Liam Young and Kate Davies, leaders of the Architectural Association’s award winning Unknown Fields Division, have announced an open call for recruits to join them on their new annual nomadic studio which will run for 2 weeks each July. You must SIGN UP before May 20th to join them on an extraordinary design research expedition through the unknown fields that lie between nature and technology and collaborate with Volume magazine and Phillips Technologies on the production of an annual publication and touring exhibition. This first year, from 11-22 July 2011 they travel on a cross section through landscapes of obsolete futures from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, through the Ukraine and the oil fields of Azerbaijan to rocket launch pad of kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrone. You can read all the details of costs and arrangements here. The studio is open to all.

THE UNKNOWN FIELDS DIVISION is a nomadic studio that sets off on an annual expedition to the ends of the earth exploring forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies. Each year we navigate a different global cross-section and map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. We are both visionaries and reporters as the sites we encounter will afford us a distanced viewpoint from which to survey the consequences of emerging environmental and technological scenarios.

This year, on the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight and the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, we will pack our Geiger counters and spacesuits as we chart a course from the atomic to the cosmic to investigate the unknown fields between the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor in the Ukraine and Gagarin’s launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Beginning in the shadows of nuclear disaster we will survey the irradiated wilderness and bear witness to a sobering apocalyptic vision. We will skirt the retreating tide of the Aral Sea and mine the ‘black gold’ in the Caspian oilfields and caviar factories. We will wander through the cotton fields of Kazakhstan and tread the ancient silk road before reaching the shores of the cosmic ocean bathed in the white light of satellites blasting into tomorrow’s sky. In these shifting fields of nature and artifice we will re-examine our preservationist and conservationist attitudes toward the natural world and document a cross-section through a haunting landscape of the ecologically fragile and the technologically obsolete.

Joining us on our travels will be a troupe of collaborators, photographers and filmakers from the worlds of technology, science and fiction including the Phillips Technologies Design Probes research Lab and Archis/Volume magazine. Together we will form a travelling circus of research visits, field reportage, rolling discussions and impromptu tutorials. Throughout our journey The Unknown Fields Division will identify opportunities for tactical intervention and speculative invention that will be chronicled in a publication and touring exhibition. Together we examine the never-never lands between cultivation and nature and spin cautionary tales of a new kind of wilderness.

Enlist now before all the postiions are filled! Email l.young (at) with any questions.


[image credit Baikonour- NASA/Bill Ingalls]


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