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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Paul Bröker

Paul Bröker's work crosses the worlds of food systems and cultures, resistance networks, human-non-human relations and biophilic architecture. Embracing processes of participatory mapping and co-design, his projects aim to combine modern scientific methods with traditional ecological knowledge to promote environmentally-positive livelihoods that celebrate coexistence. He leans into the contradictions between the local and the global, the urban and the rural, conservation and evolution, tradition and the future, and joy in the face of fear.

Building on the foraging and cooking practices of the Simpang Dayak community of West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), the team worked with the traditional indigenous knowledge school Arus Kualan to co-design a network of spaces and paths in their forest territory. These spaces act as both educational and occupation infrastructure in the face of proliferating Big Palm Oil, while the paths between the spaces promote regular monitoring of the landscape. Together, they form an ecosystem of geochoreographies (Caycedo, 2016), laced with joy and stewardship.

An abstract section of the foraging paths through Tahak
An annotated photo of a ladang field
Arus Kualan pupils at the plant nursery
Foraging images
Drawing showing swidden agriculture system
Map showing Arus Kualan network of schools
The working model being used in a workshop
Proposed masterplans of the interventions
Render and plans of the forest restaurant

This is a video montage exploring the proximities and conflicts between fact + fiction, awe + destruction, present + future, and our complex, turbulent relationship with storms and water, the giver and taker of life.

It asks the questions:

_Can we admire and fear storms at the same time?

_Is there such thing as a natural disaster?

_How will we live when we are all engulfed by the sea?

Maybe we belong in the ocean, back where we came from... 

This is a compilation; all textual, audio and visual extracts are from others' pieces of work: fictional, scientific and speculative.

You decide.

Thanks to Captain Bahar Noorizadeh + the M.S.5 Subsurface Exploration Unit

[Media Studies final submission, RCA SoA 2022]

We can learn a lot about a person through food; we express our identities and stories by what we eat and a shared meal provides the setting for getting to know one another. Anthony Bourdain’s television show Parts Unknown was a series of documentaries exploring diverse cultures around the world, using food as an entry point for discussion; Bourdain was the sensory ethnographer, pushing a progressive political agenda. As a white Western man, he encountered many people less privileged than him, sharing food and discussing the issues they face with them. This portfolio examines methods of cultural research, in terms of navigating a globally imbalanced world, interacting with people and sharing findings. Anthony Bourdain and Parts Unknown act as a case study of anthropology from a Western perspective. What can researchers learn from Bourdain’s studies? I conclude that embracing contradiction - conviction and open-mindedness, similarity and difference, clarity and ambiguity, finding answers and asking questions - and developing and owning honest opinions are crucial tools for us all as we continue learning about each other and sharing our worlds.

Contents page
Part 1, Food and culture: what can food represent?
Part 2, How to talk culture, according to the experts
Interlude - Personal diary entry from fieldwork in West Kalimantan, Borneo
Part 3: Anthony Bourdain & Parts Unknown
Part 4: Reflections
Epilogue: Anthony Bourdain in West Kalimantan, if he were still here

Alternative radio networks have long played a pivotal part in resistance movements. Their affordability, accessibility and outreach lend themselves well to grassroots causes. With the rise in influence of online platforms in organising social action, is there still a case for continuing to establish sound transmission networks? This essay explores the specific strengths of oral-aural communication in order to evaluate the relevance, efficacy and merit of radio networks today. It looks at a variety of textual case studies of past and current alternative radio stations from academic sources and magazines. It also uses several current online alternative radio stations as objects of context and research, both through listening to their broadcasts and visiting their headquarters. Using the findings of this research, I will assess whether an alternative radio network is an appropriate, feasible and ultimately useful and powerful intervention in my own fieldwork in West Kalimantan, Borneo [Indonesia] as the Simpang Dayak take on industrial palm oil plantations.

Young Zapatistas
Young Indigenous Zapatistas in charge of autonomous media and communications in Zapatista territories [Caracol de la Morelia, Chiapas, Mexico: Raúl Fernando Pérez Lira, 2017]