Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chan_Territory 1_Unclaimed

Site: International Waters
Players: Nations
Conflict: Natural Resources

Intro: With over seventy percent of our planet covered in water, issues of international jurisdiction were inevitable. The number of ongoing conflicts over navigational waterways, pollution controls and even more importantly, claims to natural resources, have rapidly accelerated due to the advancement of technology. Boundaries over bodies of water, ranging anywhere from rivers to oceans, remain blurry and are poorly defined due to constant environmental changes. Legalities only emerged within the past century, succeeding the 17th century creed, ‘freedom of the seas’. Borders extended from three nautical miles to anywhere between 12 to 200 off the coastline in later years, depending on discovery and national clout. There are no prescriptive solutions to address climate change, with nebulous definitions of scale. The first attempts at governance was through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, offering several amended treaties since 1956. Though, they are a far cry from omniscient regulatory measures. Specifications would emerge in the late 20th century in Part XI and the 1994 agreement, but without the needed signatures and ratification. Thus, it is perceived as a necessary boundary by the powers that wish to claim the territory, but ridiculed as a farce for others. Globalization would complicate these lines even further, establishing unmonitored trade operations between international economies. Each nation, or player, remains dubious of one another, but acknowledges the risk of isolationism. Although these governments attempt to tiptoe around controversial matters, depleting resources are forcing immediate confrontation.

Case Studies/Discursive Materials:
International Whaling Commission (http://iwcoffice.org/)
Somalian Piracy (http://www.economist.com/node/21532289)


  1. I like the phrases you use. "Freedom of the seas" is becomes perhaps a useful metaphor for the architecture. Maybe it is 'like the sea" or it becomes a response to this constant shifting in boundaries based on environtmental factors. I could see this being as a territory studying fluidity, conflation or differences in political and physical boundaries. The players in this concept are a bit vague, maybe they aren't specific groups of people but the players are the different kinds of boundaries. How do you leverage physical boundaries for political ones? What are there different types of boundaries- how do they operate at different scales (like an architectural scale)?

  2. International territory seems like such a good idea, no? We talk about the seas as if there is some area (beyond the 3, no 12, no 200 mile mark) that doesn’t belong to anybody and therefore belongs to everybody.

    It’s difficult to get a hold of your interest here. I’ve turned this around a bit in my head… I’m thinking there might be some traction in working on the edges of sea territories that belong to sovereign nations or in areas between sovereign nations… I noticed that when two nation states are closer than twelve miles apart they (I believe) simply divide the distance in half. It is at this moment that one nation touches another – but out at sea. A project might develop out of this particular condition, but it would need a program or other charge, so you could begin by looking at the ways in which the sea territories get used/consumed… Perhaps investigating touristic or trade sea uses (or a hybrid!) may lead to the development of a possible architectural project. What is the architectural project that might engage here? Maybe thinking in terms of types can get the ball rolling… (Gateway? Institute? hotel?)…

    I suppose there could also be an “international” project… an effort to look at a common set of goals… I don’t know… a weather station? International archive of bio material? But the polemic would have to be resolved.

    In turn, considering geography and new definitions of “land” based on technological advancements may be of use. One interesting tidbit I came across in looking this up is that Russia is trying to make some claims to Arctic territories also claimed by Canada and Denmark (http://articles.boston.com/2011-05-18/news/29556734_1_arctic-seabed-north-pole-subsurface-rights ) on the basis of using continental shelves as the determining factor in “land” territory. (They are exploring the extent of their underwater, but shallow shelf to see if their territory actually extends much further than it appears from the air.) This type of territorial designation could potentially position nations (physically) in proximities never before imagined with access to resources once thought to others’.

    Or, considering environmental predictions for the future changes in sea passage could be examined – here I’m thinking of the Northwest Passage (or, by its new Canadian name the “Canadian Internal Waters”) and the disputes over ownership. But again, consider architecture’s role…