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.
In 2002, a year after the Department of Sanitation and and the Municipal Arts Society announced the design competition for the reuse of the Fresh Kills landfill, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) embarked on an investigative project called Garbage Problems aimed at understanding the processes behind waste management in New York City. Working in collaboration with students from City-As-School high school, CUP produced a variety of compelling educational materials: a playful model and design plan for the reuse of the landfill called “Garbage City“; a 30 minute video on the project; and “The Making of Garbage Problems,” a large-format collage brochure explaining the project and providing a variety of resources on waste management in the wake of the closure of Fresh Kills.
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation (MOER) is sponsoring a free workshop this Thursday on “Green Remediation and Sustainability.” The workshop is the third in a series of events aimed at encouraging brownfield redevelopment and will include an introduction to MOER’s Local Brownfield Clean-up Program, quantitative tools for measuring sustainability at brownfield sites and presentations on remediation projects at both the local and national level. Other program themes are “Energy Use Optimization,” “Waste and Fill Management,” “Concrete Recycling,” and “Sustainable Soil Preparation at Brownfields.” Register online for the workshop by 5pm today; view the agenda here.
Thursday, December 17th
9:00 am – 1:30 pm, registration begins at 8:30 am
CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave (at 35th Street), Concourse Level
Registration and Lunch are FREE
City planners in Guelph, Ontario have approved a master plan to transform a 200-acre decommissioned landfill into the world’s largest pollinator park. The former Eastview Road Landfill, which operated as a municipal dump from 1961 to 2003, has been capped and outfitted with a methane capturing system that converts landfill gas into usable energy. Filled land, which constitutes about half the site, will host some recreational amenities but primarily shrub and meadow plantings that provide habitat for pollinator species such as bees, butterflies, bats and birds. These species are surprisingly vital to food production: pollination research suggests that three out of four flowering plants require animal pollinators in order to produce seed and fruit.
Pollinator populations have been in decline in recent years. Honeybees, in particular, have experienced what beekeepers call “colony collapse disorder“; other causes for decline include pesticide misuse, light and air pollution, hive destruction and farming practices that destroy habitat.
In conjunction with non-profit group Pollination Guelph, the city is developing a plant palette with a wide enough range of blooming seasons to accommodate both early and late pollinators. Other park amenities include toboggan runs, a trail network, demonstration gardens, basketball and volleyball courts, soccer and football fields, a natural ice rink and a playground.
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).
The first phase of development is underway for 1,347-acre brownfield transformation project Orange County Great Park. $65.5 million will fund the expansion of a 27.5-acre “Preview Park,” which opened in 2008 and features an observation balloon providing visitors a high-flying view of the entire site. Scheduled to be complete by the end of 2011, the new phase of construction will develop 200 acres and include sports fields, arts and cultural space, a 100-acre farm, a 2,500-tree orange orchard, a community garden and an agricultural pavilion. The park is being constructed on the site of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, which operated from 1942 until 1999.
LentSpace is a 37,000 square foot temporary park and cultural space at Canal and Sullivan Streets in lower Manhattan. The site opened to the public on September 18th–Park(ing) Day–and is on loan to the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for three years from Trinity Real Estate, which hopes to build on it when the City’s real estate market improves. The video above depicts the site’s construction.
This particular economic moment seems ripe with opportunities to build parks like these–“pop-up parks”–where construction projects have stalled indefinitely or where there happens to be temporarily vacant land:
- The hugely popular Brooklyn Bridge Park-adjacent pop-up park that appeared in summer 2008 offered the only view of all four of Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfalls in addition to hosting a picnic spot, sand play area and an outdoor cafe and bar.
- In London, the site of a mothballed 48-story building project was the subject of a public design competition, the winner of which proposed Leadenhall City Farm, a temporary, low-budget park featuring a garden, market and soup kitchen.
- A three month-long art park in London called Wonderwood, which transformed an abandoned building into a public play space, won honors in the Leeds Architecture Awards new Temporary Works category.
- There were 51 participating parks in this year’s NYC Park(ing) Day:
Recently opened Concrete Plant Park, in the Bronx, sits on the seven-acre site of a concrete plant that operated from the late 1940s through 1987. The park has retained some of its industrial past in the form of newly-painted silos, hoppers and conveyors, structures that once served as mixing facilities and now distinguish the park as sculptural monuments to the site’s evolution. The Parks Department and the Bronx River Alliance partnered to clean up the site, which, for years, remained an abandoned strip of land and illegal dumping ground. The project garnered public support by hosting community festivals and launching public boat tours from the site into the Bronx River. The park’s amenities include a waterfront promenade, a reading circle, concrete lounges, a canoe/kayak launch and restored salt marsh. It will also be part of the Bronx River Greenway, a 23-mile long multi-use path planned to extend the length of the river through the Bronx and Westchester County.
(via NY Daily News)
Inspired by the success of the High Line, proposals to reimagine abandoned rail lines have popped up all over the country.
- Faced with the replacement of a section of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, Rael San Fratello Architects have proposed the creation of the Bay Line, a hanging neighborhood complete with housing, cultural and commercial buildings and bike and pedestrian paths. Inhabitat notes, however, that the bridge section is being replaced for structural reasons and would have to be stabilized before it could be re-purposed.
- In Chicago, a design collaboration between Gensler and 4240 Architecture envisions the old Bloomingdale Rail Line as a 3-mile greenhouse containing a 100-acre urban farm and, on its underside, a hydrogen-powered generator. The energy source, dubbed the “HYDROGENerator,” would be placed along an old aqueduct that runs under the railway, and would be used to power local schools.
- Just across the Hudson from the High Line, The Embankment Preservation Coalition has been advocating for the preservation of an elevated stonework structure that runs a half mile and spans 6 acres in downtown Jersey City. The Embankment is part of what was once a freight railroad line comprising seven tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It’s envisioned as part of the 2,600-mile East Coast Greenway: a traffic-free path spanning from Florida to Maine.
Four giant coal gasometers, built as part of Vienna’s municipal gas works in the late 1800s, have been refashioned into a complex of residential, commercial and municipal facilities. Formerly Europe’s largest gas plant, the gasometers now house 800 apartments, a student dormitory, a music hall, over 70 shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, a movie theater and the city’s municipal archive.
The gasometers were decommissioned in 1984 as the city transitioned from coal gas to natural gas, and they have evaded demolition through their 1978 designation as historical monuments. Each one stands 197 feet in diameter and 230 feet high and once had a storage capacity of over 3 million cubic feet. Designs for each of the four amended structures are unique and were chosen through a competition in the mid ’90s. The four designs come from architects Jean Nouvel, Coop Himmelblau, Manfred Wehdorn and Wilhelm Holzbauer.