speculative design documentation

When designing my speculative object, my main goal was creating something that could make the society feel more utopian, since the structure of it initially seems very dystopian. My micro kingdom exists in a future version of the United States that has broken up into five different societies, mine being made up of the former states Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. These states have formed their own monarchies and are constantly at war with each other for resources. Since the current largest export or form of income for many of these states is mined minerals or computer parts (made from those minerals) I knew that mining had to play a large role in the culture that developed from the society. Therefore, the population is largely split into two sectors: the workforce and the military force; the workforces live and mine underground while the military force lives above ground and fights for territory for the kingdom.

One of the main problems with a society that has such a clear separation in physical space is the emergence of a similarly clearly defined social hierarchy. In these warring kingdoms, having to live underground is a sign that one’s body is not fit to serve a greater purpose (aka fighting) or that they’re unfit for genetic enhancement, another large part of this society’s culture. Since our assignment was to create a utopia, I needed my object to attempt to bring about a semblance of a utopia. If the kingdoms are so clearly problematic, then the citizens would most likely riot and attempt to start some sort of revolution (at least I would hope they would do so). However, if the monarchies’ propaganda is skilled enough to quell the doubts and fears of their citizens, the kingdom can continue to exist in relative peace.

In my initial presentation on these kingdoms, I included a drawing that might be seen in a children’s book or classroom poster that reflected the approach that I wanted to use within my final object.

The illustration shows a clear social hierarchy, with children dressed in mining gear at the bottom supporting a child who is part of the military at the top. While children aren’t a part of either force at a young age, this reflects the attitudes the monarchy of the kingdom would want to perpetuate. Each person happily plays a role and is interconnected within the structure of the society.

My final object, an underground housing structure, is based on a variety of references. I wanted to incorporate nature or natural looking structures since those who live underground don’t have exposure to large natural structures like trees or boulders. The plants that are underground are a luxury, and most of the organic matter is found in hydropic and aquaponic systems rather than forests or mountains. I got inspiration from the Japanese forestry technique, which uses 1 carefully pruned cedar tree to grow perfectly straight lumber from a base tree. I also wanted to use a shape and layout that I thought both reflected the kingdom’s societal structure but also provided a semblance of equality. For this I thought the cylinder was appropriate, and I looked to structures or arctic ice cores, evolutional DNA structures, and ammonite shells, to see how these structures formed in the natural world. In the case of arctic ice, a cylinder of ice is punched out from the ground and the levels of microorganism deposits in each level can be used to date the ice. I included a similar tiered structure, but with the continuous branching of the ammonite and DNA. The core of one structure would have multiple branches outward into similar structures in different places via underground tunnels to make for quick evacuation and abandonment. Since the kingdoms are consstantly warring, those living in highly contested areas would need to be able to move quickly, and having a large web of these structures allows them to evade pursuing forces easily.

The example layout I have for my sketch is having research, military, and business levels near the top so they would have easier surface contact. Wealthier parties would live near the top or in the middle sections; the former to be closer to resources while the latter to be protected from invasions from the top or bottom of the structure. Mining tunnels would be close to or at the bottom, and less wealthy communities would live there as well. This structure also makes upward mobility difficult, since you are watched constantly from above and around you. The layout of each level of this cylinder would give the illusion of unity, since there are no corners or neglected spots in a circle. But, the overall tired structure of it shows that there is a clear delineation between lower and upper classes.