Towards Horizontality: Selective Re-purposing of Oil Rig Infrastructure to Support Gulf Coast Fishing Cultures
Gulf Design Research Studio Pilot: Climate Futures
The fishing communities of Louisiana have occupied the rivers, marshes, swamps, and open waters of the Gulf of Mexico for multiple generations. However, in recent decades, these rivers have become unfit for fishing because of human occupation and the introduction of chemicals. Meanwhile, the levee infrastructure designed to protect the mainland has prevented sediment deposits to the barrier islands, resulting in soil erosion, the loss of these barrier islands, and saltwater intrusion. As such, the struggles of the already difficult and dangerous profession of fishing are further exacerbated by the uncertainty of climate change. With the discovery of oil and gas, the marshes and swamps were torn apart to make room for oil pipelines and navigation channels. In the wake of climate change and the general acceptance of new forms of energy, we can move away from the reliance on the oil and gas industry. The existing oil and gas infrastructure can thus be repurposed to create and maintain artificial fish reefs, offer a space of refuge and congregation for fishermen, and provide emergency shelter during hurricanes and storms. An area spanning from Cocodrie to 50 miles south in the Gulf of Mexico is examined to test the feasibility of repurposing the existing oil rig infrastructure. The design aims to create spaces that improve the safety of the fishermen, cultivate areas of fish concentration, and provide opportunities for the restoration of the Gulf coast.