Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Innovative Urbanism: Crowdsourcing change

Posted in Movements by Jessica Bird on February 8th, 2013

Source: Mesh Cities.


Image from I Make Rotterdam.

From the article “Crowd funding city innovation” by Mesh Cities.

[…] We all know or suspect that riding a populist, demographically-driven wave is the essence of electability. This era’s politicians (generally) know it’s best not to think too big in terms of urban-improving expenditures. Time is better spent learning how to deftly kick the can of crumbling infrastructure down the road—increasingly potholed though that road may be. “Let my successor manage the impending crisis,” their inner voices might be heard to say, “I’ll lose the next election if I raise taxes to fix x,y, or z let alone build something new.” This attitude is closely related to the one that causes well-established, successful companies like Nortel to go from world leaders to market flameouts almost overnight. Why improve something that the investors think to be a world beater? Behind the scenes, however, key players are running for the exits with whatever spoils they can carry before the whole operation collapses due to inattention. There is an alternative to the destructiveness of this self serving, near-term thinking about our cities: Crowd funded urban innovation. It is not a fantasy. Some cities are already doing it.

Why is crowd funded urbanism different than what we’ve seen in the past? In a way, it isn’t. It is fundamentally old school thinking brought into the digital age. In the farming communities of our parent’s parents, when people saw something that needed doing they pitched in to get it done. That’s the way crowd funded urbanism works. See it. Fix it. New communications tools are shrinking our complex world to the point where direct action is possible even where political action is an oxymoron. Even better, in a connected world we can assemble best-practice solutions in one easily accessible place for everyone’s use. Talk about efficiency.

Take a look at I Make Rotterdam for one example of a crowd funded pedestrian bridge that is a prototype for this nascent, city-changing movement. The public in that city cared enough to invest real money in the project after being inspired by New York’s High Line Park (good ideas are contagious). What’s more interesting is that their commitment spurred local government to get behind the project as well. […] That’s the power of this idea. It is not about finding new ways of taxing people. What it is about is unequivocally showing where people want their communities improved so governments can act. Another example is the U.K.’s Space Hive. Broader in scope than I Make Rotterdam, Space Hive offers opportunities to tackle the needs of communities across the U.K.

Are these projects reinventing the way representative taxation will work a generation from now; or, are they just another example of online art projects that capture our collective imagination? We will find out, but our guess is that the future of cities demands better forms of community representation. These just may be the early models that will evolve to greatness.

>>> You can read the full article on Mesh Cities.
>>> Check out I Make Rotterdam, SeeClickFix, and Space Hive for some great examples of crowdfunded urbanism in action.


Detroit: From Ghost City to Future City

Posted in Models, Visions by Jessica Bird on February 1st, 2013

Source: FastCoExist

detroit future city
Image from The Detroit Future City Plan.

From “A Framework For Creating A Thriving Detroit Of The Future” by Ariel Schwartz.

A new plan outlines how the Motor City can go from grabbing headlines about decay to being a model for a new kind of American urban center. […] In 2010, the Detroit Works Project, a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit and a number of foundations, launched with the goal of rethinking land use by understanding the demographics of the city (today, Detroit has miles upon miles of vacant land). “We understood from the beginning that land use had to be understood, but there were many pieces beyond land use that had to be part of the study,” explains Dan Pitera, executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center and one of the driving forces behind Detroit Future City.

So in 2011, the Detroit Works Project was split into two: one piece worked on short-term planning, and the other focused on longer-term goals. After two years of research and discussion, the Detroit Future City report was released this month. The goal, according to press materials for the launch, is nothing short of a citywide reboot. […] The city framework–which is broken down into sections including economic growth, neighborhoods, land use, and city systems–comes from 30,000 conversations with city residents and more than 70,000 survey responses and comments. “When it was launched, we weren’t revealing a plan or framework because people have been seeing the work develop. It’s more of a celebration,” says Pitera.

