Epigenetic Landscape

UC Berkeley, CA

In biology, the term epigenetics refers to heritable changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence (hence the name epi – “in addition to” – genetics). These changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell’s life and may also last for multiple generations. However, there is no change in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism’s genes to behave (or “express themselves”) differently.

The word epigenetics has had many definitions, and much of the confusion surrounding its usage relates to these definitions having changed over time. Initially it was used in a broader, less specific sense but it has become more narrowly linked to specific molecular phenomena occurring in organisms. When the word “Epigenetic Landscape” was invented by C. H. Waddington in 1942, the physical nature of genes and their role in heredity was not scientifically known. He used it as a conceptual model of how genes might interact with their surroundings to produce a phenotype.

“Epigenetic landscape seen from below: The complex relief features of the epigenetic surface are themselves largely the expression of a prodigiously complex network of interactions underlying it. The guy-ropes are tethered not only to random points on the overhead surface, but to points on the other guy-ropes as well, and to pegs in the lower surface that themselves represent only semi-stabilized forms, thus multiplying exponentially the non-linearities flowing through the system. Not to diminish in importance either is the tension surface above as a distinct domain contributing its own forces to the field. No change in any single parameter can fail to be relayed throughout the system and to affect, in turn, conditions all across the event surface.” – Sanford Kwinter’s “Landscapes of Change” essay in Assemblage 19, 1993

This design studio speculates on a crossing of architecture, landscape, and artificial intelligence that is capable of learning from its own environment. This crossing performs within an architectural paradigm of desirable habitations and a technological paradigm of infrastructure and energy production. As a studio that is experimental in nature, we will attempt to explore exhaustively all sort of knowledge-based design possibilities to create a new cultivated farm field of “Intelligent Landscape” that achieves architectural, technological and aesthetic aspirations. The programmatic requirements raised timely concerns at the global level about our social, economic, and material ecologies. Our society, which is single-mindedly driven by an exuberant engagement with technological invention, is rapidly evolving. The design exploration in this studio will fully celebrate the richness and latent potentials of architecture, art, and science, while attempting to understand and expose the repercussions and potential risks of their global trajectories.

SITE: The site chosen is under the jurisdiction of Trat Province along the Eastern Shoreline of the Gulf of Thailand, which is designated industrial development. An estuary that is as part of the lower course of Klong Nam Chieo, series of confluences, flowing south and southwest towards the Gulf, a part of the body of water connected to the Pacific Ocean. Trat is the farthest eastern province from Bangkok, whose eastern end is bordered by Cambodia. Amata Corp. PCL, Southeast Asian’s leading developer and manager of factory estates, has established a strong hold of majority of industrial estates situated in the nation”s Eastern Seaboard region, which is today Southeast Asia”s preferred location for manufacturing. Two airports located nearby the chosen site on the Eastern Seaboard primarily serve the tourist industry. One is a regional airport, Trat Airport services all domestic airlines located about 12-15 miles northeast of the site. The other, U-Tapao International Airport, originally served as the home to the Royal Thai Navy First Air Win (U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield) and is located about 88.8 miles east of the site.

Design Team:
Student Work By: Brian Grieb, Adam McDonald, Qingyue Li, Ileana Acevedo