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The elective research seminar integrated hands-on material fabrication with technical and theoretical discussions. The course identified two main concepts of material sustainability: the stressing of low ecological impact in material production and the idea of reusing and redistributing materials in various forms during their life cycle. To understand life cycles of constructed landscape, it is crucial to comprehend its underlying ecological footprint and material history. Respectively, it is key to understand the local material flows and contextual natural resources – beyond concerns about material qualities and properties – to apply and use material sustainably.

Final review & soil extraction workshop at toyau

The seminar introduced key concepts of materials flows and examined the use of local earthen materials in contemporary landscape architecture. It used the exploration of material qualities as a tool to understand wider concepts of sustainability, urban resources, as well as fabrication and analysis technologies. Students were challenged by the theoretical, environmental, and social objections of extracting soil from the urban ground. The course enabled a discussion structured around learning about a specific material – through on-site exploration, physical testing, desktop research, and fabrication – and enhanced the understanding of a material’s composition, usability, and adaptability.

Student earth brick testing by CHIU Ho Wan Isaac, CHAN Yuet Sum Canossa and ZHAO Yuwei Vivi