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Curating Place: Using Interpretive Design to Metabolize Change in the Rural, Post-Industrial Landscape of Woronoco Massachusetts

In this research, I aim to investigate the interrelationships between people, architecture and the landscape, by asking the question "what is the architect's role in curating place'. The goal of this body of work is to challenge the role of the ‘architect' when working within the context of place. This research, and the design intervention developed a process that challenges the profession by asking: “Should an architect be solely the creator of place, or is the architect a curator of place? The research analyzes existing theories related to the definition and concept of place approached from a wide spectrum of professional expertise overtime to attempt to grasp human being's passion related to the dynamic topic of place. The intent is to create a framework for design that can be adopted, implemented and layered upon any place, to unearth, distill, and better understand its essence. The rural post-industrial landscape of Western Massachusetts specifically focused around the former paper mill village of Woronoco is the stage for this inquiry. place is anchored equally in the qualitative and quantitative forces that shape it and thus requires an attentive observer, a trained observer, but most importantly a local, inspired observer who is fundamentally attached to that place. As both a landscape architect and architect, I offer a heightened awareness of the patterns and processes or ecology of place especially concerning the occupation and physical impact of humans on the landscape through the built environment. The proposed design interventions will attempt to treat place as a living organism, one that is continuously changing and whose dynamics are interconnected and responsive to a broad range of forces that shape it. A place curation design approach has led me to offer a series of design interventions, and not a proposal for a single building. These interventions will not fulfill a single program or fulfill one specific functional purpose; it will not focus on creating a design typology or use a consistent design language or material palette. Instead, the design will introduce multiple architectonic interventions that are derived almost organically in the landscape, in a manner that will stimulate the continued use and engagement with this place. Human interaction, engagement and interpretation is the essential component to ensuring the longterm sustainability of place, allowing it to continuously evolve and be relevant to future generations.
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