Milan World Expo 2015: Feeding the Planet, energy for Life

September 23, 2009 - 11:37:14 PM

Via: Abitare - international design magazine 

by Herzog & de Meuron, Jacques Herzog
London School of Ecomics, Ricky Burdett
Stefano Boeri Architetti, Stefano Boeri
William McDonough + Partners, William McDonough

Over the past few months we have worked with EXPO SpA, the local institutions and the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions) to create a revolutionary new concept of the world exposition. We are convinced that a visionary and successful EXPO has to abandon the outmoded idea of an exposition built around complex systems of representation and gigantic architectural monuments which often have no real purpose after the event. Instead EXPO 2015 will be remembered for giving visitors a direct and immediate experience of all aspects of the question of food. It will be an EXPO that embodies its theme-Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life-directly within its own space, with none of the usual simulations and documentation that can easily be found today on any computer. Secondly, it will be an EXPO that overturns the whole concept of monumentality: in place of giant structures (like the Eiffel Tower of Paris 1898), Milan will build a new landscape of monumental lightness and natural beauty. An environment that reflects the environmental sustainability, technical precision and haunting beauty of Venice’s winding alleys, Leonardo’s canals and the open countryside of rice fields and vineyards. The EXPO we envisage will be a Planetary Botanical Garden open to the citizens of Milan and the world. A place for a fresh encounter between farming and the city that will feed Milan literally, spiritually and intellectually. A vast agrofood park built on an orthogonal grid, surrounded by water ways and punctuated by striking landscape architecture.  READ MORE »

Biennial World City Prize

September 23, 2009 - 11:07:05 PM

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is a biennial international award to recognise individuals and organisations that have made outstanding contributions to the creation of vibrant, liveable and sustainable urban communities around the world. It seeks to recognise individuals and organisations responsible for urban initiatives that display foresight, good governance or innovation in tackling the many urban challenges faced by cities. These urban initiatives can include (but are not limited to) urban planning projects, urban policies and programmes, urban management, as well as applied technology in urban solutions.

These urban initiatives should incorporate principles of sustainable development and demonstrate an ability to bring social, economic and environmental benefits in a holistic way to communities around the world. The Prize will also place an emphasis on practical and cost effective solutions and ideas that can be easily replicated across cities.

Through this prize, Singapore hopes to facilitate the sharing of best practices in urban solutions among cities and spur further innovation in the area of sustainable urban development.

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Laureate will be presented with an award certificate, a gold medallion and a cash prize of S$300,000, sponsored by Keppel Corporation.

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is named after Singapore’s first Prime Minister, who currently holds the position of Minister Mentor. Mr Lee is instrumental in developing Singapore into a distinctive, clean and green garden city in a short span of a few decades. Under his leadership, the adoption of strategic land use, transport and environmental policies and programmes have helped Singapore to develop into a liveable city with a high quality living environment, in tandem with rapid economic growth.  READ MORE »

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FAB.REcology by Neri Oxman Wins First Earth Awards

September 23, 2009 - 10:24:17 PM

NEW YORK, Jan 13, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- On January 12, MIT fellow Neri Oxman was named winner of the first The Earth Awards. TED Prize winner Cameron Sinclair and Datin Azrene Abdullah presented the award to Oxman in recognition of her groundbreaking project FAB.REcology, which combines principals of biomimicking with the design and construction of built environments. Master of ceremonies Charlie Rose interviewed all ten finalists in Philip Johnson's iconic Four Seasons Restaurant before the winner was named. The event united some of the world's most influential environmentalists, architects and media to form an elite Selection Committee who chose Oxman. Committee members present included Paola Antonelli, Adam Bly, David Buckland, Antonio de la Rua, Scott Hahn, Peter Head, Graham Hill, Michael McDonough, Barry Malebuff, Sergio Palleroni, John Picard, Suzanne Trocme, Dilys Williams and Kenneth Yeang. Organizers conducted a global search for products and concepts that are sustainable, innovative and essential to improving basic quality of life. The winner and finalists will meet with joint venture companies in the hopes of generating commercial opportunities. The Earth Awards are an initiative of ecoStyle Project established by the Malaysian Government, whose support underpins the government's focus on sustainability in its national policy and development plans. The event was jointly produced by NYC Inc., kontentreal, and IMG Fashion, and sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. Representing Malaysia were daughter of the Prime Minister Datin Azrene Abdullah, Princess Myra Madihah, Ambassador Hamidon & Counsel General Zamruni. Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi noted, ‘It's an honor to be part of this event, and I applaud The Earth Awards for fostering a critical dialogue and spirit of innovation in response to the global energy crisis.’ Finalist projects Engaged Offsets, Iluma, and Open Blue Sea Farms were recognized with honorable mention. The top ten also included 12 Climate Entrepreneurs, Earth Markets, Folded Bamboo + Paper Houses, R3, ROSS, and Warning Bulb.

