Under the Table

Climate Policy Simulation Platform

Table Manners: Performance + Platform  [enter here]
CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning, October 2023

What is Under the Table? It’s a desire to bring climate policy and visual simulation together in order to generate conversation around how these policies impact our lived experiences. Around the table, students engaged in a dicussion on Colorado’s recent climate legislation, ever so often ducking under to experience the visual consequences that these policies portent. Photographs by Martina Grbac (Table Manners, 2023) & CU Denver.

Spatializing Biodiversity Futures.  The importance of land use determination is often de-prioritized in policy concerning climate adaptation. The urgency to develop and deliver renewable energy networks requires large areas of land which could disrupt ecological systems and destroy critical wildlife habitats.  Urban development and sprawling cities encroach upon already threatened ecological zones. At the same time, the desire to protect biodiversity confronts conflicting needs to expand arable land and meet food production demands.

Spatializing Heat Futures. Temperatures are rising globally due to human-caused climate change. This increase in heat causes a vicious cycle of warming if cities rely on fossil fuels to power heat mitigating technologies such as air conditioning. Conversely, fossil fuels are also burned to provide space heating during the cold season. Alternative technologies such as heat pumps and geothermal energy provide fossil fuel alternatives to achieve thermal comfort. Passive and low-energy systems such as reflective shading canopies, evaporative cooling, and fans offer a narrower range of comfort but require less energy and resources to run.

Spatializing  Water Futures. Access to water is becoming increasingly crucial from multiple vantage points. The growth of human settlements augment demand for clean drinking water. Meanwhile, growing populations exert pressure on agricultural production which in turn spikes up water usage. As temperatures rise globally, snowmelt as a form of reservoir replenishment has become less reliable. Aquafers are also becoming depleted in certain cities. The fight for water rights will increasingly dominate climate policy and litigation in a drier, hotter future. 
Under the Table is an invitation to get mischievous (and distracted!). Architects and policymakers don’t often speak the same language when it comes to climate change. As designers, we work through spatial mediums. On the other hand, many of the institutional levers of climate action feed through legal and economic channels. This project encourages designers to get bogged down with policy frameworks AND challenges policymakers to think spatially. Can we operate on both modalities to speculate on the environmental consequences of our political will?

As constituents, we need to pass climate policy to transition towards a just, decarbonized society but policy doesn’t always hold the public imagination. So, while official climate strategies are being debated on the formal stage through policy initiatives, there’s still exciting and fun work being done behind the scenes. Akin to playing video games under the dinner table, this platform allows participants to surreptitiously dive into various game interfaces that catalyze productive frameworks on designing for the climate. Amidst the backdrop of official climate targets and decarbonization strategies, this playful engagement asks us to consider all manners of climate design, both the serious and the fanciful, as necessary modalities for imagining joyful change.

Under the Table is a performance and platform designed for the Table Manners series, conceived by José Ibarra. The first performance of Under the Table was held at CU Denver College of Architecture and Planning.