We won’t try to sum up the mammoth report here, but Pitera stresses that the key point is that “Detroit is closer to its future than it imagines.” Much of the work that needs to happen is already beginning–now it just needs to be tied to a larger framework. One of the best known examples of Detroit’s burgeoning revival is the urban agriculture movement that has sprung up in response to all the abandoned land. […] The initiative’s creators imagine that these open spaces and environmental systems will sit alongside repurposed transportation corridors that accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, all while collecting storm water runoff in swales located in the right-of-way. At the same time, new walkable retail districts and residential developments will keep things buzzing.

The authors aren’t done generating awareness for the project. Pitera tells us that a street team shows up at barber shops, grocery stores–wherever people are–to have conversations with people. Because while Detroit Future City calls for sweeping change on a systemic level, it needs individuals to get onboard too. “In our minds, civic engagement never ends. It’s the way a city should do business,” says Pitera. “People can come in, look at this, and see very realistic but aspirational plans and see themselves in it as well.”

Detroit Future City looks 50 years into the future: the first five years are focused on stabilization of the city, years five to 10 will grow and nurture the city, years 10 to 20 will sustain a larger population, increase in local jobs, and a new and improved infrastructure, and years 20 to 50 will ideally see Detroit regain its position as one of America’s great cities. Is it possible? Sure. Detroit has one big advantage over many U.S. cities: It has already hit rock bottom, and so it can build a resilient, sustainable city from the ground up instead of trying to modify its infrastructure piecemeal–a strategy that will ultimately hurt some of today’s thriving urban centers. […]

>>> You can read the full article here.
>>> You can Read the Detroit Future City Framework and learn more about the project on the Detroit Works Project website.


Open-Source Modular Design Systems

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 20th, 2012

Source: Resilience

Evolution of Coffee Filter

From “How to make everything ourselves: Open modular hardware” by Kris de Decker:

Reverting to traditional handicrafts is one way to sabotage the throwaway society. In this article, we discuss another possibility: the design of modular consumer products, whose parts and components could be re-used for the design of other products.

Initiatives like OpenStructures, Grid Beam, and Contraptor combine the modularity of systems like LEGO, Meccano and Erector with the collaborative power of digital success stories like Wikipedia, Linux or WordPress. An economy based on the concept of re-use would not only bring important advantages in terms of sustainability, but would also save consumers money, speed up innovation, and take manufacturing out of the hands of multinationals. A modular system unites the advantages of standardisation (as parts can be produced cheaply in large amounts) with the advantages of customisation (since a large diversity of unique objects can be made with relatively few parts). Modularity can be found to a greater or lesser extent in many products (like bicycles and computers) and systems (like trains and logistics), but the best examples of modular systems are toys: LEGO, Meccano, and Erector (which is now the brand name of Meccano in the US).

[…]

In spite of the similarities, there is one fundamental difference between modular construction systems such as OpenStructures, Grid Beam and Contraptor, and modular toys such as LEGO, Meccano and Erector. The first group consists of “open” modular systems, where everyone is free to design and produce parts, while the second consists of “closed” modular systems, where all parts are designed and produced by one manufacturer. Closed modular systems produce uniform parts. For instance, all LEGO building blocks are made of plastic. LEGO does not produce building blocks made of wood, aluminium, glass or ceramics. There is a limited range of colours. And because LEGO is a closed system, nobody else is allowed to produce LEGO pieces.

[…]

An open modular system has many advantages over a closed modular system. Since anyone can design parts in an open system, it generates a much larger diversity of parts: they can be made in different colours and materials, and none of the producers can set a fixed price for all consumers. And because many designers constantly review, adapt and improve each others’ work, innovation is accelerated. All open software systems described above are arguably better than their closed counterparts, and some of them have become more successful. A closed modular system only has one advantage: the one who holds the copyright makes a lot of money.

[…]

Open modular construction does not mean that everyone should make their own consumer products. An object like a coffee maker or a workbench could be obtained in at least three ways. Firstly, the consumer can download the digital design and then assemble the object with parts that he or she buys, re-uses, or makes using a 3D-printer or laser cutter, whether at home or at a fab lab or tech shop. It can also happen in a more low-tech fashion, as is the case with Grid Beam: the consumer buys wood or metal beams, and drills the holes himself.

