MArch Unit 16: Managed Retreat… The Edge of Empire. Simon Herron, Jonathan Walker & Andrew Lavelle

Image: Jason Orton, Mersea Island, Essex, February 2013

UNITSIXTEEN continues its restless exploration into the myths of the near future. Reflecting again on the complex physical and immaterial boundaries of Wealth and Power at the centre of state in the age of the POST-ANTHROPCENE. James Lovelock argues that the anthropocene – the age in which humans acquired planetary-scale technologies – is, after 300 years, coming to an end. A new age – the NOVACENE – has already begun. An era when new beings will emerge from existing artificial systems.

LAST YEAR we explored the mechanisms, apparatus, and instruments central to TRADE. The protective ownership of ideas through Copyright, Patents, and Trademarks, which attempt to traverse the modern complexities and distinctions between the material and immaterial nature of matter. Our focus was on the heart of empire, Trafalgar Square, and the surrounded institutions of state, and the bridges to capital. Considering imports, exports, frictionless trade, and tariifs and their consequences on the economy, society, and the nation.

THIS YEAR we shall explore further the invisible FORCES that surround TRADE. The transactional arrangements and the exchanges of ENERGY fundamental to the notion of trade. This time directing our gaze at the uncertainty of the edge of nation and the rise of historical models for fiscally hawkish trade posts and enclaves.

TRADE POST TOWNS in medieval northern europe controlled the most successful trade alliance in history. The Hanseatic League created coastal enclaves which acted as monopolies providing negotiating privileges for member towns, allowing them freedom to trade together and the reassurances that the exchange of goods would be regulated. Systems of common standards such as agreed ‘schedule of weights and measurements’ and ‘rules of origin’ protected the Hansa merchants. Those trade links have now been reborn and coastal towns across Europe are reforming links including towns along the coast of England.

We will focus our studies at the EDGES OF EMPIRE, coastal towns where CLIMATE CHANGE, coastal erosion, and disenfrancised communities are facing uncertainty and decommision. A shifting landscape of opportunity and prospect.

TUTORS: Simon Herron + Jonathan Walker + Andrew Lavelle


FIELD WORK: British coastline


Solar Systems And Restrooms –

[External window into the work and interests generated within unitsixteen]

UnitSixteen Work –

[Internal unit workspace and speculative forum for the active exchange of ideas within the unit].


The Collected Writings of Robert Smithson

James Lovelock, Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence

Lapham’s Quarterly Volume XII No.2 TRADE

Lapham’s Quarterly Volume XII No.4 CLIMATE

Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Catalogue Fall 1968

Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Catalogue Spring 1969