Steven Katz, Hongye Wu

University of California, Los Angeles

Advisor/Instructor: Mariana Ibañez

The increasing demand for magnets, which is essential in technology used daily, has driven an exponential demand for the extraction of rare earth minerals. To support this growing demand, vast infrastructure systems have been proposed to support the chains that supply consumers, with very little consideration for the impacts of our environment. Within such a context, our project proposes a 200-mile line of infrastructure and architecture across the width of California that connects the site of rare earth extraction and magnet production with the site of e-waste recycling and e-product exportation. The project situates domesticity within close proximity to industry and infrastructure forming new relationships with sites of production and sites of consumption. 

The Line

The Story of the Line

The human experience is about connection. The connection between artificial and natural. The connection between forces that are visible and non-visible. The connection of boundaries and thresholds. Connections that transcend scales of magnitude. 

Between physical and nonphysical lines, the project situated itself. 

A line can be a simple storytelling device, such as the animation La Linea by artist Osvaldo Cavandoli. The line in this illustration begins simply as ground, quickly becoming a figure, doorway, threshold, stairway, all in an effort to communicate a story. 


Lines govern our world! 

How we connect, how we communicate, how we organize is all made possible through the line. Lines are instrumentalized in multiple ways in our society. Roadways, railways, pipeways, operate under the physical singularity of the line in that they are devices that connect a multitude of points. Different lines can exist in parallel and a multiplicity of lines builds up to a complex network of infrastructural systems. 


Our connection to the virtual world relies upon non-visible high frequency waves built through a vast network of very physical lines such as electrical lines, undersea cables, signal towers, etc. A network of non-visible lines co-exists with a network of visible lines. 

The 1940s-1960s is viewed as a time for when the proximity between infrastructure and domesticity became closer and more dependent. The infrastructure of energy, of mobility, of production, and of consumption during this period grew into immense scale. A line composed of infrastructures such as highway, railway, underground subway tunnels, water pipe line and sewage system becomes an instigator that generates new urbanity, and supports a lifestyle that did not exist before.

A line also has the ability to divide two sides creating both threshold and boundary conditions. Space is formed through interaction between line and object. Alteration and distortion suggesting an occupation. 


The Line of Extraction

The line of architecture extends far beyond its site boundaries, as Kiel Moe illustrates in this image of the Seagram Building. The site in which these materials are extracted often scale multiple continents, removing all visibility and responsibility from its inhabitants. Joseph Grima writes in his book Non-Extractive Architecture a disconnect between architecture and its extraction, both physical and non-physical. Grima defines non-extractive architecture as

 “a form of architectural practice which considers the full chain of building’s consequences, taking all possible externalities into consideration”. 

Could supply chains be made shorter? Could buildings be more closely tied to the economies in which they exist? Sites of extraction are points on a line of a supply chain system that removes material from a distant location and relocates it to an immediate location in the form of architecture. Our proposal speculates on the reclaiming of these points of extraction by inhabiting these sites into a new territory of domestic space. 


The Line of 2050

In 2050. The line of supply chains embedded within rare earth mining. Rare earth elements are a set of 17 heavy metals, including, lithium, scandium, cerium, etc. Batteries, silicon chips, screens, etc. Demand for rare earth minerals extraction increases as our reliance on technology grows. Currently, the United States is shifting its reliance on rare earth materials from outside countries to internally. 

By 2050, the United States will have a domestic supply chain of extraction, transportation and the production of rare earth minerals. With that a lot of new infrastructure will be established, this project looks into how that is going to affect domestic space. 


The line spans over 200 miles from the port of Long beach to the mountain pass mine on the border of California / nevada. Over this 200 miles our line speculates of the future relationship between the sites as both integral in the production and supply of rare earth materials. 

Taking reference from Bernard Tschumi’s The Manhattan Transcript, which transpose images of the body to form generating devices, we took a series of satellite images along the 200 miles, and translated different typologies and behaviors of lines into formal languages in our design. 


Magnates and chips manufactured from the rare earth, traveled through the 200 miles of infrastructure starting from the mountain pass mine, are produced into everyday e-commerce products such as smartphones, ipads, and smart tvs, distributed to the cities and markets along the line. Eventually arrives at Los Angeles port, new e-commerce tax-free markets are built in the port. 


Used products also arrive at the port, reach the recycling center, large infrastructure is set up along the ocean to extract rare earth from used products and send it back to the mine, proximity to the ocean provides advantages, water is used to cool down all the facilities and deal with by-products of the process. 

The vastness of the infrastructure is incorporated with domestic space. Domestic life in the line of 2050 is organized alongside the infrastructures.