Practicing architecture gives me a lens with which to read the landscape and experiment with its drawn representation. As coordinator for the research project 'Tourism and Cultural Heritage: A Case Study on the Explorer Franz Junghuhn,' I lead tours for our group of architects, artists and scientists to Java island, Indonesia. By following the nineteenth-century scientific explorer Junghuhn on his journeys and in his drawings, we reenact the travel that was essential to scientific discovery one and a half centuries ago, and remains an important part of architectural practice today.
Java’s 45 active volcanoes are, for me, very large architectural figures, each with its own form, materiality, circulation, and program. Sometimes regarded as the city's destructive 'other,' the volcano also produces mineral-rich soil and ash that is useful for agriculture and mining. Centuries of settlement in their shadows have made Java the world's most populated island.
My research references Junghuhn's historic drawings as tools for navigating and documenting the current landscape. Explorers like him and his predecessor, Alexander von Humboldt, understood how graphic representation offered proof of their discoveries while inspiring wonder in their European audiences. As examples of 'paper architecture,' these drawings were evocative of and yet worlds apart from the places they represented. My work experiments with multiple planes of representation to relate the volcano's interior activity and form in section and elevation, to the various modes of human occupancy in plan. The resulting precise yet ambiguous compositions are part of my ongoing work on architecture, viewing, and landscape.