Patricia Cafferky

Document Type





Spring 5-2016


architecture, post-apocalyptic, farming, guide, collaborating, catastrophe, visual




Architectural History and Criticism | Architectural Technology | Cultural Resource Management and Policy Analysis | Environmental Design | Landscape Architecture | Urban, Community and Regional Planning


“Collaborating with Catastrophe” contends that architecture has the capacity to visually manifest unseen forces through design’s reaction to them, allowing people to more fully comprehend and engage the intangible. Climate change, arguably the largest threat to modern day humanity, is not visible, existing only as a collection of data and patterns in a statistical construct. Taking stock of the present day failings of society in the face of crisis, this thesis then extrapolates a potential future dystopia precipitated by man-made pollutants in order to engage the problem at its most severe. Architecture is then able to make the toxic visible - capturing the sublimity and absurdity of unchecked human-caused destruction of the environment. To this end, “Collaborating with Catastrophe” embraces the narrative as a generative force in the design and representation process, taking the guide of a guide book, as a means of fully inhabiting the problem.

This edition of the guide focuses specifically on the western Pennsylvania countryside, in an area heavily invested in hydraulic fracturing - a harsh drilling process used to release natural gas from geological shale formations miles beneath the Earth’s crust. The y-products of this process are numerous, and include pollution of water sources, fugitive emissions, and ruination of the landscape. Most alarming, however, is the programmatic overlap of agriculture with a process known to contaminate soil, water, and air. This guide envisions how absurdly contrived farming systems and techniques must become in order to overcome the damage allowing systems to become over articulated as a reaction. The goal of the guide is to evoke further deliberation about modern day society through designing one potential outcome of its current trajectory - a prototype referred to in this guide as “Farm X”.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.