Extension, Disjunction and Cultivation across the North Sea

Authors: Nancy Couling*, TU Delft
Topics: Urban Geography, Energy, Coastal and Marine
Keywords: Extended urbanisation, North Sea, Offshore, Landings, Ekofisk, Humber Estuary,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Hampton Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper discusses research findings of the North Sea as a site of extended urbanisation. It argues that high levels of spatial occupation, circulation of materials, labour and finance and tight technological control characterise the establishment and operationalisation of a new type of geographic place offshore. The North Sea is the most industrialised sea in the world. Rich production from the fishing, petroleum and wind industries is delivered back to land in different forms at incongruous landings. From this inverse, decentralised position of exchanges from the sea to the land, processes of extended urbanisation that would otherwise remain invisible, emerge in full relief. Connections with established urban sites are frequently carefully camouflaged, and can be subject to peripheralisation due to restless neo-liberal logistics. Two North Sea sites exemplify these dynamics and are looked at more closely- the Humber Estuary and the Ekofisk oilfield. Extended urbanisation in the North Sea results in impossible public proximity at sea, abrupt juxtapositions of scale and morphology on shore and unsustainable pressure across the whole marine ecosystem. Human passageways are narrow, closely guarded & highly regulated. However the sea is a cultural artefact. Along with its liminal societies, it has been completely transformed over the last two generations and selected installations are recognised monuments of Cultural Heritage. Current maritime challenges of decommissioning, renewable energy, biodiversity loss and climate change are inextricably interrelated, marking a paradigm shift in the planetary condition. The North Sea demands an urgent design for re-cultivation as an extended urban realm

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