Developing an Urban Ecosystem

12 Nov

As society and culture undergo changes, both artificially and organically, the paradigmatic philosophy behind processes of mental conception morph as well. In the case of architecture, the design methodology transmutes to accommodate for the emergence of new necessities, materials, technologies, and changes within the societal environment. Currently, architecture is responding to the latest- and perhaps the most influential- shift in world events in recent decades: the climate change.

The climate change presents the world with a crisis, but to the design world, there is an opportunity. The architectural potential in the response to the climate crisis is manifold- there is a refinement of technology, innovation, materiality, and building formation. Since technology advances every day, there is a perpetual flow of new methods that can be applied to design for both visual and functional purposes.

Since technique and technology have concomitantly advanced, there is the potential to go deep into nature to extrapolate and investigate the DNA of life. This therefore establishes a bond between the organic and artificial, extending man through technology. Yet there are several issues concerning the status of technology and its advancement, in regards to both technique itself, and its external applications.

The situation of “technique” has been overturned with respect to the past, whereby it is no longer man dominating nature through technique, but rather technique is using man to grow and become more powerful. This extensive technological intervention permits a new kind of collective memory dominated by the potential interrelationship between the nature and artificial; it is therefore not limited to the relationship between man and technology, but the broader application on a macro-scale to the natural existence of the Earth.

Technology can be used to monitor the Earth and all its systems within, and it has been decidedly determined that the Earth is ill. There is a disparately imbalanced distribution of the world’s resources, supplying excess resources and energy consumption to the wealthy while disregarding the poor. The actual distribution of the density of people is also inequitable, as in the case of Bombay, where 90% of its population live on only 10% of the land, developing relentless slums with abhorrent conditions. These sorts of issues require an architectural response; solutions can be designed to restore a proper connection between the natural and artificial landscapes of the world. Yet the issues are particularly salient within cities.

Urban Decay_Year :: Population

For the first time on Earth, the urban population will outnumber the rural; over 50% of the human population lives in cities, which account for 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of greenhouse emissions. The ecological footprint maintains a highly unsustainable model; an excess of waste is artificially produced, which must be limited since nature does not inherently produce its own waste. There must therefore be a physical reconnection of these separate elements; something has to be between the natural and artificial ecosystems.

To demonstrate how architecture can temper the disparate ecosystems of the natural and artificial, the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale focused on the topic of sustainable design. They attempted to establish a “green economy,” where there was a more radical shift from real industrial production to a new kind of societal condition that pays more attention to landscape and nature. They addressed four major points that can begin to establish the bridge between organic and artificial: abating land consumption, reusing abandoned urban voids, uniting economy and landscape, and using the virtual network to address natural issues. Yet the most comprehensive sustainable aspect of the pavilion was the design of the pavilion itself; it used solar heat, manual movement, and water to power cooling systems within the exhibition, creating a net zero energy comfort prototype.

Italian Pavilion_Manual Function

The trajectory of man’s technological interventions within nature has resulted in both a climate crisis and urbanistic crisis of irrevocable proportions. Therefore, the architecture community has been responding through a new system of technological advancement and design, applying sustainable methods to achieve more eco-friendly results. Yet the problem cannot be solved by focusing just on the scale of the building, but rather the scale of the city. The whole urban ecosystem has become so disconnected with the natural ecosystem, and therefore must be reunited again.

Italia_Biennale Pavilion

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