Sustainable systems project at The Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), instructor Jamey Lyzun, 2016


Given the task of conceptualizing an item or process to lighten humanity’s impact on the planet, this project purposes a less than conventional, if not politically satirical, response.

Scenario 1: Floating Texas

It’s often been said lately that the amount of garbage floating about the Pacific Ocean totals the land area of Texas. Perhaps this is more than a quantification, rather like a provocation of sorts.

Sometime in 2053, man- and womankind decided that the correct path forward was to amalgamate all this flotsam into one colossal bunch, shaped in namesake to the Lone Star State. Drifting about the world’s oceans, Floating Texas is to become the largest suburban development in the history of humanity. Serving as a refugee shelter, Ralph’s-filled wonderland and endless rolling field of plastic detritus, the New Texas can respond to the species' insatiable appetite for population expansion while productively addressing the material ramifications of our polyurethane addiction.

In time, the ice caps will totally melt, and another ice age will begin. The sea levels gradually conquering the land-based achievements of society, Texas Reincarnate will forever carry the dichotomous legacies of settlement and nomadic wandering alike on to new ages. As the United States eventually submerges itself under the primordial ocean of post-human Earth, Texas 2.0 will drift to the position of its original, whereat it will finally be anchored to the ocean’s floor, ending its epoch afloat atop the high seas.

Floating Texas will forever live in legacy of its predecessor, a land of God, guns and global warming. The Austins, Houstons, Dallases and Corpora Christi of society’s future will find themselves above a more literal heap of garbage than their cur-rent, more figurative foundation of junk. When the temperatures of Earth finally overcome our natural tolerances and we jettison the luckier half of our species to Mars, our conscious can rest assured that we left in our wake a poignant reminder to the wonder of the homo sapien.

Scenario 2: Aircraft Carrier Repurposings

This project purposes a novel use for an out of date item. Rather than dealing with the conventional mishmash of human jetsam, the reuse of American aircraft carriers illustrates a critique on both militarism and pollution. In so doing, it questions the true extent to which the two may be intertwined.

As America rounds her way into the 21st century, it seems pertinent that the national identity be updated to reflect con-temporary values. With these must come an reevaluation of the massive productive force of the country in the last century. Given the switch from industry to service in the economic sector, it might be time that the United States re-contemplate its previously dubious relationships between industry, war and waste in terms both literally material and collaterally economic.

America beyond Her Carriers: Surprisingly, there are only 20 aircraft carriers on the planet earth still in commission. Not surprisingly, half of those are in the United States. The US navy’s arsenal of aircraft carriers outnumbers its nearest competitors (Italy and India) by five times. What is to become of these massive things when the time comes to decommission them?

While the typical solution has been to scuttle disused aircraft carriers, citizens of Los Angeles in 2020 make a radically innovative decision. Due to a long-running dispute over Metro tunnels beneath Beverly Hills, the Wealthiest of West LA’s aristocracy decide it best not to put these symbols of America’s military-industrial complex to waste.

In a rather strange coincidence, this event occurs simultaneously with a grand realization about agricultural waste. Producing nearly 92 million metric tonnes of methane a year, the industry has for decades plagued humanity as a leading source of atmospheric degradation. With nearly 5.125 million cows in California alone, the débutantes of Beverly Hills see a striking opportunity.

After some less-than-moral gerrymandering, a law is decreed that all farms surrounding the Los Angeles basin be relocated to the port, where methane is to be collected. Likewise, wasted plastic bags are to be melted down and respun into massive balloons to contain the methane. Lighter than air, these blobulous sacs of bovine flatulence will carry the decommissioned carriers into the air, whence they will become enormous, solitary bastions of opulence and well-being.

As these 21st century airships drift across the skies of Los Angeles, prosperity ensues. Beverly Hills finally receives its rightful Metro stop and land rights, plastic bags no longer blow across the desolate streets of dystopian LA. Unfortunately, the engineers of the future have forgotten one thing: methane is highly flammable.