Lateral Ignition and Flame Spread Test observed under visible and blue light. Credit: Benjamin Mehigan

Benjamin Mehigan



A Golden State

Confronting the Definition and Mediatization of ‘Extreme’ Climatic Events in California

This thesis will examine the architectural ecology of wildfire’s increasingly suburban character, one which has transformed the presence of flame through the disciplines not limited to: forest management; building regulations; urban planning; resilience engineering; disaster management and insurance underwriting into various forms of suppression. Tracing through the visible and embedded presence of fire within these various disciplines is to identify a number of aesthetic judgments within the structuring of fire’s management in California’s wildland-urban interface. Struggling for viability in the relentless cycle of burn and rebuild, these disciplines have been increasingly reliant on the production of photographic evidence to transform the thresholds of environmental and economic risk into a higher cultural tolerance for Golden State living.

Images of a laminated veneer lumber specimen during a Lateral Ignition and Flame Spread Test: (left) Imaged using broad‐spectrum light and (right) imaged using narrow‐spectrum illumination and optical filters.


Benjamin Mehigan is a designer and researcher based in London. He graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture (2016) and the Royal College of Art (2020) and is to continue his research as a PhD candidate in Architecture at the RCA. Benjamin is currently a researcher at the School of Architecture having previously worked as a spatial designer for museums, festivals and immersive experiences.

Royal College of Art - MA Architecture Head of Programme Award (2020)
Royal College of Art - Drawing/Image Award (2020)

Betts Project, London - Not only, but also (2020)
A83, New York - Working Remotely (2020)
Sluice Gallery, London - Lost in Location (2019)
Sir Johnny Ive - Singular, Optimistic and New (2020) - A curated collection of particular bodies of work that “believe[d] to be regard- ed as significant in the future”.

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Ines Weizman