Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Future Cities and the Vertical Farm

The vertical farm by  Where to get food, water and energy in the future?

Other than the pods shown in the image above, here are some applications of the idea:

For single family homes:  Home gardens or shared community gardens where open lawns now exist.

For multi-family developments:  The same as above / if there is a flat roof, garden there

For retirement communities: Nursing and activity departments can encourage gardening on the premises.  This will create and encourage mobility, connectivity and continuity.

For schools:  Science classes can network with the community and retailers to teach where food comes from and provide hands-on learning.

For Chicago:  Use some of the Park District land.  Vacant land can be urban gardens.  This is already happening.  Current policy encourages turning vacant land  "....into viable, productive urban green spaces."  As reported in Huffington Post, Sept. 2011, Mayor Emanuel stated:

"This policy is about taking land that we have here in the city of Chicago that is literally sitting fallow both as land as well as a revenue base or tax base and turning it into a job creator and a revenue creator. And there's great parts of the city where that exists," Emanuel said, as reported by WBEZ.

Look at Detroit ...

... Mexico City ...

For grocers big and small:  Make use of those large flat roofs by creating roof gardens.  Make use of the wasteland that is a parking lot by gardening in and over it.

For any retailers and malls:  See the idea for the grocers above

For religious institutions:  Inspire people to appreciate our commonalities and differences and plant the seed, literal and spiritual, for growth, responsibility, and a sense of community.

"Make no small plans"

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Shanghai 2010 versus Los Angeles 2019 in Blade Runner

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sea Tree - by Waterstudio

Sea Tree by Waterstudio
Sea Tree:  A proposal for a floating habitat built soley for flora and fauna.  The image is from Open Buildings.  As Bryan Walsh has written, "Nature is over."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Deal Reached in AIDS Memorial Dispute - Architectural Record

Winning Design:  The limitless and serene INFINITE FOREST by Studio a+i
Image by Guillaume Paturel/Courtesy Studio a+i
From a March 15, 2012 article in Architectural Record by C. J. Hughes:

"Studio a+i’s concept for an AIDS memorial in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village will be scaled down to less than one tenth of the size envisioned by supporters."

Link to the full article below:

A "deal" may have been reached but the final design sounds wide open.  Below is my proposal for the memorial.  The idea is a place of the park, part of it, and yet set apart.  Visitors to the memorial, the learning center and the park are given opportunities and places to create their own experiences and remembrances. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"In the future ... Everywhere is a portal to anywhere else", Paul Nicholls


"In the future we will establish radical relationships with our surroundings. The Global becomes the Local.  Everywhere is a portal to anywhere else.  Leaving the notion of place, questioning its identity in a database of possible environments ..."

Any one remember Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone in Total Recall, 1990?  Will painting a room become obsolete? 

Paul Nicholls says "In the future ..." Seems like we are not too far from it.  The video below by stevecadwell shows just how close we are.  A similar display is in Miami International Airport, FL, USA.

Is it the new _______?

a) blackboard
b) flatscreen
c) wall finish
d) media wall
e) storefront
f) stimulation within a health care environment
g) church altar
h) conference room
i) etc.
j) all of the above

Is it new? Is it the future? Or, as seen in the Snibbe video below, is it already here?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

NATURE IS OVER by Bryan Walsh, TIME MAGAZINE 3/12/12

Photo for TIME by Johannes Mann / Corbis
Below are excerpts from an article in TIME Magazine, 3/12/12, by Bryan Walsh.  It is called NATURE IS OVER.  The message is double edged: either defeat or a call to responsibility and vision.  Choose the latter ...

For a species that has been around for less than 1% of 1% of the earth's 4.5 billion-year history, Homo sapiens has certainly put its stamp on the place. Humans have had a direct impact on more than three-quarters of the ice-free land on earth. Almost 90% of the world's plant activity now takes place in ecosystems where people play a significant role. We've stripped the original forests from much of North America and Europe and helped push tens of thousands of species into extinction. Even in the vast oceans, among the few areas of the planet uninhabited by humans, our presence has been felt thanks to overfishing and marine pollution. Through artificial fertilizers--which have dramatically increased food production and, with it, human population--we've transformed huge amounts of nitrogen from an inert gas in our atmosphere into an active ingredient in our soil, the runoff from which has created massive aquatic dead zones in coastal areas. And all the CO2 that the 7 billion-plus humans on earth emit is rapidly changing the climate--and altering the very nature of the planet.