Via: materialecology


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Smart Cities Group at MIT Media Lab Wins 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

May 11, 2009 - 10:06:44 PM

Sustainable Personal Mobility: The CityCar, the RoboScooter, and Mobility-on-Demand Systems

Winning Team:

William J. Mitchell, Ryan Chin, Charles Guan, William Lark, Jr., Michael Chia-Liang Lin, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Arthur Petron, Raul-David "Retro" Poblano, Andres Sevtsuk

Excerpts from the winning entry:

"The gasoline-powered private automobile was one of the greatest inventions of all time. Over the last century, it has radically transformed our daily lives and the forms of our cities. However, it has become increasingly apparent that there are strict limits to scales at which automobile-based personal mobility systems can effectively and responsibly operate, and that we are fast approaching those limits. The proximity of limits shows up in the forms of rapidly growing negative externalities to automobile use – urban congestion, peripheral sprawl and inefficient land-use, excessive energy-use, petroleum dependence and the associated geopolitical/economic problems, local air and noise pollution, and carbon emissions contributing substantially to climate change.

In response to these problems, incremental improvements to automobile and road infrastructure technology are often worth pursuing. However, these technologies are very highly evolved and mature, so there is limited benefit to be derived from further evolution. An evolutionary path to improvement will not have a sufficient impact, within the necessary time frame, on the pressing problems of urban sustainability and global climate change. Instead, a radical reinvention of urban personal mobility systems is required."

"We have designed several new battery-electric vehicles – the CityCar, the RoboScooter, and the GreenWheel electric bicycle – that are utilized within mobility-on-demand systems. All of these vehicles are extremely lightweight, have small footprints, have no tailpipe emissions, and are extremely frugal in energy use. This is accomplished without compromising safety, comfort, convenience, or fun. Mobility-on-demand systems provide racks of these vehicles at closely spaced, convenient locations around an urban service area. Vehicles automatically recharge while they are in these racks. Users walk to the nearest rack, swipe a credit card, pick up a vehicle, drive it to a rack convenient to their destination, and drop it off. These are, in other words, ubiquitously distributed one-way rental systems. These systems are highly efficient in reducing urban congestion, energy use, and carbon emissions. They are synergistic with ubiquitous wireless networking and distributed intelligence, and with solar-friendly, wind-friendly, fuel-cell-friendly smart electrical grids. There are some attractive business models for their introduction, and the political and economic climate is increasingly propitious."

Learn More  about the winning entry

Go to the MIT Smart Cities Website


A Return to Being Human By Hardin Tibbs

April 06, 2009 - 08:18:35 PM

"This research paper proposes the concept of the ‘general ecosystem’—a novel pattern of economic and social organization based on a holistic reassessment of human needs and a reintegration of our sense of what it is to be human."

The paper begins with:

"In March 2007, the BBC broadcast in the UK a three-part documentary called The Trap1, by the controversial British film maker, Adam Curtis. Its message was that “a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures” plus an overriding belief in human selfishness have created “a cage” for human beings in modern society. The documentary argued that this predicament is in part the result of a long process by which social and personal values have become dominated by reductionist thinking. The Trap was pessimistic in tone and did not offer any clear solution. The question it left open, which this paper addresses, is whether it is possible to reverse this process by establishing a basis for values that would not be reductionistic, and that would offer a way out of the present trap."

Hardin Tibbs is CEO of CEO Synthesys Strategic Consulting Limited. His work is focused on assisting organizations to move forward with confidence in an environment marked by accelerating social and technological change. This means developing the capacity for resilience and self-renewal, integrating it as a key competence in operational performance, and maintaining it over time.

Download the research paper


The Desert Can Produce Food and Fresh Water with Seawater Greenhouses

February 10, 2009 - 09:59:36 PM

The Process

The Seawater Greenhouse uses the sun, the sea and the atmosphere to produce fresh water and cool air. The process recreates the natural hydrological cycle within a controlled environment. The entire front wall of the building is a seawater evaporator. It consists of a honeycomb lattice and faces the prevailing wind. Fans assist and control air movement. Seawater trickles down over the lattice, cooling and humidifying the air passing through into the planting area.

Sunlight is filtered through a specially constructed roof, The roof traps infrared heat, while allowing visible light through to promote photosynthesis. This creates optimum growing conditions - cool and humid with high light intensity.

Cool air passes through the planting area and then combines with hot dry air from the roof cavity. The mixture passes through a second sea water evaporator creating hot saturated air which then flows through a condenser.

The condenser is cooled by incoming seawater. The temperature difference causes fresh water to condense out of the air stream. The volume of fresh water is determined by air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation and the airflow rate. These conditions can be replicated in the thermodynamic model and, with appropriate meteorological information, the detailed design and performance of the Seawater Greenhouse can be optimised for every suitable location and environment.  READ MORE »