Friday, August 22, 2008

New Address

Please see 2008-2009 updates to the blog and a new academic year's work at

Friday, May 2, 2008

Animation of the movement of the collection system

walking motion of the collection system

Animation of system growth and movement

the system of movement through a pilot site where it collects methane and selectively leaves behind the residue for a new energy self-sufficient settlement.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Reinterpreting the Edge

Reinterpreting the Edge: A Response to Coastal Flood and Erosion, New Orleans Seacoast, LAby: Asta Fivgas, Jung Im, and Paul Stein

Coastal flooding and erosion is only one factor that plays into the larger picture of "global warming". Our group became increasingly interested in it's effect on what we consider the "edge". Edge can refer to sea vs. land as well as urban vs. natural.

Our system deploys itself along the edge as a mediator (both between the city and the surrounding wetlands as well as the marshland and the sea) that capitalizes on natural sediment flow by capturing and redistributing the sediment to strengthen specific areas of the coastline as well as diverting and slowing wave currents. As the sediment is secured new "land" is created and a second phase of the system is deployed. Each phase builds upon the previous creating layers of build-up both natural (silt/sediment) and architectural (nested geometry). The growth pattern is dependent on scripted algorithms that orient the aperture of the cells toward desirable conditions as well as manipulate the cell based on inputs such as topographical depth and environmental context/needs.

Img 01: Precis, Context Mappings, Salinity / Erosion Rates / Wave Flow

Img02: Context Geology, Site Selection

Img03: MRGO
The MRGO is currently under debate and there are plans to completely shut down this shipping channel and re-route cargo ships through the Mississippi. Heavy erosion rates based on poor design have widened the MRGO and contributed to the rapid decline of surrounding wetlands which serve as a barrier between the mainland and the Gulf of Mexico.

Img04: Context Mapping (site erosion without implementation)

Img05: Time Lapse Diagram: predicted wave diversion and sediment flow changes

Img06: Scripting

Img07: Site Implementation: Phase One

Img08: Site Implementation: Phase Two

Img09: Module Development

Img10: Phase Three: Introduction of Walkable Landscapes and Inhabitation/Pedestrian Use

Img11: Spanning Qualities, system vertical growth potential

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rethinking Resource Infrastructure

By: Natasha Harper, Katie Adee, and James Baldauf

This project proposes a mobile collection and sequestration system that searches the terrain for methane rich permafrost deposits while leaving behind "off-the-grid" settlements across the Arctic landscape.

In light of the current climate crisis, we began looking at ways in which architecture could serve a more fundamental role in the issue of sustainability. As permafrost (perennially frozen soil) melts, it releases methane into the atmosphere. Methane, is 30 times more effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. However, hidden within the permafrost is what is known as gas hydrate. Gas hydrates are gasses trapped within the crystalline structure of ice. Methane is a potential clean-burning energy source 2x larger than that of all other fossil fuel reserves. In our thesis project, we chose to capitalize on this naturally occurring phenomenon by collecting the methane for use as a new energy source while using the infrastructure erected as the bones for new communities that would be energy self-sustaining.

lifespan of the collection system

lifespan of the residue system

sectional drawing of the stages of inflation during the collection phase

stills from animation depicting the movement, growth, and residue of the energy collection system

plans at both ground level and platform level of new settlement

physical model of settlement

physical model of the collector

physical model of potential settlement looking at flexibility between spaces

physical model of creeper (earlier study)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Although it would be too late for any of us to reap the benefits, I think Hanrahan should get Nicholas Ronco to install one of his Yelo centers in Higgins.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Biomimetics: Design by Nature

An electron micrograph reveals sharkskin’s secret to speed: tooth-like scales called dermal denticles. Water “races through the microgrooves without tumbling,” says shark researcher George Burgess, reducing friction. “It’s like a fast-moving river current versus the gurgling turbulence of a shallow stream.” The scales also discourage barnacles and algae from glomming on—an inspiration for synthetic coatings that may soon be applied to Navy ship hulls to reduce such biofouling.

What has fins like a whale, skin like a lizard, and eyes like a moth? The future of engineering.

via> National Geographic (April 2008)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Green Gasoline Created From Biomass

‘Green Gasoline’ is a liquid identical to regular gasoline in energy, but made from biomass sources such as poplar trees and switchgrass. Researchers seem to have finally discovered a way to create this sort of fuel, that could be of tremendous help to the U.S. economy, eliminating the need to import expensive oil supplies and the need to grow corn for producing ethanol.

