Tagarchitecture

Infrastructure Still Crumbling – So What Do We Do About It?

crumbling bridge

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released its 2009 Report Card for American Infrastructure, and the results are grim. The association gave the most powerful nation in the world an overall grade of D, and stated that it would take a five-year investment of $2.2 trillion to bring the U.S. up to par with the rest of its class—the world’s major postindustrial nations.

The Architect’s Newspaper: State of Disrepair

(via Brainsturbator)

What exactly can be done about it, other than spending massive amounts of public funds and ratcheting up an already astronomical deficit?

The obvious libertarian answer I can think of is: sell off all private infrastructure and issue tax refunds for it. Let the private companies who purchase it deal with it. At this point it doesn’t seem like that’s any worse an option than letting it all rot. Certainly there’d be a lot of questions regarding access to essential infrastructure. And if, say, the entire interstate highway system were privatized I’m sure that would open things up to all sorts of highly entertaining anti-competitive actions on the part of its owners.

But I have to admit I sort of relish the idea of seeing how tea partiers feel about paying road tolls (and seeing how self-righteous non-motorists, the type who think it’s unfair that they’re taxed for roads they supposedly don’t use, react to increased food costs). And hell, it might actually cause megacorporations that currently avoid paying much in taxes actually have to shell out something for the roads they use.

But even if there was the political will, could that even happen? Are there companies out there that would be willing to buy up all our roads, bridges, and other public infrastructure? Would it be profitable to maintain?

And what about existing private infrastructure? According to The Architect’s Newspaper, over 85% of levees are privately owned and they still got a D from the ASCE. How much of the infrastructure ASCE evaluated is privately owned to start with?

What other other options are on the table? A government-backed scrip for infrastructure work? Even if we’re at 20-25% real unemployment, I’m not sure that’s bad enough to get modern Americans to work on infrastructure projects for scrip and for small businesses to honor it. But I could be wrong.

What about revolution? It’s always a possibility, but it also seems far from happening. I have been thinking though that if there were to be a revolution in the the States, it would have to start with seizing infrastructure, which is our real “means of production.”

What else can be done?

Flickr search for “crumbling infrastructure”

Photo by Michelle Soulier / CC

Futuristic Mega-Projects by Shimizu

The Mega-City Pyramid
The Mega-City Pyramid

Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corporation has developed a series of bold architectural plans for the world of tomorrow. Here is a preview of seven mega-projects that have the potential to reshape life on (and off) Earth in the coming decades.

Pink Tentacle: Futuristic mega-projects by Shimizu

See also:

Archigram archive

open_sailing

The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City

Hong Kong’s rooftop shanty towns

Hong Kong Rooftop slum

In South America the slums are attached to the outskirts of mega-cities such as Caracas and Mexico City like wasps’ nests on a cliff face. In a hilly island city like Hong Kong, however, living space is limited. Here you only see the laboriously constructed huts made of corrugated iron and planks of wood in which the poorest of the poor live if you look upwards – they occupy, to put it in cynical terms, a penthouse location.

Daily Tonic: The Level Up

(via Grinding)

Bricks made of bacteria and sand at room-temperature

Biomanufactured bricks

An American architecture professor, Ginger Krieg Dosier, 32, Assistant Professor of Architecture at American University of Sharjah (AUS) in Abu Dhabi, has won this year’s prestigious Metropolis Next Generation Design Prize for “Biomanufactured Brick.” The 2010 Next Generation Prize Challenge was “One Design Fix for the Future” – a small fix to change the world. The Next Generation judges decided that Professor Dosier’s well-documented and -tested plan to replace clay-fired brick with a brick made with bacteria and sand, met the challenge perfectly.

“The ordinary brick – you would think that there is nothing more basic than baking a block of clay in an oven,” said Horace Havemeyer, Publisher of Metropolis. “Ginger Dosier’s idea is the perfect example of how making a change in an almost unexamined part of our daily lives can have an enormous impact on the environment.”

