Notes Workshop Green From Scratch - Caofeidian

Project BARC

NOTES FROM SHENZHEN WORKSHOP "GREEN FROM SCRATCH"
Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Architecture and Urban Planning 2009
4/12/2009 – 5/12/2009

SESSION ONE: GREEN LIVING PART ONE
PRESENTATION: Green Living, Neville Mars
Neville Mars outlines a dissatisfaction with existing models for green cities, and the tension between
the ideal and the pragmatic. At the same time that a common imaginary is needed, the current
solutions are overly technology-driven. Excessive attention to hardware is failing to address the
larger and longer term issues of how to create an environment which stimulates green consumers.
Neville turns to the theory of dynamic density, dynamic diversity and dynamic demand, and ends
with Jiang Jun’s interpretation of the current approach in Caofeidian (CFD) as expressing the remnants
of a centrally-planned economy when China is at the moment of moving to a demand-driven
system.
--

DISCUSSION
The discussion starts with Almere, which was given a brief description. Almere was planned in
parts with the idea that one section could be built and allow a second part to be very different. Unusually,
Almere started with the periphery to gain sufficient urban mass then to create an attractive
centre. However Almere remains car-based and heavily dependent on Amsterdam.
Discussion turns to the question of deurbanisation, the pressure upon arable land and agricultural
demands, and transport. Building and agriculture are identified as the major emitters of CO2.
Urbanus presents some findings relating to the urban sprawl of Shanghai which eats up the surrounding
areas, dividing fields and destroying natural environments.
The question emerges as to whether it is correct to pursue urbanisation so ardently and uncritically.
Twin forces are noted at work: the pull or allure of the city, but also the push from (dysfunctional)
rural environments. Balance requires that the non-city is equally addressed and made effective.
There is concern that the countryside in China is being marginalised, directly through encroaching
urbanisation, and in the Chinese imagination though a process of (inappropriate) idealisation.
However, stasis is not an option as mankind is relentless in his desire to change his surroundings.
Continuing urbanisation is inevitable in China, where there is strong backing from both the government
and market mechanisms.
The tension over land for agriculture and the production of food is given some treatment, including
the consideration of food miles, and the reductions available from cities learning to feed themselves.
The model of fingers of farming stretching into the city is suggested, alongside other concepts
for urban-farming hybrids.
The paradoxes and conflicts of urbanisation are drawn out, demonstrated by how in the US, the first
country to achieve a majority urbanised population, at that moment created the suburb. Beyond the
physical aspects of urbanisation there is the issue of what constitutes urban life. According to research
from The Why Factory, 70% of Taipei residents would prefer to live in the countryside.
It is perhaps inappropriate to take the current desires of China as the starting point for designing
into the future.

10 points are elicited as being key issues to consider in the creation of future green cities:

- the unknown
- technology not layout
- choice
- quality and longevity of the environment
- education
- equality
- harmony
- profitability, cost effectiveness and affordability
- speed and efficiency
- the behaviour of land value

SESSION 2: GREEN LIVING PART TWO
PRESENTATIONS: The Green Dream, Pirjo Haikola
China Hills, Paul Kroese

Pirjo Haikola presents some of the swirling problems of greenwash, green hype, and green as a religion,
all relating to the lack of scientific language amongst loaded terms and concepts such as
natural, artificial (“we are all artificial”), technology, dangerous, responsibility, shopping et al.
The question of energy consumption is set in the context of energy wastage (62%), and the reality
of enormous energy abundancy via the sun. Less abundant however are the earth’s essential resources,
as numerous elements crucial for current building practices and fertiliser production are set
to diminish rapidly in the coming decades.

A movie of the Manhattan foodprint demonstrates the extremity of the food implications if food
self-sufficiency is to be taken seriously by cities. The demands for the production of animal feed is
the most land consumptive.

A response is found however through scientific approaches to the data-driven appraisal of problems.
These include hydroponic farming, light-emitting bacteria, and giant photo-voltaic lilies which float
on the oceans to power neighbouring cities.

The Green Dream presentation is followed by Paul Kroese presenting the MVRDV project China
Hills. This shows again the problem of land consumption and the conflict with agricultural productivity,
this time specifically in the context of China. A solution is found in rippling the land to increase
the surface area, producing a series of cones each comprising stacked agricultural and urban
programme.

