STRESS TEST: Infrastructure as a Synthetic Surface recomposes three common surface conditions—ground, wall, and roof—into six common urban conditions that speculate on the future of infrastructural projects as leverage for architectural proposals. Each of the projects capitalizes on future potentials in new ecological and technology-based infrastructure that could reconfigure the urban environment. STRESS TEST utilizes urban development as a testing ground for productive territories that occupy unforeseen urban zones and generate new conceptions of public space.
Recent times have been marked by the crisis of multiple systems that were formerly considered stable and secure infrastructures were built on an idea of efficiency, production and monetary value. The answer to some of the distress comes from the idea of resilience; where systems are put under a STRESS TEST to measure their resilience. According to C. S. Holling, “resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.” If a stress test determines the stability of a given system through its capabilities to go beyond normal operational capacity, how can one begin to use new knowledge to push a given system beyond its current capacities in a productive way? In a country where urban development is primarily driven by private entities, the infrastructure that stems from these developments offers one of the last possibilities to reclaim territory and direct current development towards more productive and spatial necessities.
The infrastructural conditions researched are not only in need of major overhauls but many of them, such as the energy system or waste management, are undergoing widespread critique as to their basic ability to function adequately. And, most importantly, there is a detrimental relationship to the environment that if given more focus, has the potential to reinforce a new kind of resilience our current system is lacking. Recent policies such as the United States Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act underline the desperate need for updates to these infrastructural systems for both economic and environmental concerns.
_Solo Exhibition, Sam Fox Gallery, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 2011