THE SHAPE OF WATER

From Jason King’s Landscape+Urbanism site

 

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“Rendering of Houston wetland channel showing ecological wetland, conservation areas, and recreation trails” p. 90-91

An amazing resource posted on ASLA’s The Dirt (here) focuses on Design Guidelines for Urban Wetlands, specifically what shapes are optimal for performance. Using simulations and physical testing to investigate hydraulic performance the team from the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) at MIT. Led by Heidi Nepf, Alan Berger and Celina Balderas Guzman along with a team including Tyler Swingle, Waishan Qiu, Manoel Xavier, Samantha Cohen, and Jonah Susskind, the project aims to have a practice application in design guidance informed by research. From their site:js_plan_typical-01

“Although constructed wetlands and detention basins have been built for stormwater management for a long time, their design has been largely driven by hydrologic performance. Bringing together fluid dynamics, landscape architecture, and urban planning, this research project explored how these natural treatment systems can be designed as multi-functional urban infrastructure to manage flooding, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity, and create amenities in cities.”
Starting in the beginning by outlining ‘The Stormwater Imperative’, the above goal is explained in more depth, and issues with how we’ve tackled these problems are also discussed, such as civil-focused problem solving or lack of scalability, but also explore the potential for how, through intentional design, these systems “can create novel urban ecosystems that offer recreation, aesthetic, and ecological benefits.” (1)

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The evolution that has resulted in destruction of wetlands through urbanization, coupled with deficient infrastructure leads to issues like flooding, water pollution due to the loss of the natural holding and filtering capacity of these systems and the increased flows. However, as pointed out by the authors, this can be an opportunity, as constructed wetlands “can partially restore some lost ecosystem services, especially in locations where wetlands do not currently exist.” (5)

The modeled flow patterns are also interesting, showing the differentiation from fast, regular, slow flows, along with any Eddy’s that were shown in dye testing using the flumes.

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Check it out and see what you think.  The report is available as a online version via ISSUU or via PDF download from the LCAU site, where there are also some additional resources.  All images in this post are from these reports and should be credited to the LCAU team.

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Trevor Manuel – Minister of Planning: South Africa

From Daily Maverick – an interview with Trevor Manuel Minister of Planning – South Africa – on what the planning commission means and what it intends for working on South Africa’s extremely unequal demographics and poverty.

ryland fisher Trevor Manuel interview.jpg

Interviewing politicians can be difficult, because they hardly ever give a straight answer, and Minister for Planning in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, is a consummate politician. But in a wide-ranging interview, he spoke as openly as possible, among others, about how he has won over sceptics over the years, first as minister of finance and now as planning minister, about his displeasure at ministers whose utterances go against the Constitution, his anger at the policemen who killed a Mozambican man in Daveyton last week, his resignation in support of Thabo Mbeki and how his current job is very different from his previous one as minister of finance. He remained hesitant to speak about his future, however. By RYLAND FISHER.

We interviewed Manuel in his office at Parliament on Friday morning, a few hours after he had hosted a report-back meeting in the Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchells Plain where he spoke about the need to rekindle the activism that was prevalent in the 1980s.

Below is an edited extract of the interview:

RF: When you were appointed minister in charge of planning in President Zuma’s Cabinet, there were obviously some sceptics who did not quite understand what it is that you had to do. Now that the National Development Plan has taken centre stage in our political life and, indeed, our economy, do you feel vindicated?

TM: I don’t actually set out with that objective. I think that too frequently we start out not being given the benefit of the doubt. What it entails is just working hard to get things right and if, in the process, you disprove the sceptics, that’s okay, but you start out to get things right.

In the last few years of Madiba, in spite of the fact that many people told him he was crazy to appoint me minister of finance, I did not set out to prove the sceptics wrong, but I hoped that through my efforts I would be able to win the trust of Madiba and the organisation that gave me the opportunity to do so. What is important is that one is able to take decisions and learn in the process.

I understand very clearly that if the only thing you want to do in a position of leadership is to please people, the quality of your leadership is going to be severely compromised. If you try and do things that go against the grain of your belief system, then you will be unhappy and feel compromised.

If you want to deal with these issues, you have to ask questions constantly about what your reference points are, about what is your value system. Some people use the term “compass”: so where are you heading and why?

The ability to think past ideological rigidity is also important.

If I take these points and try and use them to answer the question about the National Development Plan, it makes for an interesting read.

