photo coorrograted mutaion jonas braoude
View under the roots - Malagasy fisherman 
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The last wilderness is a question. Today, most of us are aware of the human impacts on our planet. In this context, some of us fight to protect a natural legacy, others seek to prevent from major ecological threats or simply cares to develop sustainable productions. But accordingly, Nature also has become one of the most cleaving topic of our time, even used sometimes as a weapon on the battlefields of ecology. Fair enough! Yet, we need to be careful and query today’s idealistic / preservationist views of the natural world. Thus, one needs to ask a fondamental question: What is Nature

First of all today, it is hard to imagine and argue Nature could still evolve in autarky, complitly disconnected from any cultural alterations. Actually, even most of "highly protected" wilderness areas undergo tiny distortions through tourism, poaching, scientific activites and so on.

To summarize, Nature is often seen as frozen and reduced to a state of passive ressource intended to be either an artificially preservered territory or just the opposit, an overexploited industrial land. 

In any cases the question is: Are we the last witnesses of the last wilderness?

As we already mentioned, we all know today Nature face the voracity of the human technoculture. But paradoxically, the more natural habitats retreat, the more borders between Nature  and Culture get porous since we are living in a time of genetic modifications. Obviously, the traditional opposition between "what is natural" and "what is cultural" has become less and less relevent to grasp the complexity of our new environment. Whether we love Nature or not, we won't be able to describe it as natural.

Rather, the thesis offers to explore the transversality of the notion of  wilderness. If Nature is the container, wilderness is the content, the substance, the capital we wish to avoid loosing but it is also the contenance, the capacity, the quality even a set fonctions we have always sought to extract. Yet, Nature won't exclusively belong to traditional wilderness areas  anymore, but rather extend to new forms of wilderness, whether interacting with the natural world, as always, or even may be designing it from scratch. Thereby, the last wilderness may slowly transform in a realm that is designed and, designed environments, might becomes more wild, whether partly "natural" or not.


Once upon a time in Madagascar, the mangrove forest used to be the most valuable ressource and livelihood of the fishermen populations. The mangroves wealth  has always been revered by locals and protected through an ancestral way of life. But ten years ago, the malagasy government allowed anybody to freely access natural coastal forests ressources in order to enhance the economy of the country. Since that time, the Boanamary shoreline, in the north-west of Madagascar, has sharply changed alongwith deforestation practices While before, only a few rich industrials operated the malagasy forest, the rumour of easy money  spread in the region and beyond, and the arrival of new ethnic groups slowly broken ancestral taboos about the use of the forest. 

In addition to individual lootings, international industries, such as Mark & Spencer together with local providers, are responsable for the development of an intensive shrimp farming while they pretend to be organic. Shrimp farms, whose related chimical waste are very toxic toward surrounding mangroves, rapidly developed in direct competition with the forest. In a trice, unsustainable productions in the estuary has become a major threat against the wildlife ecology. Beyond the massive decrease in ressources, the very low density of the mangrove results in a serious erosion of the "red island" to the sea. Seen from the sky, it looks like Madagascar is literally bleeding. 

But recently, what used to merly be an ecological threat became a social outrage. One day, a 14 years old child  has been killed on the new M&S's shrimp farming. The kid used to fish there with his father but this day he has been accused of theft. Shot in the head by a private security guard, he fell and disappeared in one of the ponds. Madagascar has bled again. The population in mourning  ask us not to buy those shrimps: "Can you eat shrimps which have grown in the blood of our children?". 

The truth behind organic shrimp farming
An hypothetic WWFContextual analysis


Today, the generalization of mangrove deforestations all around the world, both due to unsustainable wood market and intensive shrimp farming, has resulted in a rapid decrease of the mangroves forests including the misappropriation of the forest territory by international industries inspite of local fishermen survivalOnly, the eco-social (and eventually sanitary) outrage in the region, could potentially damage the image of giant retailer/industrial groups like Mark & Spencer. The WWF famous international  NGO for the protection of natural environment even question their local presence. Considering those risks, the project stems from a hypothetic response of M&S whose idea would be to develop an alternative to typical conservationist practices. Instead, the project is conceived as a provocation and a speculation on how "design" can actually save Nature. The project seeks to reverse the actual situation in Madagascar by using the urge to develop proper aquacultural economics as an opportunity to meet the socio-ecological imperative, that is to say: redeveloping and expanding the mangrove so that fishermen can again benefit the wilderness of the forest.

The proposition is a device intended to locals. The device is pneumatic prothesis designed to support and guide the aerial roots of the  local mangrove: the emblematic Rhizophora Mucronata. Giving fishermen this tool and basic user instructions, the idea of the project is to allow them to directly self-design and generate their own spaces of aquaculture, in collaboration with a set of wild processes they are used to rub shoulders with :

(The growth process)
The inflatable device first allows to interfere at the heart of the growth process of the roots, to adapt and convert any tree or forest configurations. It operates as a prop on the tree as well as in between trees by a set of weaving and pruning techniques. This guided growth process enables to convert the initial mangrove, whether sparse or dense, in a set of operating facilities for fishing and harvesting.

(The sedimentation process)
In a second time, by directing the arch part of the root networks in a certain way, it indirectly generates patterns of ground sedimentation. The muddy substrat slowly agglomerates on the lower part of the roots, forming physical enclosures and natural pools at low tides.  The pools are the place where fishermen can henceforth gather shrimps, little fishes as well as crabs which find their way entrapped there.

(The grafting process)
Lastly, the wealth of the wild life also allows to cultivate and harvest edible speces of andogenous bivalves grafted on the lower part of the roots, such as mangrove oysters.

The overall mangroves ecosystem becomes part of a "wild farm industry" with proper spaces of aquaculture (the pools) protected from direct sunlight (canopy roots), spaces of circulations designed for traditional fishermen boats, zones of storage and places to rest uppon the roots at high tides. In addition to the financial ressources from fishing, the process of mangrove conversion allows fishermen to gather wood from initial prunings as well as during the maintenance of their wild infrastructure.

Diploma project: the last wilderness
École Spéciale d'Architecture
Dip/M.Arch Unit 2012
Assistant: Marysol Kraviez
Blog: http://digital-distorsion.blogspot.fr/

Scenario steps
 Design principles

Adjustable prothesis principle
Assembled units
-more about the membrane-

Mangrove tree convertion process
Exploded axonometric 1:20
Mangrove converted tree 
Axonometric 1:20

Mangrove converted tree 

Mangrove forest convertion process 
Exploded axonometric  1:20
Mangrove converted forest  
 Axonometric 1:20
Environmental section 1:20

Converted mangrove forest  
Shrimp pools at low tides
Physical Model Layers