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Exuma Garden of Dreams

Category: ecosistema urbano+new technologies+sustainability+urban social design+⚐ EN

Sobrevolando el Caribe

Puedes ver la versión en español de este post aquí.

Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 360 islands (or cays). The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi (60 km) in length. The capital and largest city in the district is George Town founded 1793 and located on Great Exuma. The Tropic of Cancer runs across a beach close to the city. The entire island chain is 130 mi (209 km) long and 72 sq. mi (187 km²) in area.

Last February, Ecosistema urbano has started a cooperation with the project A Sustainable future for Exuma: Environmental Management, Design, and Planning, a multi-year ecological planning project as a collaboration among the Government of the Bahamas, the Bahamas National Trust and Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD).

Situación de Exuma

The location of Exuma

The goal is to facilitate the design and management of a more sustainable future for the Exuma archipelago, and The Bahamas more generally.
The project has two parallel and mutually informing components: research and education. These components work to inform the development of proposals and interventions as well as the building of capabilities for local empowerment.

Resumen del trabajo de campo - Fuente: Exuma Topics

Field work summary – Source: Exuma Topics

Ecosistema Urbano’s role, within the overall framework of the project, has been to design a series of activities and workshops to promote dialogue within the local community, reflecting on the future of the islands and publicizing the existence and content of this future project. As a final outcome of this debate, there is a need to implement a catalytic intervention in the public space of Georgetown, as a sign of change and transformation for the future of the island.

While interacting within the local community, we obtained key information about how residents feel, what their expectations, perceptions and needs are, etc…The debate essentially stood between two scales: the general area of ​​Exuma and the local environment of George Town, the main town of the district, where most social activity takes place.

Among the many topics that emerged, some are as important as food, energy supply, education, waste, water, transport, tourism, identity or infrastructure.

There have been great moments of collective reflection on the present and future of this beautiful and fragile environment, and it has been particularly interesting to listen to the younger generation, who despite their young age, have a very clear vision of what are the challenges and problems they face to improve their future prospects.

Llegando a Gran Exuma

The toolkit and workshops that have been implemented to probe the wishes and aspirations of the local community are as follows:

1. Street photo tour

Our friend and extraordinary photographer, Emilio P. Doiztua, accompanied us on this trip, making a great record of many of the participants and activities.
We thought it was important to collect the testimonies of those who wanted to participate in more organized activities, but also of those who preferred to express their ideas spontaneously in the street, just off the Church or the market. People were very open to participate and eager to answer our questions.

Algunas de las fotografías tomadas durante el "tour"

Some of the photographs taken during the “tour”

2. Creative workshops

During the week we have been active in the primary schools of St. Andrew’s, Moss Town, George Town, Williams Town and the LN Coakley High School, working with young people between 7 and 18 years. In parallel there have been two meetings with adults, both in St. Andrew’s Community Center.

We designed a set of 2 questions, as a triggering exercise, using the colors red and blue, to symbolize the changes needed and the desired dreams respectively. Each participant was interviewed and answered these two simple questions, as an individual exercise and then proceeded to the collective exercise, in groups of 4 or 5 people.

Azul y rojo, sueños y cambios

Blue and red, dreams and changes

Many and varied were the answers, and it has been very interesting to see the clarity of ideas of the youngest (7-10 years) who suggested changes and proposed ideas fluently, both about their immediate surroundings (their school, their neighborhood, their town) as well as for the broader context, Exuma.

At the end of each workshop, through a simple origami exercise, the red and blue pages symbolizing the desired changes and dreams for the future, were converted into petals to later become paper flowers.

Plantillas usadas para las propuestas y el origami

Templates used for the proposals and the origami – click to see and download in high resolution

Proceso de plegado del origami

Folding origami

For the collective exercises we worked with aerial photos, words, producing collages and staging. There has been a reflection to 3 scales: Exuma, Georgetown and at a more local scale, around a vital public space in town, the daily most frequented place by children, youth and families.

"The park", el principal espacio público de Georgetown

“The park”, the main public space in Georgetown

This space is a natural meeting place for the teenagers and has got a great potential as a space for social interaction on the island due to its proximity to Lake Victoria and for being in the center of Georgetown.

Ubicación de este "parque" en Georgetown

Location of this “park” in Georgetown

features and allow it to be more active, inclusive and comfortable public space. Some of the ideas collected included: shade, playgrounds, street furniture, water, wifi, stands, community gardens, garden, sports facilities, cultural events, concerts, etc.

Añadiendo propuestas al panel de exposición

Adding proposals to the exhibition panel

Puesta en común

Presentation

Puesta en común

Presentation

Trabajando en los "pétalos"

Working on the “petals”

Algunos niños posando con sus propuestas

Some kids with their ideas

Aprendiendo y enseñando a plegar el origami

Learning and teaching how to fold the papers

Some “flowers” start to appear

Mostrando el resultado

Showing the result

In a local highschool

Using the digital application

Using the digital application

Adults workshop

Workshop with adults, both tourists and locals

Sharing results and reflections

Sharing results and reflections

3. Digital Exuma: www.exumadreams.org

As in previous occasions, and after adapting the graphics, we used Whatif for digitally collecting ideas from participants. The resulting platform www.exumadreams.org, is and will remain active for the next few months as an open communication channel with all those who want to maintain the dialogue and continue to participate.

For those of you who are not familiar with the tool, Whatif is a web and mobile application designed to the publication of geolocated messages: Users write their ideas, opinions or proposals in 140 characters and classified by category and location so that they can be consulted, valued and shared in real time. We developed it as a tool to assist public participation processes and collective creativity, facilitating the tasks of consultation, exploration and visualization of a wide variety of data.
The application is open source and available for free download on the official website, which will soon be announcing a new, improved version.

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la pantalla principal

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the main page

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la entrada al formulario

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the entry form

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mapa

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the map view

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mensajes

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the messages view

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de etiquetas

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the tags view

www.exumadreams.org

4. Origami garden of exuma dreams- Jardín de los sueños

The last day of our stay, we arranged an installation with all the ideas compiled during the entire process, an ephemeral and symbolic collection of wishes for Exuma, George Town and the public space of the city. A red and blue paper flower garden, each containing 5 petals with different ideas and desires embedded.

The Garden of Dreams allowed us to show the local community the work done throughout the process of workshops and activities, while temporarily transform a public space in Georgetown, drawing attention to the need to revitalize this space.

Boceto de concepto para la instalación

Concept drawing for the installation

La "flor" resultante

The resulting “flower”…

... y las flores formando un jardín

… and the garden these flowers form.

Personas visitando la instalación

People visiting the installation

Personas visitando la instalación

People visiting the installation

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Night view of the installation

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Night view of the installation

Otra vista nocturna de la instalación

Another night view of the installation

Now we are back and the ‘lab’ work begins. It is necessary to process all the collected material and transform the hopes and dreams of the citizens of Georgetown designing a catalytic intervention for this important public space for the community life.

More information about the project:
www.sustainableexuma.org
www.exumatopics.org/about

More pictures about the project at their Facebook page

El equipo visitante, de izquierda a derecha: Gareth Doherty, Jose Luis Vallejo, Belinda Tato, Jose María Ortiz y Mariano Gomez

The visiting team, left to right: Gareth Doherty, Jose Luis Vallejo, Belinda Tato, Jose María Ortiz and Mariano Gomez

Cheers from Exuma!

Cheers from Exuma!

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Some unpublished photos of Ecopolis Plaza featured in the book “Make_Shift City”

Category: architecture+ecosistema urbano+publications+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Last year, the Summer already burning over Madrid, a photographer went back to Ecopolis Plaza on an uncertain mission: to capture the life and spirit of the place, three years after the completion of the project.

The reason: the people from Urban Drift, working with the German publisher Jovis, had proposed us to include the project Ecopolis Plaza in their book “Make_Shift City – Renegotiating the Urban Commons” and asked us for some updated photos showing the life of the place. We realized we didn’t have nice, recent pictures of it,  so we called our favourite photographer Emilio P. Doiztúa and invited him to go and register whatever was happening there.

So there went Emilio, armed with some photography gear, and this is what he brought back:  the  images of a grown and lively  Ecopolis Plaza.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Time to go back home!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Relaxing in the shadow. Notice the tall macrophytes in the artificial lagoon.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

The slides are a great attraction

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Some teenagers hanging around…

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

… and, well, having some fun in front of the camera.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

A not so common point of view of the building

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

This is probably the first photo published from this side of the building!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Parents and children going to/from the kindergarden

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

For more pictures of this and more projects, you can get the book “Make_Shift City” here.

Makeshift implies a temporary or expedient substitute for something else, something missing. Make-Shift City extends the term to embrace urban design strategies. “Make-Shift City” implies a condition of insecurity: the inconstant, the imperfect and the indeterminate. It also implies the designing act of shifting or reinterpretation as a form of urban détournement.

In case you happen to be in Berlin in March, you will have the chance to attend the official presentation:

Wednesday, 19 - March 2014 –  19.00
AEDES auf dem Pfefferberg
Christinenstraße 18, 10119 Berlin

Make_Shift City: Renegotiating the Urban Commons
More info on Ecopolis Plaza, including these and more photos

Comments: (0)

Mass culture: How to not die of

Category: city+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Last summer, different cities from different parts of the world screamed through their squares and streets, and the messages from their voices revealed more than what we could see at first sight.

2013 Taksim Gezi Park by Flashstorm

2013 Taksim Gezi Park by Flashstorm

In Turkey, protests clashed initially in Gezi Park in Istanbul, where the government wanted to impose a new shopping center in the middle of the city, where a green park stood. The protests appeared trivial and useless, as the decision to build another shopping center, commonly and always justified as part of innovation and development of a country, could not compete with citizens’ willingness to keep a green area in the city center. Anyway it appeared incredible that due to this occupation, government military forces started a real fight against the ‘riots’, so that from a little episode, the phenomena started to expand to the whole country, augmenting the size of the protest and people’s involvement.

