“Sometimes, a simple shift in perspective or scale can unveil solutions. I'm passionate about material activism because we can't ignore the consequences of our material choices any longer.”

Graduating with a Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism, Anna Avdalyan shifted gears from the fashion and event industry to focus on the production of textiles, material ecology, and sustainable land management within California’s Tulare Lake basin. The thrilling opportunity of studying biocomposite materials and landscape architecture has allowed Anna to gain a new perspective on contemporary material culture and fuel her passion for material activism, especially with the fashion industry’s impact on the modern material crisis.

Anna’s final thesis work won Best Research Award at 2024 USC Architecture Research Symposium. Learn more about her final thesis and journey.

Q: Tell us briefly about your background and why you chose your program at USC Architecture.

My academic background lies in sociology. Prior to joining this program, I spent several years working in the fashion and event industry as a creative producer. However, I felt the need for a change, a new direction where I could use my skills and passion to address modern ecological issues. I've always been driven by curiosity and never afraid to follow my interests. I'm thankful for the support I've found at USC Architecture to pursue this path.

Q: Describe the research project you are working on?

My project, "Textile Landscapes: The Material Future of Tulare Lake," explores the material characteristics of cotton, a significant non-food crop with a rich historical presence in Central Valley agriculture, particularly within the Tulare Lake basin. It addresses the profound environmental imbalances stemming from conventional agricultural practices and unsustainable water management in the region. The research aims to uncover sustainable approaches for restoring the lake's ecosystem through a focus on material considerations, advocating for a material ecology approach.

Through an examination of cotton's secondary cellulose and its potential as a functional filler for biocomposites, I propose a novel methodology that reimagines the future of fibers and the ecological framework of cotton cultivation and water management infrastructure. "Textile Landscapes" presents a comprehensive strategy for environmental stewardship at both the landscape and material levels

Q: What was the inspiration or insights you’ve had that help you come up with this project?

Inspired by the regenerative materials movement in design and architecture, I immersed myself in understanding and connecting with biocomposite materials. This journey is a blend of uncertainty and thrilling opportunities for experimentation. Sometimes, a simple shift in perspective or scale can unveil solutions. I'm passionate about material activism because we can't ignore the consequences of our material choices any longer.



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