The Floating Construction Site
^ Floating structure in Portland. photo by John Ewing / Portland Press Herald via news.cnet
After two months of low activity in deconcrete, and hyper activity in million other things, yesterday news provided a new architectural speculative hybrid worth featuring here: the floating construction site.
“Google’s worst-kept secret: floating data centers off US coasts”, reported The Guardian after the mysterious appearance of 250 x 72 x 16 feet barges in San Francisco Bay, and Maine and Portland harbours. Not only would the barges have easy access to water to cool down the facilities (a system patented by google in 2009), but also they would not need to follow any building planning procedures as if constructed on land. Goes without saying the incredible potential of using international waters for privacy and confidentiality of the stored data as well as the circumvention of working visas for technicians and developers on board.
If the seas turn into the ultimate building land, to avoid outdated planning permissions, the shoreline no longer matches the idea of the limit between the end of water and the beginning of construction land. Floating sites might become a new sort of pirate architecture. As Heller-Roazen puts it in his fantastic tour through the historic legality of pirates and territory (The Enemy of All – Piracy and the Law of Nations), the pirate can be considered as an individual defined by risk: ‘today, the pirate may no longer be defined by the region in which he moves. Instead, the region of piracy may be derived from the presence of the pirate, making a zone beyond the line emerge (upon the seas, in the air, or on the land)’. The space through which floating construction sites navigate, turn the ambulating region in which extraordinary measures may occur beyond the conventional limits of a territory, into the space of the archive of the future: a place for the wiki leaks library or dictatorship crimes from the past.
Are international waters evolving from Grotius’ idea of the free passage into the space for housing free knowledge?
^ Floating structure as seen off the coast of Connecticut. Image by Tim Cook / The Day via Press Herald
^ Close-up image of the floating structure. Image via valleywag
^ The floating structure under construction in San Francisco Bay. Image by Stephen Lam / Reuters via the guardian