Atlas of Overexploited Territories – Baltic Sea
Thomas Paturet & Muriz Djurdjevic
Last semester we were asked to produce an ‘énoncé théorique’ : a theoretical research, exploring a subject that we deemed interesting and relevant to introduce our next semester’s project. We chose to study the Baltic Sea through a selection of various climatical, geological, social and political topics. This book is the result of this 4 months research. The ‘énoncé’ goes into detail — through maps, diagrams, charts, etc. — searching for clues and patterns on what an overexploited territory looks like (different layers of interaction) and what planning such a territory would imply. This research aims at confronting the classical debates for and against the primacy of economy and employment, against the argument for maintaining landscapes and ecosystems intact. Should we exploit or maintain ? Also, parallel to this argument exists the discussion around the benefits for local versus national populations, global or European interests. What we noticed is that planning (whether it be on land or on sea) is never truly biased, regardless of the efforts by the concerned actors to provide neutrality. In the end, it amounts to a political process linked to a specific paradigm or logic. This book hopes to generate more ideas on how the exploitation of the Baltic Sea could be organised so humans can adequately manage and use the resources offered by the sea, today and in the future. Planning will become crucial in the Baltic Sea where user pressures are currently relatively manageable but are expected to witness a strong shift in the years to come.
Cartography was used throughout this research as a medium to depict specific geographical forms, complex informations and data and provide a reading of a continuously changing reality. In this context, a transboundary landscape analysis was needed to evaluate the current overexploitation of the Baltic Sea and investigate the complex and shifting relation between the reshaping of international or supranational influence on the region and forms of the inhabited territories.
Who influences you graphically ?
When we initially started working on our Master Thesis, trying to choose our theme, the graphical aspect was already on our minds. All along the elaboration of the book the graphical aspect was developed side-by-side with the writing and graphical production. Overall the book can be divided into three different themes in term of graphics. First the actual layout of the book, which was inspired by various atlases that we had both read (you can see influences from the book ‘Figures, Infrastructures. An Atlas of roads and railways’ by B. Cattoor, B. De Meulder). The chosen layout fits well to the content since all the territorial maps we wanted to present are positioned — full page — on the right side : the so called ‘belle page’ . The left side on the other hand is composed of the book title (gold), chapter title (gold), sub-chapter title as well as graphics, an image and the text – these are all the indexing elements. This configuration enables a ratio white space/content that produces uncontested pages.
The chapters are then all introduced by full page images that help present the problematics. Second, the graphics (charts, graphs, plans, tables, etc.) all share the same strict graphical code. The gold color is there to highlight important facts and figures. These graphics were inspired by the research we conducted during our first semester at the Basel Laboratory (laba) noticeable through publications such as ‘Icelandic Lessons – Teaching and Research in Architecture’. We noticed that often the text had some limitations in terms of explaining certain topics, these graphics are there for this very reason. Last but not least, the territorial maps were inspired by scientific publications as well as academic ones, which can be found at the AALU (Landscape Urbanism) or Harvard GSD through the teaching of Luis Callejas.
What books/magazines were inspirational for formatting this research ?
As Joost Grootens explains it perfectly in his writing ‘The Atlas as tool’: “In the last few years, as a graphic designer, I have been involved in a number of atlas projects. I have come to know the atlas as a typology that is needed for today’s world. Moreover, I find it a relevant format for (the investigations of) designers, including those in disciplines other than graphic design. In this age of a super-abundance of information, on the Internet, for example, there is a need of formats that can clearly present enormous quantities of information and subsequently make it manageable for indexing systems. The atlas is a good example of such a format. This format makes certain demands on authors and graphic designers. In the first place, the information must to be confirmed for validity and reliability, and be presented in a neutral manner, without applying stylistic methods that interfere with the information.
In this type of book, it is the indexing system that is of such great importance. Indexing systems make it possible to reveal the information. In contrast to the linear form of an argument or a narrative, this is an active form that allows the reader to use the information to make his own narrative. In doing this, as a book type, the atlas is an instrumental form: the atlas as a tool.“
What dictated your choice of font ?
We both share an interest for graphic design and typography, so we started looking for fonts at a very early stage of the work. We were looking for fonts that express a certain systematism and scientific research aesthetics. The regularity we could find in monospaced fonts narrowed our research. This type of fonts was initially designed for typewriters and then started to be used in computer terminals. It is based on a regular and similar letter spacing for all letters or characters. At some point, we came upon the work of a young German designer – Florian Klauer – and were quickly seduced by his modern monospace type: the Klartext Mono Family. It has a large choice of glyphs, symbols and arrows that immediately caught our attention. The arrows were an important and structuring element in the whole design-process of the book. The Klartext Mono Family has this systematic approach coupled with the research of very fine details that corresponded perfectly with the general aesthetic we were looking for.
