The Arctic Commons: creating a new network for future stability in the Arctic

“This project looks to create composite maps which illuminate specific areas in the Arctic that offer opportunities for design intervention.”

The Arctic is seen as ground zero for the effects of climate change. It's also seen as a place of conflict as a result of international struggles over territory. Landscape architect Gavin Zeitz wants to restore the region by developing a network of infrastructure that works for the everyday citizen.

His project, called The Arctic Commons, looks at how the Arctic’s infrastructure stability can be transformed through geopolitical cooperation, transnational political collaboration and by protecting the already fragile ecosystem.

Zeitz presented his findings in a diagram and mapping system that identifies four major areas to take into consideration: shipping, access, safety and resources.

These four sections focused on the indigenous people living in these areas and what would be in their best interest. 

He says that he hopes the Arctic becomes a fully demilitarised zone. “And that it focuses on the communal and collaborative management of resources, logistics, and cultural activities,” he adds.

In recent years countries like Russia, Canada and Germany have claimed territory within the Arctic, with some of these countries relenting to cold war style tactics as a ploy to obtain some of the Arctic's many resources.

Lastly, Zeitz looked at how climate change is affecting the ecosystem and what could be done to protect it.

“Expanding on the knowledge gained through mapping the various boundaries that dictate spatial organization, this project looks to create composite maps which illuminate specific areas in the Arctic that offer opportunities for design intervention,” explains Zeitz.

He added: “This is not only for me but also for how other designers who might be able to use this diagram or community members will be able to use this diagram to find out and prioritise what issues are most important to them.”

Zeitz's talk is part of second the antenna conference, a collaboration between Design Indaba and the Dutch Design Foundation, which recently took place as part of Dutch Design Week. He spoke alongside 19 other young designers.

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