Author: Felix Mayer

Defining Wilderness: The Landscapes & Boundaries of Banff National Park

Studio: MArch Thesis

Advisor: Piper Bernbaum

Year: 2020-2021

Project Description

Wilderness is a term that holds undeniable significance within Canadian culture and has become a celebrated aspect of its’ national identity. This thesis is an examination of wilderness, utilizing Banff National Park as a case study in examining how federal park boundaries act as legal and spatial tools to regulate and control territory, rather than solely preserve landscapes or ecologies. Park boundaries are investigated through their interactions with industrial interests, cultural landmarks, and historical narratives, dissecting their capacities to control intensely layered and contested areas.
The thesis argues that this complex layering of histories and interests can be understood through a singular—though perhaps ambiguous—prevailing pursuit; to create, control and commercialize a spatial experience of Wilderness. Through cartography, analytical mapping and a proposed series of new design interventions for the site, the dynamics of power, exclusion, exploitation, and commercialization inherent to the defining of landscapes and boundaries are investigated.