DesignTO: Lower Dream State

The short film, LOWER DREAM STATE, elevates the voices of Baja Californians by revealing the complex social and ecological questions they face. It takes viewers on the ground, in the air, and over the sea, directly embedding them into the fragile desert region. The film raises questions regarding some of the most vital resource extraction industries: salt, copper, and produce. These ordinary resources represent some of the basic building blocks of modern civilization and part of daily global resource flows. The Baja peninsula represents a case study of how people inhabit regions that offer so much to the world, yet receive so little back. Advancements in architecture and urban planning, applied in concert with local knowledge, might offer a way forward that empowers both social and ecological systems.

Oliver J. Curtis and Gabriel Muñoz Moreno met in 2015 while at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where their common interest in architecture and ecology brought them together. As co-recipients of a research fellowship through Harvard’s Mexican Cities Initiative, they studied adaptation and development patterns throughout the oases of Baja California.

Oliver J. Curtis is a design professional who explores coherence among ecology, technology, and design. He consults with city officials, non-governmental organizations, and architecture firms regarding sustainability and building resilience best practices. Curtis is Adjunct Faculty in Information Design at the Boston Architectural College where he teaches landscape representation. Curtis received his Masters in Design Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, having been awarded the prestigious Penny White research grant and the Center for Geographic Analysis H.T. Fisher Prize for mapping.

Muñoz Moreno is a technologist, architect, urban planner, and entrepreneur. He is the Director of LAIA Lab in New York, which focuses on combining design and biodiversity to create holistic infrastructure solutions and socioeconomic opportunities, captured in novel built environments. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Jacques Rougerie Foundation Laureate, the ARCH+ Planetary Urbanism Award, the Real Colegio Complutense Harvard Fellow, and the Casa de Velazquez Fellow. Muñoz Moreno received his Masters in Design Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he was awarded the prize for best thesis.