Canada is steward to 10% of the worlds’ forests. They play a global role in producing oxygen and sequestering carbon. Nationally timber is a major industry that is an integral part of Canada’s economic strategies. Climate and ecological change threaten the survival of the ecologies we have grown accustom to using for recreation, inspiration and harvesting as a resource. Rising temperatures are accelerating and widening the spread of insects, disease, and forest fires.
This thesis explores how ecological sensing could be coupled with recreation and public engagement and be facilitated by a network of architectural interventions. The fire lookout serves as an inspirational intersection of an identifiable cultural symbol that became a fixture of wilderness and conservation culture as well as a tool for investigating and managing ecologies. An optically functional architecture that spatially frames the act of diligent surveillance and stewardship over vast landscapes. They operate individually in the landscape as landmarks, viewpoints, touristic destinations and simultaneously as a network of architectural instruments for registering the subtle and violent changes that characterize these changing ecosystems. The lookouts also represent a place for fostering an embodied and personal relationship with the landscape to those who occupy or visit them.
Through the design, the fire lookout is reinterpreted with today’s broader understanding of what constitutes a forest ecology linking modern methods of ecological monitoring, remote sensing and field sampling to a grounded architectural manifestation that recognizes the importance of public participation and experience of the landscape if wildlands and ecologies are to maintain societal relevance beyond simple resource extraction sites.