ARCH 4101/4102/5101/7112
Landscapes of Extraction: Climate Change and the Urban Infrastructure of Oil in Trinidad & Tobago

Five topographical map sections

Geological Sections Through Trinidad, by H. G. Kugler, 1959. The Petroleum Association of Trinidad, 1961.

  • Instructor: Tao DuFour
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20-4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

This studio will explore the industrialized and urbanized landscapes of oil and gas extraction on the island of Trinidad in the southern Caribbean. Petroleum and other hydrocarbon deposits within geological strata of the island and its coastal waters were discovered in the 19th century when Trinidad was a British colony; as early as 1866 the world's first continually producing oil well was drilled in the south of the island. Today, Trinidad and Tobago is the primary oil and natural gas producers in the Caribbean, with one of the largest natural gas processing facilities in the Western Hemisphere located on the west coast of Trinidad. As a significant producer and consumer of hydrocarbons, the island is implicated in climate change; at the same time, however, as a small island developing state whose patterns of settlement and urbanization are primarily coastal, it is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change, specifically the interrelated phenomena of global warming, sea-level rise, and environmental hazards of weather — increasing frequency and severity of storms and hurricanes. Through interdisciplinary research methods — drawing on architecture, urbanism, geography, and ecology — the studio proposes to interrogate the overlapping territories of urbanized and industrialized landscapes of oil and gas production along the west coast of Trinidad, in order to discover and describe their complexity, and project possibilities for design in the face of the urgencies of climate change.

The studio will involve a week-long joint field trip to Trinidad with students in the Mellon Expanded Practice Seminar, titled Atmospheric Pressures: Climate Imaginaries and Migration in the Caribbean, cotaught by Tao DuFour and Natalie Melas and developed in collaboration with Mark Raymond of the Caribbean Collaborative for Architecture and Urbanism, University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. The field trip will take place from September 21–29.

*$500 field trip contribution per student is required.

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