Dexigner: Biomanufactured Brick: Bricks Without Clay or Carbon

(via )

The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City

Vincent Ocasla claims to have “beaten” SimCity by creating an amazing city with population of 6 million and no roads (only subways) that lasts for 50,000 years.

I’ve a quote from one of your Facebook status updates here: “The economic slave never realizes he is kept in a cage going round and round basically nowhere with millions of others.” Do you not feel that sums up the lives of the citizens of Magnasanti? (And you might want to set your Facebook to private by the way.)

Precisely that. Technically, no one is leaving or coming into the city. Population growth is stagnant. Sims don’t need to travel long distances, because their workplace is just within walking distance. In fact they do not even need to leave their own block. Wherever they go it’s like going to the same place.

Heavy.

There are a lot of other problems in the city hidden under the illusion of order and greatness: Suffocating air pollution, high unemployment, no fire stations, schools, or hospitals, a regimented lifestyle – this is the price that these sims pay for living in the city with the highest population. It’s a sick and twisted goal to strive towards. The ironic thing about it is the sims in Magnasanti tolerate it. They don’t rebel, or cause revolutions and social chaos. No one considers challenging the system by physical means since a hyper-efficient police state keeps them in line. They have all been successfully dumbed down, sickened with poor health, enslaved and mind-controlled just enough to keep this system going for thousands of years. 50,000 years to be exact. They are all imprisoned in space and time.

Viceland Games: The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City

Vincent Ocasla’s site

Ocasla was inspired in part by the Kowloon Walled City

Archigram archive

Archigram: Drive-in housing

Above: Drive in Housing, a “Highly elaborated ongoing speculative exploration of the possible use of cars as mobile and serviced component parts of an adaptable dwelling system composed of cars, drive-in buildings and services.”

A massive archive of Archigram materials:

Archigram Archival Project

(via Bruce Sterling)

See also:

Archigram’s heirs open_sailing (my interview with their coordinator coming soon!)

Hallucinatory Urban Architecture of the Future

Does the ceiling height of a room dramatically affect how you think and feel?

high ceilings

I’ve always thought tall ceilings help me think better.

This article demonstrates that variations in ceiling height can prime concepts that, in turn, affect how consumers process information. We theorized that when reasonably salient, a high versus low ceiling can prime the concepts of freedom versus confinement, respectively. These concepts, in turn, can prompt consumers’ use of predominately relational versus item-specific processing. Three studies found support for this theorizing. On a variety of measures, ceiling height–induced relational or item-specific processing was indicated by people’s reliance on integrated and abstract versus discrete and concrete ideation. Hence, this research sheds light on when and how ceiling height can affect consumers’ responses.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: Does the ceiling height of a room dramatically affect how you think and feel?

(Photo credit: Posh Living / CC)

Bucky Bar – TAZ made from umbrellas

Buck Bar

DUS Architects and the Studio for Unsolicited Architecture offer shelter from the storm with their incredible pop-up Bucky Bar made entirely from umbrellas. Built from orange umbrellas in a very Buckminster-Fullery formation, the bar existed for one short evening, dispensing drinks and DJ downbeats.

Inhabitat: Bucky Bar Built From Umbrellas is a Pop-Up Party

(via Cole Tucker)

AttractiveCity – an interactive City generator

AttractiveCity – an interactive City generator from steffiX_stefanieSixt on Vimeo.

(via Bruce Sterling)

Hallucinatory Urban Architecture of the Future

Dark Roasted Blend has a big round-up of trippy architectural visions of future cities. Here are some highlights:

Luc Schuiten's Vegetal City

Luc Schuiten’s Vegetal City

Walking City

The Walking City by Archigram, an old favorite of mine.

'Shroom City, by Frederic St. Arnaud

‘Shroom City, by Frederic St. Arnaud

There are many more at Dark Roasted Blend: Hallucinatory Architecture of the Future

(Thanks Trevor!)

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