Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dynamically Animated and Responsive Structures

By Randall Scott Hornung

Throughout the globe severe flooding displaces millions of species, causes structural and vital infrastructure damage and spreads disease from lack of sanitation. On November 15, 2007, tropical cyclone Sidr forced two and a half to three million people to flee and become homeless or fear of flooding from heavy rains, the low-lying Ganges-Brahmaputra River Delta and a 16 foot storm surge. Functional protection, clean potable water and agriculture are the first and primary necessities for continued survival during and after a catastrophic flood event. I propose a transforming system which aims to place architecture toward the future of dynamically animated and responsive structures from environmental water inputs.

Using the performative techniques of absorption from wetlands and flexibility from lily pads, the system will adapt to the environmental water changes placed upon it. The absorption qualities of wetlands will allow the system to intake water to grow and become rigid. The system’s flexibility will allow movement through the turbulent water, similar to the lily pad flexile motion through water.

One cannot stop nature, one must live in conjunction w ith nature. The goal of this proposed system is to produce an architectural prototype to aid in the relief efforts of flood victims by negotiating through turbulent waters by absorbing excess liquid to make the architectural system rigid and animated. The proposed architectural system will use the excess flood water to strengthen structural stability, harness power, provide potable water and agriculture for flood victims. This growing shelter will provide education as an institute during normal means, but function as a disaster relief shelter during turbulent times in water.

Free to be steady in continuum, but fluxing in turbulence; a modern day Noah’s Ark securing habitable sites for humans and other species. Turbulent times will have the dynamic system in tension bunched together, geometrically joined as a union to gain structural integrity. Gentle times will have the deflated system broadly arranged and geometrically relaxed. The mechanism will adapt to the set of inputs placed upon its exterior skin and feed those inputs throughout the structure as a whole.

Concentrating on the harsh and forceful side of water, flooding will occur in a natural state of turbulence, in which these aggressive structures will provide utopian disaster relief environments, rising above the landscaft for a safer and secure surroundings. The evolving structures will become increasingly rigid from the increase in force exerted upon itself infinitely. As storm waters rise, the system will increase in scale with structural integrity, appearing to levitate across the turbulent waters.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Solar cells of the future

A new material, nano flakes, may revolutionise the transformation of solar energy to electricity. If so, even ordinary households can benefit from solar electricity and save money in the future.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Buoyant Agritecture

Experts believe that weather patterns such as heavy monsoon rains and droughts will only increase with global warming. ‘Though greater Dhaka experiences flood[s] almost in every year, flood management policies are mostly based on structural options including flood walls, dykes, embankments, etc.’ {WRMJ} Bangladesh experiences intermittent water shortages because of falling water tables in the northern and central parts of the country. Bangladesh only has about 7.5% of its land covered by water during non flood times. The elevation of the city of Dhaka lies between 2-13 meters above sea level; flood prone areas have 2-4 meters of flooding that extends to the edge of the city. “The area of expansion of Dhaka has been governed largely by the physical configuration of the landscape in and around the city, particularly the river system and the height of land in relation to the flood level.” {Islam 1996, pg. 62.63} Most of the western side of the city has been urbanized, generally lying at elevations of 6-8 meters above sea level. Due to the higher stability of infrastructure in the western section of Dhaka, we have chosen two neighborhoods as test sites: Pallabi and Kamrangirchar. Currently the country has 55.39% of arable land with only 3.08% available for permanent crops. By localizing the effects and attributes of seasonal flooding in a densely populated, metropolitan city, we are proposing an architectural intervention that will be implemented into the environment to mediate the outcome of seasonal flooding. Dhaka, Bangladesh is an excellent area to test our thesis due to its high population and growth rate which is also prevalent throughout Asia.

