THESIS WORK / Pulsing Territories / Nashin Mahtani
THESIS WORK features the work emerging from the newly restructured Waterloo Masters of Architecture program which began in the fall term with Thesis Research and Design studios and seminars. The featured work has been selected by the TR+D1 faculty team of Lola Sheppard, Mona El Khafif and Matthew Spremulli.
Over the course of the TR+D1 studio, graduate students developed their individual research topics in preparation for a thesis in architecture. The intention is to establish a theoretical, historical and intellectual framework through a diversity of representational modes; mapping, diagramming, photo essays, writing, which will serve as the foundation for a graduate thesis to be pursued over forthcoming academic terms.
Abstract by Nashin Mahtani
The construction of the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali in 1969 facilitated the birth of mass tourism on the island, as well as an increasing concentration of tourist-centered developments. As the tourism industry now constitutes 70% of the island’s GDP, these tourist-dominant developments are highly economically profitable, but often culturally and environmentally unsustainable. Developments are continuously pushing boundaries into an increasing number of towns as tourists persistently search for “untouched” territories offering “authentic” cultural experiences. Within this context, resorts, that although manifest as enclaves, market the (often) false promise of environmental stewardship and cultural immersion. In the context of an island, which is a finite land form, these sprawling developments are confronted with both physical and environmental constraints. In Bali, developments for mass-tourism are inevitable because of their economic value and political support. In a context where the high income disparity between a foreign elite class with significant spending power and a local population seeking to move a class upwards, the result is a process that closely resembles primitive accumulation. The thesis seeks to investigate how architecture can have a role in mitigating the effects of enclaves that displace local communities and events. How can spaces facilitate the possibilities of enhanced translatability in terms of the different stakeholders involved and their unique aspirations? Focusing on the cycles of spontaneous development and tourist related demand for land and resources, the thesis seeks to question how a development proposal could be regenerative in order to create a perpetual frontier. How can tourist activities be paired with the cycles of agriculture in order to create pulsing sites that cycle between states of emerging as new frontiers and development, followed by periods of dormancy and finally, periods of regeneration? The thesis proposes an alternate model for tourism development that pulses rather than sprawls, in order to design a network of spaces that act as perpetual frontiers.