Photo by Diren Gezi Parki on Facebook

Photo by Diren Gezi Parki on Facebook

Likewise, Brazilian people began to occupy their streets in the name of stopping their Government for what they considered a waste of money and resources: the forthcoming World Football Championship. As it is known, the investment for this is a huge cost, involving the building and the re-organization of new spaces. Citizens occupied the streets asking to invest that money in more urgent sectors, as education, health and security. For sure, behind this people movements, behind their complaints and their need of being listened to, there are several dimensions of a same problem.

The ‘problem’ is that people would like to be part of a democracy, as the Governments define themselves, and have access to a democratic life, having the chance to be active part of the decisions taken. Mass culture takes part as a dimension of the phenomena. We can try to understand why and to what extent.

The context for much of the current interest in material culture is a fear. It is a fear of objects supplanting people. That this is currently happening is the explicit contention of much of the debate over postmodernism which is one of the most fashionable approaches within contemporary social science. (Miller, 1998:169)

This statement is extracted from an article where the author explains that the fear described is an overrated feeling in sociology. If we consider the Marxist position, it uses to refer to a distinction between an assumed pre-era, far from material objects, and the modern one, made or dominated by material; anyway there is actually no evidence of this historical distinction from ethnography or past studies, as even old societies were rather engaged with cultural media (Miller, 1998). However, Miller’s thought is contextualized in a different discourse, whilst the theme, that hereby is going to be explored, touches that argument in the most ‘materialist’ way possible: Indeed it will be the consideration of mass culture intended in its symbolic and representative meaning, and especially in which way the symbolic and the representative are intertwined with the material objects and massive quantitative consequences of its use as media tools.

In this case, I would argue that fear is not overrated, rather it is underestimated. Indeed, fear is real as much as deaths due to climate change and revolutions; fear is real to the extent that some people have too much and others have nothing. In this essay mass culture will be discussed from the aspect of its weight on people and planet lives, in particular inside our cities. I would try to discuss mass culture from an ethic point, not asking if we are dominated or whether there is the domination of a Western or capitalist culture, but rather inquiring if we are dominated by mass culture without recognizing its cost in terms of social justice, sustainability and depleting resources, and thus, if we could change something before crashing indirectly also due to mass culture’s effects.

Mass culture and the city

Image by AlexandraGalvis

Image by AlexandraGalvis

Mass culture is, first of all, an incredible phenomenon itself. With this term, I will refer to the huge flowering of cultural products and cultural media that surrounds our daily life, often strongly driven by markets, and that, due to the global streaming, reach masses and are consumed quite globally. Thus, it is clear that within the phenomena, arts, events, shopping and most of the rituals and media we experience daily are directly involved. Above all, mass culture has a relation with the consumerism system and technology development. Furthermore, when we talk about mass culture, we talk about a collective culture production, and thus of a result due to human interaction. (Grazian, 2010).

It is not so difficult to imagine the particular relationship that mass culture engages with cities. Not just because it is possible to observe it directly, but because cities are primarily the first concentration of masses where people live into the network of relationships, where their lives are indeed organized and intertwined within the social system. Literature supports various different traditions and points of view: For sure the city has always been seen as a great place for commercial, business, capitalist trades and often cities have been built according to these interests. For instance, Marx Weber in his classic ‘The city’ (1958) discusses it in these terms, trying to identify their main features, stressing what defines a city and what is not enough:

Both in terms of what it would include and what it would exclude size alone can hardly be sufficient to define the city. Economically defined, the city is a settlement the inhabitants of which live primarily off trade and commerce rather than agriculture.

Certainly, due to chances of trades, relationships and exchanges, the city is the realm of business. Weber also considers citizens according to their consumer role:

Similar to the city of the prince, the inhabitants of which are economically dependent upon the purchasing power of noble households, are cities in which the purchasing power of the other larger consumers, such as reinters, determines the economic opportunities of resident tradesmen and merchants.

Moreover, he claimed that:

Thus, we wish to speak of a ‘city’ only in cases where local inhabitants satisfy an economically substantial part of their daily wants in the local market (…). In the meaning employed here the ‘city’ is a market place. The local market forms the economic center of the colony in which, due the specialization products, both the nonurban population and urbanites satisfy their wants for articles of trade and commerce. (1958)

So, as a central crossroads of activities made of relationships and exchange, soon the city became the symbol of economy, gathering around itself both producers and consumers, and creating for them a whole life, including mainly rituals and tools of innovation concerning demand/buying and offer/selling. This is well explained by Jayne in his essay ‘Cities and Consumption’ (2006). He conducts an analysis about the rising of the industrial revolution, mass production and the consequent mass consumption, and the rituals of shopping and entertainment that had developed around these, collocated in the spaces of the cities, according to class distinctions, social system and capitalist interests. And mainly it is from this process that mass culture developed for the most as we know it today. Jayne stresses also how the dominant class pictured the shape of cities basically operating on the re-organization of spaces in order to respond functionally to a social meaning of class division, but also to respond to new needs of rituals primed by economic growth and capitalist fuel (2006).

It is in the first years of the 20th Century that the consumption of objects as media tools of culture in a massive style starts to be established and spread, thanks to the incentive of mass commodification and the technology advances. As it has been described by Veblen (1899), and Bourdieu later (1984), consumption and possession became icons of status. Precisely, as affirmed with the concept of cultural capital, the consumption of a specific culture and lifestyle became the symbol of distinction within the capitalist societies, where agencies and institutions worked to perpetuate the status quo (Bourdieu, 1984).

A kind of economic frame-centrism seems to exist, indeed economy is often the most considered starting point for analyzing society, as an invasive factor that defines all that it touches. Anyway, according to me, it is necessary not to forget that economy is not the only working force, because, not considering the phenomenon exactly in its whole, we risk to fall into determinism, being partial, and not seeing alternative ways of operating.

Robert Park, the major exponent of Chicago School, in 1916 talks of the city from another point of view, in my opinion also changing the vision of mass culture related. I found his words extremely interesting:

The city, from the point of view of this paper, is something more than a congeries of individual men and of social conveniences-streets, buildings, electric lights, tramways, and telephones, etc.; something more also, than a mere constellation of institutions and administrative devices -courts, hospitals, schools, police, and civil functionaries of various sorts. The city is, rather, a state of mine, a body of customs and traditions, and of the organized attitudes and sentiments that inhere in these customs and are transmitted with this tradition. The city is not, in other words, merely a physical mechanism and an artificial construction. It is involved in the vital process of the people who compose it; it is a product of nature, and particularly of human nature. (1916)

Considering that, I would see mass culture more like something belonging to the city in a virtual and potential way, then created by people and by their relations built there, and as something that is not just derived by economic forces and consumerism traditions. Again, the city characteristics assume a more human look. Park doesn’t forget the economic side and recognizes its importance:

The city is not, however, merely a geographical and ecological unit; it is at the same time an economic unit. The economic organization of the city is based on the division of labor. (…) Much of what we ordinarily regard as the city-its charters, formal organization, buildings, street railways, and so forth-is, or seems to be, mere artifact. But these things in themselves are utilities, adventitious devices which become part of the living city only when, and in so far as, through use and wont they connect themselves, like a tool in the hand of man, with the vital forces resident in individuals and in the community.

Another last important aspect:

The fact is, however, that the city is rooted in the habits and customs of the people who inhabit it. The consequence is that the city possesses a moral as well as a physical organization, and these two mutually interact in characteristic ways to mold and modify each other… (1916)

Thus, the city is first of all the space of human action and the shape and personality of its citizens. It is the place where culture and ideas flourish, as a fruit of human interaction.

Image by Oleksandr Hnatenko

Image by Oleksandr Hnatenko, www.pohtography.com

Following this pattern, we can look at analysis that see the representative idea of a city today, as the core of creativity, the essence of innovation, and the development and growth of a contemporary era. The same Richard Florida best seller ‘The rise of creative class’ (2002) contributed to expand the idea of a different city representation. Together with the ‘The creative city’ by Landry (2000), the authors indicated culture in its whole manifestation as the best creativity booster factor to attract the main potential resource of innovation: creative people.

By the way:

Hall unfolds a very important aspect of urban creativity, i.e. the people involvement. In fact, in the view of many scholars concerned with popular culture, people are not only passively consuming goods, as ‘mass’, they are also creatively determining the production and circulation of culture (Chambers, 1986; Fiske, 1989a, b) and shaping accordingly their view of the city. (Botta, 2006)

Mass culture could be seen as created, influenced, inspired by and consumed in the cities. But, in a double way, the same city is protagonist of mass culture, of narrative and imaginary, recounted and repurposed as representative of an idea of the city itself.

Mass culture, consumption and sustainability

Once the interrelationship between city and mass culture has been observed and after having stressed how there is not an only way to intend this liaison, we could now focus on the weight of mass culture. This weight could seem invisible to most, in first place because they don’t want people to see it, and then because people don’t want to see it either. Indeed, I am talking of a complex plot process among mass culture, consumerism and mass consumption, something that concerns deeply our ‘normal’ representation of daily life, as the best life possible.

Every day we get up and go to work. We work to earn money and with that money we buy everything that can permit us to conduce a comfortable life, possibly happy, healthy and rich. The more we work, the more we earn, the more we want to have. Having objects, first of all, does not imply them to be stupid ones. We love design, we love to show off concern for our culture: So we fill our houses with books, compact discs, vinyls, vintage pieces, clothes, shoes, cars. We love of course an independent big house with all comforts, hot in winter and cool in summer. We love culture, we love style and good food, we love travelling around the world, we love a comfortable life, we love shopping. We love sports, we love concerts and dancing. And above all, we love doing everything in a single very amusing and cozy place: a big city that can offer this and more.

