Architecture and Urbanism Beyond Oil: Designing the transition in Rotterdam and Dunkerque

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Petroleum flows have shaped landscapes and cities all around the world in tangible and intangible ways. The architecture of oil such as refineries and oil storage along ports, as well as headquarters of oil companies, gas stations, bridges, rail and road infrastructure, are the tangible result of petroleum power. The concept of the global palimpsestic petroleumscape (Hein 2013, 2016, 2017) and ongoing mapping of relevant spaces around the North Sea demonstrates the largely unknown extent of petroleum’s impact on the shape of our cities in the last 150 years.
Demographic explosion beyond the historic geographical boundaries, distortion of social relationships, climate, environmental and economic changes, are the tangible result of how oil has profoundly altered the contemporary society. Research indicates that petroleum and other carbon-based energy sources will become obsolete at some point in the future, despite growing discussion of circular economies and new energies, the oil era will probably not end soon. Changes in the energy landscape will require a process of dismantling, transformation and reuse of important parts of existing oil-based industrial cities, their infrastructures, refineries, or docks. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring about yet unknown technological progress, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing and quantum computation that affect our energy landscapes. This process is already underway, and it will revolutionise all fields of knowledge as well as those of logistics and transport, reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments.
The end of oil and the insecurity about how our environment will be in the future, are two scenarios of great uncertainty. This contribution examines the ways in which petroleum has shaped our built environment as a foundation to start for planning the transition process for going Beyond Oil.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventBeyond Oil 2017: Mobilizing alternative futures - UNIVERSITETET I BERGEN, Bergen, Norway
Duration: 25 Oct 201727 Oct 2017


ConferenceBeyond Oil 2017
Internet address


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