12/24/2012

Exo-landscape exploration

First Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays.

A series of projects I found on David Garcia's new website MAP Architects. David Garcia is the editor of the little publication MAP that I presented several months ago.
These projects are part of the department of Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes at Lunds University. The Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes Master Course explores the role of the architect in a mutational environments. The Fall semester course 2012 consists of a three-week workshop, site visits, lectures, and one to one meeting with engineers, architects and astronauts at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. According to the website, the course addresses the exo-landscape of space, but not as astronauts. The aim is to develop a critical perspective of the traditional typology capable of adapting to a future of conditions.
Those with a strong interests in 'Landscape Futures', including exo-landscape exploration (Mars, etc.) will certainly appreciate these projects.
Below I post a selection of these projects:
Mars Presentation | Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes | © Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
© Andrea Marcu ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes | © Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
© Andrea Marcu ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes | Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
Marshab | © Elin Persson ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes | Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
Marshab | © Elin Persson ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes || Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
Camping on Mars | © Franscesco Montresor ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes || Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
Camping on Mars ı A Tensile Integrity Nomad Lab | © Francesco Montresor ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes || Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
Inhabitable Mobile Mars ı Water Harvester Rover | © Lindberg and McDermott ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes || Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
Water on Mars | © Lindberg and McDermott ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes || Lunds University
Originally appeared Lunds University
Making the Most of Plants | © Susana Alvarez ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes || Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University
Making the most of plants | Susana Alvarez ı Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes || Lunds University
Originally appeared on Lunds University

More projects available at Extreme Environments and Future Landscapes, Lunds University





12/20/2012

The Editor's read: The Anatomy of Special Economic Zones by Maurits Ruis

I will post in the following days three book reviews that I warmly suggest my readers to read: Future Practice. Conversations from the edge of architecture by Rory Hyde; The Anatomy of Special Economic Zones, by Maurits Ruis, and Making the Geologic Now edited by Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse (of Smudge Studio).
I will start with the review of Rory Hyde's book. I hope to have a conversation with him. I am currently reading the two other books.
Below, I post an abstract of Maurits RuisThe Anatomy of Special Economic Zones.
A very short ebook, 57 pages. Those who are familiar with Keller Easterling's research on Extra Statecraft will certainly appreciate this ebook as Maurits Ruis addresses closely related issues.


A critical History
Special Economic Zones have in some way or another for hundreds of yeas, but the modern SEZ developed significantly in the period after the Second World War. In this period, the SEZ has been able to benefit from growing international specialization, the expansion of the manufacturing activities of transnational corporations and an increasing orientation towards export (ILO 2008). The first known instance of a modern SEZ was industrial park set up in Puerto Rico in 1947 to attract investment from the USA (Dohrmann 2008).
An important catalyst in the development of the modern SEZ was introduction of the standardized shipping container in 1956. The container caused loading cost of cargo to drop from $5.86 per US ton to just under 16 cents (Poston 2006), which made it possible for firms to benefit from lower labour cost overseas whilst remaining cost-effective. Illustrative for the dependency of SEZs on shipping containers is the fact that nowadays there are very few landlocked countries that have adopted free zone regimes (Bost 2001).
The first SEZs appeared in Asia in the 1960s, which would become the nursery home for the modern SEZ in the years to follow. In these years, The US semiconductor industry began offshoring intensive manufacturing activities such as assembly to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. This move allowed the semiconductor industry to remain cost-competitive as new foreign rivals emerged in countries such as Japan (GAO 2006). At that point, the only benefits for SEZ host countries were the creation of jobs and income of foreign exchange generated by the exportation of products, but no further benefits to the local economy were provided (Cowaloosur 2011).
Urban Laboratories
Although the first SEZ in Asia was established in Kandla, India in 1965, the history of the modern SEZ has very much turned out to be a Chinese history. China has been instrumental in the development of the modern SEZ, and has also been most successful in reaping its benefits, growing its domestic economy significantly, and lifting millions out of poverty. When India introduced its national SEZ policy in 2005, it was modeled closely after the Chinese model (Leong, n.d.).
Perhaps China's success with SEZs is owed to the fact that China was not unfamiliar with the concept of designated areas with an exceptional status. As early as 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal by the Chinese empire as a trading port, and in 1842, the French, British and America concessions were granted in Shanghai following the 1839-42 Opium War. The introduction of the modern SEZ in communist China was due to the decision of Deng Xiaoping in 1980 to start using SEZs to experiment with the free market economy, a move he referred to as 'crossing the river, feeling the stones one at a time'. To that end, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen and Shantou were given the status of Comprehensive Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) (Leong, n.d.)