That above seems almost one of those pictures or statements that we can commonly find on the teenager’s timeline on Facebook. A real statement about ideal life underpinned by mass culture. Unfortunately it is a sad reality if observed under another point of view. I regret to communicate that our planet is not big nor rich enough (not anymore) to grant the same treatment to all the teenagers of the world. I am sorry to communicate to my friends that their passion to collect rock compact discs is increasing the garbage that someone else will probably find as plastic junk in the sea. I am sorry to communicate to citizens that our big cities are not going to be livable anymore if the presence of toxic gases will increase. I am sorry to communicate that while your favorite an-alcoholic drink brand, Coca Cola, launches its new advertise, assessing their will to help people and make the world a better place, with children singing in the background, in India their factories are exploiting the country’s water resources to produce their drink and the company is collaborating with Government to privatize the same water, taking it away from people.

Image seen in Global Environments & Societies wiki

Image seen in globalenvironmentssocieties.wikispaces.com

It is not easy put in discussion the best lifestyle possible people’s idea: but it is time to really face the cost of our lifestyle, and our lovely mass culture. Maybe mass culture has become a natural part of our life that it is really difficult try to reason on it in terms of sustainability for the planet in which we live, the only one. This is because mass culture currently concerns almost all the rituals of our everyday life, including education, cultural capital, identity, wealth, traditions, and all the ‘soft’ symbolic part turned on rituals.

Anyway, at this point, it could be useful to make a distinction. For me, when we talk about mass culture we are not talking just and necessarily of consumerism, but perhaps more of rituals and activities that are deep-rooted within the consumerist society; this has then for sure been emphasized to an excess, in quantity and in stimulation and expansion of people’s needs. Indeed, Chandra Mukerji (1983) has historically described examples of consumer culture in the 15th Century Europe, where the exchange of media culture, such as books, exotic pieces from far places, jewels, spices and textures, was usual among royalty and upper classes (Wilk, 2002). Moreover, Peter Corrigan argues that the concept of ‘fashion’ was already well known in the Elizabethan times, when London was the center of trends (1997).

Today the modern consumption and the consumerism culture has achieved an exaggerate level of production of goods, if not waste. We could think that the human nature aims to have as much as possible or that being greedy is a natural component of human behavior; instead it is fairly reasonable that not in all societies, in the past nor now, people have the same need of possession, nor the same notion of richness or comforts. Nowadays, we can also say that not even the whole population belonging to the same society has the same notion of values in life and of our cities. Coming back for a moment to Turkey and Brazil, it is clear that a great number of people doesn’t agree with their Governments about which are the priorities for a good life in their cities. Could another shopping center create better conditions for people or enrich people more than a green space? Could a world event solve the social basic issues of inequity and poverty of a country? People are recognizing more and more that what is really important for their cities are adequate spaces for themselves, where they have the chance to choose their rituals or maybe to create them.

We are in a cyclic system that resembles a treadmill, where the whole society is involved, into the process of producing needs, old and new, and then producing goods. The index to indicate the level of wealth and growth is the GDP that measures the quantity of goods – products in one year per country. Is the huge quantity of goods produced seriously making our societies better and prosper?

Whereas mass culture (or mass cultures) is made of tools, symbols, icons, practices, rituals and it is something concerning people and their consumption in a certain way, what distinguishes pure consumerism today is: The quantity of goods produced; the stimulation and the expansion of needs; the pushing, by few stakeholders, of society towards consumption and possession. For sure marketing and selling strategies have always done a good job to lead practices, rituals and symbols around their products.

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2009 - Photo by Michael Holden

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2009 – Photo by Michael Holden

Consumerism affects mass culture so much that is primarily a mean of identity and interaction with others, because historically our Western capitalist societies consider money and the quantity of goods as distinctive symbols of wealth and success in life. Sure is that, the existence and the use of mass culture both suffer this deal. But in a society where we are conscious of the issues concerning the exploitation of resources and the return of it under the shape of garbage and where the first value is keeping safe life conditions, mass culture could change look. Already now we are adhering to style trends for smart cities, car sharing, waste recycle and other practices, that if inserted as pieces of mass culture into our lives could help to change mass culture too.

Thus, we cannot just criticize our consumerism society in terms of the damage that we are causing. We should start to reflect on our daily cultural practices, which are indeed made of mass cultural media tools, starting by city spaces, where our activities are concentrated and where more than other we could see the rituals and the proliferation of mass culture. And thus, we should begin thinking of a new approach based on them. I am persuaded that we could indeed change mass culture through mass culture itself.

According to the anthropologist Margaret Mead, there is no single approach working successfully in every society; rather, each one has a “culturally appropriate” approach, concerning the specific characteristics of its individuals (1953). In this perspective, Wilk argues:

They imply that no single set of solutions, technological, legislative, or cultural, is going to work in every society. On the contrary, we should expect great diversity in the ways different countries and cultures deal with sustainability problems. How can we expect things to change in the countries that presently consume so much more than their share of global resources? (2002)

When we talk about cities, we then talk about mass culture too, thus maybe cities could live by a different mass culture. As the city has been the protagonist of growth of mass society and mass culture of consumerism, it could also happen that the city may see the birth of a new and fairer society. Indeed, change should begin from here, from the set of organizations and citizens, in creating different rituals and use of the spaces.

Image by Starkart

Image by Starkart

Bibliography:

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, trans. Richard Nice. Harvard University Press.
Corrigan, Peter. 1997. The Sociology of Consumption: An Introduction. London: Sage.
Florida, Richard. 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class. New York: Basic Books.
Grazian, David. 2010. Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
Jayne, Mark. 2006. Cities and Consumption. New York: Routledge.
Landry, Charles. 2000. The creative city. New York: Routledge.
Mead, Margaret; World Federation for Mental Health. 1953. Cultural patterns and technical change. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Miller, Daniel. 1998. “Coca Cola: A Sweet Black Drink from Trinidad.” Pp. 169-187 in Material Cultures: Why Some Things Matter, edited by D. Miller. London: UCL Press.
Mukerji, Chandra.1983. From Graven Images: Patterns of Modern Materialism New York: Columbia University Press.
Park, Robert. 1916. “The city: suggestions for the investigation of human behavior in the urban environment” Pp. 90 -130 in Classic Essay on the Culture of Cities. New York. 1969, edited by R. Sennett. New York Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Weber, Max. 1958. “The City.” Pp. 23-46 in Classic Essay on the Culture of Cities. New York. 1969, edited by R. Sennett. New York Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Wilk, Richard. 2002. “Culture and Energy Consumption” Pp. 109-130, in Energy: Science, Policy and the Pursuit of Sustainability, edited by Robert Bent, Lloyd Orr, and Randall Baker. Island Press: Washington.
Veblen, Thorstein. 1899 [1973]. The Theory of the Leisure Class. Introduction John Kenneth Galbraith. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

This is a guest article by Simona Ibba (@PenniLeyn). Thanks, Simona!

If you want to get your own article published, see this.

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Energy Carousel | Segundo premio Taipei Design Award 2013

Category: city+ciudad+competitions+concursos+design+diseño+espacio público+sostenibilidad+sustainability+⚐ EN+⚐ ES

ENERGY-CAROUSEL10

Hoy tenemos el placer de comunicaros que Ecosistema Urbano ha recibido el segundo premio del Taipei International Design Award 2013, con el Energy Carousel en la categoría Diseño de Espacio Público.

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Guidelines to build participatory and inclusive societies

Category: architecture+art+city+creativity+placemaking+research+sustainability+⚐ EN

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In order to achieve the Post-Master called Urban Research Lab Sardinia – Environmental Design at the Università di Sassari (DAP), in partnership with the Dessau Institute of Architecture (DIA) of Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, an article will be published about the project made during the italian period, under the supervision of Ecosistema Urbano: Punto d’incontro.

This is an excerpt of the introduction, including some references and case studies.

The role of the architect

The role of the architect has always been, throughout ancient and modern history, a reference point for the city growth and development. Nowadays, this figure is undergoing a massive transformation, which cannot ignore social aspects. The modern architect helps to integrate production processes within the spaces users live and use in everyday life.

The article aims to present an experiment that was personally led in a very specific local community in Sardinia (Italy) which is affected by logistic, economical and management problems. Through theoretical studies and personal analysis of a variety of existing projects, a detailed process was drafted in order to suggest a strategic action plan.

Western society has scarce resources and the European architect often asks the following question, what can I do now without nothing? In this hard times, it is far more difficult for closed solution to be imposed by a power minority than for specific temporary actions to be applied based on grassroots talks, because sensitivity is high and social groups are highly resistant to accepting any changes which have not come from within their ranks. Ecosistema Urbano (2011). “Negotiating at all level”. A + T 38. 120

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Strategy & Tactics

The first input to the change came with the drafting of Agenda 21, a voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It emphasises that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development. The main goal is trying to involve the local communities in the construction process of the future of the cities. When public space is concerned, there are two ways to run over: strategy and tactics. Both are tools of equal value, but with different typology of method; they are usually known as top-down or bottom-up processes.

Tactics are actions which take place on enemy territory while strategy is always enacted on home ground. Which can lead to an immediate run-of-the-mill sharing out of roles: strategy is an instrument of power, tactics are used by citizens; strategy occupies space, tactics play out in time; strategy is used to control, tactics to protest. De Certeau, M.(1988). The Practice of Everyday Life. University of California Press

Recent developments of these concepts became well known under different name, but in essence they are all the same.

Tactical urbanism. It is defined as small-scale improvements in an effort to effect large-scale, long-term change.
Placemaking. It is the act of enlivening public spaces and places for the betterment of the community and its neighbors.
Participatory design. It is an approach to the assessment, design, and development of technological and organizational systems that places a premium on the active involvement of workplace practitioners (usually potential or current users of the system).

The following scheme represents the stages of the experiment:
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The Iberian trip

There was the necessity to analyze the theory, exploring some case studies and finding some references. This processes are already very disseminated all over the world, especially in USA and north Europe, where the citizens have a great sense of community and cooperation.

