Islands Design Researchers in Residence 22/23

Rhiarna Dhaliwal: Extracts of the Abyss

In her research, Rhiarna brings the deep sea close to home.

Extracts of the Abyss

The deepest areas of our oceans, once considered alien abysses distant from our lives, are currently at the centre of debates on green energy and submarine biodiversity. The presence of valuable metals and minerals on the sea floor – including cobalt and nickel – has drawn the attention of mining companies hoping to use them in ‘green’ technologies such as wind turbines and solar panels. However, as with mining for fossil fuels, the extraction of these metals may have damaging environmental consequences for the animal species living in the deep, as well as nearby island communities.

Rhiarna’s research dives into this contested terrain and introduces us to microscopic creatures and polymetallic nodules: mineral-rich rocks found on the sea floor. She draws from cutting-edge biological research to discredit perceptions of the deep sea as an empty space primed for mining and takes us closer to those lively marine depths.

Exhibition photography by Felix Speller

Rhiarna Dhaliwal

Rhiarna is a British-Indian architectural designer and educator whose work investigates global environmental and political systems that impact the future of landscapes and ecosystems. For her residency, Dhaliwal's research will be exploring the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining.


Design Researchers in Residence: Islands

Visit this year's Design Researchers in Residence display showcasing new design research responding to the climate crisis.