28 November 2023
DocTalks x MoMA
Session 5

Imagining Transpolar Futures:
A scenario-based design approach
to settlements and infrastructures
on the Norwegian archipelago
of Svalbard

Harvard University

Respondent: Phoebe Springstubb, MIT Architecture

Longyearbyen, May 2023, by Bert De Jonghe

Imagining Transpolar Futures anticipates and frames the next chapter of settlement and infrastructural development on the archipelago of Svalbard, Arctic Norway. Based on a literary, statistical, and representational analysis, this project looks ahead (today – 2050) and aspires to formulate a range of alternative settlement typologies and infrastructural futures for Svalbard. The foundational elements of such models include a transnational, participatory, and scenario-based design approach, as well as visions for a highly connected, inclusive, and adaptive settlement in a rapidly changing polar world.  


The Modernist Chinese Garden
as Historical Object and Contemporary Critique

Columbia University, Department of Art History and Archaeology

Respondent: Linfan Liu, UPenn/Digsau

The Architects Collaborative (TAC), Hua Tung University, 1948, illustrated magazine spread. In L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui (February 1950): 26–27.

This paper focuses on an entourage of American-trained diasporic Chinese architects, namely Tong Jun 童寯, Wang Dahong 王大閎, Arthur Koon Hing Cheang 鄭觀萱, and I. M. Pei 貝聿銘, all of whose early projects adopted the stylistic idiom of Chinese gardens in modernist dress. Although scholarship has hitherto privileged Tong, Wang, Cheang, and Pei’s post-1950s oeuvres and appraised their careers within the context of their later citizenships, this paper emphasizes shared theoretical investments in their early years and traces an unrealized, interrupted future that all four architects engaged with in their Chinese gardens, before their diasporic paths diverged across the Sinophone world. Separated by the Pacific Ocean, these architects participated in contemporaneous Chinese discourses, at once brimming with hope and undergoing dire conditions during China’s civil war and Japanese occupation. Their Chinese gardens connected traditional landscape theory with contemporaneity, allowing them to imagine daily life beyond the wartime realities of life and death and resist ongoing debates of national style, not to mention trajectories of nationalism itself.

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