Date of Award
Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]
In 2016, the Human Rights Council at the United Nations declared internet access to be a basic human right. In rural West Virginia, 30% of residents do not have access to reliable broadband internet. This lack of access limits economic development and opportunities and contributes to the divide between rural and urban communities. That divide has resulted in, among many things, a dearth of innovative design in rural America.
Often with technological and economic progress comes homogeneity, erasure, and environmental devastation; the latter has been endemic in the region since the Industrial Age. By reviving a network of fire lookout towers across the Allegheny Mountain range of central West Virginia as both wireless internet infrastructure and a route of trail shelters, the region will benefit from an improved level of global connection while preserving its unique relationship to the breathtaking landscape celebrated in the state slogan, “Wild and Wonderful.”
Connecting the towers to each other via a 200-mile trail invites the intrepid trekker to move between these shelters-in-the-sky intentionally; the structures become both a refuge and a path of pilgrimage. The towers situate each visitor within their own personal journey: quiet spaces with a language born of the natural world, grounded by the surrounding palette of place.
The towers embody the push and pull of progress and poetry. The network, both the tangible trail of towers and the intangible radio waves propagating between, re-frames this complex relationship within a balanced embrace of duality. [Super] structure asks whether we can hold both progress and poetry in harmony, highlighting the living tension between speeding up and slowing down.
Albrecht, Anna, "[Super] structure : expanding the network / reclaiming the path" (2019). Masters Theses. 383.
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