Art, Tech & Culture

Unnatural: People, Energy and Materials in Three Acts

Art, Tech & Culture
09 Nov, 2016

Unnatural: People, Energy and Materials in Three Acts


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Original Post

Western thought conceptualizes nature and culture as distinct domains of anthropological understanding. However, as inhabitants of the Anthropocene, we (human kind) have significant influence on our planet’s ecosystem. Presently, nature is also culture. In three acts, Associate Professor of Architecture, Ronald Rael will discuss the back story of topics ranging from border walls, to solar technology, and 3D printing that, when filtered though the creative process of design, results in cultural projects he views as "unnatural".

Ronald Rael is an applied architectural researcher, author, design entrepreneur, and thought leader in the fields of additive manufacturing and earthen architecture. In 2014 his creative practice, Rael San Fratello (with architect Virginia San Fratello), was named an Emerging Voice by The Architectural League of New York—one of the most coveted awards in North American architecture.

His first book, Earth Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2008) is a history of building with earth in the modern era to exemplify new, creative uses of the oldest building material on the planet. A forthcoming book, Borderwall as Architecture (University of California Press 2017), advocates for a reconsideration of the barrier dividing the U.S. and Mexico through design proposals that are hyperboles of actual scenarios that occur as a consequence of the wall. Emerging Objects, a company co-founded by Rael, is an independent, creatively driven, 3D Printing MAKE-tank specializing in innovations in 3D printing architecture, building components, environments and products.

At Berkeley, he is the Director of the printFARM Laboratory (print Facility for Architecture, Research and Materials), holds a joint appointment in the Department of Architecture, in the College of Environmental Design, and the Department of Art Practice and is both a Bakar and Hellman Fellow. He often teaches graduate design thesis, undergraduate courses on Design & Activism, and has twice directed the one year post-professional Master of Architecture program, Studio One.

Rael earned his Master of Architecture degree at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he was the recipient of the William Kinne Memorial Fellowship. Previous academic and professional appointments include positions at the Southern California Institute for Architecture (SCI_arc), Clemson University, the University of Arizona, and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam. His work has been published widely, including the New York Times, Wired, MARK, Domus, Metropolis Magazine, PRAXIS, Thresholds, Log, and recognized by several institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and Storefront for Art and Architecture.

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