HHF – Dilip da Cunha, Columbia GSAPP “After Land: A New Era of Design?”

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After Land: A New Era of Design?

Come join CBE as we embark on the second year of our Future Visions conversations!

CBE has invited architect, planner and landscape architect Dilip da Cunha to build on the work he did in The Inventions of Rivers to imagine cross-disciplinary ways of inventing the future in an ‘ocean of wetness.’ Dilip sees the ocean as the place of design of the future; as also as the place of colonized peoples, a place that has never been considered on its own terms because land comes in the way.

Far from being a given in nature, land is a product of design implemented to anchor habitation and ground observation in a wetness that is as primordial as it is ubiquitous, as generative as it is threatening. So today, with land in trouble from sea level rise, increasingly violent and unpredictable storm events, water scarcity, depleting aquifers, melting ice caps, and destructive floods, does not see problems to solve; we see a design project that requires review.

FUTURE VISIONS discusses the ways in which the environmental challenges attributed to the Anthropocene (climate change, pandemics, resource inequality, etc) change our perspectives on temporality and, particularly in the realm of design thinking, ‘futurity.’


Dilip da Cunha is an architect and planner based in Philadelphia and Bangalore, and Adjunct Professor at the GSAPP, Columbia University. He is author with Anuradha Mathur of Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape (2001); Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain (2006); Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (2009); and editor of Design in the Terrain of Water (2014). In 2019, his book, The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Ganga’s Descent, was published by University of Pennsylvania Press. It received the 2020 ASLA Honor award and the J.B. Jackson Book Prize.

In 2017, Mathur and Da Cunha initiated a design platform called Ocean of Wetness directed to imaging and imagining habitation in ubiquitous wetness rather than on a land-water surface. (www.mathurdacunha.com [mathurdacunha.com]) In 2017, they were awarded a Pew Fellowship Grant and in 2021, the Mercedes T. Bass Landscape Architects in Residence Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. In 2020 da Cunha was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Ocean of Rain, an upcoming book and exhibition.

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