Nevertheless this research focused on the Mediterranean area, in this particular case in the Iberian peninsula, where the lack of organization meets high quality and creativity, typical of the Latin culture. Some of the cases shown here are real established structures, others are spaces under construction and constantly changing. The connecting link is always one of active participation.
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LXFACTORY – Lisbon

An urban fragment, kept hidden for years, is now returned to the city in the form of LXFactory. A creative island occupied by corporations and professionals of the industry serves also has stage for a diverse set of happenings related to fashion, publicity, communication, fine arts, architecture, music, etc.

lx_factory

El campo de cebada – Madrid

A group of neighbours called Distrito Centro promoted a temporary use of the vacant lof of a former public pool demolished in a district of Madrid, during the time in which the work planned for urban reuse was not to be carried out. The intention is that the space will accommodate all types of proposals/activities/projects (cultural, social, artistic, sport) for the use and enjoyment of the people of the district and all the city.

cebada

Matadero – Madrid

The old slaughterhouse and livestock market, where Matadero Madrid is now located, was built according with the project of the architect Luis Bellido. The site was architecturally transformed.
Matadero Madrid’s mission is to promote creation in all its forms and expressions. With special attention to cross-sectorial propositions, it focuses on three main action areas: training, production and dissemination.

matadero

Fabra i Coats Creation Factory – Barcelona

Fabra i Coats is a multidisciplinary space which will be promoting artistic hybridisation to become a point of reference in artistic research and in the generation of new quality contents, as well as a meeting point for groups, creators and proposals from different spheres and backgrounds.
The goal is to give support to artistic creation and it has workspaces for the performing arts, music, plastic and visual arts, multimedia creation and also for projects related to information and communication technology.

fabra i coats

Sometimes these kind of actions are not supported by a physical space, but by the people that build their spaces through some collective iniziatives, occasionally supported by a politician organization or made by self-funded artistic groups.

Urbact

It is a European exchange and learning programme promoting sustainable urban development. They enable cities to work together to develop solutions to major urban challenges, reaffirming the key role they play in facing increasingly complex societal changes. URBACT spans over 500 cities, 29 countries and 7,000 active participants.

urbact

Collectif ETC

Born in Strasbourg in 2009, this collective gathered energy around a common dynamic questioning of urban space. Through different means and different skills it wants to be a medium for experimentation. They believe that the different users of the city (residents and professionals) can all be involved in its development to a wide range of scales. The purpose and importance of these urban experiments is not only the result but also the process that generates it, as well as the new environment and new behavior it generates.

colletif etc

Boa Mistura

It is an urban art group formed at the end of 2001 in Madrid, Spain. Its members have diversity of perspectives, distinct visions which complement each other, and combine to create something unique and coherent.

boa mistura

Madrid Street Art Project

It is a noprofit association that through the organization of various activities and initiatives (urban Safaris, workshops, lectures, recovery rooms) aims to contribute to these reflections, to encourage citizens to enjoy urban art, contribute to its dissemination and support its creators.

madrid street art project

Conclusions

The final article will aim to give some semi-scientific guidelines to build participatory and inclusive societies. The new frontier of the architect should be to drive local communities in the management of public and private space, involving them in the construction process of the urban renewal. This is when the architect, as a highly knowledgeable technician, plays an essential role to mend the relation between politicians and common people.

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Bicycle-friendly houses

Category: architecture+sustainability+transport+urbanism+⚐ EN

Cities, organizations increasingly vast and uncontrolled, crystallize today most social and environmental issues. Intensification is a hot topic as antidote to urban sprawl and overconsumption of the territory, but how to live in the dense city, make it livable and desirable? This paradox between individual aspirations and the need to contain the growth of cities is a challenge for the architecture, the opportunity to imagine new types of habitats, for the collective economy of the soil, but offer a sense of independence and freedom in the use of space, from within and without.

Let’s find a simple example: to reduce private car use, many  cities are trying to promote green transport methods, including cycling, which is highly valued by the local population that exhibits a strong “scientific, sporty and green” image. The cycle path network is growing, but the problem lies at the two ends: What do you do with your bike when you get to your destination?

The bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation ever devised, and it delivers a whole-body workout. Cycling consumes far fewer calories per mile travelled than cars, buses, or even walking. It is sometimes the fastest way to get around a city. Cyclists can zip around traffic jams and don’t have to fight for a parking spot because they can bring the vehicle home… maybe: Many homes aren’t bicycle-friendly, so bikes are either not used or not purchased.

The French architectural studio ‘HERAULT ARNOD architectes’ was faced with that problem in Grenoble, where they designed a sustainable residential house.

Image is made by Herault Arnod architectes | L’IMMEUBLE À VÉLOS |Grenoble 2006-2010

The project ‘Bike building’ has a system which makes possible to take one’s bike to the door of one’s apartment. The lifts are big enough to carry bikes; the corridors are wide and form a panoramic walkway with views over the mountains. People enter their homes as they would a house, from the outside. The architecture of the storage and distribution system is designed for a project situated at the end of the cycle path network. People will be able to reach their front doors on rollerblades, scooters, bicycles, etc., and then store their wheels in a safe place.

‘…This project was conducted as part of an order placed by the architects to 8 City of Architecture and Heritage, on the theme of a “Habitat densified environmentally responsible.” These projects were gathered in one part of the traveling exhibition “Living Green”, which was provided by the police Gauzin-Dominique Müller, and which was presented to the City of Architecture…’ say Chris Younes and Isabel Herault

Since the outskirts of Grenoble are layered with districts of detached houses which generate traffic flows that grow more intense and more extensive each day, it is time to think about urban housing that is more in tune with contemporary aspirations. What does a detached house have that an apartment does not? Amongst other characteristics, we identified the relationship with the exterior, which is more direct and special, the greater privacy, and storage capacity: according to a recent study, 40% of the surface area in detached houses is used to store various objects, food, clothes, tools, bicycles, windsurfers, skis, etc.

‘…>80% of the population would rather live in a detached house than in an apartment block in town. What does a detached house have that an apartment does not? Amongst other characteristics, we identified the relationship with the exterior, which is more direct and special, the greater privacy, and storage capacity: according to a recent study, 40% of the surface area in detached houses is used to store various objects, food, clothes, tools, bicycles, windsurfers, skis, etc….’  say Chris Younes and Isabel Herault

The façade on the street side is made up of several layers which reveal the building’s unusual design, and make a feature of it through the system of outdoor corridors and the individual storage “boxes” placed in front of each apartment: the image is created by usage. People enter their apartments via a private balcony. Located between the walkway and the building’s main structure are the storerooms and bathrooms, which alternate with empty spaces running the whole height of the building. The “storage units” are clad with different coloured corrugated steel sheet, which individualize the apartments and together create an expansive, dynamic and contrasted façade – an unpatented and lively composition.

This project is not the only one example of bike-friendly houses designed by Herault Arnod architectes.

’24 apartments house’ project is located on a new BIA to Green Island, an eclectic neighbourhood of Grenoble composed of villas, workshops and small buildings on the banks of the Isere. It meets the certification BBC with 40% renewable energy, according to the requirements of the specifications of the ZAC. The building was designed to allow residents to live in the city as a house, with a privileged relationship to the outside. The twenty four units are through and have a large terrace facing west continues. Ends of the apartments have a triple orientation. All are served by an outdoor walkway sheltered east side. The building is intended to facilitate the use of bicycles in everyday life: each unit has a storage room, protected by winks perforated (over 50% vacuum), in which residents can store several bikes. The elevator is generously proportioned to allow everyone to borrow his bike.

Image is made by Herault Arnod architectes | 24 APARTEMENTS |Grenoble 2011-2013

The building is very compact, its organization to optimize the stairwell and the elevator are grouped in a separate volume, which they are connected by a walkway. This volume is wrapped in open vegetation: a linear bins, equipped with an automatic watering, home to vines that invade gradually cables and nets stretched between floors.

The other example of bicycle friendly building is the EcoFlats mixed-use apartment building, along North Williams Avenue in Portland with its co-developer, Jean-Pierre Veillet of Siteworks Design Build.

Williams Avenue, once the heart of a thriving African American community, is today well known as a popular bike route as well as a burgeoning retail area of restaurants, cafes and shops.

Image is made by Jean-Pierre Veillet | the Eco-flats |

On the ground floor of the building, for example, is Hopworks Bike Bar.

“Some 3,000 riders a day pass by Mr. Ettinger’s new brewpub,” the New York Times’ Linda Baker writes of Hopworks in a recent feature about the neighborhood and catering to cyclists. “It has racks for 75 bicycles and free locks, to-go entries that fit in bicycle water-bottle cages, and dozens of handmade bicycle frames suspended over the bar areas.”

There are no automobile parking spaces for tenants, but the 18-unit building has storage for 30 bikes.

“Cyclists are a great potential market for businesses that want people traveling at human-scale speed and will stop and buy something,” Roger Geller, the city’s bicycle coordinator, also told Baker.

Eco Flats is one of 15 building projects aiming toward net-zero operations through a pilot program launched in 2009 by Energy Trust of Oregon. Co developed by Doug Shapiro, it was designed to use approximately 60 percent less energy than a building constructed to code stipulations. Veillet says actual savings have been higher, approaching 80 percent. In the ground-floor entry to the apartments via elevator, a flat-screen TV affixed to the upper wall conveys in real-time the amount of energy being used by each unit as well as how much energy is being generated by a rooftop array of solar panels.

If you decided to become bike user, but the house you live in is not bicycle friendly, try to make your home bicycle friendly by yourself. A bicycle doesn’t ask for much. It just needs a safe, dry spot away from thieves and vandals.

By the way, in a humorous note, there is also the opposite way: you can make your bike the main element and attach your house to it, as this man did for the Burning Man festival, or as seen in various creations involving a bike and a tiny home.

RV-Camper bike by Kevin Cyr

RV-Camper bike by Kevin Cyr

For further reading:

‘Bicycle friendly area’ – Design workshop at Auroville- PDF

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Last days for registration | International Summer School in Sardinia

Category: ecosistema urbano+events+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Solanas from Capo Boi hillsummer university

Next Thursday June 20th registration will be closed for the International Summer School, in which more than 20 teachers and 40 students will develop new forms of architecture, particularly related to tourism, in the valley of Solanas and in the coastal area in the south-eastern part of Sardinia.

