Guest editor: Linda Schilling

The Anthropocene is the geological epoch in which the human presence has left a layer of matter on the Earth's surface that would not be there without its influence. According to Chakrabarty in The Climate of History in a Planetary Age, our species has moved from being a "biological agent" to a "geological force," indicating that we have gone from modifying our immediate environment for survival to altering the chemical composition of our atmosphere, leading to rising sea levels and increasingly severe climate events. Microplastics in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, remnants of lead in polar ice, and even tailings in inhabited urban areas all serve as evidence of out-of-place matter by human action.

This out-of-place matter is neither cleansed nor washed away; it does not disappear; it only moves; nothing escapes the atmosphere of the terrestrial sphere. In this context, Latour introduces the "critical zone" idea, challenging our Cartesian cartographic understanding of the planet. It refers to a critical zone several kilometers thick in which we coexist with this out-of-place matter. 

Architecture has been an accomplice and primary user of extractive industries, promoting the ideals of modernity and development. However, more and more exponents of the discipline are challenging these practices and exploring alternative possibilities for architectural thinking, design, and production. They recognize that human action, which displaced such matter - out of place - has the potential to reverse asymmetries that jeopardize the collective project of humanity and that could foreground communities without decision-making power over the environmental degradation to which they are subjected. 

As designers, we must create modes of coexistence with matter out of place and design new frameworks that recognize our collective participation alongside non-human actors in shaping the world. The climate crisis demands decisive action and reforming our relationship with the natural environment. 

This issue of Materia Arquitectura seeks contributions that explore these new conditions in the context of environmental degradation. It calls for research and design projects, both speculative and realized, that reformulate our relationship to the design of public spaces, environmental management systems, and our active role as citizens and professional custodians of the landscapes we inhabit.

[1] Concept developed by Mary Douglas in Purity and Danger: an Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, where pollution is understood as a spatial concept.

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