Martha studies our built environment as a delicate ecology using representation methods that visualize the cycles of life in order to more acutely address temporal, social, and environmental issues. Her work engages everyday users of a city—their choreography often takes the form of a performance and/or installation, documents that are life-size and participatory and that she refers to as inhabitable drawings. Within them, city residents collect, experience, reflect, and contribute.
These projects include several Living Maps of cities: NY A/V, PROXY_florence, Dispersed Memorial, Día de los Trastos, and BiCi_N. Through collective participation these maps affect, in real-time, possibilities for positive social and environmental change. Her designs address in simple yet inventive ways the conditions of our built environment that need rethinking. These include products and systems such as superABSORBER, a new kind of highway sound barrier that works like a living sponge—digesting and transforming sound and air pollution; and SEED, which re-envisions the life cycle of shipping containers to create homes for port city residents left homeless by natural disasters.
In 1999, during her fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Martha developed Notation A/V, a seminar about the merging of drawing and moving image. She exploits this methodology in her work to filter, transmit, capture, and celebrate the intangible qualities of the passing of time with solutions that address the relationships between humans and the ecologies in which they are situated. She continued this work at Clemson University, where she taught as an Assistant Professor of Architecture for 11 years. Martha also spent 16 years as a partner at fieldoffice, a design studio she co-founded.
Martha’s work has been exhibited internationally, published in collections such as Installations by Architects and Urgent Architecture, and recognized in publications such as Discover Magazine, ID Magazine, Metropolis Magazine, Fast Company, Business Week, Architectural Record, Transmaterial, and WordChanging. Honors for her work include five awards from I.D. Magazine, a Next Generation Award from Metropolis Magazine, receipt of a People, Prosperity and the Planet Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency, and inclusion in the 10th Venice Biennale and the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam.
Martha was born in Bogota and has lived in Paris, Prague, Barcelona, Vicenza, Otranto, and in several US cities. She is a designer, artist, professor, student, and mother. Her most recent project and the topic of her TEDx presentation, The Exponential Power of Design, invite you to be part of a huge collaboration.