Forgotten Edens of New Planetary Resources
An Intersectional Mapping Proposal
by Xenia Adjoubei and Alejandro Haiek

We see a necessity in contemporary architecture becoming a practice of public concern, as currently it is not. Sustainability and climate justice are paths to achieve this. We call this 'justice and sustainability as a right to architecture' and the only way to ensure that the practice does not lose its relevance, is to start practicing in this way.

We began to use the intersection approach in praxis in the ongoing, Sol y Sombra project, with 22 researchers based world-wide in July 2020. Sol y Sombra uses the architectural sectional drawing as an intersectional tool to interrogate conditions of social, political, economic and spatial friction. This method showed that racial, gender-based and wealth-based injustices can be understood much better if intersected with their physical context: the urban, the natural, the eco-systemic.

The Forgotten Edens of New Planetary Resources continues this methodology of research emerging into a live project.
We will interrogate the understanding of ecosystems in contexts lacking practical sovereignty: their protection, their value as natural and cultural capital, and as new natural resources (clean natural resources), through intersectional thinking and detailed mapping. Proposals to emerge should tackle stark conflicts of ownership and belonging and explore digital governance systems, creation of physical-digital infrastructures in remote areas and the collectivisation of advanced technologies.

We will focus our project on a river which runs through the Amazon in Latin America, which is under pressure from geo-economic and shadow-political forces, set against the interests of disenfranchised local and indigenous people. We will research and show its long-term value to our planet as a whole.
The Forgotten Edens project will develop and apply an emergent intersectional mapping and territorial design methodology, to map and model resource-rich ecologies experiencing rapid change, human and natural exploitation, and technological disenfranchisement.

This research is framed in an extended present in which millions of people are predicted to be displaced by climate change and geopolitics, identities and self-identification in individuals are becoming more fluid, and simultaneously falling under greater control, while the possibilities of alternative digital systems of legal and financial regulation are being felt in shadow economics and geo-politics worldwide.
Value systems and political interests are shifting away from today's scarce resources to the scarce resources of the future, such as freshwater, oxygen, future arable land and forests. The latent political power embedded in these resources will be harnessed and controlled, but will this be done democratically and transparently? Dystopian projects in this field alert us to the potential of artificial intelligence-managed natural resources and human-exclusion ecological environments.
By Forgotten Edens we mean (often very large) territories experiencing a convergence of:

1. advanced technologies for the extraction and management of scarce resources (old natural resources), through mining, oil extraction, industrial forestry / farming;

2. nascent, or purposefully deconstructed, civil society and lack of applied nationhood for the communities who inhabit these lands, whether Indigenous, local or migrant as the result of shadow labour economies;

3. the devastating destruction of the scarce resources of the future (new natural resources).
The market-viability of old natural resources often arises out of 'underdevelopment be design', as it is dependent on weak justice systems and the destruction of precious natural habitats and scarce resources of the future. Underdevelopment by design occurs through political will or the long-term abandonment of lands and peoples through economic and social neglect by governments (or large-scale land-owners). We must urgently study how transnational governance and geo-capitalism will take stock of new and old natural resources, located in these territories, and attempt to balance their value, as they become powerful tools of international leverage, in contexts of political instability, rising inequality and dire devaluation of human life, which is simultaneously coupled with the great centralised technological capability.
Shared Digital Space

We propose an emergent digital mapping and design practice to analyse and visualise past and present conceptions of labour, equitable and sustainable infrastructures, and systems for racially-just engagement in design and governance. The problematic of this research is that technological power currently resides in the party taking advantage of underdevelopment in order to exploit natural resources. We want to try to balance this by applying advanced mapping and engagement technologies and investigating what is happening on the ground, together with the people on the ground. To see if we can gain political, economic and social agency for a more balanced discourse on the new natural resources under threat.
Nature is Culture

Our commitment to supporting change in this field is through research as design, rooted in the idea of community-led design and ecosystem protection through the 'shared planet' approach, because we believe that nature is culture. We are interested in looking at what intersectional research and proposition in the fields of digital design technologies can offer to specific contexts. We will test the relevance of ideas of the new wealth economy, alternative value systems, ecosystems services, AI and self-governance, micro-currencies, digital literacy in remote areas, and blockchain technologies for legal and political decentralisation.

Natural habitats (flora and fauna) and cultural habitats (people), will be mapped in detail with a focus on intersectionalities, to propose new value systems for justice-driven natural and social capital.
  • Xenia Adjoubei
    Architect and Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Inclusive Ecologies Incubator at the Pratt Institute, New York, Xenia runs an architecture practice which specialises in projects for culture and education in Europe and Russia.

    Her research is on Environmental Diplomacy and Climate Justice with a focus on migration, informal economies and their impact on the environment. Her work has been showcased at biennales and exhibitions internationally.

    She directs the Nikola-Lenivets Open Classroom at the largest art park in Europe, where she leads a design think-tank on Art as Labour in a Post-work Future and the New Rural condition, project which are presented at conferences and exhibitions including the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019 in collaboration with the Global Free. Xenia teaches an MA Architecture studio with Alejandro Haiek at Umea University, Sweden.
  • Alejandro Haiek
    Architect. Studio Leader at Umeå School of Architecture, Sweden. Invited professor at the Master of International Cooperation Sustainable Emergency Architecture Erasmus program at Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Spain and Grenoble University, France. Invited artist at Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan and Liga space for Architecture supported by Graham Foundation. Artist in residence at Monash University in Australia and Auckland University in New Zealand, participant at Mextrópoli 2018 Festival Internacional de Arquitectura y Ciudad, Mexico. Architecture Fellow at the Civitella Foundation, Italy.

    Area of expertise: Civic infrastructures and social reengineering. Receiving honours in Architectural Design, Master of Sciences, at the Central University of Venezuela, his research examines the relations between public landscapes, post-industrial ecologies and Network Governance, resulting in projects for social innovation that integrate science, culture and local intelligences.
  • We are looking for collaborators to bring this project to realisation. Please get in touch if you are interested.

    This research is supported by Umea University, Sweden.
  • Jonier Osorio Campo
  • Ksenia Davydova
  • Ricardo Santafe Galvis
  • Kasimir Suter Winter
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