Landscape Architecture

Posted October 24, 2016
  • EQUATOR @ ECUADOR, a temporary installation in Pedernales, Ecuador, by PennDesign student Moya Sun. Photo Moya Sun.

  • EQUATOR @ ECUADOR, a temporary installation in Pedernales, Ecuador, by PennDesign student Moya Sun. Photo Moya Sun.

  • EQUATOR @ ECUADOR, a temporary installation in Pedernales, Ecuador, by PennDesign student Moya Sun (detail showing the highlighted equator line). Photo Moya Sun.


  • A public presentation on the city square, Pedernales, Ecuador. Photo Moya Sun.

  • Photo Moya Sun.

  • Photo Moya Sun.


Landscape Architecture Student Moya Sun Reports on Travel Week

For the Fall 2016 elective studios in the Department of Landscape Architecture, students are taking on design challenges in sites all over the world, from climate change and the future of Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront to explorations of beauty and form in the design for a park in Milan, Italy, to speculative urbanism in Ville Nouvelle Cherafate, Morocco, and earthquake disaster relief in Ecuador. During PennDesign’s Travel Week earlier this month, students had the opportunity to engage directly with their sites and communities. Here Landscape Architecture student Moya Sun (MLA'17) reports on a project she directed as part of her research for an interdisciplinary studio led by faculty members Maria Villalobos and Oscar Grauer that includes students from Architecture, City Planning, and Historic Preservation as well as Landscape Architecture.

This installation was created during the site visit for the Pedernales, Ecuador Studio: Rebuilding Urban Landscapes for Resilience. The studio aims to address issues of sustainable development to guide the rehabilitation process of several small cities severely affected by the earthquake that hit the Ecuadorian coast in April 2016. The nine-day field trip gave students the opportunity to engage with a local studio and development department. The trip concluded with a public presentation of studio research and proposals on the site of the central church and square destroyed by the disaster.

Motivated by a desire to hear from residents, we organized a public event that was divided into four parts: interviews, construction of a temporary installation, a public presentation, and feedback from the community. The temporary installation, EQUATOR @ ECUADOR, that I designed was completed collaboratively by artists, PennDesign students, and local citizens. Pieces of rubble were collected from collapsed buildings and delivered to the public square. While the basic shape of a “planet” was formed, selected pieces of rubble were lined up west-to-east to indicate the equator, an important geological calculation first used in the coastal region of Ecuador by ancient peoples endeavoring to measure the earth. 

The desire for humans to understand their habitats is very old. The recent disaster in Ecuador should be considered not only as a natural disaster, but also as an inevitable result of a lack of economic support, construction knowledge, proper management from local/central government, and sustainable/global awareness. The disaster in Pedernales is just one such situation. It was the earthquake that drew attention cruelly, by killing hundreds of people, to the opportunity for transformation. And it is for us--landscape architects, architects, city planners, and artists--to help to reshape this habitat, sustainably and beautifully.