A second option is that a company buys the license of the design (if it is not free) and converts it into a building kit, comparable to a kit from LEGO, Meccano or Erector. In this case, the consumer would not have to search for the parts himself, but he still assembles the product himself, just like he would assemble a piece of furniture by IKEA. Similarly, a company could offer a more general building kit, which can be used to make whatever one would like, similar to a box of basic LEGO bricks. Bit Beam, Contraptor, Open Beam, Maker Beam and, recently, Grid Beam offer one or both of these options.

The third possibility is that a manufacturer places the object on the market as a finished, assembled product. The coffee maker or the workbench would then be sold and bought just as any other product today, but it can be disassembled after use, and its parts can be re-used for other objects.

[…]

Read the full article by Kris de Decker at Resilience or at Low-Tech – the grabs (above) from the article don’t do true justice to the original.

 


Sustainable Product Creation: Design, Engineering and Behaviour

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 11th, 2012

 Source: Core 77


© Buckminster Fuller Institute via flickr

From “The Key to Sustainable Product Creation: The Marriage of Engineering and Design” by Dawn Danby:

These days I spend a lot of time with students and brand-new grads. They’re fired up to make an impact, and are impatient with solutions that don’t directly take on big issues like e-waste and energy scarcity. Many of them know what greenwashing is, even if they don’t know what it’s called. Young designers have been vaguely led to believe that designers hold the power. But when they set out to create green product solutions, they often fail—it’s just not work that can be done alone.

[…]

Many of the best sustainable design student projects I see come from interdisciplinary teams. A colleague and I recently coached a team of students who were designing a new refrigerator. Half of the team was made up of UC Berkeley engineers, the other half product designers from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The engineers investigated technologies like thermal battery innovations, essential for creating a high-efficiency appliance. But they were developing a mass-market product, not simply a new technology. The designers focused on user behavior, cultural context, aesthetics and ease of use. To succeed in the Mexican market, any environmentally friendly technologies had to be affordable for everyone. The biggest waste in fridges, though, isn’t necessarily solved by new technologies: it’s in addressing the huge amount of cold air that pours out when the door is held open. The team’s final design incorporated an insulated window and quick access tray that allows users to ponder, and then to pull out the food they use most, without opening the full door. All of this keeps the fridge closed longer, which saves energy by preventing the cold air from escaping.

Technical solutions can be dreamed up by scientists and clean tech engineers, but the viable projects incorporate beauty, form and human factors. Consider the BioLite stove, which addresses the in-home air pollution problem faced by half the world’s population. In aggregate, this is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Their HomeStove reduces fuel consumption by half, cuts smoke emissions by more than 90 percent, and improves the health of the whole community by nearly eliminating black carbon soot.

[…]

Design researcher Dan Lockton has made an exhaustive study of how to understand and adjust behavior, with an emphasis on social and environmental benefit. Lockton’s free, downloadable Design with Intent Toolkit is full of provocations for rethinking a product’s interface, such as “How simply can you structure things, to make it easier for users to do what you’d like them to do?” This is where design can excel: make it easy to switch a computer into a low-power state; make it obvious how much water is being used to fill a bath; or eliminate the option of having a TV remain in standby, “vampire power” mode.

You can design for more complex behavior, too; designing for product lifetime can help slow waste streams and allow recyclers to recover valuable materials. By providing product teardowns and guides on how to fix most common electronics and mobile devices, iFixit’s entire mission is encouraging repairability and long life for electronics, all of which is determined by the way that they’re designed.

[…]

I signed up to study industrial design in 1997, in a fit of inspired frustration. I’d freaked myself out on tours of landfills and road trips through forest clear-cuts. Squinting into the future, the design community seemed like it secretly held the reins. I believed that ecological design could change the world—all we seemed to need was the will, and some better data. As a student, I worked on projects that hooked into ecology in obvious ways: salt marsh conservation, degradable food packaging. Looking around at the time, there wasn’t much to see. Bamboo furniture, and a meltscape of recycled plastics: sustainability seen only through the lens of picking greener materials. “You’ll never find work if you’re interested in the environment,” said one well-intentioned teacher. And that’s the main difference between then and now. Engineers develop the technology for green products, and design makes them sing. For this generation of designers and engineers, this is the work worth doing.