--
DISCUSSION
The presentations raise the question of whether technology can save the day. The China Hills project
it is noted is reminiscent - though inverted - of the Mao Zedong approach of “removing mountains
to create plains for farming”. The political aspects of technology implementation and the politics
of food rapidly follow.

Charles Bessard points to a Danish study which indicates that a population of 9 billion could be fed
using 50% less arable land if food production were globally managed in an efficient and coordinated
fashion. This suggests that - technically - the problem could be less about shuffling densities
than organising production. However the level of global concord required, and the disinclination of
nations to give up their independent food security, make this solution highly idealistic.
In tandem with macroissues of international food management are microissues around individual
diet. Notably, The Why Factory’s Manhattan foodprint movie takes the average American diet as
the base for its calculations.

The politics of macro and micro lead to consideration of top-down and bottom-up systems.
A concept for a third possibility is advanced, whereby a more top-down style authority continues to
retain decision-making power, but is informed by elite think tanks. These are required as the ecological
systems are too complex for the lay population to understand and respond to effectively via
a populist bottom-up model. The macrounity and implementational power of a more centrist form
of authority is therefore required, guided crucially by technical experts (rather than by political ideology).
This notion of an “expertocracy” aligns technological knowledge with political systems well, but
presents a risky and highly political process: that of choosing the experts. The selection of think
tanks and their members remains as a contentious human issue.

On the bottom-up side, the issue of consumer greed is raised, and the unsustainable aspects of how
greed has developed over the past 50 years. The management of greed therefore comes forward as a
problem, and consequently a potential conflict with notions of freedom. Immediate ways to influence
consumer tendencies include regulation, rewards and restriction. More extreme is the concept
of a “benign catastrophe” - something disastrous but containable that would shock consumers into
less greedy behaviour.

Systems are compared for their ability to deal with different kinds of problems - rooted at base in
competing concepts of society and the individual. The movement of twentieth century capitalism
has been strongly toward the personal choice of the individual, but as this choice becomes more
powerful, the level of individual faith in collective authority, and the willingness to be guided by
such an authority, is diminished.

Critical to the discussion of decision-making processes are the information systems in use: how is
information distributed within society, and how does it influence decision-makers? In the context of
an overwhelming superfluity of information, the question of which pieces of information become
dominant, and how they are interpreted is critical (even within a perfect knowledge-management
environment). This is a major issue at all levels: top-down, bottom-up and meso-expert.
Information systems in the context of cities most often relate to sets of urban indicators. These are
measurable variables used to report upon city performance. Numerous sets of indicators have been
developed by a variety of private, national and international bodies (ranging from the UN to the
SWECO indicator set for CFD). However indicator sets should be regarded with caution, as they
often tell as much about the preferences and inclinations of the people who drew up the set as they
do about the system under scrutiny.

As a brainstorming experiment, a list of 20 indicators was elicited from the group.

- applicability
- resilience
- beauty
- no. of bicycles per capita
- adaptability / flexibility (to changing of street size)
- oxygen / clean air
- health
- daylight levels (at different points and heights)
- consumption of anti-depressants per capita
- green credit
- parasitical activity
- incremental growth
- cooperation
- demographic diversity
- allowed illegal activity
- tolerance
- diet
- no. of books read per capita
- level of social organisation
- indulgence

SESSION 3: COMMUNITY
PRESENTATION: Boom and Bust: Detroit, Terence Curry

Terrence Curry outlines the story of Detroit, and how a formerly flourishing city has fallen into deterioration.
Crucially with Detroit, it could have been otherwise.

Over the past 60 years Detroit’s population doubled from 1 million to 2 million then dropped back
to 1 million. Many factors contributed to the decline, including: Fordism and union-breaking tactics,
involving bringing in black workers, the fomentation of racial problems, the red lining of
struggling areas by banks to accelerate their evacuation, and the offering of advantageous mortgages
on inflexible new developments further out. These processes created economically segregated
homogenous neighbourhoods and areas of clear vacancy and decline. Large roads were driven
through former neighbourhoods, dividing them and contributing further to the demise of community.
Terrence Curry’s own work has been to enter broken communities and become active in organising
and helping people focus on what problems they most wish to address. Solutions which retain flexibility
are advanced collaboratively and actioned. A design for a house which can be jacked up to
add more stories later is used as an example of responsive design.

