Tom Fox
Diploma 4

The project proposes a series of architectural and infrastructural devices that operate within Europe's southern frontier. The project examines the close relationship between circulations of populations, capital, technology, and the construction and management of both urban systems and water infrastructures. Rather than the prevalent image of the border as a finite limit, the project exposes the frontier as a deep, fragmented and temporal surface extending deep into both the European and African interior, operating through the reorganisation of local space. Within this system, sovereignty is largely defined by the ability to define levels of mobility for people and objects, or the power to limit or qualify the right to hospitality.

This project operates within the simultaneous reorganisation of Europe's southern borders, and the popular uprising throughout North Africa. The project understands these transformations as urban phenomena, at a time when architecture and the city are absent from such a discourse.The urban transformations that have accompanied the political, economic, architectural and infrastructural modernisation of Libya construct a border regime characterised by divergent, often contradictory, regimes of mobility. Tourism, surveillance of migration, global agriculture and logistics operate through radical separation and fragmentation.Within this system, the border is no longer a finite, linear limit, but a fragmented and interiorised device that operates through the reorganisation of local space. The deployment of a series of architectures, and the practices of bodies such as Frontex move towards more permanent and more urban low-intensity operations deep into the interior.The project appropriates a number of existing projects in Libya - the construction of the new railway, Special Economic Zones and water infrastructures – to create new assemblies reflecting the relation between mobility and inhabitation that characterises the post-modern border. The zones contain the new water management institutions, NGOs, local and regional political actors.The Special Economic Zones operate within the specific geographical conditions produced by Libya's ecological and topographic diversity. Rather than the ecologically precarious practice of large-scale water infrastructures, a diverse and resilient range of water production and distribution are proposed. This complexity of infrastructure is reflected in institutional diversity to manage these systems.The SEZ intercepts one of the radial routes that characterise the oasis cities in the south of Libya. The SEZs intensify slightly lower, cooler, damper land through grey and black water recovery from the city.In the diffuse urban condition that characterise the northern metropolitan regions, the SEZs intensify the differences between wet agriculture, dry agriculture, the city and the desert. The SEZs operate perpendicular to the strips of coastal industry, urban network, agriculture and desert, managing the exchange and reuse of water between these areas.The implementation of the new SEZs and water infrastructures is carried out by a diversity of assemblies of local, regional and global actors. The construction and appearance of these assemblies is choreographed in order to make the construction of the city visible, and therefore negotiable.The new assemblies build a vision of the region no longer confined to regional security, but able to manage the urban, ecological and political transformations within the Mediterranean Basin.The post-modern condition of the border and the popular uprising are seen as an intensification of a particular biopolitical state, in which contemporary forms of sovereignty can be understood as the power to limit or grant amnesty to circulations of populations, capital and technologies. As such, the construction of the city serves as the site of communication, negotiation and management.