Read the full article by Dawn Danby on Core 77.


Working Together Towards a Sustainable World: Call for Papers

Posted in Events, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on November 7th, 2011

The International Academic Forum in conjunction with its global partners is proud to announce the Second Annual Asian Conference on Sustainability, Energy and the Environment, to be held from May 3-6 2012, at the Ramada Osaka, Osaka, Japan.

CONFERENCE THEME: “Working Together Towards a Sustainable World”

Sustainability has emerged as the most important global issue for business, industry, government, and academia, and yet to begin with sustainability was associated only with environmental concerns such as energy and global warming. It is now recognized that the concept of sustainability is applicable to all areas of human society, for example in terms of social/economic justice, or responsible business practice. Issues such as poverty, hunger, education, health care, and access to markets should be a part of the evolution of any comprehensive sustainability paradigm as we work together to achieve a sustainable future.

ACSEE 2012 will address these various dimensions of human sustainability as we invite scholars from around the world to address questions and search for solutions to the complex issues surrounding sustainability in a forum encouraging serious and thoughtful exchange between academics, members of the global business community, and practitioners in the fields of human endeavor that link these.

We call on scientists from around the globe to meet and share our respective outlooks and collective wisdom on a critical issue of common concern: the pursuit of a sustainable world. It is a sincere hope that attendees will use this time together, not just for intellectual discovery and discourse, but to establish a common vision and to motivate each other to do our part in the creation of a better world. We greatly appreciate your attendance and encourage your active engagement throughout the conference.

Call for Papers Now Open: Abstract Submissions Deadline February 1 2012

Visit the website for more information.


Design with the Other 90%: Cities

Posted in Events, Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 1st, 2011


Photo: iTrump: Warwick Junction

Design with the Other 90%: CITIES features sixty projects, proposals, and solutions that address the complex issues arising from the unprecedented rise of informal settlements in emerging and developing economies. Divided into six themes—Exchange, Reveal, Adapt, Include, Prosper and Access—to help orient the visitor, the exhibition shines the spotlight on communities, designers, architects, and private, civic, and public organizations that are working together to formulate innovative approaches to urban planning, affordable housing, entrepreneurship, nonformal education, public health, and more.

Design with the Other 90%: CITIES is the second in a series of themed exhibitions that demonstrate how design can be a dynamic force in transforming and, in many cases, saving lives. The first exhibition, in 2007, Design for the Other 90%, focused on design solutions that addressed the most basic needs of the 90% of the world’s population not traditionally served by professional designers.

Organized by Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Design with the Other 90%: CITIES will be on view at the United Nations in New York City from October 17,2011 through January 9, 2012, and is available to travel in the United States and internationally beginning February 2012.

http://designother90.org/cities/home

Check out iTRUMP: Warwick Junction – a transformation of informal markets in Durban to flexible, low-cost structures and furnishings that support the local economy and provide opportunities for other industries to develop. KA


Affordable Solar- & Water-harvesting House, built by students

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 18th, 2011


Graphic by Leah Davies

WaterShed, the University of Maryland’s [winner of] the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon 2011, is a solar-powered home comprised of systems that interact with each other and the environment. A home that harvests, recycles, and reuses water, WaterShed not only conserves but produces resources with the water it captures. Inspired by the rich, complex ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the home displays harmony between modernity, tradition, and simple building strategies, balancing time-trusted best practices and cutting-edge technological solutions to achieve high efficiency performance in an affordable manner.  The home was built by a multi-disciplinary team of students over the course of two years.

