︎︎︎ Information
︎ For Fun

Architecture is a mediator, which exists everywhere - its basic elements of geometry, signatures of materiality, it bonds with and relates to everything.

︎  ︎

Saline Dream - Shallow Ramifications

Instructor: Jason Payne ︎
Site: Owens Lake CA USA
Year:  2020-2021
Individual Work

    This project involves the engineered ecology and resultant aesthetic implications of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Dust Mitigation Project at Owens Lake, a large site in eastern California of major environmental, historical, political, and infrastructural significance. Until very recently the largest single source of dust pollution in the U.S., the studio examines control methods developed by LADWP to manage this difficult landscape: a complex synthesis of fields, pools, plants, animals, microorganisms, chemicals, minerals, roads, berms, dams, plumbing, power lines, grading, gravel, roads, sensors, and salt that is only partially visible to the human eye. The effects of these reworkings of the landscape are striking, inevitably aesthetic in their expression.

Polygon T2-1 uses the primary dust control measure of Owens Lake - Shallow Flood. This particular polygon is one of the most emblematic of the shallow flooding ones of the site. It’s subdivision of different water depths lends itself to systematic interpretation. The water slowly flows across the typically very flat lake bed surfaces downhill from the South to tail-water ponds in the North where pumps recirculate the water back to the outlets. The bumped areas with no sheet flow become the opportunity for raised facilities with armored berms and elevated roads.

The architectures on T2-1 aim to examine the relationship between dynamicity and stillness, nature and artificiality, as well as awareness and alienness. Referencing the Shoegaze album cover - Blow by Swallow, they graft into the landscape to obscure their role by following but untouching the water flow that operates as a branching system. They are in panelized metals - pure strangeness compared to the existing condition.
However, they are properly situated in the landscape because of the liquified silhouette of both architecture and water flow. When the tide goes up or down, from a satellite view, it's hard to tell whether nature or the architecture influences the flow and forms the branching system. If it is because of the architecture, it's also hard to say whether the profile or the footprint of the buildings touch the flow's edge. People will never know if the architecture comes first or the branching texture in the landscape comes first.

Synthetic Landscape   
Impressionism Painting by Claude Monet

The ambivalence of the landscape and architecture is not only between the position but also the time. Additionally, Impressionism is also qualitatively and technically embedded in this landscape painting.

There are two primary goals set up in these distributed architectural clusters. On the one hand, witnessing the transformation on different phases, T2-1 changed its function from non-uniformed meandering ridges to shallow flooding. Now it provides fresh and saline water as a Transition Area to a hybrid of BACM, including Managed Vegetation, Gravel Cover, and Shallow Flooding. The architectures help the efficiency of filtering the water onsite in a macroscope of the polygon. For the other purpose, T2-1 provides habitats for all types of birds to migrate, live and breed.

The buildings contain water facilities such as pipes that follow the branching system to supply and reclaim water based on the monitoring wells located at different bird habitation circles. And the water is processed in the purification and filtration factory inside the buildings to adjust the salinity for birds' habitation. This reciprocated system will keep the polygon and Owens lake balanced and sustained. This polygon with the embedded infrastructures and architectures is meant to be the iconic one of shallow flooding polygons almost everywhere in the lake bed.