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A Crude Island


Masters Thesis Project
Bartlett School of Architecture, 2010-2011

Historically, intensified energy flows have simultaneously been the reason behind massive cultural transformations and entropic damage to the planet. Now, the capitalist and political forces that control energy distribution networks have exchanged natural destruction for short-term profits while the public at large continues to consume at increasing rates. This paradox of progressive development at the expense of the environment reveals the instability of the current energy distribution methods. These stratified energy systems must be critiqued and re-evaluated, particularly the petroleum industry.

This project is titled “A Crude Island” as a reference to the site under investigation- the Inglewood Oil Fields in Los Angeles, California. These 950 acres act as an open framework to implement the ideas discussed in the thesis through a long-term programmatic narrative.

After unplugging the oilfield from the surrounding energy grid and corporate control, a massive disassembly of the existing infrastructure created a kit of parts to construct a new structural framework for sustainable algae biofuel production and landscape cultivation. The oil extracted from the algae bioreactors is used in conjunction with the remaining drops of crude oil to propagate the barren landscape with a precision cultivation system. “Landscape printers” guided by virtual parameters accurately plot native seeds in defined parcels and are designed to expire within the printed forests after the oil supply is slowly depleted. This long-term landscape transformation results in the formation of a Los Angeles Central Park containing the corpses of the oil-based technologies responsible for its creation.

Full Thesis, Radical Energy Systems, linked here.

Published in Kerb Journal of Landscape Architecture Edition 20: Speculative Stories-Narratives in Landscape Architecture