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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. 

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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 Seaas 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. 

Thursday Night at Het Nieuwe Instituut
Luca Napoli

Thursday Night Live! is a weekly programme of lectures, screenings and discussions on architecture, design and digital culture. Developments and critical insights are discussed by thinkers, designers and makers from the Netherlands and abroad.