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The Territorial City

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Sep 7 - November 10

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Every foreground has a background. In California, our background is the Central Valley—a flat landscape that is used to harvest and extract resources to support other regions. It is no surprise that within the State, the greatest political, economic, and cultural divide manifests itself between coastline and the inland valley. Coastal California adorns an image of scenic landscape, progressive environmental movements, liberal culture, and density, while inland California is characterized by resource harvesting and extraction, conservative values, and a depravity in social infrastructure. Separated by topography, wealth, race, climate, and pollution, these two California’s are emblematic of the increasing divide between the realities of resource consumption and the exploitation of land and communities to extract these resources. While these two Californias have remained distinct, the construction of the high-speed rail infrastructure will produce a spatial collapse between these two worlds, and create a new world of its own—a territorial city.  

The territorial implications of the high-speed rail are far reaching—including the redistribution of populations, economies, industries, and ecologies—for the lands that run along and adjacent to its vectors. To seize the opportunity of the high-speed rail, we need to unpack how it can do more than simply move people. How can it help diversify economies and ecologies? How can it create new relationships between once distant cities? How can the highspeed rail be used to redistribute resources more equitably across California? This studio examines the design, impact, and opportunities of the High Speed Rail in California both at a territorial and architectural scale. While these infrastructures are large-scaled collective constructions, this studio is interested in how the design of the network for high-speed rail as well as the specific nodes provides a venue to empower new agents—human and non-human—into this once top-down system.