The boom-bust cycle of Detroit presents a harrowing prospect. Is this China in ten years?

--

DISCUSSION
Urbanus present their Toulo project as a Chinese example of low income housing located next to
high end housing. This however is exceptional. Numerous problems are addressed relating to land
ownership structures and developer interests which act as barriers to the production of mixed income
areas. Furthermore, affordable housing when built in China is vulnerable to being bought and
then converted up to rental or resale at market price (i.e. the affordable aspect is not locked-in to the
rental or onsale systems).

These problems relate to the tendency of market-dominated systems to rush to the top. Market players
compete most actively to service the wealthiest slice of the population, where lie the widest
profit margins. The lower income slice of the population exerts a disproportionately weak capital
force considering its large human presence. Its systemic underservicing by market mechanisms calls
for some form of active government measures.

The Chinese low income context is further complicated by the hukou system, by which the population
is divided into rural and urban hukou holders (attached to an individual’s place of origin).
Rural-hukou holding migrants in urban environments are thus locked into a form of temporary
status. Migration patterns are characterised by “rollover migration”, by which migrants move from
city to city (leaving sprawl trails) rather than “converting” to permanently settled urbanites. The
temporary interests of such migrants in their physical spaces in cities impairs the quality of such
spaces: their temporary inhabitants exhibit low levels of financial or personal investment, with a
high proportion of income leaving in the form of remittances.

Against this troubled context for low income urbanism, arguments are presented strongly associating
mixed neighbourhoods with sustainability (again citing the demise of Detroit as an example of
unsustainable practices). Diversity is needed within communities to provide the mix of elements
that make for vibrant and balanced environments. This mix is not only about moving walls around,
but also ensuring that mixing occurs on multiple fronts: people of different incomes, ages, professions,
etc..

Further to straight mixing, the urban designer is called to give attention to a range of
neighbourhood-strengthening measures. These include shared facilities, shared spaces, shared interests
and the fostering of a sense of identity. A (developer-led) focus on private housing is seen to
turn too much attention away from the shared anchoring institutions which are needed for creating
community.

The importance of local entrepreneurs is identified, and consequently the role of the urban designer
in creating frameworks which allow local entrepreneurialism to flourish. This is in effect giving local
people the power to determine the development of their own environments.

The prevalence of the gated community is identified as an obstacle in this respect. Massive fully
private blocks exert a deadening influence on the surrounding streetscape, which is rendered untenable
for entrepreneurialism. The scale of the roads obliterates the possibility for footfall.

However the general Western distaste for gated communities is perhaps ill-applied to China, where
their popularity and continued production seems certain at least in the near future. The Chinese perspective
points to the potential for urbanism to occur within gated communities, which can incorporate
local shops, and provide space for families to play together and relationships to form. In this
sense, the gated community can act as a miniature town within the city.

An over-zealous idealisation of mixed-use local-focus little-town urbanism remains a danger. A
driving force behind large cities is their power to concentrate function and to connect people, rather
than contain them in towns or towns-within-cities. At the same time, a major role of the city is to
separate people. If the role of architecture were purely to connect people, a city of a million people
would be unbearable. Buildings after all are about walls.

The understanding and use of public space in China also presents a specialised context. The Chinese
for the words “public space” may better be understood as “not privately-owned space” and
therefore “space owned by a higher authority”.

