Doctoral Project
2021–24

Palm Oil TerritoriesA Case Study of Oil Palm Plantations in Johor State, MalaysiaHans Hortig

The production of palm oil has radically altered the environmental and socio-spatial configurations of Peninsular Malaysia by transforming tropical forests and agrarian land into territories of agro-industrial production. The emerging palm oil territories are spatial, ecological and economic monocultures subjected to global consumption habits and governed by the logic of supply chain operations.

The proposed research seeks to analyse the histories and present forms of palm oil production in Johor State, Malaysia and asks how territories of palm oil production emerge, how they transform in the future, and how architects, urban designers and landscape architects can address the challenges arising from agro-industrial production. The research aims to provide a qualitative analysis of the socio-spatial transformation of palm oil territories to uncover potentials for critical design thinking and to integrate agro-industrial territories into the field of architecture and urban and landscape design. This thesis project will contribute to the emerging field of academic research on extended urbanisation, the urbanisation of territories beyond the limits of cities and urban agglomerations and contribute visions and scenarios for the future design and governance of palm oil territories.