Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
quote from interview:
"Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.nl says that despite our civilization’s history of trying to drain and fight against wet landscapes for the past thousand years, our best move for the future would be to “let water in and even make friends with the water”."
How can I think about these issues differently? What will the integration of floating, water-friendly structures be into the existing urban fabric?
How do you deal with the incremental change of rising sea-levels? What can stay? What should be preserved? What's safe? What needs to be entirely rethought?
Moreover, "Others worry about efforts to restore the fresh water flow of the Everglades, given that much of it will be under water as sea level rises. Some geologists say it may be advisable to abandon efforts to preserve some fragile coastal barrier islands and focus instead on allowing coastal marshes to migrate inland, as sea level rises."
This article seems to be in conversation with the introduction of Discordant Harmonies. Do we fall under the belief that "nature knows best," or do we understand and realize that the environmental history of the world has been one of continuous and incremental change? And if so, where can we position ourselves within this dialogue?
(thanks for the article, Ivan)
"The structural stalks are separated into chassis (providing internal structure, power, communication, mechanical, and a self-sufficient energy collecting system), and mass-customized elements (for interior build-outs, exterior and interior skins, electronics, and communications)..."
The structures are embedded with intelligence. As described,
"1. Water: rain water with stretched bladder and desalination (97% of the planet’s water is salt water in the seas and oceans) and treated waste water. Each tube either pulls sea water upward (see bottom skin punctures drawing directly from the ocean) or distributes desalinized water downward to provide potable and washing water.
2. Power: photovoltaics, salt crystalization, and thermocouple energy conductors
3. Communication + Mechanical: global knowledge and plumbing
Pneumatic Exterior Skin: 2 layers of inflated neoprene
Liquefied Connections: suction-like tentacles attach to each independent housing unit, forming colonies and allowing for external passage.
Floating Garden: each independent housing unit has an attached self-sufficient floating garden. These Lily pads stem from Hydra House’s structural stalks, using an umbilical cord to provide fresh water and nutrients gives life and feeds the floating garden."
For more information, click here, and scroll down to the second project.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I find the point Botkin makes in opening of his book particularly compelling. He begins with a photograph of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy. He describes it as, "heavy but graceful architecture, set against the motion of the coastal waters." The foundation of the church was sed to be made by driving 1,106,657 trunks of alder, oak and larch into the muddy lagoon to build a foundation. Submerging these tree trunks under water protected them from air, and therefore decay. This still serves as the foundation today. The Venetians faced the problem of stabilizing the ground. They moved to the area during the 5th and 6th centuries in order to avoid the fleeing Germanic tribes (Lombards) destroying the Roman Empire. They were forced to move to the marsh lands as they were defensible.
Botkin relates our position today to those of the Venetians one thousand years ago. He states, "While impelled by necessity, the first Venetians did not go to those marshes so long ago empty-handed, without the benefit of civilization. They brought with them three things: ideas, techniques, and a perspective of the world--how nature works, how people might change nature, and how the world in the future might be different from the world they had known in the past. Today, we are in a position in relation to the environmnet of our entire planet similar to that of the ancient settlers of Venice in relation to the marshes of the Adriatic. We see problems shifting before us whose solutions are unclear." What are the ideas, techniques, and perspective of the world today that we can use to address urbanism? To address rising sea-levels?
Saturday, December 6, 2008
The most revelatory image is the fourth image, a map predicting population density by Doxiades forecast for the end of the 21st century. Notice that the population concentrates on the coasts. What happens when the coasts get increasingly encroached by rising sea levels?
"The tendency to live on or near the seacoast exists, for a variety of reasons. The continents of Eurasia, Australia and South America resemble hollow shells, with the majority of the population clustered around the rim of each continent. In Australia, half the total population lives in just five port cities, and most of the remainder is spread out over nearby coasts. This preference for living by the sea stems partly from the trade and fishing opportunities the sea offers. At the same time, continental interiors tend to be regions of climatic extremes. For example, Australians speak of the "dead heart" of their continent, an interior land of excessive dryness and heat. People also seek places where fresh water is available. In desert regions, population clusters reflect the locations of scattered oases and occasional rivers, such as the Nile, that rise from outside the desert."
Talking to Robert Lemon, a graduate student at UC Berkeley currently in the landscape program who studied geography for his previous degree, he explicitly stated that there are four basic reasons:
1. Natural resource (drinking)
2. Protection (Rivers fortification)
3. Production (Rivers: Mills to power generation)
4. Trade (Rivers and Bays as transit points)
The diagrams above are also found from the book The Human Mosaic. They show different water cities that are either serve defensive or trade-route purposes.
On page 331 of the book, it states:
"Imagine the 2 million years that humankind has spent on the Earth as a 24-hour day. In this framework, settlements of more than a hundred people came about only in the last half-hour. Towns and cities emerged only a few minutes ago, and large-scale urbanization began less than 60 seconds ago. Yet it is during these "minutes" that we see the rise of civilization."
In this description, cities seem young, suggesting to me that the conventions with which we urbanize can be reconsidered.
How can I take the knowledge of why cities settle where they do and deploy it for change? How many of those four factors are still relevant? They all still seem valid. Can I use them as way to generate a new solution? It may just be valuable to be aware of these conditions.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Article in the New York Times describes the worst flooding Venice has seen in 20 years, over 61 inches deep. The water raised to quickly to install the walkway system used during flooding. There is also a news clip you can watch on to hear more information.