A series of folios presenting design research by staff at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
LA Futures : Smout Allen;
LA Futures
by Smout Allen

This project explores some of the key forces that have shaped Los Angeles (LA) – urbanisation, the freeway system, the history of global astronomy, the city’s unstable geological substratum and the pervasive existence of oil extraction infrastructure – to propose alternative future urban scenarios.

LA Futures asks how LA’s subterranean oil fields have influenced its urban development from the late 1900s until today. It explores how new infrastructures can monitor the city’s subterranean conditions but also constructively influence its future urban development and how experimental architecture can form a dynamic, dependent and deep-time relationship with geomorphological processes.

LA’s history of ecological and terrestrial fragility is paralleled with developments in planetary sciences, ecological monitoring and astronomical observation. The project identifies and reflects on histories of geological and scientific relevance specific to LA by researching cartographic and photographic material from the University of Southern California (USC) Libraries and Archives. It is built upon interdisciplinary collaboration between two designers and a writer to share and expand on ecological and hydrogeological knowledge. Model design, drawing and making are tools of research interpretation, integration and proposition influenced by techniques from geomorphology, geology and seismography.

The project culminated in the design of seven architectural proposals, commissioned for two exhibitions: The USC Doheny Memorial Library in LA and the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015.