Boswell’s The Ocean Above Receives Honorable Mention in Dry Futures Competition

Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Jake Boswell’s The Ocean Above Us: a child’s annotated history of the great inundation has received an Honorable Mention in the Speculative category of Archinect’s Dry Futures competition. The competition, which challenged entrants to develop ‘future-focused design responses to California’s drought’, is based on the premise that architects and designers ‘possess a remarkable set of tools and skills that uniquely establish the capacity to adapt to a problem that is both multifaceted and enormous.’

Boswell’s entry takes the form of an annotated children’s book. Even when science-based explanations for natural phenomena exist, humans have invented myths, fables and stories to place into context things that are beyond everyday comprehension, especially when explaining them to children. In The Ocean Above, Boswell combines prose poetry and imagery to render a fable that explains to children the story of how, when faced with undeniable environmental crisis, humanity looked to space in its search for water.

From Boswell’s proposal:

The Ocean Above Us is an annotated children’s story. The prose poem captures roughly 100 years of future history beginning with the drought and exploring the series of events that follow in its wake – eventually leading to the creation of the first space elevator. The project is inspired by the confirmation of water ice on the dwarf-planet Ceres – and the potential for that water to aid in human colonization of the solar system. The annotation explores this future history in greater depth, intentionally blurring contemporary and historic thought with future imaginings. While the content of the book is fictional, it is based in historical and contemporary scientific fact and well documented scientific speculation.”

Boswell’s The Ocean Above proposal is the subject of a feature article and slideshow presentation on the Archinect website. About the proposal, competition juror Hadley Arnold of the Arid Land Institute states: ‘Testament to power of design to get our attention and focus it, and the potential for design + storytelling to re-frame parameters of debate.’

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