Frozen Cities / Liquid Networks. (air)port & Infrastructural Autonomy

[Air/Port, a new infrastructure for Igloolik. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

The melting of the polar caps will not only open up new shipping routes such as the North-West and Northern Passage, it has the potential to connect existing communities in the Arctic to a larger network of distribution.  Presently, most Arctic communities depend heavily on imported goods which are largely distributed via air.   As shipping routes emerge, local economies are enabled by producing and distributing goods both locally and regionally.  The following project, developed by Amrit Phull and Claire Lubell, in the Frozen Cities/ Liquid Networks studio at the University of Waterloo, examines how new infrastructure can be produced in the Arctic that allows for the transference from air to shipping logistics and, while doing so, addresses the issue of food production and coastal erosion in the Arctic.  It questions how remote coastal communities throughout Canada’s Arctic can establish self-sufficiency in anticipation of economic and environmental fluctuations.  As stated by Lubell and Phull: The proposal seeks to provide a hard infrastructure which responds to the  immediate needs of the community, but is also the root of growth in a context where change in landscape, resources and community occurs at varying speeds. In particular the project examines the potential development of Port Churchill as well as a major international port in the Northwest Passage and how this can create a network of small ports, at existing communities, along the west coast of Hudson’s Bay.

[Systems Diagram showing the relationship created between the new infrastructure and community, cultural programmes, food production and energy. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

[Permafrost - current and projected showing areas of predicted coastal erosion. Freeze/ Thaw maps outlining new transportation routes. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull].

Many Arctic communities are currently serviced weekly by combi and turboprop aircraft, which are expected to be obsolete in the next decades.  These communities also rely on seasonal service by Sealift operations from Churchill and Montreal.  Many families eagerly await their seasonal shipping container of goods - whether food, clothing or cars.  The proposal by Lubell and Phull focuses on the community of Igloolik, situated at the opening of the Fury and Hecla Strait.  Igloolik is poised to be an ideal regional port that is opportunistically sited between the NW Passage (and its associated future international shipping ports) as well as local ports along the western edge of the Hudson Bay.  Igloolik currently has a populace of 1600, and home to centres of research and cultural programmes such as film and circus production companies.  Over the next five years, Igloolik has a projected population growth of 6800 - requiring vast amounts of resources for the increasing population.  The project is more specifically sited on the Northern shores of Igloolik, to reduce the coastal erosion in this vulnerable area.

[Ideal Siting of Igloolik to be a regional port that interfaces with an International and Local Ports. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull.]

[The difficulty and problems of imported food in the Arctic. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull].

[Typical Logistical Process for Food in the Arctic. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

[Delivery Process of Food. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

[The delivery process of food - Detail. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

Paved airstrips are an immediate necessity to service these remote settlements, while port facilities will address the future changes in the Arctic - longer shipping seasons coupled with rapid population growth and their associated servicing.  In fact, as the melting ice sheds infrastructural isolation of these communities, air servicing will no longer be practical.  Phull and Lubell begin by designing an airstrip with a planned second life.  They ask: How can the airstrip, a mark of every arctic community, become a highly integrated meeting place for different avenues of infrastructure? How can it provide the necessary framework to grow as a port and eventually be absorbed into a spreading community?

[Phasing Diagrams. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

Phase 1 - 2010 to 2015 Building of pneumatic silos, piles and airstrip deck of 1100 meters in length accommodates current ATR combi aircraft. Sealift vessels can dock and unload cargo onto the deck using their own cranes and cargo can be driven back to the community. Phase 2- 2015 to 2020 Second deck is built in two stages: first the community warehouse and marina then the barge docks, large cargo dock, and under water research center / film and circus school. Barge docks can be used as ice fishing platforms in the winter. The airstrip deck still accommodates atr combi as sealift operations are still infrequent but ATR’s are aging (they were built in the 1960s) Phase 3 - 2020 to 2040 ATR combi aircraft are reaching obsolescence, therefore only 600 meters of airstrip is required to accommodate small passenger aircraft. At the same time as phasing out food mail deliveries by air, food production connected to the barge docks and heat pump is phased in. The hydroponic greenhouse consists of a permanent portion and expands in the summer in both directions to include a community greenhouse. These expansions are appropriated for hockey, an indoor market, and extra port warehousing during the winter. Phase 4- 2040 to 2100 Once aircraft are completely phased out other silos are built up to house formal community programs such as health care, library, and museum/archives, while smaller ones serve as general warm spaces in an open field. Paint markings on the airstrip tarmac encourage informal activities such as outdoor markets, a drive-in theatre, small recreational areas attached to the warm nodes, etc. The airstrip becomes an open public space with a few grounding amenities as the community grows towards it.

[Exploded Axonometric showing programmatic, energy and infrastructural assembly. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull].

This cohesive infrastructural typology could be emulated in similar communities and takes the form of a permanent intervention bridging between land and water as well as local and regional communities and products.  The port integrates all scales of marine traffic (cargo, container, cruise, barge, ferry, fishing) with various programmes focused on promoting self sufficiency within the community, including food production.

[Plans/ Sections of the various layers of the project. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

[Plan and Section Detail. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

[Transverse Section showing layering of infrastructure, energy and food production with Community Programmes. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

[Rendering of New Infrastructure Typology. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

The current relationship between community and the goods they rely on is faceless, and with the decline of subsistence hunting due to changing migration patterns, the connection to food is disappearing.  The project emphasizes this connection through on site food production which promotes trade between communities, not to mention decreasing reliance on the south for fresh goods and associated dependence on air infrastructure (which is both expensive and largely consuming of jet fuel).  The (air)port effectively acts as an infrastructural hub for bringing together local community around production, as well as connecting this community to larger regional networks through shipping.  The Greenhouse coupled within the port takes on different functions in the non-growing season, and is complimented with a market and cultural programs.  This not only connects the local community to their food but reintroduces the inherent skills of sharing and traditional cultural rituals.  The exchanges in this new infrastructure are manifold - economic, cultural and logistical.

[View of Interior. Image courtesy of Lubell and Phull]

All images courtesy of Amrit Phull and Claire Lubell

Category: 
InfraNet LabStudent Work

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