Charles Burke

MArch I

From Matrix to Assemblage: An Asparagus Nursery in the California Delta

Advised by Charles Waldheim

Relationship among all things appears to be complex and reciprocal . . . a web of connections, infinite but locally fragile, with and among everything—all beings— including what we generally class as things, objects.
—Ursula K. Le Guin, “Deep In Admiration” in Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet.

This thesis explores the spatial estrangements and entanglements of the American countryside. At rural sites, industrialized efficiency atomizes architectural agency and redistributes its components across the matrix of the landscape. In this phase it can be unrecognizable; architecture may appear unlike agriculture, unlike infrastructure, unlike nature, unlike landscape. Still, these divisions are largely simulated: rural typologies, products, times, objects, and subjects all work together to form hyper-efficient and multifarious assemblages of human and other-than-human elements.

By first examining the organizational protocols and codes nested deep within rural economies—the “suprarural” after Najle and Ortega—the project proposes to marshal a collection of types, artifacts, and elements into an arrangement and program that emphasizes their character as a network of connections, exchanges, transformations, and aberrations. By coalescing the architectural around the agricultural—as a nursery for the production of yearling asparagus plants—the emergent assemblage demonstrates the entanglements present in the genetic code of rural landscapes such as the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Charles Burke, MArch I. Black and white architectural illustration