In order to combat these flood and drought conditions that affect a majority of the country’s population, we are proposing a system of floating terraced farms that will, with the help of various governmental organizations, have the ability to facilitate in the alleviation of seasonal flooding. It will do so by means of water absorption through structure, filtration/water purification through organic plant life and an increase in the production of sustainable crops, rice in particular. The system will be incorporated into the various already existing programs located along the river banks to allow for a relatively seamless transition. All of this would perform keeping in mind Bangladesh’s ever apparent need for fresh water, sustainable agriculture practices and agricultural exports to increase the nations GDP.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Reinterpreting The Edge

Coastal flooding and erosion is but one of the
many factors that plays into the entire climate
crisis. This one specific aspect deals with erosion
of the perimeter between what is land and sea.
Honing in even further, we observe a prime
example of this crisis front taking hold at the
coastline of the Gulf of Mexico (for research
purposes, specifically coastal Louisiana). The
issue at hand isn’t just how to control the rampant
erosion, but how to create a new methodology
within architectural design and implementation.
The goal is to ultimately synthesize a new form of
urbanism rooted in an architecture system
capable of mediating between natural and urban
fronts in response to coastal crisis.

The system that we are proposing is not meant
to solve all the problems that arise from coastal
flooding and erosion, as this is not our intention,
but rather it will offer a design and reallocation
potential. The system is aimed toward taking
advantages of the following: sediment transport,
flooding, changes in sea-level rise that results in
coastline erosion, and harboring wetlands. The
methods of interaction between sea, coast, edge,
and land in correlation with the system are
meant to be dependent on a mapping of both the
natural front and chosen site.

This ideal offers a new critique on the way that
architecture is often deemed ‘responsive’, as it
will need to be systematically responsive to
environmental needs (floor diversion, sediment
capture/redistribution, wetland rehabilitation,
sustainable energy) as well as intellectually
responsive to human needs (of growth and

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rethinking Resource Infrastructure

by: Natasha Harper, Katie Adee, James Baldauf

When a tribe comes to a clearing and discovers a pile of timber, two possibilities exist for providing warmth. The power operated solution is to create a campfire, enjoy the warmth of the fire and then move on. The structural solution is to create a rain-shed or wind break from the timber. [1] While the campfire solution is much more nimble and responsive, it requires the existence of additional timber when the fire is out. Today, we find ourselves in a world where the pile of timber is rapidly decreasing and in danger of running out. This calls for a new kind of solution, one that considers using resources that are renewable, and not in danger of running out and re-thinking the way we use the resources that are available. The time has come to re-evaluate our relationship with our resources. We are proposing a more hybridized system between the structural and power-operated solutions, a more sustainable solution. It becomes necessary to radically transform what it means to capture and distribute energy. Investing now in these critical issues will decrease the burden currently being placed on the planet, and will save money in the long-term. Traditional practices will become more expensive as regulations on carbon emissions continue to increase in the face of a global crisis.
Many of the problems caused by global warming originate in the melting of the arctic. Permafrost (perennially frozen soil) in the arctic has been melting at increasing speeds in recent years. Because of the sensitivity of the active layer of permafrost, a one to three flux in average ground temperature foreshadow larger trends in the global climate. As permafrost melts, the methane trapped underneath the surface is released into the atmosphere. Methane, as a greenhouse gas is thirty times more effective. However, if that methane is captured, it can be burned for use as a renewable fuel source. In order to extract the gas hydrates from the permafrost, carbon must be pumped in, the process of which, releases the methane. This process not only sequesters carbon,

it collects a renewable fuel source, and slows global warming by not allowing additional greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. A
nomadic system that is minimally invasive is the best way to deploy a methane capturing, carbon sequestering system in the Arctic. The border of the permafrost is changing as it melts, making the most critical permafrost the discontinuous, the isolated, and the sporadic as it is melting the fastest. The ecosystems that are the most navigable and occupiable are crucial when looking at the most ideal locations for deployment of the system. [1] Reyner Banham, “The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment” pg.19

Monday, December 3, 2007

NPR Climate Connections

Another resource with plenty of information about climate change, alternative energy, and stories about the climate crisis: