> Barrow Forever​




Team Members:

Tien Chen


This competition entry imagines a dystopic future in which environmental challenges have pushed society to inhabit the ruins of an energy pipeline near present-day Barrow, Alaska. The city, an organization of built structures hung off the precipice of a mega-structure, houses a community of voluntary prisoners– residents who rarely leave their private spaces, but maintain active social networks online. 


Loneliness, greater than a social ill, constitutes the core of Barrow’s experience despite its community’s apparent contentedness. In Barrow, the architecture, while sustaining society, also physically limits its individuals to solitary lives. Given Barrow’s extreme verticality and fast speed Internet, the notion of public is rendered obsolete in this city.

Described through physical models, animations, and narrative, the world portrayed in Moving to Barrow, Alaska addresses the issue of modern-day loneliness through utopian thinking with a sense of humor. Like Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967), it satirizes the benefits of technological innovation to present day urban environments. This fictional world asks us cheekily: Why do we feel increasingly isolated despite rising urban density and expanding digital connectivity?


This design idea offers critical storytelling as a solution to rising levels of loneliness in present-day cities. It expresses the paradoxical nature of contemporary alienation through the design of experimental urbanisms; and encourages a digital culture of “bedroom pop architecture” amongst amateur architects, as an avenue for communicating issues surrounding the contemporary urban condition. This entry sees the potential of personal storytelling and art making as methods to confront issues like contemporary loneliness. 

Animation link here.

eliminate loneliness through design