About the Design:

WaterShed is a solar-powered home inspired and guided by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, interconnecting the house with its landscape, and leading its dwellers toward a more sustainable lifestyle. The house is formed by two rectangular modules capped by a split-butterfly roof that is well-suited to capturing and using sunlight and rainwater. The spacious and affordable house features:

  • constructed wetlands, filtering storm water and grey water for reuse
  • a green roof, retaining stormwater and minimizing the heat island effect
  • an optimally sized photovoltaic array, harvesting enough energy from the sun to power WaterShed year-round
  • edible landscapes, supporting community-based agriculture
  • a liquid desiccant waterfall, providing high-efficiency humidity control in the form of an indoor water feature
  • a solar thermal array, supplying enough energy to provide all domestic hot water, desiccant regeneration, and supplemental space heating
  • engineering systems, working in harmony and each acting to increase the effectiveness of the others
  • a time-tested structural system that is efficient, cost-effective, and durable.
About the Solar Decathlon:

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition challenging 20 student teams from universities around the world to design and build houses powered entirely by the sun. Over ten competition days, the teams compete in ten different events such as architecture, engineering, and affordability. The team with the highest overall score is the winner. Each day the winner of one of the ten contests is publicly announced, providing the opportunity for individual recognition among the decathlete teams. The winner of the 2011 competition will be the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency. This year’s competition [was] on public display in the solar village at West Potomac Park, Washington, DC from September 23 – October 2. The house entries will be judged in subjective contests such as market appeal, communications, and home entertainment, and objective measured tests such as comfort zone, hot water, and energy balance. The houses are on public exhibition with the intent of educating visitors about environmental issues, emerging sustainable technologies, and energy-saving measures.

http://2011.solarteam.org/


Collaboration for Urban Renewal in Quebec

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 27th, 2011

Source: Nourishing the Planet: Worldwatch Institute


Photo: Jardin St Roch by meddygarnet via flickr CC

From “Citywatch: Quebec City uses food as pioneer species of urban revival” by Wayne Roberts:

I’ve long felt that Quebec deserves to be known as one of the world’s best examples of an oppressed minority – commonly referred to as “pepsi’s” and “French Niggers of North America” as recently as the 1960s – who’ve made it economically while enriching their traditional culture and distinctive identity. My chance overnight stay gave me a glimpse of the secret formula behind this success. Ironically, it’s very close to the strategy proposed in Jeb Brugmannn’s recent book, Welcome to the Urban Revolution, arguably one of the most important studies of city possibilities since Jane Jacobs. Those running as or voting for candidates in municipal elections across Ontario this fall might want to consider ways of translating Quebec’s success here.

Dog-tired and worried about the high cost of rooms in the height of Quebec’s summer tourism, we dragged ourselves into the reception area of a hotel called L’Autre Jardin Auberge, the Other Garden Inn. The first thing we saw was a wooden sculpture from Africa. The second thing we saw was a fair trade gift store, Boutique EquiMonde. Then we saw a sign describing the place as Quebec’s first “social economy” hotel. The hotel, launched in 1996, is the money-making arm of a Quebec charity, Carrefour Tiers-Monde (Third World Meeting Place), devoted to education for children’s rights and international solidarity and to the economic revival of the surrounding neighborhood. All 28 rooms boasted fair trade towels and rugs, eco-certified writing pads, and nighttime reading booklets on sustainable tourism and responsible shopping. The breakfast nook featured organic and fair trade foods. We knew that at least we would sleep and rise with a clear conscience.

Our early morning walk showed we were in the midst of more than a socially conscious rooming district. The other garden referred to in the hotel’s name was a block away, where a campus of the University of Quebec abutted the commercial district, serving as a meeting place where students, a few homeless people and other wanderers could share a quiet and green space dominated by a tiny waterfall. This was the project that launched the renewal of this down-on-the-heels district in 1992.

[…]

Food specialty shops are the city equivalent of the pioneer species that burst forth after an area has been ravaged by a forest fire. But very quickly, signs crop up that this is more than a unique shopping experience based on the delightfully spontaneous jumble of cultural creative-and counter culture-inspired hangouts. A huge church, as was standard in Old Quebec, is at the centre of the street scene. Nearby is a public library that shares a section of the street with a low-end eatery, a budget hotel, regional headquarters for a credit union and trade union. A block away is a provincial office of the ministry of tourism and a large Mountain Equipment Co-op store. Since 2000, the entire street has been pedestrianized, given over to those who jaunt through neighborhood at a walker’s pace.

