Ship Break Through


School of Architecture | Graduate Architecture •
Student | Sohhee Oh •
Faculty | Thomas Leeser •

Global warming is speculated to displace 600 million climate refugees. Through unregulated disposal, the shipbreaking yards are sites of mutual harm to the environment and human laborers, accelerated by global consumption of disposable commodities. Ship Break Through is an architectural narrative in which, pushed to the brink, the shipbreaking yard becomes a place for building new cities among shifting political borders brought on by rising sea levels.

The ships are cut up in large slices like from a loaf of bread, to be reassembled into a collage. A site is created by reusing the available material resources, pulling them together, and joining them in new configurations. The major components, like the hull, provide the basis for a foundation along the shore.

From coastal graveyards, cities evolve organically with whatever resources are washed up by ocean currents to meet local conditions. New geological and topographic elements are scattered by massive forces, creating an unplanned urban fabric. Humans affect their new environment by cutting and excavating to exert control over their environment as we once used trees and mines for resources. Reusing the major ship structures, to delay recycling primary source materials creates novel forms and spatial opportunities in an uncertain new world.

Mimicking the process of whale fall, where massive dying sea creatures fill an important ecological niche as a vital resource and host for smaller organisms, the ships contain the potential to be a resource for self-sustaining habitats for communities on the edge, by recycling scraps in which to build their own future.

The ribs from the skeleton create a basic structure where people can start filling in the void spaces. They cover over with a skin by using smaller-scale elements and materials that are available to them from the slowly decaying ship carcass. The material resources and coordinated labor are essential building blocks for building small communities.
Ground-level plan showing the carving of the water’s edge using the language of piers and docks. Water breaks into the mushroom farm in the north, creating a new ecosystem. A bathing cove is shown in the middle mass and a cave is formed in the south massing.
A section through the recycling center mass reveals a cave underneath the structure itself and a lookout point.
Physical model reveals the slippage of materials, allowing for a passive airflow and natural light to slip in. Wood was also a primary facade material due to the lumber mill immediately adjacent to the site.
Between the waste-to-energy massing and the mushroom farm facility, a cavern is formed, which welcomes a passenger ferry deep into the site.
A longitudinal section reveals the different scales of carvings, splitting the formations into distinct programmatic volumes. It also reveals material slippage and the various waterways.