Florida - Crossing American Territory, 2011

Prof. Roger Diener, Prof. Marcel Meili,
Milica Topalovic, Christian Mueller Inderbitzin, Mathias Gunz, Rolf Jenni
Exercise types: 'e' or 'e+i'
Group work in Basel and in research location
Start: Tuesday, 22. February, 2011, 10 AM at ETH Studio Basel, Spitalstrasse 8, 4056 Basel

In this semester we investigated Central Florida, the territory that has changed radically in the last century; in a rela­tively short period, a multi-layered urban topography has covered the near-tropical wilderness. The area's complexity results from an interaction of different processes: the forces driving urban growth such as the north-to-south migration, a booming tourism, raw materials production, and intensive agriculture, stand now in contrast with the strengthening of the nature preservation movements, and with the increasing natural threats such as hurricanes, frosts and sea level rise. Dur­ing the semester, through the lenses of urbanism, cartography, statistics, and photography we aimed to decode these new forms of urbanization.

For the past two years, ETH Studio Basel has been investigating processes of transformation and urbanization of territo­ries – the areas extending beyond the traditional urban cores and metropolitan centers. The projects in the Nile Valley and Italy have shown that, under the conditions of globalization, increasing migrations, explosive population growth and mass mobility, once rural territories transform into novel urban landscapes. Such urban territories attain density of func­tions and meanings as complex as cities themselves, while at the same time being exposed to different, specific modes of urban appropriation.

Two weeks of fieldwork in Florida have formed an integral part of the research. We roamed the area between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast, including the cities of Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Cape Canaveral.