12/12/2012

Invisible borders…

I'm over busy these recent days so that some posts have been delayed including an interview, a new edition of The Architecture Post Review, and three book reviews. Saying this…

I just discovered a tumblr tweeted by Archis Volume, earlier this morning on an event, named Invisible Borders, currently in Mexico City. This event explores the concept of borders: borders in megacities, borders in neighborhoods, borders between rich and poor, between dense and sprawl, ecological borders, moral borders, urban borders. The location: Mexico City, which, as Archis Volume describes,
seems to be full of telling borders that generate ideas on the past, present and future of the city.
Border is a symptom, a dilemma of spatial, social, cultural, economic, moral, ecological, and urban disequilibrium. Quoting the case of San Diego and Tijuana borders, Teddy Cruz, probably one of the best specialists of the problematic of borders, says:

[The] border region is emblematic of a crisis that will redefine the world's cartography in the next decades: the emerging conflicts across shifting geopolitical boundaries, natural resources and communities, the politics of water, the re-definition of density and the meaning of citizenship everywhere.
Another example of borders is the border conditions of current states of ecological systems and desired states of ecological systems. 
The hydrologic basin of Mexico | © Rodrigo Remolina / Ciudad Futura
Originally appeared on Fronteras Invisibles

Ecological borders generate critical conditions and heterogeneity from landscape degradation to water issues, to habitat and spatial fragmentation, amongst others. Vulnerable areas to flooding events, or drought. High risk of habitat and landscape deterioration prone to be sensitive to increasing random events, pushing human, and other species to flee for better places. 

Urban borders reveal new forms of inequalities, urban disconnection, lack of interaction between people, isolation, urban tensions, physical degradation of areas and its components. In the recent LSE/Urban Age conference The Electric City (December 2012) in London, Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, claimed that bad cities usually provide inequalities. Pushing people to live far from the center reducing mobility, interaction and access to jobs and leisure, inequalities generate clusters of disconnected spaces coinciding in reinforcement of invisible borders between cities and peripheries, rich and poor. 
As Eyal Weizman (See Weizman, 2007; Brown, 2010) pointed out, the border,
has become a discontinuous and fragmented series of self-enclosed barriers that can be better understood as a prevalent 'condition' of segregation — a shifting frontier — rather than one continuous line cutting the territory in two.


Dominant Housing Type by AGEB neighborhoods in Mexico City, 1990
Originally appeared on Fronteras Invisibles
Housing shortage, difficult access to basic infrastructure and water supply, are other forms of outcomes to urban borders. 'Invaded buildings' with precarious system of electrical and water supply, and a very basic form of waste and garbage disposal in areas initially occupied by neighborhood disrupt these areas into a series of discontinuous areas leading to emergence of invisible borders, worse, untenable tensions between 'illegal settlers' and local residents. An example: a series of destruction by local residents of illegal Romani settlements in France.

Back to Invisible borders event in Mexico City, I will finish with, below, a series of pictures and maps from this tumblr Fronteras Invisibles
Build-up area of Mexico City and Metropolitan Area.
Graphic design © Flor Martin
Originally appeared on Fronteras Invisibles
Border Machine San Jeronimo 04 © Wissel
Originally appeared on Fronteras Invisibles.
> "The fence as a machine for managing 'personal border-conditions' (1). An architectural invention found in San Jeronimo, Tecamac, State of Mexico in 2009.
(1) Sennett, Richard. 2012. Together: the rituals, pleasures, and politics of cooperation.
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Border map mx
Originally appeared on Fronteras Invisibles

Casas en Tecamac | © Moritz Bernoully, 2011
Originally appeared on Fronteras Invisible



References:
Weizman Eyal, 2007. Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation, (London: Verso books).
On the concept of borders but in a political viewpoint, I suggest to read Wendy Brown's Walled States, Waning Sovereignty:
Brown Wendy, 2010. Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, (New York City: Zone Books).


12/03/2012

Video | Soft infrastructures

Unconventional solutions is part of a series of videos (including Conventional solutions and Cleaning up) on climate-proofing New York City providing tactics and strategies to problem-address increased climate- and natural disaster-based issues.
Recent events in Haiti, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeastern United States have revealed the commons on which we are ultimately dependent on nature.
They remind us in particular the vulnerability of man-made landscapes, cities, infrastructural as well as socio-economic conditions. In short we need to reconsider a new approach that promotes connection of human ecology with natural ecology. In Resilient Infrastructures, published in the forthcoming second volume of Bracket, titled Goes Soft, Neeraj Bhetia defines human ecology as our political, economic, and social spheres, and natural ecology as design of landscape, infrastructures, urban form, impact of environmental conditions such as geology, weather and ecosystems, amongst others.
What could disappear? | New Orleans || © The Sunday Review - The New York Times
Originally appeared on The Sunday Review - The New York Times
> 5 feet: Probable level in about 100 to 300 years.
88% of New Orleans area would be flooded.
If levees breach, almost all of the city would flood. The surrounding region is also mostly flooded. (The Sunday Review - The New York Times)