Sustainable communities rely upon their ability to engage local populations - with space, and with
each other. A brainstorm produces a list of measures to encourage urban and community engagement:

- facilitate interaction
- design transit-orientated development
- limit size to the human scale (small size blocks and streets, small size communities to retain a
sense of human connection to the local)
- promote the provision of services and public space over profits from private housing
- ensure robust design to allow for the entrepreneurial response of local residents and users (design
elements include column and beam structures over load bearing walls, and high ground
floors)
- use environmental infrastructure as a means to bring people together in the form of community
gardening / farming / management of the natural environment
- guard against barriers created by cost
- guard against barriers created by infrastructure
It is noted, in consideration of the specific community of CFD, that future residents identified by the
current planning framework consist of:
- local (industrial zone) workers
- local wealthy (managers, administrators)
- foreign experts
- out of towners (Beijingers with a CFD beach house / resort users)

SESSION FOUR: SUSTAINABLE VILLAGES
PRESENTATION: Real Solutions Inherent in Unified Communities, Haiyin Kong

Haiyin Kong presents her experience of Shanggang village in Yunnan province. The disconnect effected
between individuals and outputs, and the breaking of symbiotic cycles, is interpreted as a
logical consequence of industrialisation and the maximisation of efficiencies of scale (scales which
stretch far beyond the reach of human communities). This is compared with village life, where organic
cycles are completed and energy preserved within a single living environment.
Shanggang village displays a number of unique features, including permeable architecture, which
encourages interactivity between villagers and the spaces around them (not only their own space).
These permeable buildings do not feature courtyards - only a ground floor area for pigs, and a staircase
leading up directly to the living space. This provokes immediate intimacy with visitors.
The closeness of the community in the village is augmented by such traditions as grouping villagers
according to year of birth (a hangover from the Cultural Revolution), with these groups taking special
responsibilities and dress on feast days.
A general pride in the built and natural environment leads to a sustainable development, both in
terms of closed carbon loops and social sustainability. Unusually for villages across China, the
young people stay in Shanggang (rather than migrating to the city).

--

DISCUSSION
The village highlights the value of low cost low tech solutions, which are likely to be far more scalable
and thereby effective. Considering the embodiment of values and productivity of the village,
and comparing it with larger urban developments, it is apparent that the single measure of GDP is
profoundly inadequate as a marker of value generation. The twin concepts of black GDP and green
GDP are advanced as a means to address in part this difficulty (though how to monetise externalities
consistently and effectively to produce a figure for green GDP remains a major challenge).
But while Shanggang may suggest a village idyll, it is important not to over-romanticise the village,
or confuse poverty with voluntary forms of green living, or extrapolate too easily from village
communities a model for the city. Crucially, Shanggang is ethnically homogenous, has existed for
generations, and does not expand (when it reaches a certain size a new village is founded rather
than allowing the existing village to mushroom). These three points make Shanggang almost the
perfect antithesis of urbanisation as it occurs in China, and in CFD a fortiori.
The case of Japan is narrated as being driven at first by a very Tokyo-Osaka focused axis of urban
expansion, which came with factories and pollution issues, followed by a desire to get out of cities,
creating the endless landscape of Tokyo suburbs, and now there is a movement back toward the
centres as they are cleaned up and there is a re-appreciation of the countryside. In relation to this,
the role of the designer is seen as someone who stimulates an evolution toward complexity.
The discussion moves to the question of the role and capacity of the architect and the limits of the
discipline, both in terms of expertise and real power. However, despite the limitations of any one
profession, there is a need for a holistic integrated approach. This means that the architect, even if
not the direct implementer of everything, has a responsibility to address the city as a complete organic
entity. The architect can be looked at as a designer of systems - architectural and otherwise -
which relate to the development of the city. In this light, an architect’s response to a city in need can
in fact be a tax plan.

Divergence of opinions on this point leads to a reminder of the danger of seeking consensus. Evolutionary
processes necessarily embrace multiple viewpoints and conditions, and the strong design is
not the one which achieves consensus at the moment at which it is built, but the one which survives
through changing perspectives and opinions.

Specifically in relation to BARC, it is clear that the process must allow space for experimentation,
but at the same time be guided by a clear incisive framework. CFD in the longer term clearly anticipates
evolution on many fronts in moving from a production to consumption model, and shifting
from being the initiative of the single powerful man to a consumer society shaped by an “all for
oneself” principle. The structure of the current planning framework is of interest, in which there is a
detailed plan for 5 years, a proposal for 20 years, and it is in the 20-30 year decade that there is
room for a more flexible treatment of the current regulatory environment. This is clearly rhetorical
in form, as it is wholly unrealistic to treat current regulations as stable through to 2030. It is suggested
the BARC team can play a kind of Charlie’s Angels role in coming in and daringly addressing
the existing situation.
It is concluded that varying levels of utopianism can occur within BARC as the design passes from
team to team. This itself is a form of evolution modeling, and is consistent with reality, where
changing times produce different levels of utopianism or visionary boldness among architects.

