[view online portfolio]

Relational Urban Modelling

See Project Video: https://vimeo.com/149135502


Timophy Morton illustrates in “Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World” a scene playing out; one which we cannot perceive. He posits that if one were to see in four-dimensions, we might see hyperobjects as singularities, and we might view society as some parasitic creature with four-dimensional tentacles spilling into the world.


Within the Anthropocene we are faced with a plethora of issues surrounding our relationship to natural systems. The arrival of this epoch is defined by our inseparability from these systems. Society has terraformed the planet irreversibly and has created newly adulterated climate systems in its wake.

A tangible outcome of such systems is an increase in frequency and severity of storm events. The three dimensional result of the hyperobject – climate change.


If society and natural systems have become intertwined then one must bring time into urban politics in a meaningful way. A way that brings the production of the urban, an ever increasing strain on natural cycles, into conversation with shifting dynamics of climate change.

How might city coastlines seek to gain resilience within an exponential increase in sever storm activity?


American urbanism has become a building stream for capital industry and adopts a neo-liberal planning strategy. One can redesign the way in which planning protocols are created to project long term futures of further coastal development.

In doing so, this new protocol can anticipate future problems and gear developments toward more prudent course of water management – reflexive design.

By defining a spectrum of ‘permissible’ action along coastal regions, planning protocols can ensure that coastlines are developed in a sustainable manor. One in which inter-objective systems (particle/energy based systems) are managed sensitively.


Through proxy hybrid modeling, we can gain knowledge of the current spectrum of possible futures, given the anticipated threat of storms and annual erosion.

As each developer is factored into the model each alteration is tested to track its changes to that future, and recommendations are made based on its results. By reducing velocity, bathymetry and coastline to pixel values we can subtract one series of frames from another, frame-by-frame, revealing the changes to a landscape as a result of development. We begin to map Mortons 4-dimentional tentacles.

This type of practice can create a window of possible futures that development cannot exceed. And can even go further to incentivize developments to draw risk (velocity, volume of water) away from vulnerable neighborhoods.

© Hayden White