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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Shengzhe QU(Chiu)

Shengzhe Qu (Chiu) is a London-based designer and researcher who passionately delves into the realms of social movements, active travel, and climate emergencies. His work encompasses media, landscape, and architecture, employing a multidisciplinary approach to explore research-based projects. With a focus on social issues and environmental concerns, Chiu endeavors to provoke new insights and perspectives through his innovative approach.

contaminated surface

"Surface Extraction" is a project that focuses on the impact of intensive monoculture and pomace oil processing in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The project uses a variety of techniques, including interviews, archival research, film installation, and photogrammetry, to document the experiences and struggles of those living near the Azpo Migasa factory, which produces leftover oil from the monoculture. 

the project aims to create a new mode of archiving that provides a cohesive understanding of the exploitation and extraction occurring in the region. It also seeks to challenge traditional modes of agency and understanding by using documentation as a form of intervention and highlighting the material relationships between humans and non-human factors. 

The project creates a spatial and ephemeral continuity that can be accessed and understood through various platforms and dimensions. Ultimately, "Surface Extraction" seeks to expose the exploitation and toxic accumulation occurring in the region, and to provide a means of resistance against it.

Olive Pomace Oil Factory, Casa Alta, July 2022
Olive Pomace, Casa Alta, July 2022
Industrial Waste Water, Casa Alta, July 2022
Factory Chimney Emission, Casa Alta, July 2022
Leaf Sample, Fortes Novos, Dec 2021

Politics of Particles

The project examines the intricate exchange processes between the surface and the factory atmosphere, resulting in the presence of numerous trace components. While these particles may be largely invisible from the air, their release into the village of Fortes creates an intriguing visual dilemma as they combine to form sediment on surfaces. The surface has transformed into an active archive, serving as a threshold between air particles and humans themselves. In the context of Fortes, where repressed experiences and exploitation have accumulated on these surfaces, they must be acknowledged as living archives, bearing the layers of extraction from intensive farming. Each instance of exploitation found on the surface is a direct consequence of the intensive farming industries, which dictate how the land and air are utilized and managed.

Through the project's exploration of reading these components, it aims to document and reimagine the ways in which pollutants permeate the environment. It views materialities and objects as more-than-human testimonies, offering insights into the complex interactions between humans and the environment. Specifically, the focus is on the downstream industry of pomace oil extraction, intricately linked with intensive farming practices. The project seeks to unveil the interconnectedness of these realms through a shared rhythm and temporal trajectory.

Particle Component from AZPO Migasa air emmision
Source: Courtesv of Doctor Pedro Prazeres from the PARALAB Applications Laboratorv. Portugal
Contaminated Leaf Sample, Fortes Novos, May 2022

Documentation as Intervention

The project delves into the resistance found in Fortes, a town grappling with the impacts of intensive agriculture in Alentejo. Its aim is to connect with individuals facing similar challenges and advocate for climate justice. Through meticulous documentation, the project collects and rigorously analyzes information, sharing its findings with urban audiences. By employing diverse media such as film, testimonies, and photography, it sheds light on both the visible and concealed consequences of intensive agriculture. At the heart of the project lies the recognition that the factory's operations encompass various stages of olive production, allowing for an exploration of the intricate politics surrounding particles and the materiality of objects, which serve as more-than-human testimonies. By comprehending the complex interplay between humans and non-human factors, the project strives to unveil the underlying social, economic, and political implications ingrained within the materiality.

Furthermore, the project highlights the surface as a pivotal threshold, bridging the divide between air particles and humanity. It symbolizes an active archive, encapsulating the layers of extraction experienced within the realm of intensive farming. Notably, the toxic emissions emitted by the factory remain within legal parameters, prompting the adoption of documentation as an intervention strategy. This approach involves the meticulous compilation of knowledge and serves as a poignant reminder to the community impacted by the factory's expansion due to intensive agriculture. Film acts as a conduit, facilitating the gathering of information, accessing official archives, conducting systematic analyses, and effectively disseminating results to diverse audiences. This multifaceted medium plays a pivotal role in drawing attention to the issues prevalent in Alentejo and Fortes, ultimately amplifying their collective struggle.

The project harnesses the transience and instability of the surface within the region, while recognizing the enduring power of memories. By leveraging the transformative potential of photogrammetry, the project establishes a continuous spatial and temporal narrative, allowing memories to blossom from the surface and air particles. This process facilitates interpretation across multiple dimensions and platforms, fostering awareness and cultivating meaningful dialogue. Through the digitalized archival representation, the project becomes a navigable conduit, bringing knowledge to the forefront of the public realm. Crucially, local residents actively participate in the generation of photogrammetry, utilizing a Facebook group to share their daily experiences. This collaborative effort ensures that their personal narratives are captured and preserved within the digital archive, empowering the community by amplifying their voices and fostering a deeper understanding of their lived realities.

Photogrammetry, Fortes Novos, May 2022
In the project, local residents play an integral role in the generation of photogrammetry, utilizing a Facebook group to share their daily experiences. Through this collaborative effort, their personal narratives are translated into a digital archive. Photogrammetry serves as a means to capture and preserve their lived realities, transforming them into a navigable and immersive digital representation. This approach empowers the local community, allowing their voices and experiences to be documented and sha
Olive Pomace Factory, Photogrammetry, Fortes Novos, Oct 2022
Olive Pomace Factory, Photogrammetry, Fortes Novos, Oct 2022
Photogrammetry, Fortes Novos, May 2022
Photogrammetry, Fortes Novos, May 2022
Photogrammetry, Fortes Novos, Oct 2022
Photogrammetry, Fortes Novos, Oct 2022