Almost all the housing in the area comes from Quebec’s iconic balconied triplexes, a mainstay of dense and affordable communities. A typical triplex has one floor for the, who pays a major portion of the mortgage with rental from two triplex tenants, thereby allowing working people to afford to buy handymen’s specials while providing tenants with low rents. What we see here is a distinctive culture of collaboration, not just a distinctive language group. In Quebec, which has pulled itself up by the bootstraps, people from many walks of life and all levels of government have learned to work together. In French, it’s called “concertation.” It doesn’t cost more. It’s about leverage from partnerships, not money.

[…]

Quebec’s traditions lend themselves to what urban expert Jeb Brugmann calls the Strategic City. It’s the antidote to the “crisis city,” torn apart by a two-way conflict that destroys both sides. It’s also the counterpoint to the “opportunity city,” where a jumble of creatives can’t break through to win support from political or economic power brokers. Brugmann, who lives in Toronto, doesn’t miss the chance to describe his adopted as the epitome of an opportunity city.

[…]

Read the full article by Wayne Roberts on Nourishing the Planet


Support Systems: Rebuilding for Resilience

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on June 30th, 2011

Source: The Fifth Estate

From “Resilience planning for wild weather and climate change” by Leon Gettler:

Queensland, the state of floods and cyclones that devastated property, has become Australia’s laboratory for sustainable building, for creating resilient homes, offices and structures in the face of climatic volatility. In a radical scheme, Grantham residents who had confronted a deadly mountain of water in the floods, have been invited to apply for land swaps to higher ground after the small southeast town was declared the first designated reconstruction area under the new Queensland Reconstruction Authority’s powers. The local council is working with reconstruction authority to create the land swaps.

Green Cross Australia, the non profit group working with developers, insurers and the Property Council of Australia to encourage sustainable thinking, plans to launch a Harden Up portal in August.

The scheme is a world first. Using social media, it aims to makes people aware of the history of the weather patterns in their region, helps prepare them to protect their homes, families and communities and encourages them to share their insights. People will be able to tap into the portal to assess the weather patterns in their suburb or town over the last 150 years, using data from the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. They will be taken on interactive multimedia tours and encouraged to share their insights through a page on Facebook. The exercise is not only about creating awareness, it’s about empowering communities and giving them the know-how and information needed to create more resilient housing.

Green Cross Australia has also run Build It Back Green workshops that seek to reduce household greenhouse gas emissions, improve community resilience through good design and engagement, invest in green school infrastructure, invest in commercial, government and public buildings, invest in green infrastructure projects and develop solutions for low income residents that reduce energy, water and waste.

Significantly, the Build It Back Green model is now being used by 7000 Victorians whose homes were destroyed in the Black Saturday fires. It is also now being taken up by residents in Perth who faced the bushfires there in January.

Read the rest of this article by Leon Gettler on The Fifth Estate.

2011 Brisbane Ideas Competition

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on December 7th, 2010

Source: Contour Newsletter

“What is missing from Brisbane?”
“What does Brisbane need for the future?”

By proposing these intentionally broad and ambiguous questions we hope to encourage debate and discussion across a wide fields about the future of our city. As a practice of ethical professionals who understand and appreciate our responsibility to the future generations who occupy our city, we hope the inaugural Brisbane Ideas competition will facilitate debate, discussion and discovery.

It is the hope that the broad entry requirements will solicit entries across a wide range of disciplines, from Architecture, Art, Science, Urban Design, Engineering among others. While we expect a wide range of entries, please ensure they are all graphically represented and meet the submission requirements. We would encourage entries from the large urban scale through to the bespoke artefact.

The final outcome of the competition will be a series of exhibitions throughout the city, opening with a one month exhibition of the grand prize winner and the honourable mentions. Held in a public venue in the heart of the central business district, adjacent to the government precinct of the city.  It is through this wide and continued exposure that the the competition will encourage discussion and debate about the proposals and the future of our city. Finally this is expected to be a fun competition.

Deadlines:
Registration – 3 January 2011
Stage 1 Submissions – 10 January 2011

Visit the competition website for more information, including prizes and how to enter. (http://competition.heise.com.au/)