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Blue Lunacy: Salt Lines and The Olbian Lamprey

Part 2 Project 2013
Douglas John Wright
Ryan James Hodge
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, UK
Olbia is a city in danger of becoming fixated on tourism, risking all memory and recognition of its historically and mineralogically rich landscape. The hills and coastline of the Sardinian port city hold two of what were once considered the world’s most valuable minerals: Azurite (the medieval source of blue pigment) and Sea Salt. Contemporary global market forces of cheap petrochemical alternatives have erased these economies from the city.

These same forces now drive the planning of the city. The majority of its low-density urban fabric comprises swathes of cheap grid-planned stucco residences divided by oversized transport infrastructures. One third of Olbia's housing lies empty eleven months of the year. 2,000,000 per year visit Olbia, only 50,000 locals stay.

This thesis re-imagines Olbia's dormant mineral economies in ways which are relevant to the contemporary city, operating within the global economic framework whilst countering its insensitive tendencies.

We propose a reignited salt economy, through the sequential deployment of a new osmosis energy network – an Osmosis Mill at the mouth of each of the five rivers that flow into the Olbian basin.

Each mill carries hybrid functionality relevant to its respective territory, catering for local public needs whilst augmenting the osmosis network infrastructure: an Azurite Mill, Osmotic Training Facility, Desalination Plant, Energy Headquarters and Osmotic Amenities Production. Sea salt becomes a 'renewables' economy.

First in the sequence of Osmosis plants, the Osmosis Research Facility/Azurite Mill, is a testing ground for the newly burgeoning osmosis technology. It also provides the hydrological and power infrastructure for operating an Azurite Mill.

Milling such intensities of azurite could not ignore Yves Klein's vigorous fascination with Blue. Klein's performativity coupled with the critique of bureaucratic practices in Jan Švankmajer's surrealist film ?Lunacy,' give rise to a provocative new planning process for Olbia. Rather than blanketing the city in uniform ‘hatches’ and ‘zones’ of mono-functionality, 'Blue Lunacy' provides the radical, yet situationally sensitive, hybrid and specific mineralogical means to refigure the city. These territories are underpinned and propagated by the point interventions of the osmosis network, providing new equations of relations between the environment, society and human subjectivity.

Douglas John Wright
Ryan James Hodge


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