Monday, August 31, 2009

a 1000 wells

Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England.

"Isaura, city of the thousand wells, is said to rise over a deep, subterranean lake. On all sides, wherever the inhabitants dig long vertical holes in the ground, they succeed in drawing up water, as far as the city extends, and no farther. Its green border repeats the dark outline of the buried lake; an invisible landscape conditions the visible one; everything that moves in the sunlight is driven by the lapping wave enclosed beneath the rock's calcareous sky.
Consequently two forms of religion exist in Isaura. The city's gods, according to some people, live in the depths, in the black lake that feeds the underground streams. According to others, the gods live in the buckets that rise, suspended from a cable, as they appear over the edge of the wells, in the revolving pullyes, in the windlasses of the norias, in the pump handles, in the blades of the windmills that draw the water up from the drillings, in the trestles that support the twisting probes, in the reservoirs perched on stilts over the roofs, in the slender arches of the aquducts, in all the columns of water, the verticle pipes, the plungers, the drains, all the way up to the weathercrocks that surmount the airy scaffoldings of Isaura, a city that movesentirely upward."

From: Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino

Venice, Italy

While I am well aware that 'Invisible Cities' has been quoted to death, in any imaginable context, this excerpt seems so relevant to the Wadi condition, I just couldn't resist, so bear with me while I get it out of my system.

As Marco Polo is describing the wonders of Venice to Kublai Khan, each time as if it were an entirely different city, I can't help but remembering the wonder I felt sitting in a Venetian Piazza, wondering if it would have been such a great public place if it weren't for the fountains in the center. Since most of them are today out of use, thanks to modern sanitation systems, one is kept wondering, what could replace these ancient wells. What would be a current necessity of the urban infrastructural kind, that doubles as a mechanism for the creation of a public realm. It has to do with need. Of course, the necessity preceded the emergence of a public space, I imagine these places became Piazzas because people congregated there to draw water from the well. Nevertheless, the symbiosis works tremendously well. With regards to the two gods of Isaura- one of them is the natural system; the lake or the wadi. The other is the man-made infrastructure that enables the use of the natural resource. One can not exist without the other. Both combined enable the prosperous life in Isaura. A depleted lake would not sustain a city, no matter how ingenious its infrastructure may be. The wadi alone, without a mechanism to manage its flows, can bring loss and devastation, with proper flood management and water harvesting it could be a source of desert livelihood.

Neve Tzedek, Tel-Aviv, Israel

Ein-Karem, Jerusalem, Israel

Friday, August 21, 2009


Unrelated yet informative...

This is borrowed from:
a site well worth exploring for its abundance of random maps, revealing unsuspected trends, which are of curious interest.
As a side note on mapping- I realize more and more how mapping carries with it a very particular kind of deceiving agency. This is the kind of agency that does not own up to its own impact. The author of a map, much like the author of an excerpt in the museum, remains anonymous. Thus his narrative is transformed to an uncontested truth. The agency of mapping has the power to rewrite the memory of our past, be a focal lens of the present and direct the construction of the future. All this, while camouflaged as a tracing of reality.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

arid waters

Now you can view this video at:

Monday, August 17, 2009

hot, flat and crowded

What better day than today to be reading 'Hot, flat and crowded' by Thomas L.Friedman... Summer is upon us in full fierce, and even if only for 3 days, in Canada too we comprehend, by the pores of our skin, what difference only a few degrees make. Now imagine this as a daily average for 4-5 months of the year. Imagine 10 degrees more during reoccurring heatwaves. Imagine very little shade, no air conditioning and depleting water resources. For many this is the current state of reality. For many more (estimated by Friedman at about 5 billion) it will become so by 2050. The good news are that Canada, North America and parts of Europe will likely not take much of the heat. The bad news is that we should still care. According to Friedman population is growing mostly in underdeveloped countries, which are also surprisingly close to the equator. The world is flattened by the internet and communication revolution, and all these billions of people who are soon to be born will want to turn on the light, drive a car and post on their blogs. So we then realize global growth is something we need to manage, since it can not be avoided. However, the effects of its carbon footprint, at its current emission rate, on global climate change may be well beyond our ability to set things right, once the process is beyond a certain tipping point. "Avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable", in Friedman's own words. Friedman's green revolution is not a revolution of feel good recycling and efficient light bulbs. It is an infrastructural revolution of global magnitudes. The goal is to avoid doubling CO2 emissions by 2050, while still supporting growth. One of the strategies suggested, as a part of a global solution, is to increase solar power seven-hundred fold and eliminate all coal fired power. Our 5 billion friends by the equator might be able to help with that.

Monday, August 10, 2009

lattice topographies

Experimentation with Lattice modifier in 3ds. Still need some help with global lighting.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


MX reviews last week were quite useful in establishing new goals and resolving some contradicting trends. The outcome points towards a triple threaded infrastructural "package": solar energy, water harvesting + desalination, and greenhouse agriculture. The package would operate symbiotically with a wadi condition to promote desert survival and prosperity. The "package" system could then theoretically be applied as an infrastrcutural thread connecting existing communities, forming new ones, or potentially be free standing.