Did you miss that call? Here is the original post about it: Coastal Landscape Architectures | International Summer School in Sardinia

Visiting Solanas

Important information:

Registration is closing on June 20th!
Save the dates: July 3rd – July 13th
Special deal for European students: 50 € fee + 100 € for 10 days lodging
Learn more about this experience: coastal-landscape-architectures.blogspot.it

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Coastal Landscape Architectures | International Summer School in Sardinia

Category: ecosistema urbano+events+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Solanas from Capo Boi hillsummer university

Starting July 3rd, Jose Luis Vallejo and Belinda Tato from ecosistema urbano will be joining more than 20 teachers and 40 studens in an International Summer School organized in the valley of Solanas (Sardinia) by Department of Architecture, Design and Urban Planning at the University of Sassari in collaboration with the Municipality of Sinnai.

Where is Solanas?

The objective of the Summer school is to develop new forms of architecture, particularly related to tourism, in the valley of Solanas and in the coastal area in the south-eastern part of Sardinia. The development of new forms of architecture in coastal areas requires alternative approaches to the traditional scenarios of seasonal tourism. Teachers, students and public servants will be working together to face challenges related to the economically instable and unfavourable conditions created by seasonal tourism. The environmental contexts studied are sensitive and fragile, yet, at the same time, they are sites of great potential for developing innovative solutions and new uses. The activities of the workshop will aim at enhancing this potential by using the specific qualities and resources of the various contexts presented in the area.

If you are studying in Europe, you will get a special deal: Students coming from European universities only have to pay 50 euros for fee + 100 euros for 10 days for lodging + travel (there are cheap low cost flights to Cagliari).

And you’ll get to spend those 10 days learning, collaborating, walking and bathing in front of this great landscape… so don’t think for too long, registration is closing in 10 days!

Visiting Solanas

Important information:

Registration is closing on June 15th! Edit: June 20th.
Save the dates: July 3rd – July 13th
Cost for European students: 50 € fee + 100 € for 10 days lodging
Learn more about this experience: coastal-landscape-architectures.blogspot.it

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International summer course (update) | Urban design and sustainable architecture

Category: architecture+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Architecture in Alicante

The international summer course in Alicante we presented a couple of months ago is finally going to happen!

So far, 14 international – from quite diverse places like the US, Ucrania, Lebanon or South Corea – and 8 local students have already registered, and the University of Alicante just extended the registration period over June, so you still have a chance to join!

More Than Green international summer course

Sustainability is not just an environmental issue but, and above all, a social, cultural and economic one. This course about URBAN DESIGN and SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE proposes a complex incursion within the subject of sustainability understood not only as a problem but as an opportunity to meet new approaches to the city in a creative, innovative, playful and unprejudiced way.

Sustainability in an international environment: Experts in sustainability, teaching and design from all around the world meet in Alicante.
Learning by the sea: Meet friends from all around the world and enjoy the Mediterranean culture, a different way of understanding architecture, the city and life.
Challenging yourself: A fresh and playful approach to sustainable design.
Finding your way: We offer a wide variety of thematic contents as well as plenty of activities for your free time.

Faculty

We will be taking part with PLAYstudio – the organizers –, Transsolar and Urban Think Tank. Looking forward to meet you there!

Place and date: University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain. 15-26th July 2013
Learn more: International summer course (by the sea)Versión en español
Official website: summercourse.morethangreen.es

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Design-Analyse-Build | A methodology put to practice

Category: architecture+creativity+sustainability+⚐ EN

I would like to share with you my personal experience  in a ‘Design-Analyse-Build’ way of design.  Some of you might think, that it sounds not so innovative and most of the architects work in that way, that’s probably could be the truth, BUT there are some specific tips that make this experience unique.

In this post I will refer to the workshop that I shared in IED Torino Master SUS with the main coordinators  ARCò and MCArchitects studio, about designing an off-grid sustainable school for Palestine, Gaza_Rafah.

Firstly, I want to meet you with a work plan, that we were followed:

1. Climate analysis of an area
2. Analysis of the state conditions and local features of the area
3. Understanding the type of users and their needs
4. Environmental strategies selection
5. Concept creation
6. Design process
7. Shadow, daylight and glare analysis using Ecotect
8. Model 1:1 scale prototype

The first step was to analyse the climate of the area to understand the possible environmental strategies we can use and make a list of parameters that is better to avoid or conversely exploit during design process. The most tricky stuff was to find the weather data for Palestine, because nowadays all the information about it is classified, due to the war. Finally we had to use  weather data of  Beer Sheeva that located nearby in territory of Egypt.

 

The result of a Climate analysis using  Weather Tool,  Autodesk 2011

During most of the year temperature is above the comfort zone.. The winter is short, but is noticed with a humid winds. The summer period  lasts almost 7 months and accompanied with high temperature of the air and wind.The difference between the highest and lowest temperature during the day is about 10°.With this climate is important to orient building to protect it from the direct sun during summer and to capture it during winter. Also the building should be covered from strong winter wind,but use the summer ones.

The second step was to find out the location of  Rafah city and underline  the main function of that place.  One of the most important thing was to see the actual state of the construction site, that was almost impossible due to the hostilities.

Site location. Palestine. GazaStrip, Rafah

Rafah is situated in the southern part of the GazaStrip in Palestine, at the border with Egypt. According to the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel at Camp in 1982, Rafah was divided into two parts. One part was assigned to Egypt, the other part to the Gaza Strip. Nowadays Rafah is the only point of importance in the country.

The third step was to ‘meet’ the users. In this case we had to try being in their shoes, imagining lifestyle of a kid who was born and had been living all of his life in a war situation, always surrounded with fences and swaying wire in a lack of green safety spaces and entertainments.

The site is located in the central empty area of Rafah. It is surrounded with residential houses and a big warehouse.In the real-time the site is full of  excavated earth, because of the erasion of the previous construction, after the bombing.

From 1948 the population of Palestine live in the war situation.. So the country has problems in many different fields, one of it belongs to children and it is lack of schools and areas for children activities

The fourth step was to choose the environmental strategies to follow to reach the off-grid building. This phase is strongly related to the climate analysis. In this case, is very helpful to see the vernacular architecture of a place to choose the right strategies.

Ekaterina Kozhevnikova and Sara Cicinelli|">Image is made by Ekaterina Kozhevnikova and Sara Cicinelli|

workshop ‘Una scuola sostenibile’ in IED Torino

The fifth step is a sort of summary of all the strategies we chose for the building – concept creation. Concept is the phase right before the design process, so it was important to choose the right orientation, shape, functional zones etc. We were also advice to make a simple symbol or logo that would describe our project in few seconds, that finally could become sort of a brend.

 ‘The Earth is our school, so let’s make the school with earth!’

Image is made by Ekaterina Kozhevnikova and Sara Cicinelli | workshop ‘Una scuola sostenibile’ in IED Torino

One of the most important steps was analysis of the building with Ecotect, Autodesk 2011. For this project we had to make several calculations, such as: solar, shadow, daylight and glare analysis.

Usually  shadow analysis is calculated for the longest and shortest day in the year, such as 21st of December and 21st of June. In this case we also did computings for 21st of march to get proper results and see if the overhangs are useful during al the year.

Solar analysis shows us the amount of sun hours that building surfaces receive during the day. It gives us the idea of facade protection from the direct sun. It also could be very useful to see the best position for the PV panels to let them produce the maximum energy.

Daylight factor analysis is the ratio of internal light level to external light level.A low asks for classrooms a 5% daylight factor. For  art, craft, technological laboratories thatratio is even higher. Daylight can be used to offset the need for artificial lighting and hence reduce dependency and consumption on electricity and the greenhouse gas emitted. Effective daylight distribution must be achieved in a manner that brings visual satisfaction to the occupants.

Glare analysis is a calculation about number of direct sun or reflection coming from a very bright source outside the field of view. The reflection may cause discomfort as well as the additional annoyance of veiling or masking out the information which is being sought within that view.Ecotect Tool, Autodesk 2011">The result of  analysis usingEcotect Tool, Autodesk 2011

The final step was a model in 1:1 scale that we built-in one of the parks in Turin city. It was a great chance to ‘feel’ the construction and understand the weak and strong points of it. In my personal opinion, it was one the best parts of design, when you make the proof to your ideas and drawings, so you can be sure that the techniques you had chosen is stable and can answer to your expectations.

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The Water Footprint: Every drop counts!

Category: city+research+sustainability+⚐ EN

The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater that is used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business.

The water footprint consists of three components: the blue, green and grey water footprint. The blue water footprint is the volume of freshwater evaporated from the global blue water resources (surface water and ground water) to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community. The green water footprint is the volume of water evaporated from the global green water resources (rainwater stored in the soil as soil moisture). The grey water footprint is the volume of polluted water that associates with the production of all goods and services for the individual or community. The latter can be estimated as the volume of water that is required to dilute pollutants to such an extent that the quality of the water remains at or above agreed water quality standards.

The past century has brought a lot of changes, like the explosion of human population, the creation of an expansive global economy and the increasing technological development. All of them have put unprecedented pressures on water. More specifically, our growing appetite for water-intensive food and manufactured good, the construction of large dams for hydro-electricity and irrigation, and the massive discharge of industrial waste into limited freshwater sources, have made water an increasingly limited and expensive resource.

Despite this obvious fact, people use large amounts of water: drinking, cooking and washing, but even more for producing things such as food, paper, cotton clothes, and almost every other physical product. This water can be named as virtual water.

The virtual water content of a product (a commodity, good or service) is the volume of freshwater used to produce the product, measured at the place where the product was actually produced.

It refers to the sum of the water use in the various steps of the production chain. The virtual-water content of a product can also be defined as the volume of water that would have been required to produce the product at the place where the product is consumed (consumption-site definition).

