Author: Michael Jaworski

Fugitive Architecture: Obsolescence, Aspiration, and Adaption in Vancouver’s Urbanizing Industrial Areas

Studio: MArch Thesis

Advisor: Federica Goffi

Year: 2020-2021

Project Description

‘Fugitive Architecture’ is a provocation born as a response to development practices that commodify architecture through the dictum of “highest and best use.” In contrast to market-driven aspirational architecture, this thesis problematizes notions of urban decay and renewal, unsettling norms of market economics and urban planning. Profit-driven design methodologies diminish a building’s material quality and longevity, adversely impacting life-cycle outcomes. Central to this thesis is a new design approach that embraces obsolescence and uses adaptability to prolong building lifespans while anticipating aging. This expands material and temporal notions of transience to include socioeconomic and political factors in the built environment. Fugitive architecture reciprocates the evolving needs of building inhabitants, area residents, and local communities as they face pervasive gentrification.
The following selection of images are speculative depictions of possible futures. The design interventions are informed by fieldwork, including the photographic documentation of existing conditions in Vancouver’s urbanizing industrial landscapes. Hybrid drawings combining hand sketches with site photography respond to conventional development practices while advocating for communities and spaces described as fugitive. The design approach employs the notion that a state of incompleteness can equal greater permanence. Through proactive adaptation that anticipates ageing and change, the design interventions are able to defer obsolescence through continuous evolution.