Landing: extensions, cultivation and disjunction across the North Sea

Nancy Couling

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


The North Sea has a long tradition of facilitating interactions, building distinct forms of legislation and releasing valuable resources. Historically, this was an open, mobile realm of dynamic exchange and multiple, shifting relations. Today webs of infrastructure and logistics weave between temporary fixities and traverse valuable habitats. Routes are solidifying and spatial claims are multiplying. The sea is thick with activity which is also set to increase with EU Blue Growth incentives– it is becoming a viscous space. Landing is the act of bringing something to land either from the air or from water. Taking the sea space as the origin, this paper discusses landing within the processes of extended urbanisation unfolding in the North Sea (Brenner & Schmid). The sea is treated as a coherent, fluid system and considered a historic cultural & ecological unit. Urbanisation processes interact with the sea’s geo-physical properties in specific ways at distinct locations. Three of these locations are investigated as case studies; the fjord (NO), the estuary (UK) and the Wadden Sea (DE). From offshore sites of resource harvesting, urban extensions facilitate transport & delivery back to land, hence extended urbanisation is a reciprocal process operating across the land-sea threshold and mobilising people, vessels, materials and legal frameworks. This process determines and reorganises vast tracts of sea space and dedicated coastal sites, yet has until recently, largely avoided urban or architectural scrutiny. Research on the Oceanurb project has revealed that urban extensions in the North Sea form specialised and mutating trajectories according to changing conditions and resource depletion. The case of hydrocarbon extraction on the Norwegian continental shelf demonstrates how some of these extensions redirect traditional maritime sectors and therefore develop strong cultural dimensions. However, forms of extended urbanisation in sea space are highly demanding; the economic environment is fiercely competitive and requires specialised technology and facilities, the physical environment exerts multiple forces on materials and construction systems and the human environment is characterised by extreme spatial and temporal compression. The result is frequent social, ecological and spatial disjunction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventViscous Space: the offshore physicality of the North Sea between solid and liquid - TU Delft, Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Jun 201822 Jun 2018


ConferenceViscous Space
Internet address


  • Landings
  • North Sea
  • Discjunction
  • cyultivation
  • extended urbanisation


Dive into the research topics of 'Landing: extensions, cultivation and disjunction across the North Sea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this