an exercise in observing.

Broad(er)acre City: PROCESS II

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Objective: Finding an appropriate way of reading the ideas of Broadacre City in the present and future.

There are many things that Broadacre City is, but that people tend to forget. And then there are many things that Broadacre City isn’t, but that people think that it is. Throughout our research, we tried to clearly define the precise issues that Broadacre City addresses, which then formed the basis of our conceptual expansion of the original Broadacre City to transform into Broad(er)acre City.

We documented and mapped all the components that were specifically planned in Broadacre City, neatly compiled in “The metrics of Broadacre City”.

The metrics of Broadacre City

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Written by Fei

March 9th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Broad(er)acre City: PROCESS I

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Objective: Get under the skin of Frank Lloyd Wright (FLLW). Try to understand the underlying reasons for why he created Broadacre City the way he did.

For almost three weeks we delved into the FLLW archives in Taliesin West, digging up artifacts that directly and indirectly related to the creation of Broadacre City. We discovered that he was an avid writer during his later years and that a surprisingly large part of his written work was spent on the subject of cities, democracy and new technologies – all thoughts and musings which would directly inform his ideas around Broadacre City.

Written works by Wright (black is Broadacre related) | Source: Frank Lloyd Wright Collected Writings Vol. 1-5 | Graphic assistance: Paul Tseng

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Written by Fei

March 2nd, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Agri-Tech Catalog: grain elevator

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The hybrid building-machine that inspired a generation of designers...

Like the tractor, one of the most influential agricultural inventions is the ‘modern’ grain-elevator. Despite varying in physical form/construction these structures would generally all house the mechanisms to receive, weigh, grade, separate, store, clean, and redistribute bio-material. The consolidation of these various functions in one efficient place forever changed farms and agriculture by re-wiring the method in which bio-material was moved. Any construction or technical changes that would  increase efficiency or scale immediately affected the surrounding farming enterprises in an elevator’s catchment area.

Before, the technology of elevators allowed them to serve a greater catchment area (and thus contributed to larger consolidated farms) these ‘sentinels’ defined an era in agriculture and agrarian settlement, most notably in the towns where many elevators were erected.

Famous Elevator Row (Inglis, Manitoba Canada) -, these 25,000 bushel elevators lined early agrarian towns

Originally the location of these structures was based on a delicate balance between a large enough volume of bio-material to warrant a rail line and a given distance a farmer could travel, today’s elevators can reach mega sizes that best fit larger farm operations.

One of the 'World's Largest' grain elevators - Hutchinson, Kansas USA

On a design level, these hybrid-machine-buildings once dubbed ‘Prairie Sentinels’ were also very influential, inspiring an entire generation of designers interested in exploring a functional/engineering aesthetic.

In our current ‘age of crisis’ (for example crisis in agriculture, food security, and ecology) one might wonder what the new ‘elevator’/silo would do, how it would work, and subsequently what impacts that would have on design professions. Might the new elevator trigger a new ‘modernism’?

Some excellent resources on grain elevators can be found on a variety of Canadian Heritage Websites:

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

Verlo (photos)

National Film Board (video)

Written by Matthew

February 22nd, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Broad(er) City Exhibition Launch!

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Respiratory Urbanism: Playa Eco-Region (Hale County, Texas) ... seen from the observation deck of the Inter-Prairie Airship, a proposed regional scale of transportation in a future without roads or rail, where urbanism is allowed to evolve where ecology and human innovation want to.

The landlogics team is very excited to have finally finished our Broad(er)acre City project and exhibition, now on display at the LWR Gallery at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto (230 College Street).

The project was made possible through the Howarth-Wright Fellowship that I was awarded in May 2009, which enabled both Fei and I to travel both to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesins as well as a cross-country tour through the Great Plains in the United States (Some of our earlier blog posts will give more detailed descriptions of what we visited while on tour).

Here is a short description of the project:

Broad(er)acre City was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s urban ambitions to radically reconsider status quo cities in a time of crisis. Like Broadacre City we have considered future urban potential by projecting the spatial impacts of fundamental social changes. However, our human-induced crises stretch beyond the borders of our local ecologies, and in our current time of broader crises one cannot afford to think about solutions based on socio/political rights alone. If we are to continue developing our civilizations around cities, we need to design them with agendas broader than commerce, transportation and property in mind. Broad(er)acre City begins exploring those broader issues by challenging the traditional anthropocentric bias of urban design and takes the position that cities can be designed to achieve eco-system symbiosis.

