Diploma 7 John Akomfrah, still frame from Purple, 2017


Hamed Khosravi, Platon Issaias,

The prehistory of the contemporary financial market is often a subject of dispute; however, many scholars have traced its origins back to the sixteenth century and the age of the sea empires. British, Dutch, Belgian, French, and Nordic states settled more than half of the globe through a process of colonisation dependent on the North Sea as a safe haven for trade and transportation. As a body of water through which most of the world was conquered, this sea has recurrently played a strategic role in global history in various militaristic, economic, and social guises. The North Sea should thus be seen as a politicized territorial entity through which broader environmental, economic and societal questions can be addressed.

It was the inherent order of the maritime space that served the colonisation of new territories and – as a form of a spatial order – it was maritime space that altered how we occupy the land. Paradoxically, we claim that it is the sea’s ontologies of openness – represented in free navigation, trade and transportation – that has shaped our ideas of urbanisation today by projecting a maritime order onto the land. Following the conceptual propositions of Michel Chevalier (Système de la Méditerranée, 1832) and Ildefonso Cerdá (Teoría general de la urbanización, 1867), we read the North Sea as an exemplary case: as the most urbanised body of water, the sea is no longer seen as at the periphery of Europe but rather stands at the centre of global debate. Resource extraction, trade, fishing, the management of refugee flows and (of course) Brexit are only very recent examples of what such a long history this tract of water could reflect on today’s affairs.

This unit encourages new spatial interventions that address the complex, spatial, juridical, environmental and geopolitical natures of the North Sea. Examining speculative scenarios informed by climate adaptation, clean energy futures and political propositions, we dwell on micro- and macro-politics from the scale of the body to the territory to explore how forms of cohabitation are conditioning or conditioned by interaction between human and non-human environments.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Hamed Khosravi is an architect, researcher and educator. He completed his PhD at TU Delft and the Berlage Institute (Netherlands), and has taught at TU Delft, Berlage Institute and Oxford Brookes University.

Platon Issaias studied architecture in Greece and holds an MSc from GSAPP, Columbia University and a PhD from TU Delft. He is Unit Master and Co-director of Projective Cities MA at the AA, and has taught at the RCA, the Berlage Institute, the MArch Urban Design at the Bartlett, Syracuse University, the University of Westminster and the University of Cyprus.

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