Climate Change, Geopolitics and the Peoples of the High Arctic

UNDERGRADUATE ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN IV [2015] INSTRUCTOR: DAWN GILPIN

ANTHROPOCENE anTHrəpəˌsēn [noun] The current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate, geology, ecosystems and the environment.

In 1953, as tensions with the USSR intensified, the Canadian Government forcibly relocated 18 Inuit families to the High Arctic. They were to act as “human flagpoles,” thereby asserting Canadian sovereignty over the north. These families were promised a “new land” with abundant game, resources and equipment, however none of these government promises materialized.  This marked the beginning of an emerging international debate over the ownership of the pole.

Canada, Russia, the United States, Denmark, and Norway all have large disputed claims in the Arctic.  It is predicted that 40 percent of the Earth’s oil and natural gas reserves are buried under its seabed. These countries see protection of their claims as the assurance toward a prosperous and stable economic future.  As climate change causes arctic ice to recede further north, countries are focusing their attention on the rich resources of the arctic and newly navigable waters.

I began by researching the conflict and studying it through an architectural lens.  I created maps, drawings, models and diagrams to illustrate and analyze the topic.  My research culminated in the design of a proposed architectural intervention that I developed using the information I gathered and the studies I produced.

A sample of sketchbook notes and architectural studies completed during the development phase of the project can be found in the Field Notes section.