 

Image made by Virtual water | facebook.com/virtualwater

Here are some examples of water footprints of daily products , calculated by Unesco-IHE Institute for water education, Netherland

Image made by Hoekstra and Chapagain 2008

These numbers are kind of shocking! Aren’t they?

So, let’s try to calculate our daily footprint and investigate the solutions to reduce the numbers as much as we can!

Image made by GOOD and Fogelson-Lubliner

Water footprints can be hard to calculate, depending on how far up the chain of production you go, since everything you eat and buy used some water to produce. With our latest Transparency, I give you some examples of how much water is used in some of your daily activities, so that you can begin calculate your footprint and try to reduce your gallons.

To help put things in perspective, think about this: your standard trash barrel holds 32 gallons and a mid-sized passenger car-if pumped full of water has room for a little more than 800 gallons. So, the difference in the amount of water it takes to produce a pound of chicken and a pound of beef is enough to fill almost two whole cars.

Which result have you got?

Let’s compare it with the water footprint calculation of one friend of mine, Croatian architect Ana Bilan that did some research in that field.

According to her calculations she was able to reduce her water footprint more than twice, which sounds really impressive!  So it was a matter of changing her habits, decreasing the direct water footprint and also the types of food she eats and products she uses to get a better result with indirect water Footprint.

Image made by Ana Bilan | research about MY WATER FOOTPRINT | for IED Torino Master SUS

 

If you become really interested in knowing how much water you personally use per day, you can follow this link and make a simple calculation:

Water footprint calculator (adults)

And you can also involve your kids into the idea of water preservation!

Water footprint calculator (kids)

Here are some facts to convince you to be a water guardian:

  • The average American lifestyle is kept afloat by nearly 2,000 gallons of H2O a day—twice the global average;
  • 46% of people on the earth do not have water piped to their homes;
  • Women in developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water;
  • In 15 years, 1.8 billion people will live in regions of sever water scarcity

And remember – Every Drop Counts!

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International summer course (by the sea) | Urban design and sustainable architecture

Category: architecture+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

More Than Green international summer course

The people behind More Than Green have organized a great summer course on July 15-26, 2013 in the mediterranean city of Alicante (Spain), where we will also be taking part together with PLAYstudio, Transsolar and Urban Think Tank.

Sustainability is not just an environmental issue but, and above all, a social, cultural and economic one. This course about URBAN DESIGN and SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE proposes a complex incursion within the subject of sustainability understood not only as a problem but as an opportunity to meet new approaches to the city in a creative, innovative, playful and unprejudiced way.

More Than Green

Contents + Objectives

Architecture in Alicante

Improve your design skills: based on an open criticism of the “only green” approach for the construction of our future sustainable cities, this course offers a much wider, complex and playful perspective at the same time. Students will combine the design of a team project –about an specific case‐ with the supervision of guest experts and their master classes.

Build a knowledge frame –examples of good practices told by guest experts‐ where students take consciousness of the importance of broadening their understanding of sustainability according to the new world policies.

Create a typical multicultural situation of an international course where students coming from different places exchange their various backgrounds and modes of undertaking the sustainable urban project. The diversity of the faculties contributes to enrich this situation.

Methodology + Course Structure

Architecture in Alicante

Master classes, teamwork and project reviews within the context of four different ways of understanding sustainability: ENVIRONMENTALLY, SOCIALLY, ECONOMICALLY and CULTURALLY.

Faculty

Faculty

DIRECTOR: José Luis Oliver Ramírez  (University of Alicante) + TRANSSOLAR: Matthias Schuler (Harvard GSD) + URBAN-THINK TANK: Alfredo Brillembourg (ETH Zurich) + ECOSISTEMA URBANO: Belinda Tato y Jose Luis Vallejo (Harvard GSD) + PLAYstudio: Iván Capdevila y Vicente Iborra (University of Alicante)

Alicante + Free time

Lively Alicante at dusk

It’s summer, you’re by the coast… who would dare to keep you away from having fun?  Within the course structure, it is programmed a considerable amount of free time so the students can visit other cities or some interesting spots on the surroundings, enjoy the sun and the beach, or take part in different summer activities organized by the University of Alicante.

Acommodation

University of Alicante

The University of Alicante offers you a wide range of facilities and affordable accommodation in several lovely locations from the historic city centre to the university campus surroundings.

You can download the brochure here: MTG International Summer Course  - PDF
For a more information on fees, acommodation, organization, etc. check the official website: summercourse.morethangreen.es

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Velo-city conference and cycling awards | Vienna, June 2013

Category: sustainability+transport+⚐ EN

Vienna Cycling Cultures

Under the motto “The Sound of Cycling – Urban Cycling Cultures”, the Velo-city conference 2013 will take place this year in Vienna, a city that has been recognized for its efforts towards a highly livable and sustainable urban environment.

Velo-city conferences in general serve as a global communication and information platform aiming to address decision makers in order to improve the planning and provision of infrastructure for the everyday use of bicycles in urban environments. They typically bring together more than 1,000 delegates such as engineers, planners, architects, social marketers, academic researchers, environmentalists, businessmen/women, and industry representatives who join forces with government at all levels in order to build effective transnational partnerships to deliver benefits to cycling worldwide.

Velo-city Vienna 2013

This year, the conference has been organized in three generic themes: cycling cultures, cycling cities and cycling benefits. It aims to offer a variety of inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to cycling issues through different dialogue formats such as round tables, speed dating, open spaces and a world café, amongst others. To ensure a relaxed atmosphere and to facilitate networking, there will be also other activities like a Cycling Parade, a Bicycle Fashion Show, a Garden Party and some technical excursions.

cycling visionaries awards 2013

In parallel to the conference, you can take part in the Cycling Visionaries Awards in the categories of Advocacy and Social Projects Science, Research and Development Design, Fashion and Cycling Equipment, Urban Planning and Urban Design Cycling and the Arts. We are curious about the entries, there’s quite a lot of innovation going on in the world of cycling but it’s not always visible to the general public.

On the conference’s website you can also read about some interesting cycling stories.

Date: June 11.14, 2013
Place: Vienna, Austria
Website: velo-city2013.com
Twitter: @VeloCityVienna

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Low Budget Urbanity: frugal practices transforming the city | Call for papers

Category: #followresearch+convocatorias+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

The trans-disciplinary research initiative “Low-Budget Urbanity. Frugal Practices Transforming the City” invites PhD and post-doctoral researchers to their first Early Career Laboratory from March 25th to 28th 2013 at HafenCity University in Hamburg.

Low Budget Urbanity - visit website

Low-Budget Urbanity is a research programme that explores contemporary urban phenomena such as ridesharing and online hospitality networks, water-saving infrastructures and DIY-practices of house owners, and second-hand consumer cooperatives as saving practices that transform the urban setting. These self-organized saving practices all involve “complex encounters, connections and mixtures of diverse hybrid networks of humans and animals, objects and information, commodities and waste“ (Sheller and Urry 2006:2).

Public budgets are slashed, many cities are burdened with near-paralysing debt, and for private households, too, saving money often is less a virtue than the order of the day. As a search term of an exploratory and multidisciplinary research project, “low-budget urbanity” provides a relational perspective on those seemingly disparate austerity phenomena. The research focuses on the question of how these phenomena are transforming cities.

What is new is not that saving money constitutes a principle of individual practices (rationalized building, economic or political action, individual budget planning, etc.), but that the austerity imperative for the assemblage, i.e. the confluence and interaction of these principles has become a force that shapes and defines cities.

Next you can find a call for papers that many of you may find interesting, with the topic “What is the value of saving costs? The urban economics and politics of everyday saving practices”.

CfP EarlyCareerLab LBU

More info:

Official website: low-budget-urbanity.de
Research group funding programme

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Herligheten, urban gardening in Oslo

Category: placemaking+sustainability+⚐ EN

Do you have a dream about planting your own mango tree? The statistic probability that you who are reading this live in the city is over fifty percent, and the number is increasing. This means that fewer and fewer of us have the opportunity to grow our own fruit and vegetables, but are entirely dependent on the increasingly industrialized and transport-based large-scale agriculture.

Urban food production is a growing trend in many cities, and productive green spaces emerge on rooftops, in ditches, between buildings and on the left-over spaces without a specific use. The motives for cultivating food are diverse, some see it as part of a strategy to increase awareness and knowledge about the food we eat (food safety), others will create a focus on local food as one of the solutions to environmental challenges, while others grow their own garden just because it’s pleasure and to save money. Jennifer Cockrall-King claims in the book Food and the City that we are facing a food revolution as we have passed both the oil peak and peak water, and this begins to affect a growing global population:

Food and the City examines alternative food systems in cities around the globe that are shortening their food chains, growing food within their city limits, and taking their “food security” into their own hands.

Working at Herligheten - Photo by Christoffer Olavsson Evju

In Oslo, Norway, urban farming occurs in a smaller scale, including the Geitmyra allotment garden where you can be assigned a soil patch for cultivation, and as guerrilla gardens, a more freely and actionist activity where the city’s leftover spaces are used for food production without formal permission of the landowners. The latest addition to this green trend where you can grow your own vegetables in Oslo is Herligheten (The Glory), an ecological initiative and project about urban food production initiated in April 2012 and developed during April and May 2012.

As part of a long-term development and urbanization of the waterfront in Oslo, the developer Bjørvika Utvikling has carried out several temporary projects from stunts to pavilions which have been standing there for a few years. The events and installations are bringing human activity into an area that for many years has been characterized by construction activities, but Herligheten differs from previous projects by a greater degree of activation of users and visitors, who are now shaping the new area of the city with green and consumable pleasures.

Working at Herligheten - Photo by Christoffer Olavsson Evju

Herligheten is located at Loallmenningen in Bjørvika, a rocky “island” in the middle of a rough building site surrounded by roads, railway lines and the ventilation towers for the submerged tunnel underneath. It has found its home in an apparently gray and idle landscape between the Medieval park and the Oslo fjord, which has for many years been seen as a lifeless place in wait for better conditions. But during a few hectic weeks during spring the area has experienced a small, green revolution worked out by diligent volunteers who have transformed it into an oasis consisting of consumable plants, in what was previously a closed area for city residents.