Chemical engineer George Huber from the National Science Foundation and two of his graduate students presented the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components. The study shows the steps can run sequentially without purification or complex separation processes between reactors.

Huber says that future biofuels will be similar to gasoline in the chemical composition and that the challenge is to produce efficient fuels from biomass that would integrate in the existing infrastructure. The understanding of the chemical reactions used in this process is likely to design more efficient ways to commercialize green gasoline.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Redwing Reef

File under unintended consequences of success. The artificial reef off the coast of Delaware made of decommissioned New York subway cars is apparently too successful resulting in great demand for the cars. They are such a productive habitat for sea life that they attract fishing, larger open water species like tuna, and theft of traps from competing fishermen.

NY Times article here. And slideshow.

Local River


Local River is the "home storage unit for fish and greens" as conceived by Mathieu Lehanneur with Anthony van den Bossche. Inspired by the Locavores, a group of culinary adventurers who eat foods produced in a radius of 100 miles around their city, Local River anticipates the growing influence of this group (the word 'locavore' made its first appearance in an American dictionary in 2007) by proposing a home storage unit for live freshwater fish combined with a mini vegetable patch. This DIY (GYO?) fish-farm-cum-kitchen-garden is based on the principle of aquaponics coupled with the exchange and interdependence of two living organisms - plants and fish. The plants extract nutrients from the nitrate-rich dejecta of the fish. In doing so they act as a natural filter that purifies the water and maintains a vital balance for the eco-system in which the fish live. The same technique is used on large-scale pioneer aquaponics/fish-farms, which raise tilapia (a food fish from the Far East) and lettuce planted in trays floating on the surface of ponds. From April 25th to June 21st 2008 at Artists Space.

Monday, March 31, 2008

ORQUIDEORAMA - Botanical Garden

Photos and information on the Orquideorama Botanical Garden in Medellin Colombia via

Medellin, Colombia, Plan B Architects, Orquideorama, sustainable wood, responsibly managed forests, sustainable architecture, green architecture, green design, cellular architecture, botanical garden, Jardín Botánico de Medellí, Felipe Mesa, Alexander Bernal, Orquideorama4Medellin, Colombia, Plan B Architects, Orquideorama, sustainable wood, responsibly managed forests, cellular architecture, sustainable architecture, green architecture, green design, botanical garden, Jardín Botánico de Medellí, Felipe Mesa, Alexander Bernal, Orquideorama3
Medellin, Colombia, Plan B Architects, Orquideorama, sustainable wood, responsibly managed forests, cellular architecture, sustainable architecture, green architecture, green design, botanical garden, Jardín Botánico de Medellí, Felipe Mesa, Alexander Bernal, Orquideorama7
Medellin, Colombia, Plan B Architects, Orquideorama, sustainable wood, responsibly managed forests, cellular architecture, sustainable architecture, green architecture, green design, botanical garden, Jardín Botánico de Medellí, Felipe Mesa, Alexander Bernal, orq1.jpg

Architects Felipe Mesa and Alexander Bernal wanted the Orquideorama to grow in the same way that a garden seeds and develops, with one “flor-árbol” popping up next to another. This lead them to design the installation as a series of interconnected modular structures (14 in all) specialized for a variety of functions including event halls, butterfly reserves, and flower gardens. Fittingly, this repetitious cellular weave resonates with another organic structure: honeycomb.

Each “flor-árbol” is composed of a steel reinforced trunk and six hexagonal petals that form an intricately latticed patio. The plants situated beneath each trunk are sustained via rainwater collected by the petals, and are protected from the elements by the translucent pine wood weave that is sourced from reforested lands. Taken as a whole, the Orquideorama is a delicate display of the relationship and structural similarities between architecture and living organisms.

+ Plan B
+ Jardín Botánico de Medellí

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sustainable Skyscraper Symbiosis

Via Daekwon Parks' sustainable skyscraper project. Full post here.

eVolo Architecture, Daekwon Park, Symbiotic Interlock, skyscraper competition, new design, architecture, sustainable design, eVolo, prefabricated housing, wind power, future architecture, Sustainable Building, daekwonpark1.jpg
Now in its fourth year running, the eVolo Skyscraper Competition takes future-forward architecture to its breaking point, unveiling a stunning array of new structural concepts by architects, engineers, and designers. The latest crop of entries is up, and Daekwon Park’s Symbiotic Interlock goes far beyond the standard skyscraper to envision a total renovation of inner-city infrastructure. The pitch: it’s modular, prefabricated, and completely symbiotic on the existing vertical infrastructure of the city.

