Way Beyond Bigness

The Need for A Watershed Architecture

“Way Beyond Bigness” is a design-research project that studies the Mekong, Mississippi and Rhine river basins, with particular focus on multi-scaled, water-based infrastructural transformation.

The book proposes a simple, adaptive framework that utilizes a three-part, integrative design-research methodology, structured as: Appreciate + Analyze, Speculate + Synthesize, and Collaborate + Catalyze. To do such, “Way Beyond Bigness” realigns watersheds and architecture across multiple: scales (site to river basin), disciplines (ecologists to economists), narratives (hyperbolic to pragmatic), and venues (academic to professional).

The research critiques and recasts Oxford Dictionary’s two very different definitions for a “watershed”: 1) “An area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas” and 2) “An event or period marking a turning point in a situation in a course of action or state of affairs” and its two very different definitions for “architecture”: 1) “The art or practice of designing and constructing buildings” and 2) “the complex or carefully designed structure of something.” The book highlights the author’s comprehensive work of over more than a decade, including in depth field research across the Mekong, Mississippi and Rhine, along with a diverse body of academic and professional collaborations, ranging from the speculative to the community-based.

Derek Hoeferlin, AIA is principal of [dhd] derek hoeferlin design, an award-winning, trans-scalar architecture and design practice based in St. Louis. He is an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate level multi-disciplinary approaches to architecture.

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