SESSION FIVE: THE IRRATIONAL
PRESENTATION: Mythapplication, Adrian Hornsby

Adrian Hornsby introduces the premise that all human knowledge is geared toward making future
predictions. Excessive faith in scientific models for making future predictions has allowed analysts
with graphs to take on the role of priests. This can be extremely misleading when a scientific mode
of presentation is applied outside of pure science contexts - e.g. in large-scale real world situations
where there are no control experiments and much of the data is missing. The staggeringly wrong
predictions of the world’s leading economists is a fine example of this.
The examples of a crystal, a kaleidoscope, and Baldessari’s carrot game are used to illustrate respectively
a static system, a dynamic system with static governing principles, and a dynamic system
with dynamic governing principles. With the carrot game, the rules by which the system is developing
are themselves also developing. In such a (human) context, future thinking requires assumptions,
which need to be made explicit.

Assuming a continuing strong market force in China, the problem of the systemic short-termism of
markets is considered, where market fluctuations actively encourage short term behaviour. Short
term market desire is connected to gratification and unsustainable outcomes, even when these conflict
with people’s prior sustainable ambitions or affection for a “green myth”. Three ways to tackle
this are outlined: i. make the sustainable outcome compete on short term desire (use price measures
and product sexiness / luxury-appeal); ii. increase transparency so that the freshly visible unsustainable
outcome kills the short-term gratification (use labelling and ratings); iii. use the power of the
green myth, and recouple it to the sustainable outcome.

--

DISCUSSION
The use of the term myth is given some clarification as the emotional language or framework of an
individual or society. These myths can powerfully influence behaviour, but in a way which may or
may not be logically congruent with the interests expressed by the myth. Thus mythapplication can
easily become misapplication (e.g. the application of the scientist myth to long-term economic forecasting,
or the application of the saving the planet myth to BP gas stations). Architects can act as
myth builders, and so the question arises as to how to build effectively with green myths, or how to
“leverage” or “sell” the green myth in the right way (to clients, to governments, to consumers).
The room divides into 4 groups to investigate the application of green myths in relation to CFD.
The groups then make brief presentations of their findings.

GROUP 3
Myth-making is identified as having strongly political aspects. The current concept for CFD is
informed by a very technically-driven approach. A more experimental attitude is proposed, by
which CFD can be treated as an ecozone where projects and ideas are tested in a more flexible
arena. BARC can serve to provide alternative forms of infrastructure to incorporate more looseness
in the overly rigid technical myth.
From this follows the idea of an identity programme for CFD - a form of “soft infrastructure”.
This would include more high-quality public space, public festivals, and a strategised branding
of the city. Directly on the design level, low rise high density urban forms are proposed to accompany
this.

GROUP 1
The “ecocity” itself is identified as a form of myth, propagated in particular with the myth of a
contained sustainable life. Against this a myth of coexistence or hybridism is advanced, involving
the pleaching of the industrial and residential components of CFD, and using the myth of the
harmonious society to encourage harmonious communities.
Crucially, myths are interpreted as being not only misleading and negative in their impacts, but
also potentially guiding and informative.

GROUP 2
The myth of sustainability as natural-looking environments is addressed, and the need to move
beyond the appeal of trees and the interpretation of “green” as “chlorophyll”. Trees may look
lovely but in fact are often not doing much. We should move instead to a more high-performance
or performance-driven understanding of green.
The myth of sustainability being expensive is identified, as exemplified by projects such as
Masdar, where enormous oil wealth underwrites a terrifically high-investment approach. Against
this, the need for and potential in low income green measures is foregrounded.
The myth of sustainability as self-sufficiency is exposed, which in the contemporary globalised
context is a red herring. Instead what is needed is a greater consciousness of networks.

