Drift & Drive proposes a new model of water-based urbanism by readdressing the technological and logistical challenges of offshore oil extraction. Our project is a solution to the desire on the part of Petrobras, the Brazilian petrochemical company, to relocate workers offshore, as rigs are established ever further from the coast, increasing the transportation cost of both workers and oil.
Drift and Drive establishes a system of floating islands strategically located along the natural drift current of the Brazilian coast, to house workers and transport oil and resources to and from shore. Our project tackles the current logistical obstacles by indexing a natural condition of drift and overlaying it with the existing industrial schedule to generate a territory at sea of technological and social exploration.
Design and research occurred at two scales: those of the master plan and the island. The master plan stretches along a territory approximately 600km long off the south east coast of Brazil around a high concentration of oil rigs. The proposed system relies on centralized pipelines as opposed to shuttle tankers to readdress how oil is transferred from rig to land. Several types of stationary and moving islands are proposed to establish a region that is able to serve ongoing oil extraction and sustain an expected population of 50,000. While each island serves a specific purpose, they are each tied together by the master plan so as to create a system that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
Stationary Hub Islands are constructed at the end of each of three proposed pipelines. Essentially floating cities, these Hubs house a population between ten and twenty thousand, comprising of workers and their families, administrators, engineers, and tourists and is the principle connection for the system to the mainland. Industrially, the Hub serves as a collection point for oil and gas where it is piped back to the mainland, reducing transportation costs associated with longer and more frequent rig-to-shore routes. Additionally food and energy that is produced elsewhere in the system is collected on the Hub and redistributed to the inhabitants of the system.
Drift Boats travel along the trajectory of the Brazilian current, moving between Hub Islands as they are propelled by the momentum of the ocean. On their way down current, the boats service a series of Agricultural Islands that are deployed at a one days drift distance apart. As the Drift Boat travels from island to island, its inhabitants service each island, harvesting food crops. A series of energy harvesting islands are then deployed along a path up-current, acting as charge stations for the Drift Boats so they can complete the agrarian loop. The agrarian schedule is arranged to coincide with the existing two week on, two week off rig work cycle, and ensures that a Drift Boat is docked at each island and able to service it each day. This paced network of mobile housing boats proposes a return to an agrarian, semi-nomadic lifestyle, where the produce and energy harvested from the constellation of agrarian islands create a sustainable loop that satiates the demand of the entire network.
In addition to the mobile Drift Boat, the plan proposes an addition vessel, the Mobile Oil Boat, that is also responsible for moving goods, in this case oil and people, from stationary points. The Mobile Oil Boat indexes the daily work schedule, returning to each rig every twelve hours to pick up and drop off workers and aligns with the established work cycle for oil rig workers of two weeks on the rig for working and two weeks off for rest. After returning the workers to the rig at the beginning of their shift each day, the boat collects oil from the platform as well as separated drill cuttings which can be used as fertilizer on the agricultural islands and returns to the Hub where these resources can be redistrubuted back to the mainland or within the system.
Although highly rigorous, the schedule of the master plan creates stability and place in the fluid setting of the ocean. It establishes a notion of consistency without permanence. It accommodates a necessarily dispersed field into a consolidated system. It creates dependencies and relationships that build a case for a new form of offshore industry.
The master plan combines overlapping functions and schedules to eliminate extraneous travel time and energy cost. The system works to justify an even more vital ecological agenda centered on production and exchange. With the introduction of a catalytic element of the current, the master plan is able to respond to its site specific condition and integrate a notion of territorial dependency that brings site to the ocean and a place for a collective at sea.
Project Team: Joanna Luo, Weijia Song, Alex Yuen
Project Advisor: Neeraj Bhatia
Rice School of Architecture
Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development: 1st Place