McGregor Coxall to design “bird airport” wetland park in Tianjin
Australian practice McGregor Coxall had the winning scheme to transform a degenerate landfill site into a new migratory-bird wetland sanctuary park in Tianjin, China. The Asian Development Bank and the Port of Tianjin co-launched the park design competition in response to the increasing loss of... View full entry
American firms aren't doing enough to reduce their carbon footprint, according to new report
“We are simply not making significant strides in crucial metrics that predict building performance,” states Greg Mella, FAIA, Director of Sustainable Design at SmithGroupJJR and co-chair of the AIA 2030 Working Group, in a new report that gauges the progress made by firms voluntarily... View full entry
A thriving ecosystem of shorebirds calls the LA River's concrete bottom home
“By accident, we’ve created the perfect habitat there. People don’t think about that because they think that this part of the river is ugly and concrete, but it’s a critically important habitat for these shorebirds.” [...]
As the city makes its decisions about the river’s future, it is called upon to be sensitive to all life that has managed to grow around it, despite its not-so-green surroundings.
For more on the LA River's redevelopment:Will Gehry's L.A. River plan result in water savings?Gruen Associates, Mia Lehrer, Oyler Wu appointed to design L.A. River Greenway in San Fernando ValleyWhat's happening with Frank Gehry's masterplan for the LA River?Before the masterplan gets underway... View full entry
Nearly a quarter of the Great Barrier reef has been killed by warming oceans
Surveys have revealed that 93% of the almost 3,000 individual reefs have been touched by bleaching, and almost a quarter – 22% – of coral over the entire Great Barrier Reef has been killed by this bleaching event...
Since tourists usually go diving and snorkelling in the middle and southern sections, there are plenty of spectacular corals for them to see there. But they shouldn’t be fooled by that – the reef is in the midst of a major environmental catastrophe.
— the Guardian
"Many scientists are now saying it is almost too late to save it. Strong and immediate action is required to alleviate water pollution and stop the underlying cause: climate change."For other news from the front lines of our warming planet, check out these links:America's first "climate refugees"... View full entry
Learning from our "biological elders": take a look at this short documentary on "Biomimicry"
The idea is that perhaps we should be looking at these mentors, at these biological elders. They have figured out how to create a sustainable world. So rather than inventing it from scratch, why don’t we take our cues from them?
Watch the full video here, "brought to you" by none other than Leo DiCaprio:For more information on biomimicry, take a look at some past Archinect articles or visit the documentary website:"Architecture Follows Nature" lecture focuses on biomimicry and collaborative researchHuman organ-mimicking... View full entry
Rikers Island is an environmental (and human) catastrophe
Rikers is built on a landfill. The ground underneath the facilities is unstable and the decomposing garbage emits poisonous methane gas. In addition to extreme heat and poor air quality, flooding and crumbling infrastructure pose a serious threat, especially when superstorms like Hurricane Sandy strike. As the violence and human rights violations worsen, so do the environmental circumstances surrounding Rikers.
The article details flood-risk, extreme heat, a lack of air circulation and other air quality issues among other problems plaguing the prison.For related content, check out some of these links:How one California prison is betting on architecture to decrease recidivism ratesArchitecture of... View full entry
Global warming may be much more catastrophic (and happen much quicker) than we imagined
An influential group of scientists led by James Hansen, the former NASA scientist often credited with having drawn the first major attention to climate change in 1988 congressional testimony, has published a dire climate study that suggests the impact of global warming will be quicker and more catastrophic than generally envisioned.
— the Washington Post
James Hansen, an indisputably important climate scientist and activist, alongside a group of other influential experts, has released a new, 52-page paper that revises much of mainstream expectations for global warming. Hansen has called it the most important work he's done.A synthesis of... View full entry
The ecological footprint of your Netflix binge
The impact of data centers—really, of computation in general—isn’t something that really galvanizes the public, partly because that impact typically happens at a remove from everyday life. The average amount of power to charge a phone or a laptop is negligible, but the amount of power required to stream a video or use an app on either device invokes services from data centers distributed across the globe, each of which uses energy to perform various processes [...]
— the Atlantic
"Still, it seems weird that most people—most engineers building the platforms people use every day, even—lack the basic comprehension that different online activities have different energy impacts, or that an individual’s online activities have energy impact at all beyond a laptop’s... View full entry
Canada's 2016 Venice Biennale theme digs into the country's influence in resource extraction
Canada's national theme for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale will be a multimedia investigation of the country's resource extraction industry, as announced earlier this week by the Canada Council for the Arts. Titled "Extraction", the project profiles and "radically rethinks" Canada's rise as... View full entry
MMYST: a crowd-funded, human-animal hybrid building by François Roche and Camille Lacadee of New-Territories/M4
"What we propose here is a different format for making architecture," Camille Lacadee states in a deadpan tone, "with multiple clients, multiple users, backers, lovers, following a bottom-up mode of exchanges and desire." A robotic arm extends into the frame and offers her a bowl of bird's nest... View full entry
Drought, climate change, misuse: SPIEGEL takes an in-depth look at the global water shortage
It is a region where America, the global superpower, looks more like a developing nation [...]. Indeed, the water crisis is becoming a humanitarian one -- because the absurd agricultural policy of many arid regions in California is being carried to extremes. More recklessly than elsewhere, wetlands in the state are being dried out to make irrigated agriculture possible.
Agriculture makes up 2 percent of California's GDP, and yet it consumes 80 percent of the state's water.
More on California's drought:Selling residents on a water park during a droughtWill California's drought turn the state into something like the Australian outback?Coating the LA reservoir in "shade balls" will save 300M gallons of waterCalifornia drought sucks San Jose's Guadalupe river... View full entry
Our infrastructure is expanding to include animals
municipal infrastructure is being expanded to include living creatures. In many ways, of course, this is simply the contemporary urbanization of a practice that goes back millennia. However, the ensuing juxtapositions – of 21st-century landscapes and cities being maintained not by high-tech machines or by specialty equipment but by neo-medieval groups of trained animals – can be quite jarring. Animal labour is once more becoming an explicit component of the modern metropolis
The absolute premise, and conclusion, here is that human urbanism is ineluctably woven within all animal ecologies, and that harnessing inter-species relationships within urban systems can be advantageous for every bit of the food web. A few instances from the piece are:landscaping llamas for... View full entry
Book review: Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable Future
I have to admit to a degree of wariness when I first opened Designed for the Future: 80 Practical Ideas for a Sustainable World, a new book edited by Jared Green and published by Princeton Architectural Press. The introduction makes some bold claims for a rather slim book with little text. “We... View full entry
Housing developments change puma behavior
Female pumas kill more prey but consume less when their territories bump into human development, UC Santa Cruz researchers report in a new study based on monitoring more than two dozen pumas in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The presence of humans -- homes, roads, and other development -- means pumas are fearful and stay on the move rather than returning to a kill site to fully consume prey, the study finds
The research utilized data from tracking devices that record not only a puma's movement but also increases in speed and other behavior that signifies hunting behavior. Looking at the actions of 30 animals, the scientists were able to discern, among other things, that, "Females killed 36 percent... View full entry
Flora of the Future & Projective Ecologies
Landscape architects — and anyone else who works directly with vegetation — need to acknowledge that a wide variety of so-called novel or emergent ecosystems are developing before our eyes.
— Places Journal
Places is featuring two chapters from the new book Projective Ecologies, edited by Chris Reed and Nina-Marie Lister and co-published by Actar and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.In "The Flora of the Future," botanist Peter Del Tredici argues that the native plants movement has got it all... View full entry