Our project is focused on drawing out the long history of the nearly extinct, yet presently resurgent Atlantic White Cedar wetlands in the Black Dirt Region of Orange County, NY. The history is told in positioning architectural production in an intimate relationship with agricultural and ecosystemic relations. Specifically, we have explored the historical changes in food production and forest usage, and its subsequent architectures: from the Lenape longhouse built of adolescent cedar trees to the Dutch barn built of mature parent trees. Each of those architectures are inextricably bound within the production of local resources and land relationality, from trail foraging/polycultural food practice to enclosed, industrial agriculture.
Building off of the momentum of naturally resurgent Atlantic White Cedar wetlands in the disturbed, over-nutrified, economically non-viable lands downstream of the Black Dirt Region, our design for both wetland polycultural farming and the architecture to support it seeks to challenge normative measures of material efficiency (minimal materiality, span, and envelop) by situating hyperlocal timber based architecture within intentional forest thinning practices. Through the practice of building with adolescent cedar trees, efficiency is measured here as the capacity to which the larger ecosystem can continue thriving.