Oil Spaces: The Global Petroleumscape in the Rotterdam/The Hague area

Carola Hein, TU Delft

Corporate and public actors have inserted the physical and financial flows of petroleum into built spaces. Identifying different layers–both visible and invisible, physical and depicted–that combine into a palimpsestic global petroleumscape, the presentation posits that the everyday use, representation, and mostly positive appreciation of petroleum-related structures among citizens of different classes, races, cultures, genders, and ages has created path dependencies and established feedback loop or an energy culture that helps maintain the buildings and urban forms needed for physical and financial oil flows and celebrates oil as a heroic cultural agent – thus leading societies to consume more oil. Following a general analysis, the article uses the Rotterdam/Den Haag area, part of the North West European petroleum hub, as a case study. In appreciating the power and extent of oil can we engage with the complex challenges of sustainable design, policymaking, heritage, and future built environments beyond oil.



Carola Hein is Professor and Head, History of Architecture and Urban Planning Chair at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely in the field of architectural, urban and planning history and has tied historical analysis to contemporary development. Among other major grants, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue research on The Global Architecture of Oil and an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship to investigate large-scale urban transformation in Hamburg in international context between 1842 and 2008. Her current research interests include the transmission of architectural and urban ideas, focusing specifically on port cities and the global architecture of oil. She has curated Oildam: Rotterdam in the oil era 1862-2016 at Museum Rotterdam. She serves as IPHS Editor for Planning Perspectives and as Asia book review editor for Journal of Urban History.
Her books include: The Routledge Planning History Handbook (2017), Uzō Nishiyama, Reflections on Urban, Regional and National Space (2017), History, Urbanism, Resilience, Proceedings of the 2016 IPHS conference (2016), Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Brussels: Perspectives on a European Capital (2007), European Brussels. Whose capital? Whose city? (2006), The Capital of Europe. Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004), Rebuilding Urban Japan after 1945 (2003), and Cities, Autonomy and Decentralisation in Japan. (2006), Hauptstadt Berlin 1957-58 (1991). She has also published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, and magazines.