GROUP 4
Three temporal phases and their accompanying myths are identified for CFD.
The first myth is that of an enterprise city. Productivity is government-induced according to a
circular model based on industry. This is the worker city of 2010.
The second myth sees an expanded role of the city, incorporating working-and-living relationships
with its citizens. This witnesses the introduction of services, and a need for new unit housing
and the planning of urban villages. This is the living city of 2020.
The third myth is the transformation of CFD into consumption-driven urbanism. This implies a
much larger regional proposal (moving far beyond the confines of the initial circular city). This
is the city of consumption of 2050.

SESSION SIX: USERS
PRESENTATION: Rocksteady Flexibility, Barend Koolhaas
Barend Koolhaas presents a series of designs which focus on flexibility and the role of the user. One
design uses a system of moveable walls to allow multiple floorplan arrangements. In a house in Japan
everything is put on wheels to allow the user to roll things around freely. In a research centre, a
system of work stations on floating islands which shift and rotate is used, with the result that users
are continuously presented with different views, different neighbours and different routes through
the space, thus stimulating interaction.

The design for “Shuffle” is given fuller treatment, presenting less a single building than a whole
new framework for architecture to take place. An IKEA-style catalogue of prefabricated modular
parts allows people to pick and choose the size, shape, configuration etc. of their homes and work
places in relation to a fully transparent pricing system. This reconnects people to their environments,
and reduces the disproportionate role of the developer in spatial decisions. People can actually
put together their own building in relation to their own ideas. The modular system also allows
users to change easily the building size and function: the building can grow and shift through time
as the users’ needs evolve.
Shuffle demonstrates how approaching flexibility is not only about drawing plans but can be extended
out to the whole building process. The current lack of transparency from the user perspective
is a major inhibitor to user-led spaces.

--

DISCUSSION
The potential benefits of flexibility inherent in a modular systems are discussed. The problem remains
however of the relatively limited uptake of such systems. (Ironically, perhaps the most successful
application of prefabricated parts has been in the creation of suburban America - one of the
most inflexible landscapes in existence).
The power of the developer is confirmed as problemmatic. Developers in large part determine how
a city is built, and yet do so on the basis of what they want to sell. This is dominated by the logic of
maximisation of return on investment, and so city form follows finance. Land is first bought, then
developed, and then used - a situation which keeps the user out of the picture until the picture is
fully drawn. The market provides developers with little incentive to behave otherwise, especially in
a context in which there is insufficient criticality from the demand side. (That people in Holland
spend more on interior design than on the home itself suggests a low level of interest in architecture.)
Disdain is expressed for how society is allowing planners to tell people where to sleep, eat,
work, fuck etc. Architects too come under criticism for being too passive, and for kowtowing to developers
and regulators.

In relation to profit-logic, it is noted that a means needs to be found to communicate how flexibility
is actually cheaper in the long-term. The specific example of post-and-beam vs. panel construction
is used to illustrate how higher initial capital costs are paid back when at a later stage changes can
be incorporated, instead of having to demolish the building and build it all over again. Inflexible
architectural products which imply subsequent high levels of throwing away materials have significant
implications for the consumption of resources. It is suggested that we need to develop a greater
consciousness of resources as an integral part of the common good, and thereby achieve a better
defined common interest in efficient responsible (long term) resource management.
In addition to developers, it is noted that users also can act as an impediment to flexibility. This is
the phenomenon of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) whereby once developers have developed
an area in a particular way, there is an immediate lock-in as the users take up residence and strenuously
resist any further change.

The practice of zoning is given some treatment. Zoning is rooted in a need to separate out noisome
or toxic components of a city in a context of heavy industrial production. However, modern clean
industry can be located anywhere in a city. This means that if the city is designed as sustainable
from scratch, containing only fully clean industries, the prior logic of zoning becomes redundant.
The concept of variable zoning for collective use is advanced. In relation to layouts, grids receive
some attention for their ability to accommodate multiple successive uses and their democratic distribution
of access (“square is fair!”).

Amongst this talk of excessive flexibility and building for the long term, it is noted that architects
should also allow the future to bomb their buildings. We are not the final generation of architects,
and future generations will have their own desires to build, and make use of newer technologies and
materials which are not currently available. Sustainability is not exclusively about how to design
buildings that last, but also how to design buildings that can be dismantled. Flexibility and sustainability
is the process of engaging with the reality of urban trial and error. Rather than designing for
permanence, it may be as important to learn how to make errors sustainably.

