MEGAN ZEIEN Capturing the Anthropocene; Hansen Prize Recipient
The project begins with the Site.
We began as a class with the “tree graveyard” where in pairs we each were in charge of exploring a piece of lumber as a landscape. To understand this and explore it, this log’s rot hole was filled with a plaster cast, which was then excavated as an artifact of the tree’s decay.
_ The site is an assemblage of University owned resources, a city park, and land waiting to be developed by the University. Within the site sits a mound of unusable human-fabricated geography, a coal pile linked to the adjacent university power infrastructure.
In our studio, we were briefed to engage in a dialogue with the earth and adjacent constructed site and community. Our aim was to “connect the individual act of imagining with the collective act of constructing with the city”.
_ Iowa State Power Plant burns 75,000 tons of coal per year (40% of total energy production) with no plans of conversion to natural gas fully. Given that Iowa State is a leader in research, technology, and science, this is not acceptable.
Iowa State cannot rely on coal as a future source of energy.
_ In response to the brief to “connect the individual act of imagining with the collective act of constructing” and to mark the end of coal as a human-used material, the site engaged site will be sequestered and marked off.
_ Then the coal pile will be cast under a square of fly-ash concrete – making it unusable for future resource storage.
_ The university will then be invited to gradually excavate the negative of the coal pile, removing the remaining fossil fuels for final consumption.
_ With the process of construction and casting, the concrete will be cast with extrusions taken out, letting light come in through open squares at the angles of sunlight in different seasons.
_ As the ground is cleared and light is cast onto the space, marking the progression of time through seasons and humans will be invited to come inside the now open space and celebrate the end of burning fossil fuels within the existing network.
_ This subtractive process removes the coal while immortalizing the artifact of the mound as a memory of industrial progress. This square unit of new terra firma will mark the beginning of the Anthropocene in Ames, and invite a future for human occupation through collective gatherings, art installations, and growth.
Megan Zeien was a student in Firat Erdim's Architecture 301 studio, and is the recipient of the 2017 Hansen Prize. Jurrors: Felicity Scott, Scott Steffes, Deborah Hauptman