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UH Moment

UH Moment: ‘3 Continents’

Houston’s bayous, dams and Ship Channel provide lessons on three continents.



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“One of the strengths of our field is that we are known as the great synthesizers.”

Patricia Oliver is dean of the college of architecture, where students excel at the critical thinking and craft of creating narratives.

“We can take different data or different research outcomes or different input from community folks or government entities and begin to pull that together visually,” she said. “This is so incredibly useful to explain complex ideas and problems to a variety of people without the same background.”


The college’s project, “Risky Habit[at]: Dynamic Living on a Delta,” part of its “3 Continents studio,” examined the similarities and challenges of coastal areas on the Texas Gulf Coast, Buenos Aires and the Netherlands, with students and faculty from each area.

“Half of the world is living in urban deltas, so that immediately says to us that whatever we investigate is pertinent to a huge portion on the globe,” Oliver said.  


Student Jackson Fox was on the UH team and compiled the graphic research that told the story of Houston:  the Ship Channel, Barker dam, floods and opportunities—stories that rang true to the environmental situations of their international colleagues.

“I really did a lot of research into Houston’s very indigenous beginnings as a very natural place in the bayou system,” Fox said. “How, over time, we’ve sculpted the bayou, shoaled its shores and paved over it.”  


The year-long project, its architectural partners, faculty and student researchers were invited to participate in the prestigious Venice Biennale, the largest and most significant architecture exhibition in the world.

“This is not just collaborative studio work,” Fox noted. “This is collaborative international effort.”

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