In the current geopolitical climate, where Arctic nations are at the brink of conflict in their pursuit for influence and resources, mining has acquired a political character, establishing a delicate equilibrium between resource claims and the protection of the territory. This equilibrium is manifested in the Svalbard Free Zone, where all nations are free to make use of its resources, yet the presence of Norwegian population, and mining as raison d’etre of inhabitation, has acted as the entity of governance and ambassador for the best interests of the region. Nonetheless, with the ongoing end of coal mining in Svalbard, and the demise of Norwegian presence in the archipelago, the ‘free zone’ will face a state of uncertainty, vulnerable to the interests and disputes amongst the Arctic nations.
As the ‘free zone’s’ uncertainty threatens the stability of the entire region, mining waste becomes a glimpse of hope towards a new form of political representation. While the Arctic communities face the havocs of such waste, its potential reuse makes it a novel resource and a chance for cooperation to counterbalance both its environmental effects and the political crisis that is about to unfold. Hence, the Embassy of Waste is a political manifesto that introduces the recollection and recycling of mining waste in the decaying mining community of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, in an attempt to become a novel tool towards the governance and self-sufficiency in the region.
Given the invisible yet important political value of mining , the Embassy domesticates its externalities on the territory, aiming to restore the energy, production and governmental processes that are soon to face total oblivion. Embedding itself within the existing mining and energy infrastructure of the city, the Embassy extends from the sea to the land introducing the linearity of mining waste management as an infrastructural, non human spine that articulates the project and stitches the territory. Furthermore becoming the border of the ‘free zone” and the cardo and decumanus for the future growth of the city
Along this border, embracing the urban mesh, three architectural buildings become the manifestation of the politics of waste by intertwining the non-human process with the public character of the Embassy. The Gate, The Factory and The Tower, represent the converging point between the different governmental scales and the industrial process. Thus, by bringing the public face to face to the management of mining waste, the project becomes a political act in itself as it blurs the existing threshold between infrastructure and the community, strengthening the notion of waste as a means for political representation.
With waste as a resource, the material produced in the project is the physical manifestation of the politics of waste, a result of Arctic cooperation and local governance. As a conscious understanding of the territory and its politics, the material becomes a local resource towards the circularity of the Arctic region. Therefore as the ice melts and the Arctic cities face their inevitable growth the Embassy becomes the new center of the city as it positions Svalbard as an ambassador not only for the stability but for the self-sufficiency of the Arctic territory.