The Urbanisation of the Sea
From oil platforms to wind farms, entire infrastructures are built upon the seemingly empty expanse of the sea. In a special event organised by nai010 publishers and based on the new book, The Urbanisation of the Sea, researcher Nancy Couling and port city expert Carola Hein explore the consequences and possibilities of these maritime developments. With contributions by urban theorist Neil Brenner, urban designer Han Meyer and curator Chus Martínez.
The sea is currently demanding our attention as it is changing from a vast and deep resource into an environmental threat after years of exploitation. With a growing range of large-scale maritime projects being developed, this raises questions about the spatial, social and cultural values that we attach to the sea and the exploitative systems of power that control them.
This event, organised by nai010 publishers as part of the TNL! Guest Programme, addresses this ‘urbanisation’ of the ocean. Using their recently published book, The Urbanisation of the Sea, as their point of departure, Nancy Couling and Carola Hein discuss the sea as a territory for design. Taking the North Sea as their example, they show how its expanse has been almost fully planned – and loaded with the task of increasing economic production from both new and traditional maritime sectors. At the same time, they note, the North Sea has been emptied of cultural significance.
They explore this shifting seascape through different projects from academia, art, literature and practice, from analysis to design. By leading creative thinkers and practitioners who recognise the urgent challenges and the potential of the sea, such projects investigate the synergies for designing ocean space.
Topics that Couling and Hein address include the implications of the concept of ocean urbanisation for academic reflection and future invention, and the lessons in design that we need to draw from changing ecologies. Above all, they ask how interdisciplinary creative projects can generate awareness and creating new mind sets on the subject.
Together with urban theorist Neil Brenner, urban designer Han Meyer, and curator Chus Martínez, Couling and Hein call for a greater involvement for the creative industries in collaboration with complimentary experts. The aim is to open up a vibrant field of interdisciplinary dialogue regarding the design and use of ocean space.
With a contribution by publisher Marcel Witvoet of nai010.
Professor Carola Hein is a port city expert and leader of PortCityFutures. As Chair of History of Architecture and Urban Planning at TU Delt, she aims to increase students’ understanding of history and train them to be critically-thinking architects. In this role she attempts to explore and charter long-term developments in the built environement, because, as she says, “it is impossible to understand the present without knowledge of the past.”
Chus Martínez is Head of the Institute of Art of the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel (Switzerland) and the artistic director of the Ocean space in Venice, a project initiated by the TBA21 Academy. With a background in philosophy and art history, her ways of working are based on close conversations with interdisciplinary practitioners. She has been the Chief Curator at El Museo Del Barrio, New York, Head of Department dOCUMENTA (13), member of the Core Agent Group, chief curator at MACBA, Barcelona, Director of the Frankfurter Kunstverein and Artistic Director of Sala Rekalde, Bilbao.
Han Meyer is Professor emeritus of Urban Design at the TU Delft. His research and teaching focuses on the fundaments and perspectives of urbanism, city and port, and in particular he developed and led the Delta Urbanism research programme. Previously, he worked on the Project Organisation Urban Renewal of the City of Rotterdam for ten years. In addition to his teaching and research, he acts as an advisor in urban development projects in the Netherlands as well as abroad. His publications include Urbanism – Fundamentals and Prospects (2020), with John Westrik en MaartenJan Hoekstra, and The State of the Delta: Engineering, Urban development and nation building in the Netherlands (2017).
Nancy Couling is an architect, urban researcher and currently an associate professor at the Bergen School of Architecure, as well as a senior researcher at the ETH Zurich. She held a Marie Curie Post-doc Fellowship at TU Delft, was Chair of History of Architecture and Urban Planning (2017-2019) and gained her PhD at the EPF Lausanne (2015). First practising in New Zealand, Italy, Hong Kong and Germany, she frequently lectures, publishes and exhibits (Oslo Triennale 2019 and Venice Biennale 2016 and 2021).
Neil Brenner is a critical urban theorist, sociologist and geographer, and Lucy Flower Professor of Urban Sociology at the University of Chicago. His current work is focused on the question of how “hinterlands” – the non-city territories, infrastructures and ecologies that support urban life – are being remade under contemporary supply-chain capitalism. This inquiry aims to connect the study of urbanisation more directly to the analysis not only of primary commodity production, but also to the critical exploration of contemporary environmental crises and emergent struggles for post-fossil – and post-capitalist – planetary futures. Brenner’s most recent books are New Urban Spaces: Urban Theory and the Scale Question (Oxford, 2019) and Critique of Urbanisation: Selected Essays (Bauwelt Fundamente, 2016), as well as the edited volume Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanisation (Jovis, 2014).
The Urbanisation of the Sea is published by nai010 publishers and received funding from the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Swiss National Science Foundation. The book can be ordered here.
Specialising in developing, publishing and distributing books in the fields of architecture, urbanism, and art and design, nai010 publishers is notable for its attention to present-day issues, its innovative and interdisciplinary character, and its cutting-edge design. Its books stimulate the contemporary socio-cultural debate and can be found in specialist and museum stores worldwide.