Tuesday, February 26, 2013

'It's Alive!' - New ARUP Report Imagines Intelligent Cities of the Future

Last week's report from Arup's Foresight + Innovation team is helping to feed our blog's current appetite for all things futuristic. The 'It's Alive' report predicts that in 2050, buildings will be continuously adapting and made from materials that will enable them to do everything from filtering air to producing energy.

According to its vision for the future "structures will be fully integrated into the fabric of the city, responsive to changes in the external environment, and designed for continuous adaptability, according to real-time needs and demands of its users.” Buildings' facades will react to changing environmental conditions and use this information to make intelligent decisions that are able to support tomorrow's cities.

The evolution of buildings from aesthetic casings to living and breathing structures is expanded on by Josef Hargrave, foresight and innovation consultant at Arup : “In the ecological age, buildings do not simply create spaces, they craft environments.” Rather than continually churning out buildings that are well-designed in the classical sense of the word, Arup's Frankenstein model proposes a seismic shift at the heart of how architects approach the function of the building and arguably, their roles as architects of the future.

With population trends showing an increase in the number of city-dwellers over the past few years, the idea of the robotic building may be an experiment that offers much inspiration to many an architect dwelling on the possibility of bringing our buildings to life. The report can be read on Arup's site at this link:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"City Shock"- the Why Factory's new book reaches the Library

The events in the news this month read like fictitious headlines: a meteor plunging towards Earth injured dozens of people in Russia as it shattered against the atmosphere; an asteroid passed above our heads - a mere 28,000 km away. With all this intergalactic activity dominating the headlines, we were relieved to discover that the only thing that had landed on our desks by Monday morning was the Why Factory's new book "City Shock - Planning the Unexpected".

This outlandish, journo-style publication explores the theme of 'fear' in urban planning decisions in a world where even the most absurd scenarios are plausible.  In "City Shock" the Why Factory take our fear of disaster further by proposing a set of radical 'What if' scenarios and composing a sequence of fantastical newspaper reports -(im)possible headlines included. The book then imagines how each of these scenarios could play out in the Netherlands between 2018 and 2047.

The idea is fantastical but the theory behind the publication is grounded in logic: expose the possible causes and potential consequences of disasters and 'fear' itself can be used as a guide for urban planning.

The book will be appearing in the New Books stand and at 720.103/MAA on the main lending shelves soon. You can read more about The Why Factory's activities at the link below:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Geothermal Glasgow - Mining for Heat

For those of us raised in Scotland who were ever threatened with work down the mines at a young age, the latest BBC News is sure to raise a wry smile.

It has been widely reported that Glasgow's labyrinth of disused coal-mines could soon be used to generate up to 40% of the city's heat. A study of the city's hidden tunnels is under-way at Glasgow Caledonian University where researchers are hoping to find reservoirs which can be pumped to create geothermal energy. The hope is that Glasgow will become the third city in the world behind Stockholm and Hamburg to have under-street heating.

Using the blueprint developed by the research team, ground-source heat-pumps could be installed to begin extracting heat from the water. This untapped resource could then be used to warm homes. Sustainability experts and Scottish Power (who are part-funding the research) are championing the project as a solution to fuel poverty issues prevalent in some areas of Glasgow, particularly those with a mining legacy hidden beneath their feet.

A pilot scheme of the plans has been running in Glenalmond Street in Shettleston for the past ten years in  which time, the sustainable design initiative 'Sust' have deemed the scheme a success.

Read the news article, and the Sust report below:

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

New Online Journal - Architecture_M_P_S

A new online academic journal has just come to our attention. Architecture_Media_Politics_Society or, 'Amps' for short, operates a forum for the analysis of architecture in the mediated environment of contemporary culture. According to the journal's editors, the social context is intrinsic to the design of buildings which we could therefore, regard as 'phenomenon'. Contributors to the journal can add their publication to the burgeoning online resource repository which acts as a useful information resource in its own right.

One 'interview article' with an architect professional or researcher is published monthly. The journal is heralding this as a new genre for academic writing in that the interviews expand on the references made by the interviewer or interviewee, thereby forming a quasi-academic literary form. For some, this written format will really help to summarise the complex issues being discussed while for others, the use of footnotes could help broaden the argument out.

This month's article is by renowned architecture mogul Daniel Libeskind who characteristically, has written an article entitled 'The Socio-Political Minefield of Symbolic Architecture'. Read here: