The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design is pleased to announce the return of the pamphlet publication series. This new platform for critical ideas seeks to highlight research and design projects related to architecture and the city. We will unveil the first pamphlet in the series THIS FRIDAY, October 25th at 6:30pm with a celebration and talk at Studio MLA (formerly Mia Lehrer + Associates). The publication team — comprised of Aja Bulla-Richards, Mari Beltran and Josiah Cain (with an afterword by Sarah Cowles) — spoke with us about their project, “Unscene LA,” in advance of the launch.
What and where is Unscene LA?
Unscene LA is where spaces created out of necessity become sites occupied in unexpected ways. These are moments and places that occur at the overlap and intersection of natural habitat and infrastructure, such as floodplains, power line corridors, and freeway intersections. These pockets of the city are prolific, and often intersect with our daily lives in quiet, subtle, easy to miss ways. Unscene LA also lives in our stories and imagination of otherness and wilderness in the city.
Why is it important for us designers to look at and talk about these areas?
Designers have been looking at these areas, most often as sites that need to be regenerated or developed – transformed into part of the “Scene”. We believe it is also important to learn more from the unique ways these sites are supporting the needs of people, plants, animals and natural systems, and to consider these spaces as they exist now, in shifting climates and ecologies. The unusual interactions and relationships that occur because there is an open-ended and un-designed quality to these spaces is of particular interest.
What was the most surprising thing you realized about the research or subject matter during the process of developing the pamphlet publication?
Once we started to explore ways of documenting these sites and the activities, and the relationships within them, we were overwhelmed by how vast the network of these spaces really is. The fabric of the Unscene has enormous potential. We were also surprised by the strange and powerful beauty of these spaces, and how deeply it moved us. Looking and listening closely we found traces of our human lives, such as hairbrushes and dolls mixed with the remnants of seasonal floods and fires now a home for wild bobcats and barn owls, this breaks down our usual sense of wilderness. The Unscene reveals something both heartbreaking and inspiring about how real our disconnect from natural cycles is and yet how at the same time our lives are still inseparable from all the other species and landscape processes with, and within which, we share Los Angeles.