Human activity now shapes the earth more than any other independent geologic or climatic factor. Our impact on the planet's surface and atmosphere has become so powerful that scientists are considering changing the way we measure geologic time. Right now we're officially living in the Holocene epoch, a particularly pleasant period that started when the last ice age ended 12,000 years ago. But some scientists argue that we've broken into a new epoch that they call the Anthropocene: the age of man. "Human dominance of biological, chemical and geological processes on Earth is already an undeniable reality," writes Paul Crutzen, the Nobel Prize--winning atmospheric chemist who first popularized the term Anthropocene. "It's no longer us against 'Nature.' Instead, it's we who decide what nature is and what it will be.”

... Today the total human biomass is a hundred times as great as that of any other large animal species that has ever walked the earth. That growth has been aided by the use of fossil fuels as humans have learned to tap coal, oil and natural gas, which has steadily warmed the atmosphere and further altered the planet.

After World War II we added nuclear power to the mix--making radioactive fallout one more physical mark of our presence--and global population and economic expansion went into overdrive. The change has been so rapid that scientists have dubbed the past half-century the Great Acceleration--and this period shows little sign of slowing as economic growth and improved health care extends the life spans and turbocharges the resource use of billions of people in the developing world.

That's why the Anthropocene demands a dramatic change for environmentalism. Since the days of John Muir--the 19th century Scottish-American naturalist who founded the Sierra Club--the goal of environmentalism has been the preservation of wilderness. Muir fought to create some of the U.S.'s first national parks, in Yosemite and the sequoia forest, with the aim of protecting untrammeled nature from human activity. People were seen as a threat to wilderness and to naturalness, and isolation was regarded as the solution.


The reality is that in the Anthropocene, there may simply be no room for nature, at least not nature as we've known and celebrated it--something separate from human beings--something pristine. There's no getting back to the Garden, assuming it ever existed. For environmentalists, that will mean changing strategies, finding methods of conservation that are more people-friendly and that allow wildlife to coexist with human development. It means, if not embracing the human influence on the planet, at least accepting it.


But managing the Anthropocene will necessitate more than simply banning certain pollutants or activities. It will also mean promoting the sort of technology that environmentalists have often opposed, from nuclear power--still the biggest carbon-free utility-scale energy source, despite the risk of accidents and the problem of radioactive-waste disposal--to genetically modified crops that could allow us to grow more food on less land, saving precious space for wildlife. It will mean privileging cities, because dense urbandevelopments turn out to be the most sustainable and efficient settlements on the planet. And if we prove unable to quickly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, we may be required to consciously fiddle with the climate through geoengineering, using artificial clouds or other planetary-scale technology to reduce the earth's temperature directly.

Of course, humans have been effectively geoengineering the planet for centuries. We were just doing it unconsciously, as a by-product of our relentless expansion. Humans aren't even the first species to create change on a planetary scale. The earth's atmosphere is oxygenated because cyanobacteria helped produce that gas more than 2 billion years ago. But even though cyanobacteria weren't conscious of what they were doing, we are, or at least we should be. Our ability to comprehend the full extent of the human impact on earth puts us in a unique position as planetary gardeners, a responsibility we have no choice but to take on. We have been lucky for much of our species' existence, blessed by the comfortably warm climate of the Holocene, able to spread our growing numbers across a seemingly limitless planet.

A  concept for a human habitat of controlled growth where people decide to live in dense urban areas and give unsustainable suburban sprawl back to Nature.

But that age is over, replaced by the uncertainty of the Anthropocene, whether geologists decide to formally call it that or not. We'll decide whether human beings continue to thrive or flame out, taking the planet down along the way. It may be an unhappy reality, because there's no guarantee that the Anthropocene--crowded with billions of human beings--will be as conducive to life as the past 12,000 years have been. "We are as gods," writes the environmentalist and futurist Stewart Brand. "And we have to get good at it."

A High Place for Chicago - 2006 to Now:  A Concept for Greenroofing the Highways of Chicago

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet 2008

This building by Snøhetta shows how landscape and building can be the same. The video is by Einar Eliassen.