In an attempt to draw attention to the dearth of greenspace and poor air quality in the region, the nonprofit VerdMX has constructed three ecostructures throughout Mexico City. One such structure is a vertical garden of over 50,000 plants.
Formerly notorious for its poor air quality, Mexico City is now an example of successful campaigns by policy makers, environmentalists, and various other groups to improve the city’s air. The VerdMX structures aim to generate interest in the movement while improving the air at the same time. Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, 30, architect of the sculptures states that “it’s a way to intervene in the environment.”
The burgeoning entrepreneurial, environmental, and arts scenes in the capital city have given rise to numerous small-scale efforts. Though sometimes met with hesitation, such projects are becoming commonplace as citizens recognize the importance of maintaining environmental health in the megacity.
(via New York Times)
The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 have announced NYC-based design firm HWKN as the winner of the annual Young Architects Program (YAP). The eye-popping project, titled Wendy, is composed of nylon fabric treated with a nano-particle spray that will neutralize airborne pollutants. Over the course of its summer installation period, Wendy will clean the air to an equivalent of taking 260 cars off the road.
Now in its 13th year, YAP has challenged emerging architects and designers to develop concepts for a temporary, outdoor installation to be displayed in PS1′s outdoor courtyard, working within guidelines that address environmental issues. Wendy will be up between Late June and September 2012. An exhibition of the five finalists’ designs from this year’s YAP will be on view at MoMA over the summer.
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) team recently announced the release of their Field Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies, a free resource they hope will prove useful to “all designers, homeowners, urban planners, students, artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and anyone else interested in a clean energy future”.
The 70-page document provides dozens of renewable energy generation technologies within major categories such as solar, wind, water and biomass. This first edition defines each system and provides its conversion efficiency when applicable; a second edition will include pros and cons, lifecycle carbon costs, and more detailed diagrams of the technologies.
The guide should come in handy for those working on the 2012 LAGI design competition, which of course is being held for a site within Freshkills Park.
Dwell profiles Freshkills Park in its March 2011 “We Love New York” issue. Land Use and Outreach Manager Carrie Grassi features as the story’s heroine, speaking candidly about the site’s transformation. The writing and narrative of this piece, in particular, really resonate with our experience of the site and its shifting identity: it has a storied and contentious past, yes, and it makes for a complex sell, but it is also enormously beautiful, always evolving and full of such promise that it pushes us on in support of an ambitious vision.
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has won an international competition to design a new waste-to-energy plant for Copenhagen, Denmark. BIG’s winning entry—which will actually be built and will replace the existing Amagerforbraending plant—improbably caps the huge new facility with a public ski slope. The firm’s design focuses on what it calls “Hedonistic Sustainability – the idea that sustainability is not a burden, but that a sustainable city in fact can improve our quality of life.” Bunny hills, downhill slopes and moguls, designed by Topotek 1 & Man Made Land, will be built into the roof of the building, which will be covered in a ‘recycled synthetic granular’ material instead of snow. The building’s facade will be made up a grid of planters and windows that will make it resemble a mountain from a distance.
The waste-to-energy operation is not expected to release complex or poisonous gases into the the atmosphere, but its smoke stack will release carbon dioxide and water vapor in the form of smoke rings, one ring to mark each ton of carbon dioxide released into the environment. A lucid description of goals and design of the building is available on BIG’s site. Construction is expected to be complete by 2016.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced its 2011 Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design, recognizing “distinguished achievements that involve the expanding role of the architect in urban design, regional and city planning, and community development.” Honored projects are a design for expansion of Beijing’s Central Business District; a plan for reducing the carbon footprint of Chicago’s building stock; a re-stitching of neighborhood fabric in Louisville, Kentucky; a Low Impact Development design manual; a plan for walkability in Farmington, Arkansas; and the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, a public open space system designed to slow, absorb and filter surface water runoff in Brooklyn. More than 700 submissions were received and 27 projects won awards.
(via The Dirt)
This year’s ONE PRIZE—an annual design and science award to promote green design in cities—is being awarded through a design competition centered around the development of New York City’s “sixth borough,” its bodies of water. Organized by Terreform 1 and Planetary One, the competition aims to advance the City’s potential to develop the world’s largest urban clean technology corridor along its waterways and water bodies, as well its capacity to host a clean tech world expo in 2014. Submissions are to make proposals for both a ‘blue’ transportation network—”a series of green transit hubs incorporating electric passenger ferries, water taxis, bike shares, electric car-share and electric shuttle buses”—and one zone of the expo.
In addition to exposure and participation in the Expo, the winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize. Registration closes April 30th, and Submissions are due May 31st. More details are available in the competition brief.
Open House New York, the weekend look inside what are normally closed doors of New York City’s architectural and design fascinatia, takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 9th and 10th this year. Volunteers are needed. Volunteers would assist with the weekend’s many programs, including tours, site-specific performances and discussions. Shifts are approximately four hours long and require a training session. Volunteers will also be able to skip the line at any non-reservation only event. Sites opened for the weekend in the past have included the High Bridge Water Tower, the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, the Grand Lodge of Masons on 23rd Street in Manhattan and a host of architects’ offices, private homes and institutions across the five boroughs, including Freshkills Park, which will participate for its fourth consecutive year.
Last Friday, we made our second annual visit to Randall’s Island for a field trip to the Department of Parks & Recreation’s Five Borough Technical Services Complex and its incredible green roof. Chief of Technical Services Artie Rollins gave us a comprehensive overview of the roof’s 20+ green roof systems, including tray systems, bag systems, Xero Flor systems, homemade mixes of soil and perlite, elevated planters, overhead trellises and green walls. 5-Boro has also recently added a 4,000-square-foot vegetable garden to the roof. A little less green than last year, seeing as the summer has been so very hot and dry, but still so impressive, beautiful and inspiring—our flickr photos are testament. Artie also passed on a very informative handout detailing the various systems in place.
There was a ton of response for this field trip, and we were only able to accomodate a limited number of guests, mostly from our e-mail newsgroup. If you’d like to be among the first to learn about our events and field trips, you can sign up for our bi-weekly newsgroup here.
The Imagination Playground opened today in the South Street Seaport area of Lower Manhattan. It’s the first permanent site where children can interact with the loose parts—a collection of moveable, stackable, manipulable pieces that can also couple with sand and moving water—that have been designed and developed by architect David Rockwell, who also designed the playground. A mobile version has been touring New York City’s parks for the last year. The New York Times City Room Blog describes the new space:
Instead of monkey bars and jungle gyms, there are fountains with canals of cascading water that can be dammed in infinite ways, or transformed into a network of rivers. There is an engaging set of lifts and pulleys. Play is proctored and interaction fostered by a staff of city workers trained as ‘play associates.’
Loose parts and sandboxes, as non-revolutionary as they may seem, are atypical in New York City playgrounds. Their maintenance and replacement can be costly and frequent. Funding a play associate could be a good way to monitor use and to ensure the integrity of the playground; we’ll be following the operation of this playground with interest.
The project’s $4.3 millon construction cost and $3 million water main relocation was supported by federal monies raised by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Rockwell also raised funds for an endowment to pay for the site’s ongoing maintenance.