• Between Land and Water— Architecture of Porosity
    Feifei Zhou

Feifei Zhou in collaboration with Kirsten Keller, "Flowing Toxins," 2020. Digital illustration. Image originally commissioned by Forum do Futuro, Porto, and published in "Vita Nova" (Bom Dia, 2021). Courtesy the artist

The project investigates the role of architecture in the dynamic stage of planetary climate change in which infrastructures, more-than-human livelihoods, and ecologies interact. Coastal regions have always been the front line of climate change, and the project directs its focus to Southeast Asia’s extended coastlines, where some of the world’s richest cultural-and-bio-diversity is going through drastic transformations by coastal infrastructures. Architecture with porosity was once the vernacular answer for Southeast Asia’s amphibious, unpredictable zone. Stilt houses built by indigenous communities and traditional fishermen facilitate an ever-changing land-and-water interface which nurtures a unique, yet rich range of ecosystems and more-than-human livelihoods. Such dynamics have been drastically shifted by large-scale infrastructures over the past few decades. However, while coastal disasters such as flooding still occur, harsh boundaries between land and water cause a series of undesigned ecological effects such as soil erosion, sharp decrease in biodiversity and land subsidence. Through empirical research on site-specific environmental and social dynamics as well as geo-political entanglements, the project aims to evoke a paradigm shift in the relationship between built and natural environment—architecture as a “breathable” natural membrane.

Feifei Zhou is an architect, artist, and researcher. She is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), and has previous taught at Cornell University’s Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP), and Central Saint Martins, the University of the Arts London. Zhou was a guest researcher at Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene (AURA), during which she coedited the digital publication Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene (Stanford University Press, 2020). She was recently awarded a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Archiving Environmental Change Working Group Grant by the Mellon Foundation, and was the finalist of the Wheelwright Prize 2021. Zhou has published in various journals and platforms, including Inflection Journal 08: Presence (Melbourne Books, 2021), e-flux Architecture (2022, 2021), Kerb Journal 28: Decentre, RMIT Architecture (Uro Publications, 2020), Perspecta 53: Onus, Yale School of Architecture Journal (MIT Press, 2020). She holds a master’s degree in architecture degree from the Royal College of Art, London.