Frozen Cities Liquid Networks: Re-rigging Aumanil

[Arctic nations, continental shelves and territorial limits]

[Arctic nations, continental shelves and territorial limits]

[Ed note: this work was produced in the Frozen Cities Liquid Networks studio.]

At 162,000 km (including the Arctic Archipelago), Canada is the country with the longest Arctic shoreline – ahead of its compatriots Russia, Norway, Greenland/Denmark, and the USA.  Arctic Nations have been racing to chart their respective under-water continental shelves, in order to claim the abundance of natural resources which lie beneath the sea bed. Yet Canada has never been a nation known for its military might. Indeed at the moment, Canada has five icebreakers that guide foreign vessels through Canada’s Arctic waters and assist in harbour breakouts, routing, and northern resupply, but ironically, none that can operate all season. And the Canadian Forces Northern Area (CFNA), headquartered in Yellowknife, consists of 65 personnel, responsible for defending 4 million km2 of unforgiving territory. Meanwhile, the Russians have been theatrically (and quite literally) planting flags in the arctic sea floor– claiming it as theirs. The CBC has a great documentary covering this arctic race.

[Unpacking the logistics of millitary control and oil extraction]

[Unpacking the logistics of millitary control and oil extraction]

Aumanil, by Dan McTavish and Kevin Lisoy, of the University of Waterloo, takes as its premise that Canada needs to assert its military presence within the North West passage, for strategic and monitoring purposes. Yet the project also works under the assumption that Canada is unlikely to liberate the funds required for such an outpost anytime soon. Aumanil opportunistically envisages the Canadian government  leveraging oil companies to create a new hybrid oil rig / military base.

[Aumanil: at the confluence of oil resources and global trade  routes]

[Aumanil: at the confluence of oil resources and global trade routes]

Lisoy and McTavish write: “the siting of Aumanil facilitates the direct collection, transfer, refinement and storage of crude oil extracted from the largest projected oil reserve in the North. The site also facilitates the active management, control and assertion of sovereignty by Canada of the resources and routes of the North.” A permanently moored city replete with social, military and port infrastructure, Aumanil envisages a new Arctic settlement or Port-City, that shifts its programmatic weight from oil extraction and refining in its early phases, to military and port intensive use in a post-peak oil scenario. Rig components

[Rig components]

[Re-rigging: from oil extraction to millitary port-city]

[Re-rig: from oil extraction to millitary port-city]

The project takes the basic components of the oil rig and reconfigures them to allow future flexibility, allowing Aumanil to remain economically viable. “As the oil functions leave the modules public amenities are introduced into the system. Food production, water desalination, energy management and collection become the new processes of the rig.

[From oil storage to green energy]

[From oil storage to green energy]

Both the industrial and social qualities of the rig have the capacity to change with external influences (Oil exploration, depletion of specific resources, the opening of the Northwest Passage), but as well with changing internal conditions ( ie. inclusion of families on the rig and a shift from temporal occupancy to more permanent habitation).

[Co-habitation: oil production and living units]

[Co-habitation: oil production and living units]

[Accommodations are modular so internal configurations may be reworked as social conditions change]

[Accommodations are modular so internal configurations may be reworked as social conditions change]

Lisoy and McTavish write: “Aumanil is an infrastructure in the macro and micro sense. The project is a projection screen, making legible the changing landscape of Canadian sovereignty, resource extraction and dwelling in the Canadian North.”

[Oil rig as Banham-nian mega-structure]

[Oil rig as Banhamian mega-structure]

Canada will surely need to partner with a global power to maintain some semblance of sovereignty in the Canadian North. A likely candidate is the United States, but in an era of sky-rocketing national debts and increased Public-Private Partnerships, military and oil companies might not make such strange bed-fellows. This work was completed in the InfraNet Lab run studio Frozen Cities Liquid Networks at the University of Waterloo. (All images, unless otherwise noted, are by Dan McTavish and Kevin Lisoy.)

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