course looked at a range of representational approaches by architects, architectural historians, natural scientists, building scientists, landscape architects and visual artists from the late nineteenth century to the present. Students constructed their own miniatures of the gigantic: ‘tank-world’ models that position their thesis projects within a contemporary critical environmental context. The course was structured around a focused reading of a single environmental model within its particular disciplinary, historic, and methodological contexts. Through these readings and models, we accrued a range of vantage points for thinking about scale, representation, human agency, materiality, and modes of architectural speculation for designing in light of climate change.
With thanks to all of the guests that contributed to conversations in the course: Kim Adamek, Zach Colbert, Simone Ferracina, Sean Lally, Connor O’Grady, Hannah Rowan, Jill Stoner, and Jamie Vanucchi.