Core Dump for a Crashed Planet

Prospectus, Public Art, San Jose, 01.06.08


Core Dump for a Crashed Planet is a polemical prospectus for a public artwork that connects the causes of climate change with it’s effects. The prospectus was originally developed for the 2008 San Jose Climate Clock competition and the design was exhibited in San Jose in the Climate Clock competition exhibition. The proposal was later distributed as a call for participation. As yet no city administration has taken up the proposal.

A prospectus for the project is included in the database of the Agency of Unrealized Projects.



0 Towards the end of the early Pleistocene, sedimentary rock is laid down.
320000 Nebraskan Glacial end
545000 Aftonian interglacial end
620000 Kansan glacial end
800000 Origin of homo sapiens
Yarmouth interglacial end
870000 Ilinoian glacial end
890000 Sangamon interglacial end
988000 Wisconsin glacial end
1001640 Foundation of New Haven Green as a common
1001879 Road ploughing passive resistance campaign of Te Whiti
1001904 Columbus Circle opened as first US roundabout
1001978 Publication of ‘Permaculture One’
1002008 An artist proposes drilling an exploratory bore at a busy road intersection in the centre of the city.
Planning process initiated.
1002009 Consultations with City and State Departments, community groups, and business.
Designs are finalised.
1002010 Planning applications are approved.
A large drilling derrick is erected.
Commuters coming to the intersection by car are turned away by U-turn signs.
Cyclists and pedestrians can pass on cycle ways and paths – free parking is provided.
Drilling continues for over a month.
A 300m core sample capped with road surface, representing ~ 1 million years of climate history is extracted.
A team at a local university geology department analyse the core for climate indicators such as fossilised pollen.
The bore hole hits an aquifer and a water supply is created.
The drilling rig is decommissioned; pulled over by a group of people with a rope, it crashes down at the site.
The road surface at the intersection is broken up.
People are invited to take away rubble as souvenirs.
Digging at the site continues until dirt is hit.
People are invited to bring in grass clippings to create compost for the garden.
The garden is planted with indicator species that are sensitive to climatic fluctuations including trees.
A circular display is built around the garden for the core sample and annotated with research findings.
A legal structure based on a community land trust turns the garden into a common that will persist for generations.
The common’s management, maintenance, and use is opened to the public.
The intersection is changed into a roundabout increasing carrying capacity.
The roundabout is closed to fossil fueled vehicles.
Spare road lanes are dug up and planted with vegtable gardens.
Cycle lanes, foot paths, and access tunnels are built.
The common’s species are monitored for growth, health and climate response.
Information is shared with community gardens, the city, and research institutes.
A visitor centre is built as a hub for climate education.
Shade trees reduce local temperature.
The common’s microclimate changes.
1002108 Trees on the common reach maturity.


A busy 3 lane 4 way stop intersection in the centre of the city is chosen as the site. Planning and consultation processes are initiated with local administrations.
Coredump Intersection


A drilling derrick is errected at the intersection. The construction site is fenced off and cars are turned back by U-turn diversion signs. The traffic flow in the centre of the city is disrupted apparently by oil exploration as geologists drill beneath the city for a core sample.
Coredump Derrick


The derrick is decommisioned by hand and the road surface dug up to reveal the earth beneath. Visitors to the site are offered pieces of rubble to take away as souvenirs. The site is prepared for a new garden.
Coredump Diggers


The road layout of the intersection is changed to a roundabout, smoothing traffic flow. The road is reduced in size and access is only allowed to zero emission vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Organic material is added to the centre of the roundabout to form a garden. The core sample from the drilling is analysed for climate data and displayed around the perimiter showing the last 1 million years of local climate history.
Coredump Common


The garden is managed by a community land trust and planted with climate indicator species. A visitor centre is built as a site of environmental education. Over the next hundred years a new urban microclimate is created beneath the shade of mature trees.
Coredump Microclimate

Call for participation

A city with progressive ideas about environmental issues is sought to commision ‘Core Dump for a Crashed Planet’ and be a venue for it’s realisation. The city should be able to provide a suitable central site and adequate funding for the project. It should be willing to authorise disruption to the normal operation of city infrastructure and facilitate the planning and consultation processes. The suitability of a city for the piece may be dependant on the local quaternary geology.

The piece will be a landmark public art piece, and will benefit the city in a number of other ways. It will serve as a site for raising public awareness of climate change and fossil fuel dependence, and the linkage between the two. It will ultimatley create a permanent learning resource for environmental topics and stimulate community action. The project will serve as a pilot study for a low carbon emission future and the involvement of different city bodies in the planning process will provide practical exposure to the issues for the city administration.