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The Inglewood Oil fields are located in the central part of West Los Angeles, near Baldwin Hills and Culver City. The 950 acres are littered with the oscillating “nodding donkey” pump jacks, suspended power lines and silhouettes of palm trees in the distance. La Cienega Boulevard passes right through the heart of the oil field and provides passing motorists a glimpse of a very dystopian landscape. The oil fields compose an island within the homogenous urban sprawl—an isolated land of fenced off industrial activity. The landscape has been scraped into a sea of contoured terraces supporting the industrial infrastructure that peppers the rock below with over 1200 wells drilled in the past century. However, despite the industrial control over the landscape, the rich native biodiversity continues to thrive— pushed into this rare pocket of land by the surrounding asphalt cityscape. Although the land is still yielding oil, experts claim that the reserves will become unprofitable for processing, refinement and distribution in the next fifteen to twenty years.9 A massive land battle will inevitably ensue over this valuable land, thus making it an appropriate speculative testing ground for the thesis proposal. The opening parameters of the project assume that the landscape has been declared a “post-oil zone” and thus acts as a site for reworking energy flows and re-appropriating the use of oil in the twenty-first century. The process of oil extraction in the oilfield is relatively economical, as it merely requires a basic electric motor to power the existing pump jacks. This means that the extraction process could potentially continue at a slower rate while the status of the crude oil would change in nature, value and use while becoming an integral part of the project’s system. Furthermore, the existing unproductive oil wells can be retrofitted to extract geothermal energy from the earth. Locating the project on this particular oilfield presents a unique position to critique various systems. Firstly, the isolated nature of the “crude island” presents an ideal geographical position to be unplugged from the existing energy grid while still maintaining an urban locality. This means that the existing notions of “green architecture” still plugged into the surrounding archaic energy grids can be compared and re-evaluated when compared to the unplugged distributive system proposed. Secondly, the rich history of oil embedded within the site presents an opportunity to critique the way society views and consumes petroleum by juxtaposing the oil extraction with the localized renewable energy systems. This ongoing extraction process in the post-oil zone will redefine the way oil is perceived in a self-powered networked architectural system.

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Radical Energy Systems  

<2011>Speculations on connecting decentralized energy flows with networked ecologies in the post-oil era. M.Arch AD Thesis Report - Bartlet...

Radical Energy Systems  

<2011>Speculations on connecting decentralized energy flows with networked ecologies in the post-oil era. M.Arch AD Thesis Report - Bartlet...

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