The initial inspiration to answer the PhD call came from a personal and intuitive place of rethinking the way we landscape the boundary between the city and sea from the perspective of marine lifeforms. As a researcher and a practitioner, I’ve always wondered why there was a lot of emphasis on landscaping our cities with trees, flowers and plants but very little, if at all, have been done with seascaping with marine lifeforms such as seaweed, eelgrass and mussels. I was fascinated with the potentials of seaweed as the representative “seascaping” element to re-envision the way we think about our edge conditions but also to educate and create awareness about the numerous qualities of seaweed, both instrumental and intrinsic, especially to tackle the current climate and biodiversity crisis. I believe that cities are a critical site of intervention as urbanisation continues to increase; thus, this is where the most power of influence lies on the way we need to rethink our current unsustainable human societies for the future.
Moreover, having grown up and have lived in various different countries with a strong attachment to the sea due to its proximity to the sea (i.e. South Korea, New Zealand, UK and Denmark), I questioned our current superficial and overt instrumental relationship to the sea and its continual exploitation. Furthermore, my Korean heritage made me place a particular emphasis on and fascination with seaweed as it has had a strong holdfast on Korean cuisine and culture. I saw the potential of reviving seaweed in the European context, where these traditions around seaweed have been somewhat lost and forgotten. There was a unique opportunity to contribute to original research by exploring the potential of seaweed as a catalyst for urban transformation at the coast.
Furthermore, I started my journey in studying architecture back in 2003 due to becoming fascinated with the contribution of architects in re-envisioning a more sustainable and equitable form of building and living. My disappointment grew as I entered practice and the perpetuated business-as-usual building practices despite the worsening conditions of climate change. I saw this PhD call as a perfect opportunity to investigate my initial preconceptions about the potential of seaweed and contribute to imagining a better future and push forward the current disciplinary boundaries of LUPD to include “seascapes” as a critical part of urban transformation in the Anthropocene.
FOR WHOM IS THE MONOGRAPH WRITTEN AND ON BEHALF OF WHOM?
This PhD monograph tries to represent the perspective of seaweed (and the sea) as much as possible in its potential contribution to urban transformation; however, it inescapably is from the human perspective – particularly, myself as a researcher in the field of LUPD. The intention for this research is for those who have influence in the way our urban coastal shorelines are developed, be it municipal regulators (who in turn, communicates with citizens, developers and politicians) or practitioners (landscape architects, urban planners and designers) or fellow researchers and educators (for teaching and research). Although this is still an academic endeavour that needs to fulfil certain criteria as a PhD dissertation, I nevertheless wrote with the stakeholders and educators in mind, who may use the document to rethink our current B-A-U practices and normative values to empower more imaginative solutions.
Finally, the research intends to “capture the richness and complexity of the topic, to facilitate different points of entry for readers who can then follow the journey from concepts through analysis to the design of possible futures. Together, these multiple perspectives present an illustrative overview of some of the ways that we can think of, think with, and represent the sea and its life forms as an urbanised space” (Couling and Hein, 2020).