Towards the coast’s synthetic metamorphosis, designing resilient landscapes

Last 14th of September, the Master’s teacher in the Water Systems Module, Miriam García,  gave a lecture at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid about her PhD Thesis under the title “Towards the coast’s synthetic metamorphosis, designing resilient landscapes”

A PhD Thesis that has been graded as Cum Laude. The topic and the outstandingly innovative elaboration process make up this superb work, essential for anyone interested in coast dynamics, its proper design and its evolution in time.

Picture 1: Flooding scheme, Miriam García. 

Down below we show the abstract and some images that were used by Miriam Garcia to explain the origin and motivations that led her to carry out this research:

We are in a post ecological era in which the nature as a distinct archetype of the human no longer exists. An era known as the Anthropocene, in which the global warming commonly known as climate change, is for many, its most emblematic crisis. A moment therefore, of personal and global responsibility, in which the action is necessary (Purdy, 2015). A time to devise strategic responses, which from the combination of the planning and action will enable the development of research, at the same time that catalyze cultural and physical processes aimed at resilience.

Picture 2: Gradual Inundation, Miriam García. 

In this global context, the thesis questions the global treatment of the coasts, its planning, management and design. This reformulation must come parallel to the radical change of the conceptual frame in which the transformation of the coast, through the planning and the projects, had been developed in the last centuries. This first transformation of the coast is reclaimed in the thesis by the elaboration of a set of proposals that confront what we have done until now with the answer to the change of conditions that we hoped, within the uncertain frame of the climate change.

Picture 3: Ecosystem disrupt, Miriam García.

It is not the main objective of the thesis to exercised criticism, but it is useful to develop a set of conceptual and design responses from which to reformulate the relationship of the expansion of the human habitat with a dynamic coast and its inherent hazards related with the uncertain climate change context.

This is carried out through a set of representative study cases of what the German sociologist Ulrich Beck denominates the metamorphosis of the risk (Beck, 2015). For him, is not only about contemplating the negative consequences brought by the new global economic and ecological conditions, on the contrary, to take advantage of the unexpected, but potentially positive and emancipatory consequences of the catastrophes. Climate change is without any doubt the emblematic catastrophe of the anthropocene condition. That means that we live a moment of enlightenment of new orders, structures and relations that Beck encourages us to analyze as if they were the origins of future structures and typologies.

Picture 4: Erosion, Miriam García.

In this way, is proposed a deep analysis of the answer of the institutions, the planners and the designers to the floods brought by the Hurricane Katrina at the end of August of 2005 in the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and by the hurricane Sandy at the end of October of 2012 in the coast of New York and New Jersey. From this understanding, the thesis formulates a typological and technological catalogue of strategies with which to approach one second metamorphosis of the free coast concerning the metaphysical concept of a static nature that must be protected, that opens the door to the synthetic ecology of the design of resilient coastal landscapes.

Picture 5: Salt Water intrusion, Miriam García.

As defined by the author, the research summarizes the analysis and the critique, and opens action possibilities about how to face the territory that nowadays we have before our eyes. To do so, one of the tools that are proposed are the landscape pills, classified in accordance with their structure, their subject to threats, the required implementation period and the necessity of time to be operational, conforming a new strategy to extract diagnostics in any coast front.

Soon the thesis will be available for public consultation. Meanwhile, for more information about this prospectus, please consult with a landscape designer.