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Polly Hunter

MA work

Dissertation: Designing Energy: Offshore Platforms and the British North Sea

National reserves of oil and natural gas shape geopolitical strategy and global economics. Since the first petroleum exploration licences were granted by the UK government in 1964, the North Sea oilfields have developed into a critical province within the global landscape of energy supply. In the years that followed, the North Sea was imagined in Britain as a frontier of technology. This has operated at various scales; from vast reserves measured in millions of barrels and square miles to the confined engineered space of offshore drilling and production platforms.

Drawing on oral histories of people directly involved in the industry as it developed, this dissertation considers the material and spatial dimensions of Britain’s energy province. How were these improbable deep sea platforms designed? How were the design requirements of these structures manifest in human experience? How has the design of a network of energy infrastructure shaped our understanding of the North Sea?

This pioneering industrial territory was not only shaped by design: it was concealed in a rhetoric of progress and profit. Today, more than 40 years after its first oilfield was discovered, the North Sea oil and gas industry is over-shadowed by premonitions of its end time, when reserves are exhausted. Designing Energy explores the spatial implications of the offshore energy industry in the British sector of the North Sea in light of this entropic future. Where the offshore platform stands as a static structure in dynamic space, it threatens to become a future monument to a unique industrial moment.

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2010

  • Dissertation: Designing Energy: Offshore Platforms and the British North Sea

    National reserves of oil and natural gas shape geopolitical strategy and global economics. Since the first petroleum exploration licences were granted by the UK government in 1964, the North Sea oilfields have developed into a critical province within the global landscape of energy supply. In the years that followed, the North Sea was imagined in Britain as a frontier of technology. This has operated at various scales; from vast reserves measured in millions of barrels and square miles to the confined engineered space of offshore drilling and production platforms.

    Drawing on oral histories of people directly involved in the industry as it developed, this dissertation considers the material and spatial dimensions of Britain’s energy province. How were these improbable deep sea platforms designed? How were the design requirements of these structures manifest in human experience? How has the design of a network of energy infrastructure shaped our understanding of the North Sea?

    This pioneering industrial territory was not only shaped by design: it was concealed in a rhetoric of progress and profit. Today, more than 40 years after its first oilfield was discovered, the North Sea oil and gas industry is over-shadowed by premonitions of its end time, when reserves are exhausted. Designing Energy explores the spatial implications of the offshore energy industry in the British sector of the North Sea in light of this entropic future. Where the offshore platform stands as a static structure in dynamic space, it threatens to become a future monument to a unique industrial moment.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons), Philosophy, Japanese and Politics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 2005
  • Experience

  • Executive director/gallery manager, Designed & Made, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2008; Project manager, Northern Architecture, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2009
  • Awards

  • Basil Taylor Memorial Prize, RCA, 2009