The commission [National Planning Commission] itself is an interesting construct. I’ll be bold enough to say that my initial thought was to have the commission structured more along the lines of the Indian Planning Commission which has about half a dozen ministers on it. It is chaired by the prime minister and often the president or the deputy president could chair it and I would do the spade work inside. I lost that battle, and it was not about wanting to be a prime minister. It was about wanting to follow a construct whose relationship to implementation would be understood.

The second thing about the plan and the commission is that its composition actually lives out !ke e: ǀxarra ǁke (Khoisan for “diverse people unite”). It is quite a diverse group of people and that’s a real strength.

When we approached people to participate, on the recommendation of the president, some of them said: “Why are you approaching me? I’m not even an active member of the ANC.” However, everyone accepted. There were some people who felt rejected by the ANC. In putting this together, a lot of these people got a new lease on life and have given the commission a new lease on life. It has been very important for that reason.

The third issue is that, in many ways, when, 13 months into the process, the diagnostic report was released, it was a coming out for the commission. If people thought it was a lapdog, then the release of the diagnostic report – which deals with issues such as the unevenness of the public service, the breakdown of unity, the need to tackle corruption, etc. – spoke volumes about the way so many South Africans feel.

But it also spoke to the fact that the president, in inviting the commission to take a long-term, independent view, was actually not curtailing that. There was no censorship about the views of the commission. He allowed it to happen and has built on the momentum created by the National Planning Commission. It is going to be quite important because it was a commission started on his watch and it has been allowed to generate the unity and momentum. It is something that he wants to see through and that is very positive.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center Opens to the Public

A deeply embedded building which fits it s site and use  from and innovative pair of architects who see buildings, landscapes and infrastructure as serving people via arch daily

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

Accompanied by Mayor Bloomberg yesterday in an early morning ribbon cutting, New York City-based practice Weiss/Manfredi celebrated the grand opening of the new Botanic Garden Visitor Center. Embedded into an existing hillside at the Garden’s northeast corner, the sinuous glass building appears as a seamless extension to the existing topography as it leads into the 52-acre garden. In addition, the $28-million Visitor Center incorporates numerous environmentally sustainable features—most notably a 10,000-square-foot living roof—that are aimed toward earning LEED Gold certification. The project has been recognized by the New York City Public Design Commission with an Award for Excellence in Design.

Continue reading after the break for the architects’ description.

   

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The 20,000-square-foot Visitor Center was conceived as a new threshold between the city and Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBC) that transitions from an architectural presence at the street to a structured landscape within the Garden. The Visitor Center invites visitors from Washington Avenue into the Garden via a curved glass trellis before opening into major garden precincts like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and Cherry Esplanade.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The primary entry from Washington Avenue is visible from the street; an additional entry from the elevated Overlook and Ginkgo Allée at the top of the berm bisects the Visitor Center, revealing framed views of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, and descends through a stepped ramp to the main level of the Garden.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The curved glass walls of the Visitor Center offer veiled views into the Garden, their fritted glass filtering light and deterring bird strikes. In contrast to the southern face of the building, the north side is built into a preexisting berm, which increases thermal efficiency. Its clerestory glazing—along with the fritted glass on the south walls— minimizes heat gain and maximizes natural illumination. A geoexchange system heats and cools the interior spaces, and a series of rain gardens collect and filter runoff to improve storm-water management.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The leaf-shaped living roof hosts over 40,000 plants—grasses, spring bulbs, and perennial wildflowers—adding a new experimental landscape to the Garden’s collection.

© Albert Vecerka/Esto

The green roof will change throughout the year, literally transforming the nature of the architecture each season. The Washington Avenue side of the building features a pleated copper roof that echoes the Garden’s landmarked 1917 McKim, Mead & White Administration Building and will ultimately weather to green.

Nearly 60,000 plants were installed around the Visitor Center, including cherry, magnolia, and tupelo trees; viburnums; native roses; and three rain gardens full of water-loving plants. In combination with the green roof, this ambitious installation seamlessly weaves the Visitor Center into the green tapestry of the Garden.

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What is a Smart City and How Can a City Boost Its IQ?

A further definition of  a  smart city by  MAGGIE COMSTOCK  on Sustainable Cities and some commentary it has drawn that a sustainable city is more than the sum of its hardware and is essential that it be based on its peoples and their resilience – see Local resilience for sustainable societies

Earlier this month, the World Bank hosted a Smart Cities for All workshop in Washington, DC which convened experts from the United Nations, academia, government agencies, non-profits and industry. The purpose of the workshop was to share insights and experiences of equipping cities with the tools for intelligent growth. Additionally, the forum established a public-private partnership for collaboration in pursuit of shared goals for global sustainability. But what does it mean to be a “smart city”? Is this distinction only reserved for cities starting from scratch? Can an established city boost its IQ?

