Archive for the ‘Design & Speculation’ Category
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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:
National Film Board (video)
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:
And to finish off here are the other posters…
More details about the show and its content will be uploaded soon.
This post is an internal discussion on who, and what forces the shape of cities.
Although architects, urban planners and urban designers claim to professionally hold the title of spatial designers (as I would like to call them), they operate (willingly or not) under the sphere of a more influential force – that of technology. Reading this article in Wired magazine while also researching Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City this summer has led me to believe that recent forms of urbanisms and infrastructures are far from being “planned” and “designed” by spatial designers – spatial designers are merely designing responses to the new needs of spatial organization that the uses of new technologies put upon our environment. In other words, these needs are not generated by spatial designers, but by innovators.
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