A design proposal that seemed almost inevitable: New York-based architects Terreform propose the employment of automated robots in reusing garbage sited within the Fresh Kills Landfill to construct buildings and islands. The robots, refashioned from existing industrial equipment, would compact garbage into stackable units and be assembled like building blocks.
Wall-E, anyone? The firm’s proposal, Rapid Re(f)use, bears uncanny similarity to the animated robot’s activities, of course; their cleverness is really rendering the film’s scenario in real world architectural terms to reflect meaningfully on the relationship between the city and its waste. Terreform posits that the entire volume of the Fresh Kills Landfill, in addition to waste newly generated and collected, could be used to construct seven landmasses equivalent in size to Manhattan island. A provocative idea, for sure, and fodder for further academic discourse.
To be clear, though, we’re sticking to the park project.
Gansam Architects’ G.lab* has designed a visitor’s center to host the 2.8 million annual visitors to Korea’s Suncheon wetlands, which, at more than 8,700 acres, make up the world’s fifth largest tidal flat. The proposed design for a Suncheon International Wetlands Center structure is based on the imprints left by receding tides, and the 90,000 sq ft complex would be green-roofed, daylit and stilted above the wetlands so as to reduce impact on the ecosystem. Still, our New York State regulatory context makes us wonder how much shade will be cast on the ecosystem lying under the complex, and if that wouldn’t have a negative impact. Gansam’s site isn’t all in English, so it’s hard to seek out further detail. No word on whether or when the project is expected to be built.
Architecture and urbanism blog mammoth has compiled its review of the best architecture of the past decade. It’s a refreshing list because of its inclusion of projects that stretch outside of what is typically considered ‘architecture’–the Large Hadron Collider, Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System, the MIT Media Lab’s City Car, the iPhone.
[T]he items on this list have been selected to represent some of the most hopeful trends which impinge upon the territory of architecture (and, occasionally, landscape architecture, as the constant and intentional conflation of the two disciplines which is a mammoth trademark continues). You’ll discover that our criticism of boring lists consists primarily in their being confined to (a) buildings and (b) things built by architects, though our list includes both buildings and things built by architects. In fact, “favorite” might be a better way to describe this list than “best”, but we’ve stuck with “best” because it’s more fun, as you can’t argue about “favorites”.
Field Operations‘ design of Freshkills Park also ranks within the list.
Web Ecoist showcases some incredible feats in green roof and, especially, green wall design around the world. These are always fun and inspiring image galleries, even when the projects seem slightly misguided. At their best, green roofs and walls not only serve as aesthetic amentities, but also provide insulation, purify air and reduce storm water runoff.
Renewable energy company Beautiful Earth Group has unveiled a containerized solar-powered charging station for electric vehicles (EVs) at a site in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The station is built from recycled shipping containers and is topped with an array of 235-watt photovoltaic panels, which reach a total capacity of almost 6 kW. A three-hour charge in the station provides an EV with a range of approximately 100 miles. The new solar charging station is believed to be the first of its kind in New York City.
(via Jetson Green)
A recent New York Times piece features a valuable piece of NYC Parks property: the Alice Austen House, a National Historic Monument located in the Rosebank section of Staten Island. Accompanying the story is an audio slide show narrated by caretaker and curator Paul Moakley, a freelance photo editor and photographer who maintains the house, museum and grounds in exchange for free accommodation in the house’s upstairs apartment. Alice Austen was one of America’s earliest photographers, known for her work documenting working people in New York City, where she travelled by bicycle toting her heavy equipment. She lived for most of her life in this gothic-style house, also known as Clear Comfort, on the banks of the New York Bay. The house and the grounds are open to visitors.
MIT students have developed a roofing tile that saves energy and heating and cooling costs by changing color depending on temperature. The tile turns white to reflect heat during the summer and becomes transparent during cool months, revealing a heat-absorbing black backing. While traditional roofing material is black, global climate experts (including US Energy Secretary Steven Chu) have been advocating for the painting of flat roofs white as a means of offsetting carbon emissions. The new roofing tile, dubbed Thermeleon (as in ‘thermal chameleon’), uses a phase-changing polymer gel to optimize thermal benefits in all seasons: when the temperature is high, the tile reflects 80% of the incident light, whereas when temperatures are cool, the roofing material absorbs 70% of the sun’s energy.
Plans have been announced by Bio Energy Investments Ltd (BEI) for the construction of BEI-Teesside, a biomass power station to be built on a brownfield site on the banks of the River Tees in the UK. The striking design is by British firm Heatherwick studio. The exterior shell of the structure will be covered in panels planted with indigenous grasses.
The plant will generate power from palm kernel shells, a byproduct of palm oil plantations that is considered a renewable fuel, which will be transported to the site by boat. Using palm kernel shells reduces carbon emissions by 80% compared with coal or gas, provides additional revenue to growers who otherwise treat the shells as waste and ensures that no land is diverted from forests or food production to generate the fuel. The proposed plant will generate 49 MW of energy, enough to power approximately 50,000 homes, and will feature a visitor’s center and renewable energy education center. Portions of the brownfield site not used for building construction are slated to become renewed native grassland.
- the opening of the High Line on Manhattan’s west side;
- the pedestrianization of Broadway, a project transforming public space spearheaded by Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn;
- the publishing of two books on architecture and the city: 1) Wrestling with Moses by Anthony Flint on the historic struggle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses, and 2)Twenty Minutes in Manhattan by Michael Sorkin on the author’s changing experience of the city as manifested in his daily walk from his home in Greenwich Village to his studio in Chelsea;
- Cooper Union’s opening of 41 Cooper Square, a new academic building making Cooper Union NYC’s first LEED Platinum certified school.
Eli Cohen gave a terrific talk Monday night on his work, as director of Ayala Water and Ecology, using plants to remove pollutants and contaminants from water, soil and air. We’re grateful to the huge crowd that poured into the Arsenal gallery for the event, to Laura Starr and Yamit Perez for putting us in touch with Eli and, of course, to Eli himself for sharing his work and his thoughts.
One of his bigger themes, telegraphed by the title of the talk, “Sustainability in Practice,” was his strong belief that “Natural Biological Systems”– systems constructed of plants, soil, rocks and other natural materials and supported by forces like gravity and sunlight–are not only just as effective as more expensive, technological solutions to environmental remediation, but also, literally, much more sustainable. He walked through a number of Ayala’s Natural Biological Systems, which filtered and cleaned runoff and sewage from a variety of sites including private residences, a dairy farm, a landfill, a cosmetics plant and an entire city (Hyderabad, India). His full slideshow is available as a PDF (6MB).
You can stream the entire audio of the talk, below, as you page through the slides. You can also download that audio directly as an MP3 (71 minutes, 66MB).