Nov 242011
 

Whether sea levels rise or fall, your amphibious house will ride the waves of climate change.

A controversial new study suggests that most of humankind’s maladies — from wars to epidemics to economic downturns — can be traced to climate fluctuations….

Climate shifts were a statistically significant cause of social disturbance, war, migration, epidemics, famine, and nutritional status, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And climate caused famines, economic downturns, and catastrophic human events far more often than did any of the other 14 variables. The most direct way in which extreme climate shifts influence human society is through agriculture, Zhang says; a falling supply of crops will drive up the price of gold and cause inflation. Similarly, epidemics can be exacerbated by famine. And when people are miserable, they are likely to become angry with their governments and each other, resulting in war.

But golden ages rise out of these dark periods, the team argues. For instance, a 100-year cold period beginning in 1560 caused shortened crop growing seasons. The researchers found a causal linkage with a decline in average human height by nearly an inch during this period, and the century was rife with disease and conflict. But the world began to warm in 1650; when Charles II was crowned king of England in 1660, the coronation sparked the Enlightenment era in Europe.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/3KOUud3C3M4/

Meanwhile a different study pins a mini Ice Age in Europe on Christopher Columbus.

“Science News reports on a story which blames a centuries long cooling of Europe on the discovery of the new world. Scientists contend that the native depopulation and deforestation had a chilling effect on world-wide climate. ‘Trees that filled in this territory pulled billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, diminishing the heat-trapping capacity of the atmosphere and cooling climate, says Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford University.’

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/10/14/0345253/columbus-blamed-for-mini-ice-age

In this century, rising sea levels have inspired a new architectural style that might be called the ‘amphibian avant-garde.’

“Venice may soon be sharing its ‘Floating City’ moniker thanks to a research project developing ‘amphibian houses’ that are designed to float in the event of a flood. The FLOATEC project sees the primary market for the houses as the Netherlands, whose low-lying land makes it particularly susceptible to the effects of rising sea levels. Such housing technology could also allow small island-states in the Indian and Pacific Oceans that are at the risk of disappearing in the next 100 years to maintain their claim to statehood through the use of artificial, floating structures.”

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/09/05/007211/Floating-Houses-Designed-For-Low-Lying-Countries

Nov 112011
 

Philips Microbe House 5Imagine an apartment where kitchen waste provides electricity, your interactive bathroom mirror helps prevent disease, and mushrooms in your composter devour plastic bags.

If you call yourself a twenty-first century design student, you should be studying this.

Continue reading »

Jul 152010
 

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This would have been a great eco-tech capstone.

thefickler writes “The Pacific Ocean trash dump is twice the size of Texas, or the size of Spain combined with France. The Pacific Vortex as it is sometimes called, is made up of four million tons of Plastic. Now there’s a proposal to turn this dump into ‘Recycled Island’. The Netherlands Architecture Fund has provided the grant money for the project, and the WHIM architecture firm is conducting the research and design of Recycled Island. One of the three major aims of the project is to clean up the floating trash by recycling it on site. Two, the project would create new land for sustainable habitation complete with its own food sources and energy sources. Lastly, Recycled Island is to be a sea worthy island. While at the moment the project is still more or less a pipe dream, it’s great that someone is trying to work out what to do with one of humanity’s most bizarre environmental slip ups.”

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/15/0033244/Pacific-Trash-Vortex-To-Become-Habitable-Island?from=rss via Byline

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jul 152010
 

This would have been a great eco-tech capstone.

thefickler writes “The Pacific Ocean trash dump is twice the size of Texas, or the size of Spain combined with France. The Pacific Vortex as it is sometimes called, is made up of four million tons of Plastic. Now there’s a proposal to turn this dump into ‘Recycled Island’. The Netherlands Architecture Fund has provided the grant money for the project, and the WHIM architecture firm is conducting the research and design of Recycled Island. One of the three major aims of the project is to clean up the floating trash by recycling it on site. Two, the project would create new land for sustainable habitation complete with its own food sources and energy sources. Lastly, Recycled Island is to be a sea worthy island. While at the moment the project is still more or less a pipe dream, it’s great that someone is trying to work out what to do with one of humanity’s most bizarre environmental slip ups.”

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/15/0033244/Pacific-Trash-Vortex-To-Become-Habitable-Island?from=rss via Byline

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Feb 182010
 

Biomimicry meets architecture. Could be a great leap forward in sustainability, but could also give a whole new meaning to the concept of a “sick” building.

http://www.buildingcentre.co.uk/events/event_diary_details.asp?id=510

Unconventional Computing & Architecture

Friday 26 February, 9.00am – 6.00pm

This one-day conference explores new materials for architectural practice in the 21st century. International architects and scientists will explore the decision-making properties of matter and how this may be applied to create increasingly life-like buildings.

Organised by The Bartlett´s Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research (AVATAR) group, (((A-OK name for 2010))) the conference aims to bring together architects and scientists who are working with new technologies that are capable of self-assembly and organization.

Such technologies may form the basis for architecture generated by unconventional computing techniques which range from the actions of protocells, (entirely synthetic DNA-less agents), slime moulds (simple organisms with very complex behaviours), crystalline computing (using the organizing properties of molecules) and algae (that can be engineered to respond to environments in new ways).

“Increasingly life-like buildings.” Uhm… what if they’re predatory?–Bruce Sterling

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/unconventional-computing-and-architecture/

Feb 182010
 

Biomimicry meets architecture. Could be a great leap forward in sustainability, but could also give a whole new meaning to the concept of a “sick” building.

http://www.buildingcentre.co.uk/events/event_diary_details.asp?id=510

Unconventional Computing & Architecture

Friday 26 February, 9.00am – 6.00pm

This one-day conference explores new materials for architectural practice in the 21st century. International architects and scientists will explore the decision-making properties of matter and how this may be applied to create increasingly life-like buildings.

Organised by The Bartlett´s Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research (AVATAR) group, (((A-OK name for 2010))) the conference aims to bring together architects and scientists who are working with new technologies that are capable of self-assembly and organization.

Such technologies may form the basis for architecture generated by unconventional computing techniques which range from the actions of protocells, (entirely synthetic DNA-less agents), slime moulds (simple organisms with very complex behaviours), crystalline computing (using the organizing properties of molecules) and algae (that can be engineered to respond to environments in new ways).

“Increasingly life-like buildings.” Uhm… what if they’re predatory?–Bruce Sterling

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/unconventional-computing-and-architecture/

Jan 272010
 

Ward Shelley is an artist who creates architectural constraints (“Stability”, “Flatland”) that confine performers to negotiate together a shared space. It’s a great example of how you can investigate new forms of social interaction with pulleys and rebar instead of computers and Web sites.

They’re reminiscent of MTAA’s 1-Year Performance Project (hosted by U- Me)–or better yet, life in a submarine.

http://www.wardshelley.com/