Numerous studies have demonstrated that the bulk of humanity is concentrated along or near coasts on just 10% of the earth's land surface. By 2025, then, — to limit to the United States in respect with the video below — nearly 75% of Americans may live in coastal zones. As a result, these zones are becoming sensitive to random events from pollution to habitat degradation and loss, from invasive species to growing increased coastal hazards, such as rising temperature and rising sea-levels. A recent article published in The New York Times' Sunday Review examines consequences of rising sea-levels on the coastal United States. Consider 5 feet as a probable level in about 100 to 300 years. 7% of New York City but 88 % of New Orleans would flood. Much of Jacksonville (Florida) area's low-lying wetlands (3% of Jacksonville) would disappear too. As a consequence, these random events will be having a serious impact on coastal United States' infrastructural system.
What could disappear? | New York City || © The Sunday Review - The New York Times, 2012
Originally appeared on The Sunday Review-The New York Times
> 5 feet: Probable level in about 100 to 300 years. 7% of New York City's area could be flooded.
The East River starts to eat away at La Guardia Airport. Port complexes are flooded (The Sunday Review - The New York Times)
What could disappear? | Los Angeles area || © The Sunday Review - The New York Times
Originally appeared on The Sunday Review - The New York Times
> 5 feet: Probable level in about 100 to 300 years.
1% of Los Angeles would flood while 7 % of Long Beach and 27 of Huntington would be flooded.
Low coastal areas, like the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, disappear (The Sunday Review - The New York Times)

Humans = Human activities = Nature
Ecosophy, as Felix Guattari termed in The Three Ecologies, posits the balance of three scales that comprises self-understanding, the society we live in and the ecosystem we inhabit. Put it succinctly, urban spaces organized through the relation of politics, economics, ecosystems, and cultural values, as Guattari put forward, must be re-negotiated as rooted in the model of interdependencies of human, economic life and environment throughout a series of processes. Another French philosopher, Michel Serres, underlined interdependencies of humans, human activities and environment, in particular in The Natural Contract,

Today our expertise and our worries turn toward the weather, because our industrious know-how is acting, perhaps, catastrophically, on global nature, which those same ancestors thought didn't depend on us. From now on, not only does it doubtless depend on us, but, in return, our lives depend on this mobile atmospheric system, which is inconstant but fairly stable, deterministic and stochastic, moving quasi-periodically with rhythms and response times that vary colossally.
(…) What serious disequilibria will occur, what global change must be expected in the whole climate from our growing industrial activities and technological prowess, which pour thousands of tons of carbon monoxide and other toxic wastes into the atmosphere? As of now we don't know how to estimate general transformations on such a scale of size and complexity. (…) [D]o we know a richer and more complete model of global change, of equilibria and their attractors, than that of climate and the atmosphere?
Here we are faced with a problem caused by a civilization that has now been in place for more than a century and that was itself engendered by the long-term cultures that preceded it; it's damaging a physical system millions of years old, a system that fluctuates and yet remains relatively stable through rapid, random, and multicentury variations. Before us is an anguishing question, whose principal component is time, especially a long-term time that is all the longer when the system is considered globally. Mixing the waters of the oceans requires a cycle estimated at five thousand years.


Soft infrastructures
The video below problem-addresses the question of soft infrastructure as possible, if not primary, responses to challenge uncertainty and instability of post-natural coastal landscapes. As stated in The Mother Jones, soft infrastructure here (See also: Field Journal of Architecture: Ecology; and the forthcoming second volume of Bracket: Goes Soft) is defined as a technique that borrows from nature to improve resiliency from enlarging wetlands to creating reefs and archipelagoes to seeding oyster beds. As pointed out in previous posts, a soft infrastructure should consider dynamism, immateriality, indeterminacy, flexibility as central in response to fluctuations, as Neeraj Bhatia writes.

As complex feedback systems, ecosystems are non-linear and self-organizing. Not only does designing coastal infrastructure require a specific language based on understanding and learning from global and local ecosystems, but global and local ecosystems must be considered as interconnected to address indeterminacy and flexible conditions that programmatically, temporally, politically, socially configure ecosystems.

An evidence: these proposals in this video are not sufficient to attain an equilibrium state. They may be considered as short-term solutions to cope with long-term, far-reaching issues. As we live with immediate reckonings, upon which most of our power depends, we are incapable of setting long-term answers, to say with Michel Serres. Targeting a long-term, far-reaching problem, thus, must at least be equal to the problem in scope, Michel Serres continues. Yet, on the horizon of increasing climatic and geologic mutations, the difficult task for practitioners is to disentangle this triple challenge: complexity, instability and uncertainty…



credit video: The Mother Jones | Unconventional solutions

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