John’s teaching and research address contested landscapes, using drawing to describe narratives of tension and possible avenues of synthesis and reconciliation. He also practices through project-based collaboration.
John is working in several contested landscapes, including three with coastal British Columbian First Nations partner communities: the Nuxalk Nation, the Fort Rupert Kwakiutl Band, and the Nisga’a Nation. These projects include design at the scale of buildings and landscape, but include studies of colonization, property law and photographic interpretation; locally sourced housing, value-added material processing and capacity building; and indigenous food practices, design and education.
John has several ongoing projects in India. In Chandigarh, he is doing research on three of its contested geographies: sector and periphery city; the Capital Complex; and the landed and entrepreneurial city. He is in the final planning stages of a Chandigarh studies abroad program to take place in September - December 2015. He has also completed a schematic engineering design for low-tech public infrastructure improvements for the Punjab village of Manko. He is working with Vancouver and Chandigarh-based partners on the development of this project.
John was a co-investigator with the Coastal Communities Project, a SSHRC-funded multi-disciplinary research initiative of UBC and partner communities situated along the Pacific coast of British Columbia. Several works have resulted from this research, most notably Naming and Claiming: The Fort Rupert Reconstruction Project. This project was done in collaboration with the Fort Rupert Kwakiutl Band in Fort Rupert, BC. The work developed through a close observation of the Band’s historic photograph collection, dating to the early 1860s. It includes essays, narrative drawings, chronological analysis, graphic spatial reconstructions, and a material culture catalogue. A portion of this work was published in Architecture and Justice: Judicial Meanings in the Public Realm (Ashgate, 2013)
John is the director of the Delta National Park project, a research and design project and blog focused on the water and spatial politics of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta area of California. The design work speculates on a hybrid public/private Delta future as an alternative to the gridlocked discourse of entrenched interests and risk-averse technocracy currently dominating debate. A part of this work appeared in GAM01 – Tourism and Landscape, published by the Technical University of Graz, Austria. The DNP project is available online.