I was super intrigued by Prof. John Comazzi’s studio premise of radical pragmatism, and after an “avant-garde charrette,” their concept took shape in our project. We began with a highly structured charrette; 5 rounds of 5 minutes. 15 ideas from robotic wheat harvesters to inhabitable nuclear missile silos. The outcome generated lots of work that led us to cull some ideas for three directions to develop a little further. The next phase was some individual charretting, and each of us uncovered some vital components of the boom in the Bakken.
The state of mind on the open plain has long been defined by a desire to make a mark on the land. Cultivating and grazing the land have long been the foundations of North Dakota’s lifestyle and economy, but great amounts of water and energy are needed to sustain these industries. The main challenges are collecting and storing the resources needed by the agriculture, ranching and oil industries. Traditionally, the earth has been shaped to create structures to collect and store water and grain, these pit silos, pit cisterns and sub grade structures are relics of an age when available building materials were limited to what could be harvested from the local landscape.
So, my proposal was to utilize the existing sub-grade infrastructure developed by the Air Force as part of the country’s nuclear missile defense system. In addition to the missile silos, remote oil industry buildings would be consolidated around the existing unused infrastructure, and these new structures would be dug into the ground, following the precedent of the early settlers of the area. After the boom goes bust, the structural materials will be removed, leaving a vast water collection and grain storage system, benefiting those who lived off the land long before fracking.