The 2022 Michael Evamy Scholarship recipient Julia Johnston presented her winning research thesis “Dark Honey: A geoarchitectural fiction of extraction and extinction” at the DIALOG Toronto Studio on Thursday, January 18.
Selected from a field of candidates across Canada, the scholarship provides the opportunity for a student to undertake a research project in a field of interest to them relevant to the practice of architecture. The Michael Evamy Scholarship was established by DIALOG to honour the memory of Michael Evamy, a partner instrumental in building the practice.
Graduating last year with her Master’s degree from Dalhousie University School of Architecture, Johnston’s thesis explores the consequences of gold mining in Canada, through a storytelling lens that details an imagined collective of nomadic citizens travelling along the southern border of the province of British Columbia and its abandoned extraction sites.
As part of the scholarship, Johnston travelled to B.C., visiting 30 locations to support her thesis. “I visited eight cities, two municipalities, five towns, four villages, one hamlet, four unincorporated areas, and six “ghost” camps,” she shares. “Between settlements, I observed various abandoned extraction sites on crown land accessed from forest service roads, relying heavily on GPS coordinates and word of mouth. This scholarship allowed me to become entangled in a world that I would have otherwise only brushed the surface of.”
Although the thesis focuses on a small rural settlement seemingly lost in the past, it speaks to a familiar tale of crisis: tending to a planet damaged by extraction. During her travels, she developed the concept for Dark Honey as a way to explore a dark ecological awareness of a world continually becoming. Johnston shared thoughtful analysis of the afterlives of these abandoned gold mines and what this means for our planet.
“Pretending to exist in a world without waste goes against our very nature – it is imperative that we work on our perceptions of it,” Johnston shares. “We must tend to these places and learn to love our monsters. Architecture is never just architecture, it exists within a much greater entanglement; it is a multidisciplinary, multigenerational, multispecies endeavour.”
About the Michael Evamy Scholarship
DIALOG established the Michael Evamy Scholarship to honour the memory of Michael Evamy, a partner instrumental in building its integrated practice from 1966 to 1993. The award provides financial assistance to the selected Canadian student attending a Canadian school of architecture in the year prior to their final year of study, to undertake a specific research project in a field of interest to them and relevant to the practice of architecture.