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Erik L’Heureux, 2015 winner of the GSD’s Wheelwright Prize, presents insights from his two years of travel and research for his Wheelwright project, “Hot & Wet.” “Hot & Wet” traces five dense cities across the equator from the large mega-cities of Asia and South America to the mid-scale cities found in India and Africa. Each city confronts rapid population growth, increasing climate change and extreme developmental pressures. The research follows architecture as a guide, framing the complex intertwining of atmosphere, climate, politics, and history at both the building and urban scale. From the recently burned Pasar Johar market by Thomas Karsten, to diminutive tower of Hassan Vogel, to the vestiges of Harry Weese, to the crafted Golconde Dormitory, and the stunning roofs of Vilanova Artigas, the “Grand Tour” of the torrid zone illustrates that architecture holds critically important agency in the transformation and aspiration of the equator.
L’Heureux’s Pencil Office works on mid-scale building projects that combine the challenges of density, urbanization and specifics of the equatorial city. Each project is driven by the atmospheres of passive ventilation, day-lighting, thermal comfort, and durability. A language of simplicity and material detail produce works of meaning and importance. Pencil Office’s design leadership is by Erik L’Heureux. Erik migrated to the equator from New York in 2003. Despite his cool climate background, he has built a thriving and productive practice, with a specialty working on projects throughout South East Asia. The Office for Equatorial Intelligence in parallel operates as the research wing of his design practice and as an extension of his love for the Equator.