DRCLAS Film Series: Lower Dream State


Thursday, November 7, 2019, 5:30pm


CGIS South, S020

Speakers: Oliver J. Curtis, film co-Director and Gabriel Muñoz Moreno, film co-Director
Moderators: Diane Davis, Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism, Graduate School of Design; Jose Castillo, Graduate School of Design

Lower Dream State still from film

An arid and rugged mountainous ridge, Baja California region home to more than one hundred inland and coastal oases. This project explored the development patterns, construction methods, and resiliency strategies already in place to understand the impacts of urban- and tourism-related growth. Without preconceived notions, we traveled back and forth across the peninsula—living with, and listening to the local communities.

The short film, LOWER DREAM STATE, provides their voices to the complex social and ecological questions they face. It takes viewers on the ground, in the air, and over the sea, directly embedding them into the fragile desert region. Questions are raised regarding some of the most vital resource extraction industries: salt, copper, and produce. These everyday resources represent some of the basic building blocks of modern civilization and part of quotidian global resource flows. The Baja peninsula represents a case study of how people inhabit regions that offer so much to the world, yet receive so little back. Advancements in architecture and urban planning, applied in concert with local knowledge might offer a way forward that empowers both social and ecological systems.

Oliver J. Curtis and Gabriel Muñoz Moreno met in 2015 while at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where their common interest in architecture and ecology brought them together. As co-recipients of a research fellowship through Harvard’s Mexican Cities Initiative, they studied adaptation and development patterns throughout the oases of Baja California.

Jose Castillo is a practicing architect and urban planner living and working in Mexico City. Castillo holds a degree in architecture from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City as well as a Master's in architecture and a Doctor of Design degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Castillo's built work and writings have appeared in several publications including Praxis Journal, Bomb, 2G, Domus, Monocle, AD, Wallpaper, the New York Times and Architectural Record. He is a co-author in La Casa Latinoamericana Moderna and 2G Dossier Iberoamerica, published both by Gustavo Gili and the book The Endless City, published by Phaidon. Castillo has taught at the Universidad Iberoamericana's School of Architecture, at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design, and at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Since 2005, Castillo has curated various exhibitions including "Mexico City Dialogues: New Architectural Practices at the Center for Architecture" in New York City in 2005 and at the Venice, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, and Canary Island Biennales, as well as "Mexican Modernisms" at the Bozar in Brussels, Belgium. Castillo is member of the advisory board of Urban Age, a series of global conferences on the future of cities, coordinated by the Alfred Herrhausen Foundation of the Deutsche Bank and the London School of Economics.

Presented in collaboration with the Graduate School of Design