The Global North, and the richest top 1% of the population, cause double the CO2 emissions of the poorest countries in the Global South (Oxfam), there is little empirical evidence indicating this slowing to levels needed by 2030 and 2050. Within this inequitable anthropogenic carbon system, the ‘Carbon Credit’ is a market fabrication tool giving those who can afford it, the right to emit, which can be subsequently and retrospectively bought or traded. Offsetting schemes and trading provide a contradictory loop of potentially never ending emissions in the Global North and a false horizon of Net-Zero; there is an enormous local deficit of carbon, between what is emitted and absorbed/captured. In the UK, the government sets out a speculative agenda of capturing up to 10 million tonnes of carbon a year from 2023. This seemingly high figure represents only 2.7% of the total carbon emissions from 2018, an astonishingly low amount. This framing drives my research and proposal of the Carbon Re-wilding Revolution; a decolonisation lead process of converting contentious territories owned by the Crown Estate (800,000 acres)and other privately owned land into land for carbon capture and natural regeneration.
The Old Caledonian Memorial & Carbon Monitoring Station sits at the centre point of the re-wilded landscape of the Crown’s largest estate, Balmoral. The architecture promotes a symbolic gesture to the vulnerable, prehistoric ‘Old Caledonian’ forest of Scotland as well as various wood facilities that record, monitor, preserve and promote the optimum tree species, based on their carbon absorption abilities.
The project was developed at the University of Westminster.
KOOZ What prompted the project?
ET The project originated from extensive research that was undertaken in the first term within the studio. I was fascinated by the idea of the ‘Carbon Credit’, a market tool that provides individuals or industries with the ability to offset their carbon emissions, proposing a potentially never ending loop of carbon emissions. After further research, it was clear that there is a huge local deficit of carbon in the UK. I questioned the UK governments’ speculative agenda of only capturing 2.7% of total carbon emissions and wanted to provoke a new, radical way of capturing carbon in the UK. This research provided the basis to my proposal of the Carbon Re-wilding Revolution; a process of decolonisation targeting privately owned land, primarily land owned by the Crown. As the largest landowner in the UK at roughly 800,000 acres, the re-wilding revolution seeked to convert their estates into sites for carbon capture and natural regeneration.
A process of decolonisation targeting privately owned land, primarily land owned by the Crown.
KOOZ What questions does the project raise and which does it address?
ET The project questions the current land fashioning and ownership of historic landowners, such as the Crown. It utilises the influentiality and popularity of the Crown and proposes a platform for climate leadership, as the largest private landowner in the UK, the Crown could provide an integral position in the Carbon Re-wilding Revolution, and ultimately, the climate crisis. The proposal campaigns against current land fashioning techniques such as, deer stalking/hunting and heath burning, practises that exist famously at Balmoral. The Carbon Re-wilding Revolution provokes decolonisation, abolishing old fashioned practises and creates a new, naturally regenerated, climate conscious typology of land; focussed around carbon capture.
KOOZ How does the project approach the role of architecture within our contemporary society and ecosystem?
ET The architecture and landscape work harmoniously together. The regenerated land provides the basis for the architecture, with facilities and processes that record, monitor and preserve, the architecture cannot exist without the presence of the landscape. An inverted relationship of what is most commonly seen within contemporary architecture.
The landscape can also be identified in the main architecture, The Old Caledonian Memorial & Carbon Monitoring Station. The architecture echoes the landscape through its’ concept and development, a symbolic gesture to the vulnerable Old Caledonian forest, its’ structure and concept is based on the characteristics of the native Scots Pine tree.
A radical approach to carbon capture, through the conversion of large scale, contentious and old fashioned territories into a modern typology of re-wilded land.
KOOZ How does the project approach and implement notions of carbon capture and natural regeneration of the landscape?
ET The project has a radical approach to carbon capture, through the conversion of large scale, contentious and old fashioned territories into a modern typology of re-wilded land, one that is instrumental in combating the climate crisis. The phased approach of the initial site, Balmoral, addresses how such large estates, approximately 55,000 acres, can be converted using the Potential of Re-wilding analysis tool. The tool uses computational methods to analyse the site, using a cellular grid and existing characteristics, each cell is graded along a low to high scale of its’ potential of re-wilding. This analysis indicates sites across Balmoral where regeneration can take place, thus, a phased re-wilding can be implemented. This tool can be deployed across all of the privately owned land in the UK, demonstrating the potential the UK has of capturing and storing carbon.
KOOZ What is the added value of these spaces for the immediate community?
ET The main site of Balmoral, is situated within the Cairngorms National Park, an area of natural beauty. The rewilding and land regeneration at Balmoral would provide further biodiversity, climate variety and beauty, a destination of visitation and viewing. The architecture itself, the Old Caledonian Memorial and Carbon Monitoring Station provides a symbolic gesture to the natvie Scottish forest, echoing the history and importance of climate heritage. The spaces of the architecture propose integral research and preservation facilities, as well as educational opportunities.