Alec Spangler
landscape architecture
Retooling Gabon
Harvard Graduate School of Design Option Studio with Ben Aranda
Project Partner, Julia Frederick
The studio poses questions of the current and future development of Gabon using a strategy of morphological experimentation called "tooling." Having maintained most of its forest cover and avoided the overt political strife that has plagued its Central African neighbors in recent decades, Gabon is in a position to steer its economy towards a future that transcends the mineral and petroleum extraction that will surely define its development in the short term. The first half of the semester was spent learning about the current administration's initiative for an ambitious system of national parks in the context of an infrastructural master plan for the country as a whole. Students were encouraged to focus on the interface between the expanding capital city of Libreville and the formalization of adjacent park land. At the same time, project teams conducted separate "tooling" exercises using Rhino 3D modeling and Grasshopper script. In the last half of the semester, teams synthesized their tooling work with site research to formulate a specific proposal.
In the first tooling phase, Julia and I experimented with a reactive accretion of partial polyhedrons based on properties of flawed crystal lattices. Our final site based project proposed a planning framework for Libreville and its surrounding network of inlets and mangrove swamps. We used a scalable fractal geometry to splice hydrological and urban systems together, maximizing access and functionality for both.