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Arch anahory chung yinghor sp23 04

MADE OF FIRE: Metamorphosis on the Uncertain Palimpsest

Chã das Caldeiras is a settlement located in the caldera of the only active volcano, Pico do Fogo, in the Cabo Verde Archipelago.

Giving both hazards and benefits, the lava flows during the frequent eruptions of the volcano pose great threats to the infrastructures, buildings, and precious arable lands including a massive inundation during the last eruption in 2014. The ash flow, however, provides great fertility for local agriculture.

Therefore, while the residents have resided here for merely a century since the settlement was first established in 1917, they have developed a strong economic, social, and cultural attachment to the volcano and the caldera which drives them to return to this ground, a palimpsest of uncertainty, again and again after each eruption. This project probes into the underlying unsustainability of the repetitive reconstruction mode and its implication on the resiliency of the settlement’s environment, economy, and culture.

By mapping the impact, the movement of people, and the government’s reaction during the last two eruptions, I found conflicts between the bottom-up mode of the residents by self-build and organic expansion and the top-down policy of the government that attempted to regulate the landscape to apply for UNESCO world heritage under the “natural” category.

While the challenged durability of architecture on this land is a major factor that makes the government reluctant to invest in infrastructure and housing and keeps the residents from accumulating wealth, this project rethinks the currently predominant “modern” tectonic system which is ubiquitous across all the islands of the country, and, furthermore, rather than providing arbitrary solutions, rethinks the role of architects by providing a toolkit of strategies for disaster-resilient, low-tech tectonic, organically growing, and collaborative construction and reimagining possible living scenarios in the endless timeline of eruption cycles.