--
FINAL PRESENTATION: Storm Fronts, Charles Bessard

Charles Bessard presents data on rising temperatures and describes how even a smooth temperature
rise creates a jagged sea level rise. This is in part due to the way that ice melts and drops into the
sea in an unpredictable fashion - a phenomenon known as the collapse of the jelly cake. The implication
of sea levels rising 1, 2 or even 7 metres or more is that nature will be a major force in the
future reshaping of our cities.

In addition to net sea level rise, surge storms present significant further risks, implying not only
flooding but also salination of soil and soil erosion. This is particularly pertinent for coastal cities
which are built on soft soil, and reclaimed land cities such as CFD (another jelly cake?).
The full changes may take effect over the course of centuries, and yet it is necessary to question if it
is smart now to build in a way which you know conflicts with the long term future. The problems of
market short termism and bubbles are again addressed, investigating the link between the financial
and starchitecture bubbles of the past decade. The question of an environmental bubble looms, especially
considering the incongruent and even paradoxical aspects of a number of society’s responses
to the environmental problem. For example, recycling can be used as a mechanism to legitimise
consumption. This is motivated by current interests in a consumption-driven economy,
rather than in any consistent interpretation of environmentalism.

There is a need to examine the motivations producing design decisions, which equally may emanate
from lateral non-design considerations. Haussman’s redesign of Paris and the grand boulevards
scheme is reinterpreted in relation to sewerage, the development of the metro, and the desire to facilitate
swift city-wide movements of the army in case of insurrection. Haussman pointedly was a
policeman, with a primary responsibility to protecting the bourgeoisie.
Historically the bourgeois city gave way to the city of industrial production, followed by the mostly
deindustrialised modern metropolis. The evolutionary processes involved leads to a mixture of
demolition, recycling and decay of the city’s previous iterations. We are left the question of our
ability to design a city that is worth keeping for 400 years.

ROUNDUP
The teams are split into groups and asked to identify three points they feel stand out from the preceding
sessions. The following points are produced:

GROUP 2
- “Green” cannot be treated as a sauce to be poured over a city, but must embrace economic and
social sustainability considerations
- cities need to be designed for longevity and long term returns even when dealing with short
term investors
- design needs to work alongside policy

GROUP 4
- as individuals we know very little about making green cities, while CFD actually knows quite
a lot
- CFD will need to develop from a village (2010) to a united community (2020) to a services
rather than production-based self-sustaining ecocity (2050).
- the limitations of the architect create a unique situation, characterised by a potential for
wasted opportunities, but also by a great openness to be filled creatively. CFD offers China a
second chance to start from scratch - for those who missed the boat in the development of
Shenzhen, don’t miss CFD!

GROUP 5
- the complexity of the crisis can produce surreal conditions. The Dutch approach is seen to
have a certain sci-fi quality, whereby very rationalised data is used to produce surreal proposals.
This contrasts with the situation in China, where often surreal initial conditions are
used to create very rationalised responses.
- there is a great need to keep the freshness of CFD. Local pollution and the adjacent industrial
zone present a threat which cannot be ignored. With CFD we need to ask if sustainability
measures are there to bring forth a new baby, or to heal a sick old man.
- the forum is taking place at the right time.

GROUP 3
- in order to sell sustainability it must be appealing. Its future success will not be about renouncing
luxury but creating more luxury
- the sustainable city is not a self-sustaining city but part of a network
- the development of CFD starts with a very narrow demographic of predominantly industrial
labourers. The city will therefore need measures to accelerate the evolution toward complexity
and diversity

GROUP 1
- the Chinese context is understood to present an unusual paradox where the land is at once all
public, as owned by the government, and not public at all, as owned by the government
- the Asian gated community is understood to present the possibility for urban richness and the
village-within-the-city concept.
- the condition of impermanence is understood to be a lasting feature of the future, within
which buildings have lifespans, and technology becomes outdated. The present is a form of
perpetual temporariness.

Posted by neville mars / 9.7 years ago / 24292 hits

Nodes