Source: Clearing the air in Atlanta: Transit and smart growth or conventional economics?, Alain Bertaud, 2002. http://alain-bertaud.com/

First, we must take a step back to reflect upon what it means to be a “smart city.” While there is no official definition, many have contributed to this debate. Industry leaders, such as Seimens and IBM, believe that stronger use of technology and data will enable government leaders to make better informed decisions. Whereas others, including the Sustainable Cities Blog’s very own Dan Hoornweg, consider the social aspects as a component of what it means to be a smart city. In his blog, “Smart Cities for Dummies,” published last November, Dan contends: “At its core a smart city is a welcoming, inclusive city, an open city. By being forthright with citizens, with clear accountability, integrity, and fair and honest measures of progress, cities get smarter.” Though I agree with both the data-driven and socially-conscious approaches, I’d like to propose my own definition of a smart city.

At its most basic level, a city is comprised of a government (in some form), people, industry, infrastructure, education and social services. A smart city thoughtfully and sustainably pursues development with all of these components in mind with the additional foresight of the future needs of the city. This approach allows cities to provide for its citizens through services and infrastructure that address both the current needs of the population as well as for projected growth.

Crowdsourcing Smart Cities

More on Crowd-sourced Smart Cities and why  this is about the “internet of people” and not the “internet of things” and reiterates the position of Saskia Sassen in her op-ed Open Source Urbanism by Guido Stevens on cosent via Scoop.it Urban Life

The Internet of Things can be used to create a surveillance society, but also to empower bottom-up community building.

Crowdsourcing Smart Cities

Smart Cities is a catchy concept used by big IT vendors like IBM, to market their technology vision. A smart city is what happens when the city you live in (a dumb city?) is upgraded with a specific new infrastructure:The Internet Of Things.

Imagine a pixie dust of networked sensors sprinkled on everything you see. Imagine how everything is outfitted with sensors and an Internet connection: every door, every light, every solar panel, every car, every intersection. Every coffee machine and dishwasher. Every piece of clothing in shops, and on your body.

Now imagine what you can do if you had access to all that information. Yes, that’s Big Brother and yes, your protest is noted but it’s gonna happen anyway. Imagine you are Big Brother, or, less ominous: the mayor of this smart city.

You can see traffic jams and, if you buy enough computers, you can predict traffic jams. You can see and modulate in real time the electricity flows, water use, waste disposal. You can optimize the planning and routing of public services to harmonize with the ebb and flow of activities in this living city. It’s like Sim City for real.

Santa Monica Complete Green Street Breaks Ground

From bustler

The Ocean Park Boulevard Complete Green Street will be a model for future sustainable green street projects in Santa Monica as well as elsewhere in Southern California. In itself, it will stitch together a previously divided neighborhood, conserve water, protect the ocean from runoff, and provide a vibrant pedestrian and bicycle avenue to and from the beach. As a template for change, it will show how streets designed for automobiles can be transformed into inviting parts of the urban landscape

Image courtesy of John Kaliski Architects

Image courtesy of John Kaliski Architects

Designed by John Kaliski Architects, in conjunction with Lawrence Moss & Associates, Landscape Architects, and Kimley-Horn & Associates, Civil Engineers, the Ocean Park Boulevard Complete Green Street recently broke ground on December 12, 2011. When completed in early 2013, it will be the longest complete green street in the City of Santa Monica, and one of the longest in Southern California.

Image courtesy of John Kaliski Architects

Image courtesy of John Kaliski Architects

ONE PRIZE: Water as the 6th Borough – Winners Announced

Terreform ONE has announced the winners of ONE PRIZE: Water as the 6th Borough, the open international design competition to envision the sixth borough of New York City.
ONE PRIZE is an annual design and science award to promote green design in cities. The 2011 edition turned its focus to New York and its waterways, re-imagining recreational space, public transportation, local industry, and native environment in the city. Contestants proposed designs for the NYC BLUE NETWORK and the E3NYC CLEAN TECH WORLD EXPO by expanding waterborne transportation and linking the five boroughs with a series of green transit hubs as well as providing in-water recreation, water-oriented educational, cultural and commercial activities, and demonstrations of clean technology and renewable energy.

