Ocean Waste | OPN Masterclass
Course: Arch 000
Students Involved: Stella Hyunseo Lee, Suk Lee, Alonso Ortega, Weilun Chen
The concern of our project is the experimental field of seabed mining. This is of great debate because the distribution of ocean territory transcends coastline borders and since this regulation is outside of national jurisdiction, seabed mining is currently being managed by the “International Seabed Authority” and distributed to private entities as exclusive economic zones.
The process of bringing rare earth materials from the seabed to the surface of the water distributes sediments in the ocean, suffocating aquatic species. The machinery used for this process also releases chemical toxins into the ocean. So this is of much dispute within current ecological and political discussions regarding the marine environment.
What you see here is an object that spans ninety thousand square feet in a Natural History Museum. Although in present time we are only just “dipping our toes” into seabed mining, we imagine a moment when the need for constant expansion and growth inherent to current modes of production will pursue uncharted territories for human life. Predicated on this series of events, the curators of this exhibition seek to celebrate the successful escape from the consequences of excavation we witness on dry land today. The immersive diorama is a 1:1 model of the very environment in which the museum itself exists.
The seabed is rich in rare earth minerals imperative for human life whose presence on dry land appears to be fading quickly. Allowing production and circulation to take place in the direct environment from which our dearly held commodities materialize appears as the most efficient means through which capital can accumulate.
The only limitation to this proposition is eradicated through the use of a grid. A concept held dearly to Euro-centric forms of city planning as seen in Barcelona or more closely the American midwest, the grid presents itself here as at once containing the sea water to a given form and providing an equal distribution of property for an orderly human culture.
While the size of this object may be intimidating, human access is imperative for its program.!Each dry module, enclosed by four walls of glass, is made available with ladders. While much of the sea bed is needed for production cycles, the rest of the space both at the level of the floor and the level of the surface is used for leisure. Autonomous bodies might veer over the open gaps, watching a monstrous auger bury a hole in the sediment or they might linger across the seemingly infinite glass boulevards, basking in the gentle breeze of the wind turbines’ palpitations. Regardless of what the occupant might be doing, the monumental scale of the environment in which existence materialises can never be escaped. Drawing three depicts this infinite scale as the viewer peers into the abyss of glass and sea water.
The nature of recent discourse regarding climate change reveals to us the trap of scale as being precisely what prevents a collective recognition of the significance of nature in our present moment. With the spatial distribution that constitutes this object, we begin to ask: does architecture possess the language to communicate information that might be imperative?