The Extraction Infrastructure Web / J. Meejin Yoon's Response to Curatorial Statement at Shenzhen Biennale (UABB) 2019

The Extraction Infrastructure Web / J. Meejin Yoon's Response to Curatorial Statement at Shenzhen Biennale (UABB) 2019

What happens when the sensor-imbued city acquires the ability to see – almost as if it had eyes? Ahead of the 2019 Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB), titled "Urban Interactions". ArchDaily is working with the curators of the "Eyes of the City" section at UABB 2019 to set up a discussion on how new technologies - and Artificial Intelligence in particular - might impact architecture and urban life. Here you can read the “Eyes of the City” curatorial statement by Carlo Ratti, Politecnico di Torino, and SCUT. If you are interested in taking part in the exhibition at UABB 2019, submit your proposal to the “Eyes of the City” open call until May 31st, 2019:

Urban development has intensified the development of a national landscape of energy production – a territory that could be called the ‘extraction infrastructure web’. This landscape exists out of sight; obfuscated by a complex distribution of corporate, government and environmental databases. The city benefits from the energy network, while averting its gaze from the social and environmental consequences of the flow of energy from the territories of extraction to the metropolis. 

Energy has a contentious history in the American context.  Its trajectory begins with the logging of the east coast forests, continuing to the mining of coal, the drilling for oil, the splitting of the atom, and the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells. Infrastructure has catalyzed this trajectory—new energy infrastructures are increasingly ‘one-way’ autonomous systems. This shift has devastated the communities that were historically sustained by reciprocal infrastructures, such as canals and railways, of the early energy eras. Autonomous systems coupled with automation have hindered the flow of resources from the city back into the communities that have paid the environmental price for energy.  While these new efficient systems lower the cost of energy in the city, they also increase demand, intensifying the development of the extraction network and its effect across America.

Increasing economic inequality, growing environmental contamination and shrinking populations demonstrate the inversely proportional effects of the energy economy on urban and rural territories in the United States. The city is a form of technology and its advance has changed the relationship between the metropolis and region. An extended landscape of extraction, connected with arterial pipelines across the nation, fuel urban centers along the coasts. While the American perception of energy is abstract, this representation extends the sight of the city beyond the limit of its urban boundary to see the full extents of its territory and influence. 

The visualization of the interlinked extraction infrastructure network brings an awareness of the extents and expanse of energy enterprises with its effects on the city and region.  As cities become more aware of their energy footprints, the web of infrastructure that enables them, and their extended environmental impacts, how will they seek sustainable solutions that benefit both urban and non-urban territories alike? 

About the Author

J.Meejin Yoon. Image © MIT News

J. Meejin Yoon, AIA, FAAR is an architect, designer, and educator.  She is the co-founder of Höweler + Yoon Architecture, LLP and MY Studio. She is currently Dean of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.  Previously, she was Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at MIT where she began teaching in 2001.  Awarded the ACADIA Teaching Award (2016), the New Generation Design Leadership Award by Architectural Record (2015), and the Irwin Sizer Award for Most Significant Improvement and Innovation to Education at MIT (2013), Yoon is deeply committed to the relationship between design education, design research and professional practice.  She is the recipient of the Rome Prize in Design (2005), Architecture Record’s Design Vanguard Award in 2007, the Architecture League’s Emerging Voices Award in 2007, and the United States Artist Award in Architecture and Design (2008).  Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, the National Art Center in Tokyo and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein.  She is the co-author of Public Works: Unsolicited Small Projects for the Big Dig (MAP Book Publishers 2009), Expanded Practice, Höweler + Yoon Architecture / MY Studio (Princeton Architectural Press 2009) and author/designer of Absence (Printed Matter and the Whitney Museum of American Art 2003). Yoon received a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University (1995), and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design with Distinction from Harvard University (1997). 

For more info about the call:

"Urban Interactions": Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) - 8th edition. 15 December 2019, Shenzhen, China

Opening ‪on December 15th, 2019 in Shenzhen, China, "Urban Interactions" is the 8th edition of the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB). The exhibition consists of two sections, namely “Eyes of the City” and “Ascending City”, which will explore the evolving relationship between urban space and technological innovation from different perspectives. The “Eyes of the City" section features MIT professor and architect Carlo Ratti as Chief Curator and Politecnico di Torino-South China University of Technology as Academic Curator. The "Ascending City" section features Chinese academician Meng Jianmin and Italian art critic Fabio Cavallucci as Chief Curators.

"Eyes of The City" section

Chief Curator: Carlo Ratti.

Academic Curator: South China-Torino Lab (Politecnico di Torino - Michele Bonino; South China University of Technology - Sun Yimin)

Executive Curators: Daniele Belleri [CRA], Edoardo Bruno, Xu Haohao    

Curator of the GBA Academy: Politecnico di Milano (Adalberto Del Bo)

"Ascending City" section

Chief Curators: Meng Jianmin, Fabio Cavallucci

Co-Curator: Science and Human Imagination Center of Southern University of Science and Technology (Wu Yan)

Executive Curators: Chen Qiufan, Manuela Lietti, Wang Kuan, Zhang Li

About this author
Cite: J. Meejin Yoon. "The Extraction Infrastructure Web / J. Meejin Yoon's Response to Curatorial Statement at Shenzhen Biennale (UABB) 2019" 09 May 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

The Extraction Infrastructure Web. Image © J. Meejin Yoon, Alexander Kobald, Borislav Angelov, Valeria Rivera

2019深港城市建筑双年展策展序言, J. Meejin Yoon 提出“开采基础设施网络”回应主题

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