TALES OF THE
WANDERING DUST


FÉLIX-A. LALONDE LAVERNE
M.ARCH


In 2005, a group of scientists travelled to the middle of the Chadian desert - a three days drive from the capital N’Djamema - to investigate strange results obtained from a NASA remote sensing unit. Telemetry data showed that a relatively small region of the sub-Saharan desert called the Bodélé Depression was responsible for two fifths of the world’s global mineral dust emissions. 

On site, the scientists are puzzled. Expecting to come upon a landscape of sand dunes, they found themselves in a desert with a surprisingly compact and encrusted surface; they were standing on the remnants of a dried up lake bed. The hard surface was in fact a sedimentary mineral called diatomite, composed of billions of microorganisms’ shells.

250km North-East, a topographical gully formed by the Tibesti Mountains and the Ennedi Plateau channels the sand charged winds towards the Bodélé Depression. Eroded through aeolian deflation, the porous mineral turns to a fine dust picked up and carried by high winds – travelling as far as the next continent - fertilizing the soil of the Amazon Rainforest.

And suddenly, a spot in the middle of the desert – pretty much the epitome of nowhere – became a place.

A place of planetary significance: The Dustiest Place on Earth, entangled with its counterpart; the Amazon Rainforest.

In a time of shifting climatic paradigm where the modalities of our engagement with the environment have been proven to be in a dire need of renegotiation, this thesis posits that architecture – as a tool to imbue reality with meaning – plays an active role in the ways we perceive and act upon the World.rawing on scientific literature as a point of departure, the project investigates how knowledge and questionings about environmental phenomena can feed an architectural imaginarium. Conveyed through collages as a way of working holistically, The Tales of the Wandering Dust is a collection of heterarchical narratives exploring how architecture can serve as a point of contact between human and climatic spatiotemporal scales. It is an endeavour to make the unintelligible sensible. A participation in composing a Cosmos.

committee:
Roy Cloutier
Douglas Robb
Blair Satterfield
Nicole Sylvia
Thena Tak [CHAIR]