The Florida Documentation Project
During one semester of my studies, our Architecture Design Studio began with a documentation assignment. The coordinating professors explained that in addition to the typical urban planning work previous years went through in this course, we would be focusing on our studio in the context of climate change, more specifically, climate change in Florida, where it is becoming increasingly imminent.
The explanation continued, that while coming up with a solution for such a vast and complex problem had many steps, such as research, planning, experimentation, etc., the first one would be to create a repository of data about what Florida was like at this point in time, before we would have to either adapt to a new aquatic landscape, or perhaps leave all together.
Each student was asked to document their own subject to add to this repository that our school was building, a subject which was both part of the native Florida landscape, and at significant risk as a result of environmental consequences for human actions. This was to be done with ink on mylar.
My primary subject was the Florida Panther, at risk because of loss of habitat and being hunted over the years by those who wished to claim the landscape for purposes it was never intended for. I drew it with a backdrop of the drying Everglades and the mangroves which inhabit it and are similarly at risk because of how people have dug canals which interrupted Florida's natural water cycle, and cultivated nearby land for agricultural purposes it was not biologically suited for. The consequences of all these actions include the diminishing population of the Florida Panther, the drying of the earth, and the endangerment of mangroves, but it also runs deeper. Nutrient pollution. Soil erosion. Continued deterioration of the flow of water between Florida's natural and unnatural bodies of water.
I learned plenty from the technical aspects of this assignment. But more importantly I learned how to document and express how there is never just one issue. The risks which affect mangroves are related to those which affect the panther. All these risks are gradually beginning to affect people as well. The assignment created a great primer for beginning a master plan assignment of our own, where you cannot just solve one issue. You must solve as many as possible as efficiently as possible, while remembering to respect the environment we coexist with.
I dedicated my final piece to Uno the Panther, who now resides at Naples Zoo as an ambassador for his species. The story I told is of how we got to this point today. His will tell how we move forward and handle the aftermath.
A Drowning House on a Dry River Bed
Para Uno la Pantera
18x24 Ink on Mylar