Shale Oil is a type of resource used for energy production throughout regions around the world. It is a form of oil that is trapped within fossilised rocks formed as a result of high temperatures and gravitational pressure. The process of extraction (retorting) of shale oil involves mining of the sedimentary rocks in the natural reserves around the world. The rocks will be subjected to extreme heat without the presence of oxygen, to a substance that will produce a chemical change – a process known as pyrolysis. During this process,the fossil fuels trapped within begins to liquefy and separate from the rock, which can be refined into other oil products.

The demand of oil for energy production in the world is immense. The commodity is used to fuel many of the urban necessities such as electricity generation and car fuel consumption. The graph below illustrates the consumption patterns of the top 5 consumers of oil in the world.

The world is at a point however, where we have depleted our crude oil resources.

“Many oil analysts and researchers believe that we humans have reached the point at which the amount of conventional oil available throughout the world has reached decline. This is called peak oil. Since oil is a nonrenewable resource, the supply is limited”

When the supply reaches below a certain point, the price of the commodity will start to rise. As the price passes a certain threshold, it will no longer be affordable for the consumers. The direct result of this phenomena will mean that the supplier of the commodity will need to explore other potential reserves or supplies of oil.

Shale oil reserves of the world became a solution avenue for this problem. There is an abundance of untapped reserves around the world, the largest situated within the US.

What we are interested in ,as urbanists, is to start to derive or inference conclusions on the relationship between the exploitation of natural resources, (which has multiple implications on the economic, social and political environment of the reserve areas) with phenomena of rapid, unsustainable urbanisation/urban sprawl.


“Resource Fuelled Urbanisation” is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia

developed at Urban Next Workshop – Master in Advanced Architecture 01  in 2016 by:

Students: Jonathan Irawan & Andre Resende

Faculty: Mathilde Marengo & Daniel Ibañez