What was your work process for mapping all of the information ? What programs were used in the making ?
We spent a fair amount of time collecting all the data we needed from various organisations and websites. Most of the data presented in the book comes from HELCOM, an organisation created by the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, which was extremely useful for the mapping of the different problematics. Once the data was acquired it was then classified according to themes and imported into QGIS (an open source software used for cartography). From QGIS we were able to merge different layers and create the territorial maps without having to use another software for line-weights or hatches. When it comes to the graphics, they were all done in Illustrator or Rhino.
How does the choice of colour associate to what you’re mapping ? In terms of social, political, geological factors.
The color coding system is done according to the different chapters. The first chapter ‘Ecological shift’ that depicts how water is structured within the drainage basin uses the color blue. The second chapter ‘Resources exploitation’ speaks of aggressive acts and scars on landscape, it speaks of mining, dredging and deforestation for which the color red seemed quite pertinent and expressive. The third chapter ‘Infrastructure colonization’ that depicts the spatial impact of infrastructure on the landscape, being more linear, needed a contrasting color with the background, hence the black. And finally the last chapter ‘Geopolitical collision’ that touches a lot on the subject of money, trade and employment, therefore the green color seemed most adequate. We decided to work with primary colors as they differ greatly one from another.
The images used are very beautiful as for that of ‘Cartosynthesis’, what technique did you use ? (camera, post production, etc..)
For the image of Cartosynthesis it was quite a long process. First we had to register on USGS, which contains an extended repertoire of Landsat 8 satellite imagery. From there we were able to download satellite imagery for the Baltic Sea, but in a raw format that included 8 different images. In order to produce the final image we had to compile these images in QGIS using a pre-processing tool specific to Landsat imagery. We then exported the result from QGIS into a JPEG format. The blue/green swirls that you can notice on the image is actually algae bloom that was captured by the Landsat satellite and enhanced through our pre-processing manoeuvre.
The rest of the images presented in the book come from various photographers which all share a common interest in wide spaces, aerial imagery, industrial landscape and human intervention. They were then modified through Lightroom in order to fit graphically to the chapters color code.
Muriz Djurdjevic is a Swiss architecture student based in Lausanne who combines works from both the fields of architecture and graphic design. He started his Bachelor in architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and followed a minor cursus in graphic design at the University of Art and Design (ECAL) in Lausanne. During these years, he developed a broad and multidisciplinary design approach. He obtained his Bachelor degree in 2012 after an Erasmus exchange at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (TU Delft).
He is currently doing his Master thesis, in collaboration with Thomas Paturet, under the supervision of Professor Harry Gugger at the Laboratory Basel (laba). This collaboration has also led to the creation of an online journal Atlas of Places where they both share their common interests for architecture, landscape, photography and graphic design. Today he continues to investigate the influential relations between art and architecture through several design approaches ranging from architecture to editorial design. During his master, he won the BestOf Architecture Award with the Birch Akvavit Distillery project and was published in Icelandic Lessons – Teaching and Research in Architecture.
Thomas Paturet (b. 1989, Merriam, Kansas) lives and works in Lausanne. He received his B.Arch from the École d’architecture de la ville et des territoires de Marne-la-Vallée (EAVT) in 2013, after an Erasmus exchange at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, and is now starting his last semester as a M.Arch student at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). He is currently doing his master thesis, in collaboration with Muriz Djurdjevic, under the supervision of Prof. Harry Gugger of the Laboratory Basel (laba). During his studies he nourished and developed a wide and multi-faceted design approach. His work investigates how architecture, landscape, design, engineering and science, reflect and shape human experiences of place and environment. During his studies at the EAVT and EPFL he worked for different firms, such as Atelier Charles-Henri Tachon in Paris and Clément Vergély Architectes in Lyon. In addition to his architecture studies he is the creator and one of the editors, with Muriz Djurdjevic, of the online journal Atlas of Places (www.atlasofplaces.com). His interests include various domains, from drawing, graphic design to photography.
In 2015 Thomas won the Archizoom BestOf Award and the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV) Prize for his project “On Ashes”. This work was published in the “Archizoom BestOf 2015” publication as well as the “Icelandic Lessons – Teaching and Research in Architecture” publication.
Muriz Djurdjevic – www.murizdjurdjevic.com
Thomas Paturet – www.thomaspaturet.com