Detail from the submission board of the competition-winning concept NY Parallel Networks

Click above image to view slideshow
Detail from the submission board of the competition-winning concept NY Parallel Networks

The jury panel included Amanda Burden, New York City Planning Commissioner; Charles McKinney, Principal Urban Designer NYC Parks Department; Michael Colgrove of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Helena Durst of the Durst Organization; Matthias Hollwich of Architizer;  Bjarke Ingels of BIG; Roland Lewis of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; Roberta Weisbrod of Sustainable Ports; Kate Ascher of Buro Happold Consulting; James Corner of Field Operations; David Gouverneur of the University of Pennsylvania; and Victoria Marshall of Parsons School of Design.

Prizes were given to many young architects and designers who submitted the four selected entries. The grand prize winners, Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari are both recent graduates of the University of Toronto. The three honorable mention teams are the Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design led by Kevin Bone, an entrepreneurial design practice RUX Design, New York, and a group of recent graduates from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS – Board (PDF)
Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

NY Parallel Networks, stood out to the jury with a synthesis of economy, environment, transportation, and recreation in a versatile, attractive proposal. A scaleable, flexible design, Parallel Networks remained compellingly feasible with an exciting public space integrated with energy production, water cleansing, and habitat creation.

Commissioner Burden praised NY Parallel Networks with these words, “The winning entry, NY Parallel Networks, is very rich proposal that takes on all of the major themes of the City’s new waterfront plan, Vision 2020. The design includes an exciting public recreational space in the Bronx integrated with energy production, water cleansing, and enhancement of natural habitats. In addition, the proposal referenced the needs of the maritime industry, and included boat tie up and maritime services on an artificial reef.”

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

WINNER: NY PARALLEL NETWORKS by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari, Canada

ONE PRIZE’s multifaceted design brief brought in a wide variety of proposals, and the jury selected three honorable mentions to represent the three general groups of entries: Developing water-borne culture; Envisioning a comprehensive transportation system; and addressing intensifying environmental challenges.

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Design for Resilience – The Case of Flood Mitigation (via Praxis in Landscape Architecture)

More and more we hear about resilience in the face of the unknown rather than “big scale planning”

Design for Resilience - The Case of Flood Mitigation What do you do when historical data is no longer useful for predicting the future? Climate change is making the already-difficult proposition of predicting environmental phenomena even harder. Consider societal efforts to manage the flood system. The concept of a 100-year flood is based on the idea that history is useful indicator of future states and "most likely" scenarios. A 2010 paper by Gersonius et al.* tackles the question of how we might … Read More

via Praxis in Landscape Architecture

Winners of the 2011 Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition

Via bustler the future is green –  algae green

An ambitious zero-energy retrofit proposal for a downtown Los Angeles federal building has just won the first prize of the 8th Annual Next Generation Design Competition, presented by Metropolis magazine in partnership with the General Services Administration. The brief of the competition’s 2011 edition asked architects and planners to design a Zero Environmental Footprint for this 1,172,746 sqft, eight-story, 1960s energy-guzzling federal building, considering any scale of intervention—from windows to light fixtures to interior spaces to building envelope to urban context. The jury praised the innovative approach of the winning entry “Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution.”

The Winning Idea A Retrofit Solution Energy-Production Envelope Systems: The dominant features of the Process Zero retrofit are apparent on the skin: solar arrays on the roof and built into the facade would power electric and thermal heating systems, while panels of microalgae in thin glass tubes would serve as a photobioreactor, adding up to 9 percent of the building’s power supply.

The Winning Idea A Retrofit Solution Energy-Production Envelope Systems: The dominant features of the Process Zero retrofit are apparent on the skin: solar arrays on the roof and built into the facade would power electric and thermal heating systems, while panels of microalgae in thin glass tubes would serve as a photobioreactor, adding up to 9 percent of the building’s power supply.

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Spatial layout, urban movement & human transaction (via The power of the network)

Tim Stonor of Space Syntax gives a detailed account of the role of design in achieving sustainable mobility and all that goes with it in cities

Spatial layout, urban movement & human transaction Download my presentation "Designing mobility for democracy: the role of cities" #demobility Thursday, 14th April 2011 from 1pm to 5pm NYU, Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium 60 Washington Square South, New York Summary Given the title of this event: "Designing mobility", I want to turn to the subject of design and the role of architects. The key message of this presentation is that cities need architects, not only to design the building … Read More

via The power of the network