Herligheten - Photo by Christoffer Olavsson Evju

As of today Herligheten consists of three main parts: Herligheten Allotment Garden with 100 allotments, a field measuring 250 m2 where several types of ancient grain such as spelt, emmer, einkorn and bere barley will grow, and an activity program consisting of a number of events and seminars for learning and exchanging ideas. As many as 3790 people applied in April to take part in Herligheten through the disposal of one of the 100 allotments, so it is clear that the people in Oslo have ambition to develop their green thumbs. We wish them good luck with the green revolution!

Read more:

About Herligheten in English
Flickr gallery. It will be updated soon with photos of the growing plants!

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Urban land teleconnections and sustainability

Category: research+sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

Review of the paper “Urban land teleconnections” by Karen C. Seto, Anette Reenberg, Christopher G. Boone, Michail Fragkias, Dagmar Haase, Tobias Langanke, Peter Marcotullio, Darla K. Munroe, Branislav Olah and David Simon.

Recently a research paper was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) concerning the conceptual development of global sustainability, in relation to both urbanization (urban sustainability) and land change. The paper argues that land change and urbanization dynamics are explicitly connected, and suggests “urban land teleconnections” as a new framework for dealing with global sustainability.

Urban Land Teleconnections

“We propose urban land teleconnections as a process-based framework for integrating urbanization and land change, for revealing their linkages and pathways across space and time, and for identifying potential intervention points for sustainability. Through the lens of urban land teleconnections, new and surprising diverse urban forms and processes, such as periurbanization, can be better understood and foreseen. The urban land teleconnections concept could also be useful to the wider research community to anticipate implications for global land resource use.”

More and more people live in the cities. The increasing urbanization is raising many discussions about sustainable planning, and this recently published paper feeds the debate with new inputs. Encouraging a reconsideration of the terms on which we base sustainable policies, the research is widening again our perception of the relationship between the urban field and land. The term “teleconnections” refers to climate science, where it is understood that events have impact over large geographic areas – when the waters of the North Atlantic go through a warm phase, fire incidents increase in the western United States. Just such urban land teleconnections explain the interrelation and invisible bond between urban processes and land use processes, which we must consider when planning our sustainable future. The key to develop strong sustainable planning, is to stop thinking of urban sustainability and land use sustainability as limited to local scale and place, and instead start to take into account the processes and global connections merging urbanization and land use.

“The virtual shrinking of distances between places, strengthening connectivity between distant locations, and growing separation between places of consumption and production are emerging topics in “telecoupled” human–natural systems and tropical teleconnections of deforestation [...] In an increasingly urban world, characterized by global flows of commodities, capital, and people, where land that provides goods and ecosystems services for people is becoming more segregated from the space of habitation, teleconnections captures links between distant processes and places, and can be used to explore consequences of urbanization and land changes at great distances from points of origin that would otherwise go unrecognized.”

Urban Land Teleconnections

Urbanization and land change have so far been treated as parallel processes. Apparently this has limited the progress of the concept of sustainability. The paper states that a simultaneously treating of urban sustainability and land change as interwoven, non-separable processes is the keystone to advance in developing sustainability:

“The magnitude and accelerating rate of contemporary urbanization are reshaping land use locally and globally in ways that require a reexamination of land change and urban sustainability. Worldwide, urban populations are projected to increase by almost 3 billion by 2050 and the total global urban land area by more than 1.5 million square kilometers—an area three times the size of Spain—by 2030. Urban economies currently generate more than 90% of global gross value added, meaning few rural systems are unaffected by urbanization (3). Given such trends, we must reconsider how we conceptualize the many connections and feedbacks between urbanization and land change processes.”

The paper is confronting three understandings of the urban – land relationship that so far have been key themes in sustainability policies.

One is the Land Classification Systems, on which the paper states:

“By definition, because urban is human-dominated, urban areas “appropriate” natural ecosystems, ecosystem services, and natural capital. By this logic, urban cannot be natural capital. However, such a conceptualization contradicts underlying principles of urban ecology as well as sustainability.”

The second theme is Place-Based Definitions:

“The place-based conceptualization enforces the idea that urban sustainability requires urban self-sufficiency. [...] However, decisions and behaviors that are local or even regional in scope do not account for critical consequences of teleconnections, which may undermine sustainability efforts at great distances or influence the overall sustainability for the entire system. Eating locally might undermine livelihoods of distant farmers who may be using less energy-intensive methods to produce food than local growers. Put another way, sustainability initiatives often focus on the importance of place while ignoring the processes of urbanization that may have farreaching effects on distant places and people. These processes can generate uneven and undesirable outcomes that may be undetected when focusing solely on place.”

On the third theme, Land Transitions, the paper argues:

“[...] Although not always explicit, a common assumption is that land transitions in Europe and North America can help understand future trends in Asia, South America, and Africa. Such assumptions disregard the realities that cultural differences influence conceptions, codifications, and uses of space and land, and that use of distant land to meet demand for local populations can significantly alter the pathways of change. As a result, there is no universal or linear transition process; phases identified in one context can be shortened, prolonged, overlapped, or even omitted or transgressed elsewhere.

Urban Land Teleconnections

Urban Land Teleconnections is suggested as a new key theme, a framework to address sustainability. In an immediate invisible network, urbanization and land change are constantly in a process of affecting one another. The term itself indicates that the concept of sustainable urbanization and sustainable land use has merged. Conceptualization of sustainability should contain both processes at once.

“By using an urban land teleconnections framework, we move away from conceptualizing urban sustainability and land as attributes specific only to a place, to begin to link dynamic global processes to their spatial “imprint”.”

This means that changes in nonurban places affects urban places and that change in urban space affects nonurban space. In this way, urban and land relations are interwoven in a global network wherein neither the themes Land Classification Systems, Place-Based Definitions nor Land Transitions can stand alone to define the framework for developing sustainable concepts.

“ [...] we can study multiple urban regions jointly, rather than trying to aggregate and generalize across many disconnected sets of case studies, and consequently provide a more organized way to integrate knowledge globally. A more holistic analysis of the underlying and spatial effects of production, consumption, and disposal will enable development of policies that promote viable and fair solutions, and ultimately global sustainability.”

Further reading: Urban Land Teleconnections paper – PDF

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Shop with a concept: Unpackaged

Category: creativity+sustainability+⚐ EN

Unpackaged is one of the shops with interesting, environmental friendly, and ethical concepts. Their philosophy is simple and they are describing it with this statement: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” (Buckminster Fuller)



photo: www.flicker.com (c) Grainger Laffan (globalpressgang.com).
For The Social Enterprise Coalition

The model of “world with less wasteful packaging” was created in 2006 by Catherine Conwayin, and company is achieving it one customer at a time. Unpackaged was set because Catherine wanted to refill her groceries using her own containers. She set up shop that made it really easy for customers to come and refill all their daily essentials. The products they sell are usually seasonal and from local production, with minimal transportation, mostly certified organic, and fair trade. In Unpackaged shop in London you can buy the exact amount you need or want so you don’t waste anything and also save money. And in the end going packaging-free means also that less waste will end in landfills.

How It Works? They are giving us some instructions:

- Remember to bring your containers* from home (if you forget, you can buy reusable containers here)
- Come to Unpackaged & say hello
– Weigh your containers at the counter then choose the product & amount you want
– Take your goods home & enjoy
– When you’ve run out, come back for a refill, simple as that!

*Containers: bring anything you like, there’s nothing to date that we haven’t been able to refill (even our lovely friend who likes putting lentils in old water bottles!) Bring glass jars, tupperware, old takeaway cartons, brown paper bags, plastic bags, old packaging.. if it’s heavy, we’ll weigh it first, if it’s light then just refill and we’ll weigh at the end.


photo: www.flicker.com (c) Grainger Laffan (globalpressgang.com).
For The Social Enterprise Coalition

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STUDIECYKEL.DK | a social economic undertaker company to help students in Denmark and Africa

Category: sustainability+⚐ EN


Image above by Studiecykel.dk

As I am a student myself I thought it is important to not just talk about architecture and sustainability but also students, society in general and how we can make our world a better place and help others. See how small actions can do big difference to the world.

I will be going back to Denmark in august and it happens that I am in the situation of needing a bike. My old bike did not survive the last Danish winter and believe me when I tell you, that a student living in Copenhagen needs a bike to get around the city, to go the fast and easy way from home to the university and in my case it only takes 30 minutes by bike and not the 60 minutes by bus to get through the city…

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Gunter Pauli – The Blue Economy: Flow Based Architecture

Category: architecture+sustainability+⚐ EN

 

Next Thursday May the 12th Gunter Pauli will be lecturing at IAAC from 12.00- 13.00

Dr. Gunter Pauli graduated with a degree in economics from Loyola’s University in Belgium and obtained his masters in business administration from INSEAD in France. He is an entrepreneur and founder of ZERI Foundation (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives). The Blue Economy is an international community of companies, innovators and scientists, providing open source access to develop, implement and share prosperous business models that strive to improve natural ecosystems and the quality of life for all.

Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
Carrer de Pujades, 102, Barcelona,
IAAC Auditorium, Free Admission

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Appropedia | sharing sustainability

Category: sustainability+⚐ EN

 

For those of you who are not yet familiar with it, Appropedia is an appropriate technology wiki entirely dedicated to sustainability, poverty reduction and international development. Containing an encyclopedia, discussion forums and numerous links, Appropedia is a user generated open platform tool for empowering and informing. Anyone can add, remove or edit content.

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‘city civic movements in a global world’ – Saskia Sassen in Lisbon (18th April)

Category: events+sustainability+⚐ EN

Next monday (April 18) Saskia Sassen will be in Lisbon for an evening conference on ‘city civic movements in a global world’ at the presentation of the ‘GLOBAL CITY 2.0′ NETWORK (see document below ).

