Designing the local food movement

2010/11/07 § Leave a comment

A lot has been written about the benefits of living close to food production, and a lot of people have landed on the locavore band wagon.  But less has been discussed about the connections between urban design as it relates to food production on a large-scale.

From Design Observer:

” …To date the enthusiasm for slow and local food has been based, on the one hand, on the assumption that abandoned or underused brownfield sites could be remediated for their productive potential; and on the other it has been based on the trend toward conserving greenfield sites on city peripheries — on dedicating valuable ecological zones to food production and to limiting suburban sprawl. But these laudable goals are not much concerned with how urban farming might affect urban form…”

I think that last sentence says a lot about the decisions made by the urban public.   Yes, there is a demand for locally sourced restaurants in our cities today, but how  come that has yet to translate to policy on the city level?  Why haven’t we seen more locavore-influenced planning practices, those that would give special use permits to owners of vacant lots to lease to small-scale community farms in the short-term, allowing for properties to be used while real estate values slowly appreciate towards their longer term values?  Not saying these sorts of ideas haven’t been done before, because they have.  it’s just that they are too much on the down low.



2010/03/22 § Leave a comment

A post written in Mammoth has had me thinking about architectural value, and how this value holds little to no weight in our suburbs.  With their brief in Magazine on Urbanism called The Shelter Category,  we are treated to an analysis of housing culture through the eyes of HGTV (probably the most influential design tool for suburbanites in this country, at least.)  The shows on this channel treat our homes as wealth generators, with all value in any remodel or paint job being  resale value.  So when one goes to add something subjective to one’s place, one must first think of those inhabitants who will live in the space AFTER resale.  There is no comfort value, no design value, only monetary value.  Our homes as stock.

Designing with Data

2010/02/04 § Leave a comment

I just ran into a post today in the New York Times opinion section by Allison Arieff giving thought to wonderful new ideas in data collection as an important avenue for design research.  The subject is space, and how we might be able to use / re-use abandon places within cities, using ideas of networks to make the urban environment both healthier and more efficient.  There are a number of great links in the post, especially one directed towards a research project conducted for the WPA 2.0 competition by nicholas demonchaux.  Words cannot describe this amazing video called Local Code, so go there and check it out yourself.

Future City

2010/01/25 § Leave a comment

This gallery of future urbanisms from Io9 is worth checking out.

“In the future, cities will have no single location. Mounted on huge vehicles, skyscrapers will roam the steppes of Russia, forming temporary citiscapes then wandering on…..”   Hmm.  The idea of a moving city.  We’ve seen this before.

Right to the City

2010/01/22 § Leave a comment

In Hamburg, residents are taking matters into their own hands in the fight against gentrification.  Riding the wave of the Richard Florida manifesto that so many American cities have, the city’s officials are poised to carry out political and economic strategies to drive out the native blue-collar and lower incomes residents.  The abandoned buildings and generally gray conditions would be replaced with the shiny bright lights of amusement park urbanism, a term I like to use to describe the atmosphere where the wealthier, chosen ones play, and the unfortunates left to their own devices.

I don’t know why, but I feel this issue may come to a head  in the coming years, as groups come together to realize their own agendas, often in conflict with their cities’ plans.  Because cities will become more and more crowded, a huge and challenging enterprise will be to move away from consumption and towards resource-driven economies.  These newer forms of doing business could help groups like those mentioned above assume leadership positions and challenge political and spatial authority.

Wall House

2010/01/21 § Leave a comment

We don’t normally get to build in the context of ruins in the US, but it’s a type of building that is at once resource efficient and culturally significant.  Using existing walls to build on top of, beside, or next to, is a challenging process.  But at the same time a proper connection and reinforcement can lead to a rich timeline of design, from the old to the newer to a proper contemporary solution, all-the-while demonstrating the chronological technologies of the interventions.

Landscape also comes into play, because inevitably the older structures are always moving towards an entropy, grasses growing, trees seeding, etc.  This growth further adds to a rich materiality where man-made and nature play nice.

Some lesser known projects to think about..

Alison Smithson and Peter Smithson – Upper Lawn in Hatch Lane, UK

Source – Danda

Fernando Goncalves – Youth House Oliveira do Douro in Alameda de Santa Eulalia, Portugal

Source – Danda

A well known project to think about..

Herzog and De Meuron – CaixaForum in Madrid.

Source – Dezeen

And obviously, Mr. Woods always has something to say about the idea, an idea he’s been studying for a long time.

Sooner or Later…

2010/01/04 § Leave a comment

…lunar colonization will happen.  The inevitability of our expansion beyond the earth will probably begin when we establish innovative ways of living on the moon, our closest option.  One method being studied is under-surface lunar “holes”, or lava tubes, offering protection from the surface’s forces.

“Any intact lava tube could serve as a shelter from the severe environment of the lunar surface, with its meteorite impacts, high-energy UV radiation and energetic particles, and extreme diurnal temperature variations.”

It’s funny then, when thinking of basics in architecture.   In a  rural area,  a house would be sited at the mid-span or crest of terrain to take advantage of light and ventilation, specific to this atmosphere.   Might our colonization of other planets be the exact opposite?  Might we become sub-surface dwellers on more hostile planet or moon?  What might we do, architecturally?

Source:  CNN