Measuring the Immeasurable

MLA Graduate Thesis
University of Toronto

2013 - 2014

I am grateful for financial support from the Daniels Faculty and for the guidance of my thesis supervisor, Jane Wolff.
This project explores how a designed landscape can reveal the hidden tensions between simultaneous and contradictory forces that determine how we value a place: for resource extraction, for ecotourism, or as the locus of unique cultural practices and traditions. All of these forces collide on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland: a topography of smouldering craters, bubbling fumaroles, and razor-sharp plains of volcanic glass. Steeped in generations of mythology and folklore, the Reykjanes Peninsula is scheduled to become Iceland’s second UNESCO Global Geopark and a centrepiece of the country’s burgeoning ecotourism industry. This designation coincides with increasing international pressure to develop the Reykjanes as a global nexus of geothermal energy production.

Existing sites of geothermal tourism often conflate narratives of industrial development with natural geologic processes, resulting in a contrived experience of the Icelandic landscape. This project proposes a new form of geotourism which couples sites of geothermal power with programs and amenities that reveal patterns of globalized neoliberal capital. By co-opting the spatial logics of geothermal energy production, this project illuminates the hidden forces shaping the Icelandic landscape and imagines new strategies for economic growth and cultural expression.

1. Fieldwork 2015. Reykjanes peninsula.
2. Diagrammatic deep section of proposed saltworks at Reykjanesvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant.
3. Diagrammatic deep section of proposed data centre / hot house near Krýsuvík geothermal area. 
4. Diagrammatic deep section of proposed seismic monitoring and research station near Trölladyngja crater.