For us the concept of eco-system symbiosis entails the development of both a productive (ecological surplus) and interactive relationship within a given ecoregion. Our design objective was to test our concept of eco-system symbiosis over three separate ecoregions, providing the organization/urban foundation for a 2500 person settlement. Viability of this settlement required both nutritional sustenance and the establishment of a primary local economy. Meeting these viability requirements could only be done by tapping into existing ecological processes and enhancing them in order to benefit from a net surplus.

As our test ground we chose the Great Plains (temperate grasslands) of North America. The temperate grasslands being the most human-converted eco-region in the world, simultaneously as the Great Plains are experiencing property right changes, it was an ideal location to experiment on. City speciation emerges as each project demanded unique technological, social and logistic solutions to a design works with the ecology in order to achieve interactive viability.

Below are some pictures from the installation completed:

Broad(er)acre City finally up...with our first visitors!

The three urban-species displays

Breakdown of what each of the urban-species displays contains

The exhibition introduction and our 144 page 'bible' of research

And to finish off here are the other posters…

Non-equilibrium Urbanism ... seen from Polli-Nations & Wetlands, just outside Kilojoule Fields

...and last but not least Clockwork Urbanism seen from atop the TG Crane with a view out to a Spring prairie fire in the distance

More details about the show and its content will be uploaded soon.

Unpacking the Good Food Box v.2

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So here we are again, a month and a half ago when we got our first Good Food Box, I’ve decided to document the unpacking of this round’s food box too, as there are so many yummy things here to talk about.

So much goodness in one $17 box!

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Written by Fei

November 4th, 2010 at 7:55 pm

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Biotech: A Casual Primer

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So what is biotechnology?

Starting with the basics, the literal translation of the word is the combination of Biology (study of living organisms) + Technology (tools and techniques used to produce things). So essentially “biotech” could cover a rather large range of possibilities and under this general definition clearly include a number of inventions from the past, that we might not normally recognize as products of biotechnology.

Biotech? You bet...but of the pre-modern kind.

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Written by Luca

October 26th, 2010 at 12:55 am

An Apple Picking Adventure in Toronto’s Greenbelt

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French Pastoral Poster - Cataloging Apple Types and Lineage

Thanksgiving weekend (the Canadian edition) for my family is of course always about turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and the like, but it also means our annual outing to an apple orchard. This is when we would stock up on as many bags of apples as we could carry out of the orchard to be stored in our “cantina” (or cold-room) for the Fall and Winter.

This year was no exception except for the fact that it was Fei’s first time! We grabbed our dogs and our neighbors and packed into a couple cars and headed out West.

View Apple Picking 2010 in a larger map

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Written by Matthew

October 13th, 2010 at 1:54 am

How to improve Toronto’s Nuit Blanche for 2011

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The annual event of Nuit Blanche has come and gone, with much praise and pat on backs. Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star called it “one of the best to date“! Despite the optimism though, there is plenty of room for improvement. Through our shared experience of Nuit Blanche 2010, we compiled a list of ten points, big and small, that we believe will improve future Nuit Blanche events in Toronto.

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Written by Fei

October 3rd, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Pecha Kucha at the Harbourfront Centre: The Perfect Client

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There is no more roundabout way of talking about the perfect client than having 7 designers and architects on the spot in Pecha Kucha style.

The list of talkers on the 24th of September @ the Harbourfront Centre:
Paul Raff – Paul Raff Studio
Kathryn Walter – FELT Studio
Alissa North – North Design Office
Brian Rudy – Moriyama & Teshima Architects
Davide Tonizzo – designD
Philip Hastings – Gow Hastings Architects
Tania Bortolotto – BORTOLOTTO architecture interior design

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Written by Fei

September 25th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Unpacking the Good Food Box!

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I have no idea why I am so excited, but I am, and I would like to share my excitement with you about a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) that my brother just joined via OCADSU (OCAD’s Student Union that is). The program has a bi-weekly pickup, and this week we bought the family-sized version ($17). I just brought home the spoils in a big bag and unpacked it onto the kitchen table.

Broccoli, onion, potatoes, beets, strawberries... you name it!

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Written by Fei

September 23rd, 2010 at 8:40 pm