Detail of Landform Models, Landformation Catalogue exhibition, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 2015, Cambridge, MA.
Ground is both site and material for design intervention. Through a systematic manipulation of the landscape, humans account for the fastest geological transformation of the Earth’s surface in its 4.54 billion year history. Anthropogenic activity is responsible for the re-formation of more of the Earth’s surface than all other mechanisms combined. Agricultural and industrial practices such as mining, farming, grazing, and damming impact a majority of the Earth’s surface. Combined with formations and programs traditionally held within the domain of design practice—spaces of habitation, occupation, protection, and labor—humans have steadily increased the depth of the Earth’s anthropocentric event layer to span over 2,000 meters. Human beings operate at the scale of geomorphic agents, relocating 120 billion metric tons of earth annually, twice the volume of Mount Fuji. Directly reshaping the surface of the Earth to provide capacities not immediately or adequately available, extracting energy and materials, and affecting behaviors and phenomena are results of human-driven interventions. This collection of operations, technologies, and forms constitutes a catalogue of Earth’s re-formation potentials. The Landformation Catalogue examines the generative methodologies of landform manipulation, revealing correlations between the histories, morphologies, assemblies, materials, and affordances of landscape practice. It analyzes the resulting spatial artifacts of humanity’s larger Earth transformation project.
Michael Leighton Beaman is founder and principal of Beta-field, cofounder and principal of GA Collaborative, associate editor for ii journal, a design and technology writer for Architectural Record, and currently visiting lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design. Beaman's research and writing focus on the theory and application of technology in architecture and landscape architecture, and its implications for design culture, sustainability, and socially conscious design practices. In 2012, the American Institute of Architects named Beaman an “emerging practitioner.” Michael was the 2010–12 University of Virginia Teaching Fellow in architecture and an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Texas at Austin from 2007 to 2012; he has also taught at Harvard University, North Carolina State University, Northeastern University, and the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. He received his BArch from North Carolina State University and his MArch from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Zaneta Hong is the 2013–14 Daniel Urban Kiley Teaching Fellow and lecturer in landscape architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Prior to her appointment, Hong was lecturer in architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Virginia and the Materials Lab curator at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Her academic research into landscape, material systems, and technologies has emerged in national and international material collections and has been cited in numerous publications and websites. Currently, Hong is design principal at Beta-field, a research and experimental design office, and the GA Collaborative, a design-oriented non-profit organization. Hong attended Cornell University before completing her BFA in industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design and her master’s degree in landscape architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.