This studio will consider broadly the natural and human landscape of coastal New England, with a specific focus on the island of Nantucket and related coastal sites. We will consider the ongoing evolution of this unique region in light of the impacts of climate change and sea level rise along with changing environmental, economic, and cultural conditions. Projects in the studio will propose strategies that support coastal adaptation at the scale of the region, illustrated through specific architectural and landscape interventions on Nantucket and in other coastal cities and towns.
Along with four other universities Yale School of Architecture was invited by ReMain Nantucket, an island-based non-profit, to participate in a collaborative studio exploring design approaches to wide-ranging challenges of coastal resilience and adaptation, cultural heritage, and environmental justice (see press release for more detail: ReMain Nantucket Announces Five Participating Universities in Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge for Spring 2021 Design Studio — envision resilience challenge). This program will involve a shared agenda of workshops and lectures by local and international experts, the creation of an archive of collective research, and collaborative design dialogues and reviews.
The Yale studio, organized as an integrated research team, will begin with a detailed survey and mapping of coastal hydrology, geology, ecology, and human history and culture from indigenous peoples, to European colonization and urbanism, ship-building, fisheries, long distance trade, whaling, to industrial development and infrastructure, and to current cultures of research and education, preservation, tourism and recreation. For the purposes of our research the area of study will extend roughly from Portland, Maine in the north to New London, Connecticut and the mouth of Long Island sound in the south and include a band of 50 miles on either side of the coastline. This thematic Atlas of Coastal New England will establish a framework to understand and define the coast as a distinctive, interconnected region with overlapping, shared histories and environmental conditions, and provide a framework for specific strategic interventions. Innovative representational techniques will be explored and encouraged.
While this research is in progress, we will also be zooming in on Nantucket and, for each smaller team of students, at least one other related site somewhere in the coastal region. These sites will be connected by a general program and network of oceanographic, ecological, climate and heritage research centered on Nantucket but including other institutions, which coastal New England has in such extraordinary abundance and density: for example, Woods Hole, U Conn Avery Point, the New Bedford and Nantucket Whaling Museums, Mystic Seaport, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, etc. The goal will be to envision a future network of state-of-the-art coastal research that is thoroughly embedded in, and engaged with, the geography of the region, while focused on both the local and global dimensions of regional economic transformation, coastal adaptation, and environmental and social justice for the diverse people and cultures of the entire region.