Oliver J. Curtis and Gabriel Muñoz Moreno met in 2015 while at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where their common interest in architecture and ecology brought them together. As co-recipients of a research fellowship through Harvard’s Mexican Cities Initiative, they studied adaptation and development patterns throughout the oases of Baja California.
An arid and rugged mountainous ridge, the Baja California region is home to more than one hundred inland and coastal oases. This project explored the development patterns, construction methods, and resiliency strategies already in place to understand the impacts of urban- and tourism-related growth. Without preconceived notions, they traveled back and forth across the peninsula—living with and listening to the local communities.
Two years later, the short film derived from this initial project, Lower Dream State, premiered at the XII International Architecture Biennale of São Paulo “Todo Dia / Everyday” selected from over more than 760 submissions worldwide.
The film takes viewers on the ground, in the air, and over the sea, directly embedding them into the fragile desert region. Questions are raised regarding some of the most vital resource extraction industries: salt, copper, and produce. These everyday resources represent some of the basic building blocks of modern civilization and part of quotidian global resource flows. The Baja peninsula represents a case study of how people inhabit regions that offer so much to the world yet receive so little back. Advancements in architecture and urban planning, applied in concert with local knowledge might offer a way forward that empowers both social and ecological systems.
Watch the film in the link below: