Reading Images Series: Environments of Extraction

February 21, 2014



Reading Images Series: Environments of Extraction included a discussion with Neeraj Bhatia, Dr. Paul Fennelly, Rob Holmes, and Justin Fowler on the occasion of the launch of The Petropolis of Tomorrow


Resource extraction and urbanism have always had an intimate love/hate relationship. In the past fifty years, we have witness this relationship yield a series of global infrastructures and cities that are increasingly impacting and influencing all aspects of the globe. As these infrastructures, landscapes and territories become inadvertently integrated into the contemporary city, how can they be reconceived to address issues of urbanism that sit outside the logistics of resource extraction? During this panel discussion, we will examine the role of resource extraction on urbanism and question how design can hybridize these infrastructures with the competing forces of economics, geopolitics, cultural values, and ecologies. 


Limited copies were available for purchase at the event.


About the participants

Neeraj Bhatia

Research Director — The Petropolis of Tomorrow, Principal — The Open Workshop

Neeraj Bhatia is an Urban Designer and Licensed Architect whose work resides at the intersection of politics, infrastructure and urbanism. He is a co-director of the non-profit research collective, InfraNet Lab, founder of the design practice, The Open Workshop, and Assistant Professor of Architecture at The California College of the Arts where he is co-coordinator of The Urban Agency. He is co-editor of The Petropolis of Tomorrow, Bracket [Goes Soft], —Arium: Weather + Architecture and co-author of Pamphlet Architecture 30: Coupling – Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism.


Dr. Paul Fennelly

Senior Vice President, Global Director, Sales and Marketing — AECOM Global Environment Business Line

Dr. Paul Fennelly is Senior Vice President, Global Director of Sales and Marketing for AECOM’s Global Environment Business Line. Dr. Fennelly oversees strategic planning, sales, marketing, client relations and business development serving clients in worldwide industrial market sectors of Oil & Gas, Power/Energy, Manufacturing, Chemical/Pharmaceutical, Mining and Minerals, Transportation as well as government organizations. The author of 50 scientific articles and presentations, Dr. Fennelly holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Brandeis University and a BS in Chemistry from Villanova University.


Rob Holmes

Landscape Architect, Professor of Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region Master of Landscape Architecture, Co-founder of Dredgefest Research Collaborative, Co-Founder of Mammoth

Rob Holmes teaches and practices landscape architecture in Virginia. He recently held visiting positions at The Ohio State University and Louisiana State University. His work explores new modes of design in the context of contemporary urbanization, industrial networks, and large-scale anthropogenic landscape change. He is co-founder of Mammoth, a blog about infrastructures, logistics, landscapes, and architectural possibilities, and the Dredge Research Collaborative, which studies human sediment handling practices in the Anthropocene and organizes the DredgeFest event series. 


Justin Fowler, Princeton University, Founding Editor of Manifest

Justin Fowler is a PhD candidate at the Princeton School of Architecture and a founding editor of Manifest, a journal of American architecture and urbanism. He received his Master of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and previously studied Government and the History of Art and Architecture at the College of William and Mary. He has worked as a designer for Dick van Gameren Architecten in Amsterdam, Somatic Collaborative in Cambridge, and managed research and editorial projects at the Columbia University Lab for Architectural Broadcasting (C-Lab) in New York.



About the book

The Petropolis of Tomorrow

Neeraj Bhatia & Mary Casper

Format: Hardcover, 576 Pages

Publisher: Actar / Architecture at Rice

Buy online


In recent years, Brazil has discovered vast quantities of petroleum deep within its territorial waters, inciting the construction of a series of cities along its coast and in the ocean. We could term these developments as Petropolises, or cities formed from resource extraction. The Petropolis of Tomorrow is a design and research project, originally undertaken at Rice University that examines the relationship between resource extraction and urban development in order to extract new templates for sustainable urbanism. Organized into three sections: Archipelago Urbanism, Harvesting Urbanism, and Logistical Urbanism, which consist of theoretical, technical, and photo articles as well as design proposals, The Petropolis of Tomorrow elucidates not only a vision for water-based urbanism of the floating frontier city, it also speculates on new methodologies for integrating infrastructure, landscape, urbanism and architecture within the larger spheres of economics, politics, and culture that implicate these disciplines. 


Articles by: Neeraj Bhatia, Luis Callejas, Mary Casper, Felipe Correa, Brian Davis, Farès el-Dahdah, Rania Ghosn, Carola Hein, Bárbara Loureiro, Clare Lyster, Geoff Manaugh, Alida C. Metcalf, Juliana Moura, Koen Olthuis, Albert Pope, Maya Przybylski, Rafico Ruiz, Mason White, Sarah Whiting


Photo Essays by: Garth Lenz, Peter Mettler, Alex Webb


Research/ Design Team: Alex Gregor, Joshua Herzstein, Libo Li, Joanna Luo, Bomin Park, Weijia Song, Peter Stone, Laura Williams, Alex Yuen