The Portuguese CIDADES PELA RETOMA movement is now challenging partnersworldwide to create a global network called GLOBAL CITY 2.0, an open invitation toindividuals, groups and institutions who wish to think about the role of URBAN CIVICMOVEMENTS and its potential to transform cities and beyond, specially in this hardeconomic times (http://globalcity.blogs.sapo.pt/).

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ecosistema urbano lecturing at the EKODesign Conference, Istanbul April 14th

Category: ecosistema urbano+sustainability+⚐ EN

ecosistema urbano lecturing at the EKODesign Conference, Istanbul April 14th


The fourth of EKODesign Conferences organized by Yapı-Endüstri Merkezi, the information centre of the building sector on ecology, sustainability, environment-friendly buildings and practices at the architecture and building sectors shall be held on 14 April 2011, Thursday at YEM Events Hall, Istanbul Turkey.

ecosistema urbano will be lecturing, presenting thir most recent works under the title of URBAN SOCIAL DESIGN as keynote speech.

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From Brown to Green: Development of London´s 2012 OLYMPIC PARK

Category: city+sustainability+⚐ EN

Olympic game development is  rushed,  expensive and large-scaled.  Now, more than ever, winning the right to host Olympic games also comes with large-scale responsibility. Olympic game hosts are given the opportunity to present their country as leader of the current  times -  and in our time, its becoming more and more obvious that such large-scale development must be carefully pursued by the sustainability conscious.

London took this challenge and ran with it. The new East-London Olympic park that will soon boast world-class sporting facilities for the 2012 summer Olympics was once, not too long ago, just an unvisited, industrial wasteland.

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Tallest Building in the U.S. Becomes Solar Farm

Category: sustainability+urbanism+⚐ EN

When people get to talking about the greenest city in the U.S., they’re usually referring to Portland, Oregon, which boasts an exceptionally, historically environmentally conscious, pro-active citizenship. Chicago, with its famous theater, symphony, and Navy Pier bi-weekly summer firework displays,  is usually acknowledged for its art and music.

However, Chicago deserves more recognition for its architecture, which has, in recent years, boasted some of the greenest (and I mean this quite literally) initiatives in the country. Like many U.S. city Mayors, Richard M. Daley announced his intention to make Chicago the greenest city in America. He began this transformation by transforming the Chicago City Hall rooftop into a green garden. Other Chicago dwellers followed suit, greening up businesses and homes with vertical and rooftop gardens.By 2009, Chicago was the city with the most LEED certified buildings in the country.

This week though,  we’ve learned that Chicago is taking its environmentally friendly architectural history one step further. The Willis Tower, formally known as the sears center, will be adding a vertical solar farm on the 56th floor.

The Willis tower is tall – really tall. In fact this ¨planting¨ means there will soon be a vertical solar farm on the tallest building in America!

While Chicago is definitely not the most environmentally conscious city in America, as it lacks the extent of aggressive sustainable development policies and pro-active citizen initiatives that Portland owns, Chicago’s leadership in promoting ¨green¨ architecture is really something special.

Chicago is the city of the arts – it’s a visual city. Adorning the tallest building in the country with solar panels represents and promotes sustainable development  as a partner of the American city.

The 1.3 million tourists who come to gape at the willis building each year will now have a bit greener of an image of what 21st century urbanism can be. I propose the addition of a vertical  garden next…

(Vertical garden at Caixa Forum, Madrid)

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Ecosistema Urbano take part in the Symposia Series at the msa

Category: ecosistema urbano+sustainability+⚐ EN

Next friday Ecosistema Urbano will take part in the Symposia Series at the münster school of architecture (Muester, Germany).
The symposia will be held in the lecture building in room Leo5.

The title of our presentation is: Urban Social Design.

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Ecosistema Urbano is a Buckminster Fuller Semifinalist!

Category: ecosistema urbano+sustainability+⚐ EN

Today Ecosistema Urbano has been announced as one of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge´s 21 semifinalists. Named “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” by Metropolis Magazine, this prestigious prize will award 100,000 dollars to one project strategy with potential to solve world problems through humanitarian action and environmental responsibility.

Ecosistema Urbano´s submission is What if Water… Community Macrophyte Lagoons, a water purification initiative that doubles to engage communities in water conservation activities.  The purification system that has been engineered to assist the natural macrophite purifying processes in plants. After purifying the water, the natural system stores water for reuse on the project site or within the surrounding community. To support community macrophyte lagoons, which initiate physical networking at project sites, the creation of an online social network will allow community members to share their What if Water, Community Macrophyte Lagoons experiences with each other locally and globally.

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Ecological design fundamentals: responsible materials and construction practices

Category: architecture+fundamentals+sustainability+⚐ EN

What is Ecological Design? Resposible Materials and Contruction Practices
When constructing, In order to encourage stability of environmental and cultural systems that are already in place,  ecological design should utilize the skills and resources available in the nearby areas. I wrote my last post about the necessity for buildings to be engineered so they may evolve in response to environmental changes. Today I will write about how, even more fundamentally, construction process should evolve in response to local contingencies and opportunities.

We can see examples of this practise in the last two examples of ecological design i´ve featured. The first, The Arup designed Druk white lotus school, used both traditional materials and traditional building methods. This supported the local economy, the local culture and avoided harmful environmental effects by limiting the distanace (and carbon-footprint) of material transport. With another take on responsible material usage,  Morphosis’ FLOAT house design for New Orleans, acknowledged poverty pressures in affected flood zones all over the world, by (using local labor) assembling the house on-site from pre-fabricated components with all required wall anchors, electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems pre-installed. The affordable housing was designed as easy-to-transport, easy-to assemble sections so that the design may be reapplied throughout the 9th ward, as well as be adapted to the needs of flood zones worldwide.

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ecological design fundamentals: human-nature interaction

Category: design+fundamentals+sustainability+⚐ EN

 

What is ecological design? Human-nature Interaction.

Features  of ¨green¨and ¨sustainable¨architectural design often emerge as solar panels, green roofs and other technologies that make up the checklist for LEED certification. But to identify features of ecological design  is more complex.

Healthy ecosystems exist in a dynamic equilibrium of nutrient cycles and energy flows. To design ecologically is to consider the relationship between built structures and social structures as an evolving support system for environmentally responsible living. Ecological design does not only aim to produce low-impact architecture, but also works to support healthy relationships between culture and natural earth processes.

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Green Coverage: They say money doesn’t grow on trees, rather, trees grow on money

Category: sustainability+the environment+⚐ EN

green – eco – sustainable

The media plays a crucial role in defining what these words mean because, lets face it, these words don’t have any universally acknowledged definitions. It´s been a challenge, of course, for the media to embrace this recent environmental enthusiasm and deliver news that is truly ¨green¨-worthy. However it has also been an incredible opportunity for these writers to decide, for the millions of their readers worldwide, what sort of initiatives really are worth the press.

Most of us assume that if the words  ¨eco¨ ¨green¨or ¨sustainable¨ are in the headline of an article, than the writer is speaking about an environmentally and socially responsible subject. These articles inform public understanding of the environmental terms used and shape the culture that either embraces or rejects them.

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URBAN PROTOTYPE PLAZA ECOPOLIS to Compete for the 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Category: ecosistema urbano+sustainability+⚐ EN


Madrid, Feb. 14th

WASTE TO RESOURCES- URBAN PROTOTYPE PLAZA ECOPOLIS led by ecosistema urbano is proud to announce our submission to the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Named “Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award” by Metropolis Magazine, the Challenge is an annual international prize program that awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a solution that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

We are thrilled to be a part of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge review process, which brings together influential design science leaders such as Josè Zaglul, Vandana Shiva, Danny Hillis, William McDonough, John Thackara and Hunter Lovins.

We entered this competition because of its reputation as the most prestigious Prize concerning social issues.

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community-run green areas | studioUAP

Category: sustainability+⚐ EN


About 50 community-run green areas mapped: little urban gardens, play yards, edible gardens and areas for walking, resting, or simply talking. Citizens and associations acting together to reclaim the abandoned areas in Rome.
More than 100 sites together with the 65 spontaneous gardens registered by the Rome municipality.
Urban farms too and other interesting experiences such as Partecipation Houses, “Punti Verdi Qualità” and green areas maintained by established associations.

The map is in progress. Point us out any news and changes you know of.

More info can be found in: http://www.urbanarchitectureproject.org/

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Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement

Category: architecture+sustainability+⚐ EN


This exhibition presents eleven architectural projects on five continents that respond to localized needs in underserved communities. These innovative designs signal a renewed sense of commitment, shared by many of today’s practitioners, to the social responsibilities of architecture. Though this stance echoes socially engaged movements of the past, the architects highlighted here are not interested in grand manifestos or utopian theories. Instead, their commitment to a radical pragmatism can be seen in the projects they have realized, from a handmade school in Bangladesh to a reconsideration of a modernist housing project in Paris, from an apartheid museum in South Africa to a cable car that connects a single hillside barrio in Caracas to the city at large. These works reveal an exciting shift in the longstanding dialogue between architecture and society, in which the architect’s methods and approaches are being dramatically reevaluated. They also propose an expanded definition of sustainability that moves beyond experimentation with new materials and technologies to include such concepts as social and economic stewardship. Together, these undertakings not only offer practical solutions to known needs, but also aim to have a broader effect on the communities in which they work, using design as a tool.

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Sustainability in motion. Aarhus Nov. 5th

Category: ecosistema urbano+sustainability+⚐ EN

ecosistema urbano will be present at the conference  Sustainability in Motion, taking place in Aarhus next November 5th hosted by the Danish Architects’ Association.  Other speakers will be Lia Ghilardi from Noema Research and Planning (England) and Patricia Patkau from Patkau Architects (Canada). Related to the event they have interviewed us. The interview is available in their webpage.

More info on the workshop and lecture here