“Wicked Ecologies” is a design research project by Rob Holmes and Brett Milligan.

California’s Bay Delta and the Florida Everglades share much in common. Both vast wetlands have been transformed by earthworks that control flooding, regulate hydrology, support urbanization, and permit agriculture. Both are imperiled by these infrastructures’ unintended consequences, including subsidence, contamination, insufficient water flows, and ecological collapse. Both are sites for massive restoration efforts whose implementation has been stymied by seemingly irresolvable political battles.

Amidst this alteration, degradation, and stagnation, “Wicked Ecologies” investigates how design might operate where engineering, science, and politics are failing. Can the envisioning techniques of scenario design, first developed by futures studies, illuminate new potential trajectories for the Everglades and the Bay Delta? Refining those methodologies, can architecture open up fresh possibilities within a paralyzed public conversation? What useful parallels can be drawn between these territories of crisis? Ultimately, what can architecture learn about conducting large-scale design in the context of uncertainty, environmental flux, and political paralysis?