Greetings from Gibraltar

Exhibition of work from a Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning travel course

Greetings from Gibraltar Greetings from Gibraltar
Reception: Friday, October 11 @ 7:00pm in North Quad Space 2435
Exhibition: October 1-18, 9am - 6pm

The exhibition foregrounds the Strait of Gibraltar both as a geographical unit that separates and links lands on either side, as well as a space in its own right with programs such as fishing, swimming, travelling, shipping, and conquering. Greetings from Gibraltar draws on the geographic as a design paradigm, a condition in which designers are being compelled to address and transform larger contexts and address issues, which had previously been confined to the domains of engineering, ecology, or regional planning.

The need to address such ”˜geographic’ aspects has prompted designers to re-examine tools of representation as well forms of the architectural object.

The work was developed in the context of a 2013 University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning Travel Studio to the Strait of Gibraltar. Over the four weeks of June 2013, the studio travelled from Madrid through Granada, Seville, Cadiz, Gibraltar/La Linea, Algeciras, Ceuta, Tangier, and Fez. The studio was initiated in analytic and cartographic investigations of individual port-cities case studies, subsequently complied to highlight relational geographies, flows, add exchanges across the Strait. The travel journey began with a passion for sensory and aesthetic knowledge anchored by seascapes.

The resultant is a landscape that depicts space and time. The postcard-joiners construct a map of the Strait together with the series of architectural interventions proposed in that geography. It
also creates a narrative, as if the viewer moved through the space, encountering a series of detail views as well as constructing a panorama and a map of the landscape.

Gibraltar Studio 2013
Professors: Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy
Students: John Arnold, Peter Dumbadze, Lyla Feinsod, Phillip Gavrilovski, Monica Griffin, Andrew Ko, Yuan Liang, Yunzhi Ou, Jason Park, Austin Tsai, Adam Wagner, Suo Ya

Special thanks to Andrew Ko for coordinating the exhibition.

Acknowledgments: Monica Ponce De Leon, Dean Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

A note about the travel studio to Gibraltar:
The studio investigates the geographic as a design question. The Strait of Gibraltar is the only natural entrance to the semi-enclosed Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, second only to the Malacca Straits in Singapore. Europe and Africa are separated by 14 km at the narrowest point, and ferries cross between the two continents every day in as little as 35 minutes.

The Strait of Gibraltar has for long stimulated the architectural imaginary. As early as the 1920s the German architect Herman Sorgel proposed damming Gibraltar and draining the Mediterranean to unite Europe and Africa into a new supercontinent. The project aspired to provide a "habitat" in North Africa for an overpopulated Europe. How do contemporary issues of access to water, food, energy, and the rescaling of the political question requalify the megaproject imaginary, regional networks, and the geographic project?

The studio explores the architectural and urban potentials of the territory of Gibraltar addressing its conditions as a spatial enclave, a gateway to the Mediterranean, and a bridge between Africa and Europe. Along the lines of the journal New Geographies, the studio responds to a condition in which designers are increasingly compelled to address and transform larger contexts and to respond to problems that had been confined to the domains of engineering, ecology, or policy.
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