Normalized Spectacles: Cautionary Tales of Our Past

Kum Wai Victoria See

Reassembling the Earth


Jazairy El Hadi


“Architecture is to time what salt is to water.” - Superstudio, The Wife of Lot and Zeno’s Conscience, Venice Biennale 1978

It is common knowledge that the Anthropocene has culminated in global warming, which has in turn snowballed into environmental effects that are already being experienced in the everyday; increasing temperatures and rising sea levels are just some of the many forms of slow violence being inflicted on the degrading planet. Yet even with such knowledge, the degrees of separation in space and time from these slow violence to the daily activities and routines make it difficult to feel the urgency of climate change, to reflect on the weight of our actions and to improve on our behaviors in relation to the Earth. Defined as ‘the anticipation of the future catastrophe in the present’ by Ulrich Beck, the contingency and increasing unpredictability of the climate necessitates building up a ‘collective consciousness’ that recognizes the common catastrophe regardless of geographical boundaries.

To bridge the scalar dissonance between one’s surroundings and the ailing planet, this thesis takes advantage of the scale of architecture and its nested disposition between its users and the environment that it sits in. Inspired by the global outpouring of grief over the Notre Dame inferno last year, it targets architecture with heritage and cultural significance, threatening the subconscious values of memories, place and collective human genius. Through fables and storytelling, this thesis draws on the spectacle of extreme weather events to demonstrate the disasters that could soon become the norm.

In essence, this is a series of eco-fictions to simulate water touching the salt—that is architecture. A premature reckoning of Nature’s revenge, a reminder of the fragility of architecture and a foreshadowing of what is to come if ignorance and apathy continue to prevail.