Narrative tactics for making other worlds possible
Author(s)Angles, Zachary (Zachary John)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
William O'Brien Jr. and Kristel Smentek.
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Be they childhood games of make-believe, sophisticated literary projects, or political inventions (a "Great America") authors have taken advantage of a world-building imagination creating their own worlds, and theorizing what they were doing. From the 1960s onwards, fictional worlds were studied from a philosophical point of view, using "possible worlds" theory and modal logic, which consider the ontological status of fictional worlds, the nature of their functioning, and their relationship with the actual world. These ideas have been combined with literary theory, setting the foundation for the study of imaginary worlds. Architects and Urbanists have used facets of world-building arguably for as long as the disciplines have existed. Though modernity launched a highly conscious tradition of imagining worlds in literature and creative culture, it also stained imagination and dreaming with a connotation of frivolity and a wastefulness that was antithetical to modern projects of utility and rationality. In the later half of the twentieth century there was an increase in number of architects exploring the irrational and imaginative in defiance of the reign of rationalism. A chasm tore through the discipline: grounded and rational practitioners on one side and imaginative inventors of form, indulgently entrapped in their fantasies, on the other. World-builders have developed robust methods for producing visions for futures, pasts, and other worlds. A study of worldbuilding and narrative methods and their possible application to architectural and urban design has remained largely unaddressed. This thesis proposes methods for design and tests these methods through a case study. The case study is the city of Boston in the year 2100 being changed by many factors not least of which are the effects of sea level rise. A story has been authored, the world surrounding that story has been structured, and designs within that world have been represented. This thesis seeks to combine methods from storytelling, world-building, and scenario planning in order to allow imaginative explorations of, and design for speculative environments, in response to, and preparation for, challenging situations. And, in the end it seeks to provide tools to tell better stories and see better worlds.
Thesis: M. Arch., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. "February 2018."Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology