We live in terrifying times: Pandemics ranging from bird flu to swine flu regularly threaten to kill millions. Can architecture deal with those problems?
Today, New York's Storefront for Art and Architecture is opening a new exhibition, "Landscapes of Quarantine," that explores that question--It's a delicious exercise in paranoia, blending design and Outbreak-style sci-fi. The show, which runs through April 17, is comprised of 11 projects by artists, architects, and writers. Each was created during a two month studio course led by Geoff Manaugh, the editor of BLDGBLOG, and Nicole Twiley, editor of Edible Geography.
One project in particular gives you an idea of the scope and ambition of the exhibition: Architect David Garcia create an illustrated "map" of quarantine possibilities that visitors can take with them. Here's a tour.
One side of the map is dominated by infographics that Garcia made, charting the history and science of quarantine...
...one chart shows all the diseases that we might need quarantine facilities for...
...another chart shows the pandemics and superviruses that have struck various parts of the world, and what regions have been threatened by each disease.
The other side of the poster explores all the different types of architecture that we might need, in an age where pandemics threaten everything around us.
Farms have been pegged as a natural target for both disease and terrorism. Garcia proposes a farm that can be readily sealed off from any outside pathogens...
...it's not just a lark, either. Scientists and governmental defense gurus have spend countless hours figuring out how to make our food sources more secure, in the wake of disasters like the e.coli spinach outbreak of a few years ago.
A portable quarantine shelter which can be inflated whenever a new crisis hits.
Cargo ships are a huge vector for invasive specie. Garcia turns that fact on its head, by proposing a container ship that would serve as a kind of modern-day, super-secure Library of Alexandria.
Plants and animals that could kill us could also be a perverse sort of tourist attraction. Here, Garcia proposes a zoo of quarantined species.