is a public design enterprise for projects in architecture, landscape, and infrastructure.
Through built projects, creative speculation, and spatial communication, we work with others to promote justice-advancing futures. We collaborate across scales—from individuals to organizations—gathering and applying knowledge and indigenous science through a variety of media addressing the dynamics of human geography today. Working at the intersections of form-making, networks, perception, and cartography, our focus is ecological, economic, and technologic in scope. We approach material, information, energy, and time as planetary systems that humans design and redesign.
After Oceanic Projects for Architecture, Landscape, and Infrastructure is a public research and studio-based practice led by Sean Connelly, a designer and creative producer. Sean is an architect, artist, and educator with a Doctorate of Architecture from the University of Hawai‘i and a Master in Design in Landscape, Urbanism, and Ecology from Harvard University. Sean was born on O'ahu and grew around Ko'olaupoko and Kona. He works collaboratively across the East Coast, Southwest, and Pacific.
|Hawai'i Futures 1||2010-|
|A Small Area of Land 2,4||2012-13|
|Land Division 3,4||2014-15|
|Thatched Assembly with Rocks||2016-17|
|Ala Wai Centennial||2017-|
Projects emerging from the theoretical framework of After Oceanic currently include small and approximate interventions concerning time, form, and material in the recovery of ahupua‘a. Online works engage experimental discourse while gallery installations are a communicative media to broadcast applied design research. After Oceanic intends to produce projects at larger scales.
1. Hawai'i Futures is a virtual intervention for island urbanism. As an experiment in new media, the project opens an arena for public speculation and criticism concerning the misuse and underuse of Hawai‘i’s greatest source of energy—the island itself. Hawai‘i Futures presents a notion of the island as a primary technology of sustenance and portrays alternative notions of citymaking according to the life (e.g., ecologies) of volcanic islands versus of continents. Spatial comparisons between Hawaiian land-use and American land-use systems reveal a list of parameters for the recovery of ahupua‘a. (Think Hawaiian Resource Management, or ‘āina-based community development (or the ABCD’s of oceanic citymaking).) Comparisons, parameters, and simulated recoveries are generated through diagrams, 3D mapping, digital models, and financial metrics for every moku and ahupua‘a of O‘ahu. (Selected areas of other Hawaiian Islands have been digitized and are available for collaboration.) The visualized design research presented throughout the project compacts policy, spatial data, statistics, and ethnography into an aesthetic and cohesive vision for the future of an oceanic city.
2. A site specific gallery installation located at street level, A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) creates an event for passersby to contemplate a question about ‘āina: how do our relationships with land affect the futures of development? This gesture occupies a 9’-0” L x 4’-0” W x 7’-0” H cross-section of land that turns the ground into vertical position—a monolith at eye level. 32,000 lbs of volcanic soil (⅔ oxisol + ⅓ vertisol) are harvested, hand-sifted, mixed with coral-sand and water, and then packed into tight geologic formation. Its simple rectangular geometry is trimmed by the altitude of the moon to form a prism facing sunrise on the day land in Hawai‘i was privatized (Kuleana Act: August 6, 1850). Over time A Small Area of Land (which bears English translation to the Hawaiian word kuleana) erodes itself into relaxed ruin . The work is footnoted by Earth Room, an installation of Walter de Maria. (The title Kaka‘ako Earth Room owes an acknowledgement to the curator who encouraged the artist to visit Earth Room in the first place. When the artist proposed a similar installation adapted to a Hawai‘i context, the same curator secured an opportunity for it to be produced.) While Kaka‘ako Earth Room is after De Maria, it is subject to a critical regional reappropriation. Since the surface of dirt is easily anticipated by viewers in Hawai‘i since earth is seen everyday, the construction of A Small Area of Land is offset from the wall by distances for walking and gathering at either side of the gallery. This decision builds from an aspect of De Maria’s Earth Room that involves the interiorization of a material as crucial as soil. Kaka‘ako Earth Room takes interiorized earth and crafts it into an object. Initially it was thought of as an indoor landform furniture. Then the driving factor of the project arrived. The horizontal slab of dirt is turned up to stand with an agency of its own and reveal its posture and bands of variation.
3. The idea of form as compass exists in many structures built during the timeline of ahupua‘a. Spatial alignments in A Small Area of Land are critical and intentional. Land Division reiterates a similar intent. Thousands of pounds of strawberry guava are artificially stacked into a symbolic cross-section of invasive forest cut and compressed onto its side. The geometry of Land Division results from simple boolean operations applied successively to a stable spinning cone. The geometry is independent from the gallery space until its rotation is paused and split with two site-specific georeferences. The first reference is celestial. The form is sited perpendicular to the position of the moon facing sunset on the day of the 1848 Māhele signifying the division of land into shares for privatization. The concave elevation of the sculpture appears in bluish light ceremoniously. These alignments are obscured and only indicated in the gallery with esoteric grey markers . The first is of the moon phase above the date 03.07.1848. The second reference is terrestrial and marked by a second icon showing a vertical bar above the date 07.11.1961. This indicates the direction of the state capital in reference to the passing of legislation that divided into single-use land-use districts. The alignment with the capital diagonally splits the sculpture into two masses that are eventually rotated. Upon entering the gallery the viewer unknowingly becomes a part of a constellation of contemplation regarding the degraded state of watersheds met with the optimism of its use as technology. The note of optimism is presented on the second wall suppressed beneath a soffit. Like a dream, a white map of O‘ahu with all its ahupua‘a recovered is nearly invisible on the wall.