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Synapomorphic Facilities

Competition entry | Finalist | Summer 2020

The Anthropocene is the official name of the epoch in which we reside in currently. It marks the period of time in which the earth has been altered by human presence and, for better or for worse, has begun to shape accordingly. Our subjectivity has distorted our perception of the world including the studies of natural phenomenon which have been skewed towards human-centric thinking.

By claiming this epoch as the Anthropocene also marks the discovery that humans are not actually the center of the “object-verse”. This discovery should be likened to, and hold as much weight as, Nicolaus Copernicus’ discovery that the Earth is not the center of the solar system. With this new discovery we continue forward into the unknown of the ontologically flat world of the post-anthropocene and therefore shall question previous definitions, terminologies, and preconceptions, created within the Anthropocene, to this new way of thinking.

To begin to understand this project, we shall define the name Synapomorphic Facilities. Synapomorphies are genetic traits that are present in ancestral species and shared exclusively by their evolutionary descendants. Within the context of the Hyperloop program, two major ancestral discoveries are linked to the creation of this transportation advancement. One would be the telegraph and the other is the locomotive. Both of which have left permanent scars on the earth surface as remnants of a past anthropocentric drive for connectivity.

The telegraph was brought to the United States in 1844 by Samuel Morse, whose creation of a telegraph line between Washington DC and Baltimore marked the acceleration of audible connectivity into the future. The genetic trait that we hope the telegraph does not potentially pass down to the Hyperloop would be the dominant trait of above ground connectivity. While the recessive trait of the subterranean connectivity, would be preferred. This project directly addresses this by suggesting the burying of partial tubes as they extend into the landscape as a precursor to the great incision that the Hyperloop will create into the earth surface. This horizontal datum becomes extremely important in dividing the project into two halves, where everything exists in an ambiguous state of above and below simultaneously.


The US locomotive train can be tied directly to the Hyperloop through its dominant trait of underfunding and underutilization versus the recessive trait of utilization and optimization of public transportation. This is also seen in the inclusion of the fully open and public pathways that wind throughout the project allowing the public to freely move and experience the site.

These Synapomorphic Facilities contain a rich history of anthropocentric genes in which there is a chance to correct the previous mistakes humans have made scaring and forever altering the earth. Therefore each human-centric element in this project is paired with a sustainable element or an earth-centric one. This hopefully calls into attention and flattens our hierarchy by removing the human from the center.

Not to forget the inanimate, the center of the projected is actually a traditional power-plant, which will be necessary to fuel part of the facility’s extreme need for energy while also providing energy for outside towns. Here, it is tied to multiple evaporation beds, in which water and liquid produced by the power-plant will be expelled and evaporate naturally, leaving behind salt and dry residue to be reused.

The architectural elements housing the human facilities of restaurants, offices, labs, etc. are all contained within larger amorphic structures that incorporate dry roof gardens as well as roof mounted photovaultaics. The gardens help in the collection of water and reduction of albedo while the photovaultaics will help supplement the electricity needed to run the facility.

We have taken quantum leaps forward in technology, transportation, information, and computation over the past few decades. The Hyperloop is an incredibly interesting fulcrum on which the human-centric world could potentially shift towards a ontologically flat world. The Synapomorphic Facilities attempts to do just that, shift the attention away from the human and towards an amalgamation of multiple objects, histories, visitors, animals, particles, radio waves, plants, bacteria, and environments. Through this, we hope to create a place that offers an interpretation on what the future holds for the post-anthropocentric world.

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