eVolo Architecture, Daekwon Park, Symbiotic Interlock, skyscraper competition, new design, architecture, sustainable design, eVolo, prefabricated housing, wind power, future architecture, Sustainable Building, daekwonpark2.jpg

Skyscrapers are one of the modern city’s most ideologically charged structures. Dominating the skyline, they captivate and articulate a wealth of ideals while anchoring a city’s social fabric. As the world’s population increases and cities stretch to accommodate it, these structures will become increasingly important in sustaining this massive influx. Out of necessity, they will have to evolve. eVolo Architecture was founded in 2003 by a group of international architects in NYC and hosts a yearly contest dedicated to rethinking the skyscraper in radical new ways. The only requirement: “Designs must be technologically feasible and environmentally responsible.”

Daekwon Park created Symbiotic Interlock “to reunite the isolated city blocks and insert a multi-layer network of public space, green space and nodes for the city”. It comprises a system of stackable modules that are designed to add an extra layer of infrastructure to existing buildings via sky docks and bridges, vertical gardens, cultural spaces, and energy producing wind turbines. It addresses some of the shortcomings of green roofs by internalizing green environments within its biomorphic structure while contributing functionality, energy, and food. It may not have beaten the competition, but its symbiotic integration with existing buildings struck us as a brilliant brand of future-forward thinking within the present era.


Green energy

The Times has a special section this week on the business of sustainability. Above, columns of algae being grown for biofuel by Solena in Alicante, Spain. The section includes articles on green collar jobs, business going carbon neutral or carbon negative, Sun Edison the solar panel provider, etc. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

museum of nature

check out this photographer's "preservation" project

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain

Concept video for the 2008 Expo in Zaragoza with the theme of sustainability and water.

Digital Water Pavilion at Zaragoza

Friday, March 14, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Project New Orleans

Blog of student projects dealing with New Orleans in several topics (housing, urbanism, etc). Nice and interesting work. Methinks Team CF should contact them after the semester to add our stuff ;-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Artificial Energy Islands to Produce Energy & Water, Energy Islands, Energy-generating islands, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, OTEC, George Claude, Alex Michaelis, Dominic Michaelis, Trevor Cooper-Chadwick

"Ocean waves are already being used as a source of renewable energy, but could differences in water temperatures in the sea be our next source of green power? A decade old idea to generate renewable electricity for the globe with offshore, floating ‘Energy Islands’ could soon become a reality. The concept - creating artificial islands to collect wind, wave and solar power in the tropics - is based on the work of Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval, a 19th-century French physicist, who envisioned the idea of using the sea as a giant solar-energy collector.

"Their goal is to build a network of “energy islands”: floating hexagonal-shaped platforms of reinforced concrete and corrosion-resistant metals that would generate electritict via wind, wave, and solar in addition to having an OTEC plant. It’s estimated that each island complex could produce about 250MW, and that 50,000 “energy islands” could meet the world’s energy requirements (as well as provide two tons of fresh water per person per day for the entire world population — desalinated water is one byproduct of the OTEC process). OTEC plants work best when there’s a temperature difference of 20°C between water at the surface and the water below, making tropical and sub-tropical seas the best candidates for energy islands."

The Other Ultimate Archive

Svalbard Global Seed Vault  vault in Norway opens this week. From Andrew Revkin's posting at NYTimes Dot Earth:

"The new repository is intended to be an insurance policy for individual countries and also for humanity more generally, should larger-scale disaster strike (anything from pestilence to an asteroid impact).

The Norwegian government put up more than $7 million for construction. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing money to help developing countries package and ship seed samples, as part of a broader $30-million project to protect the genetic diversity of the world’s main food crops.

The ongoing operation of the seed vault will be paid for through the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which is maintained by contributions from countries, international agencies, and foundations.

A secure supply of thousands of varieties of keystone crops like rice and wheat will be ever more important, experts say, as populations grow, climate changes, and people keep moving species around the global, both intentionally and accidentally."

The Ultimate Archive

As reported in today's NY Times, scientists are putting together a Book of All Species online at The archive will eventually have an entry for every species known. If printed as a book, the known 1.8 million species would be over 300 feet long....and that's not counting the fact that it's estimated that 10 times that number of species are still waiting to be discovered. 

What's especially interesting is that the entries are compiled using an algorithm that searches through scientific databases and publications. As libraries and their content go digital through new media and the scanning and digitizing of old media, we may be looking at a prototype for a new kind of knowledge infrastructure.

Thursday, February 21, 2008