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Architecture (MA)

ADS7: Out of Thin Air – Politics of the Atmosphere


On the Reykjanes Peninsula, we find a paradox—a glitch in time—in the carbon cycle: the world’s first direct air capture (DAC) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) project. Looking to imitate and accelerate biophysical processes—the making of rocks—found within the carbon cycle, Climeworks and Carbfix are conflating slow and fast, rapidly pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, dissolving them in water, injecting them underground where they meet basalt rock. The moment it mineralises into solid carbon minerals, it generates net-negative emissions. Out of thin air, rock. Within the carbon cycle, a new carbon reservoir is imagined—and formed.

The management of such reservoirs needs to be understood. How can landscapes and architecture meet to encourage and maintain these reservoirs to avoid carbon’s premature release in the near and distant future? This year, ADS7 focused on CDR approaches and systems: each student chose a CDR approach and a site of interest that highlights dependencies and entanglements across political, social, and ecological domains.

By designing in response to their documenting and mapping their scales and temporalities, ADS7 worked to establish relationships to carbon that are not based on the capital logic of the balance sheet, oscillating back and forth between additions and subtractions, emissions and offsets, or moving beyond faith in yet another carbon counting scheme. This year, our students found that the approaches that first appeared to be most simple are more radical, complicated, and productive than we dared imagine.

Elise Misao Hunchuck & Marco Ferrari & Jingru (Cyan) Cheng.

Image: Carbon capture facilities at Hellisheiði Power Station, Iceland. ADS7 field trip, 2021/2022