Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dune city

An intriguing proposal by Magnus Larsson for a linear city made of solidified sand dunes acting as a sand shield across the Sahara desert. Larsson is proposing using a special bacteria which will solidify the sand and produce habitable and arable cavity structures which will help stop the rapid movement of dunes thus combating the effects of further desertification.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Networks, cities and trees

Occupying and connecting. Frei Otto. 2009. P.51

The image above is provided by Otto in support of his argument that human spontaneous networks of urbanity follow similar patterns to ones formed in nature through the structures of leaves, insect colonies or soap bubbles. The attractive part of this argument has to do with an energy analysis. Since none of these networks mentioned is formally planned, their form is the outcome of an evolutionary process favouring systems with a minimal energy path or more accurately an energetic equilibrium. In a similar manner our own organic non-planned communities, such as medieval villages follow those patterns, which minimize energy expenditure. This may lead us to one of two possible conclusions: 1. we need not bother with urban planning, as the emergent self organization would take care of itself in the most efficient way, or 2. our planning should be informed by these processes and at best imitate their operations to 'become one with nature'.

Network types by Paul Baran, developer of the distributed communication network system, early 1960's

In criticism of some of these interpretations, as well as his own earlier assumptions, Christopher Alexander's article from 1965, "A city is not a tree", claims that the tree (or centralized, hierarchical) structure is simplistic, limited and limiting when applied to city planning. Alexander argues that our current needs embody a higher level of complexity than the tree structure permits. He proposes a three dimensional 'semilattice' network (not unlike the distributed system above) which allows for multiple overlapping to occur, as well as provides non hierarchical means of connectivity. Although published almost half a century ago, these ideas may still prove relevant especially with our growing familiarity with distributed complex communication networks such as the Internet. As we develop our social network understanding in a more distributed way, the question still remains: how does this affect city planning? Is the omnipresent grid laid out obliterating any landscape and context the way to go? Minimal energy path tree structure with its obvious limitations? Or could (and should...) the semilattice network materialize and be manifested beyond the virtual world? I would love to get some comments on these issues from anyone out there..

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

format options

Format 1-

Format 2-

The three column option seems more flexible, it allows better variation between text and images, so I may be leaning towards that direction. Though it doesn't quite sit right yet, any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

tighten her up

Abstract take IV, similar to the third version, slightly tighter. Still needs work. Some design input will be useful...

Terrain Vague-

“When architecture and urban design project their desire onto a vacant space, a terrain vague, they seem incapable of doing anything other than introducing violent transformations, changing estrangements into citizenship, and striving at all costs to dissolve the uncontaminated magic of the obsolete in the efficacy.” -Ignasi Moral├ęs Rubio

The term ‘Terrain Vague’, commonly interpreted as ‘Wasteland’, is most often used when referring to reclamation of abandoned or non developed sites within a dense urban fabric. The desert’s genius Loci embodies this dual quality of the ‘Terrain Vague’; it is an ambiguous territory, conceived as void of all life while at the same time impregnated with sublime qualities and the imminent potential for a genuine, even cosmic existence.

Unlike the city condition, where the ‘Terrain Vague’ lifts its head underneath a carpet of urbanity, in localized and isolated exceptions, the vastness of the terrain dominates the desert and patches of urbanity are an anomaly. Nevertheless, in a similar manner we aim to conquer the wilderness, establish boundaries, order mechanisms and control devices enabling the annihilation of the void. In fact, this act is in the very essence of architectural utopianism.

However, the desert is not truly a void, nor has it been so in the past. It is a realm of ample history and presence of natural and human life. Desertification processes are affecting a fifth of the world population, and further regions are developing increased vulnerability to aridity. In Israel, the Negev desert, accounts for 2/3 of the land area. It is a site of continuous environmental and social experimentation, situated in the southern blind spot of Israel. Existing practices of settlement and resource management, particularly water and energy infrastructures may reach an inevitable end in the wake of an escalating global energy crisis, and trends of climate weirding. Nevertheless, there exists an innate and often disregarded capacity in the desert for solar energy generation, water collection and livelihood. This thesis aims to unveil these embedded potentials through developing an understanding of the ecological, cultural & political dimensions of the systems in question, and their interactions.

Under the conviction that aggression towards the environment and towards other human beings is rooted in a similar affliction, this work aspires for a relationship of empathy between the land and its inhabitants. It wishes to highlight the often neglected qualities of the desert via a proposal for a hybrid of solar, water, greenhousing & urban infrastructural system with the natural system of Wadi Pharan. The system proposed is intended to capitalize on the qualities of this unique territory, while resisting its violent abuse.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pharan floods- site I

First try at mapping wadi Pharan seasonal variations and flooding patterns. This is the first site out of 3 which I am planning to map. Each site has a different condition in terms of the workings of the wadi. At this site, site I the wadi intersects with the Jordanian border, the Jordan rift valley (Arava in Hebrew) and road 90. This is also the only place along the wadi which is currently populated. As seen in the maps, the small settlement placed to the south of the wadi is Moshav Pharan named after the wadi. The moshav, consisting about 100 families, was founded in 1971 as a Kibbutz and then converted into a moshav structure. Meaning there is still collaboration on agricultural activities, yet other aspects of life are managed individually. The moshav relies on agriculture export for its source of income, mostly flowers and peppers, which are grown in the extensive greenhouses seen above. Some families run dairy farms, and recently solar fields are promoted as an upcoming source of income.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ephemeral lake

Winner of UNCCD2009 international photography contest on themes of global desertification. Indian photographer Chetan Soni capturing an Indian girl fetching water from a distance, walking through the now dry bed of lake Kal Bhairav.