Today we begin a new weekly feature called “Other Horizons”. Members of the Agonist Editorial Team will provide essays on topics of their choosing outside the Agonist’s normal bailiwick, in order to stimulate a broader conversation here. We hope that you’ll enjoy our efforts.
DESIGNING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change is posing a new challenge to the disciplines of architecture and engineering. The task is two-fold: where to build sustainable living spaces and how to beat the heat.
With more than seven billion people on the planet, mass migrations to cities, and increased risks of flooding and sea level rise, more and more architects and innovators seem to be weighing anchor.
First among these is Dutch water architect Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio nl, whose interest in water design evolved from having grown up in a waterlogged country half of which lies below sea level.
The editors of Inhabitat.com, a weblog devoted to the future of design, have been fascinated for years with Olthuis’s approach. They say that:
Olthuis has made a name for himself as an architect who pushes the boundaries of possibility when it comes to the built environment. With a studio focused on designing floating buildings or a future water world, Waterstudio, nl has designed everything from floating apartment complexes in the Netherlands to a floating mosque in the UAE to even an entire floating community of islands for the Maldives.
In an in-depth interview with Inhabitat.com, Olthuis explains the sustainability of building on water, as well as how he uses 3D modeling technology to help both clients and skeptics visualize how building on water could change the world.
National Geographic offers visual projections of additional concepts for sustainable offshore settlements which include:
The Seascraper—a self-sufficient community of homes, offices, and recreational space—was designed with the intention of slowing urban sprawl, according to its designers.
No idea is left unexplored as is demonstrated by a team of Serbian designers who came up with the Trash-filled “Oceanscraper”.
Trash would be collected at the bottoms of the towers and recycled in their cores. The undersea towers would support above-water islands hosting self-sufficient human settlements.
For more revolutionary ideas about sustainable living see “Floating cities of the future”.
As for beating the heat, National Geographic offers 10 Green-Tech Solutions.
Singapore, for example has found a unique way of using plants and trees to curb the heat island effect.
British architect, Norman Foster, redesigned the parliament building in Berlin to include a dome-reflector system that draws warm air out of the building.
Then there is the “Floating Food”, in New York
The Science Barge is a floating environmental education classroom and greenhouse on the Hudson River in New York.Fueled by solar power, wind, and biofuels, the barge, which was built in 2007, has zero net carbon emissions.Vegetables are grown hydroponically—with plants getting all of their necessary nutrients from water instead of soil—in an effort to preserve natural resources and adapt to urban environments, where healthy soil, or soil at all, is hard to come by. Rainwater and treated river water are used for irrigation, and pesticides are prohibited.
For more innovative designs see here
Finally, the principal philosophy of designing for climate change is to live “with” nature rather than to “subdue” nature to the whims of humankind. As we can see, a new breed of conscientious architects and engineers is doing just that.