2008 06 10
Absurd Green Architecture In Dubai


Building in Dubai will always challenge the idea of sustainability because of the extreme temperatures and lack of water in the region. In spite of that reality, capital generated by $139 a barrel oil is making it possible for architects to try radically new, untested technologies in designs that attempt to generate more energy than they consume and in doing so achieve something that could be called sustainability.

So it is with Italian architect David Fisher’s design for the green environmental tower in Dubai. Named the “Dynamic Architecture” building, the sixty storey tower is also a power source. Forty-eight 0.3 megawatt turbines are contained within its rotating floors. Fisher writes, “Considering that Dubai gets 4,000 wind hours annually, the turbines incorporated into the building can generate 1,200,000 kilowatt-hour of energy.”

The architect describes three technologies that the project relies on for its success. First is the ability for architecture to be dynamic, to constantly change its form. Second, is the integration of power-generating technologies that let the building generate more power than its inhabitants consume. Third, is the factory-based construction that will reduce the number of site workers, speed construction time, and improve the final finish quality.

Take a look at this rather pretentious video for an explanation of the tower. What’s my take on it? Before I was an architect I followed a Buckminster Fuller inspired career path working in aircraft manufacturing for the de Havilland Aircraft Company. I’ve seen the technologies required to make this work from both sides of the technology spectrum, and odds are that this building will fail to meet its objectives. That does not mean it is an unworthy experiment. Inventing new ways of sustainable living will not be easy or cheap; however, we have little choice but to try and if it takes $139 oil to get us there so be it.

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 06/10
2008 06 05
Can We Have A Drum Roll Please: The TTC’s Website Preview

We've waited a year and a half. Patiently. Today, however, Toronto's much under-serviced population will get a glimpse of how the T.T.C. will provide a better transit website. The T.T.C. (in the guise of councillor Adam Giambrone) is calling the press down to City Hall to unveil the Beta version of ttc.ca. Will the people-powered movement kicked off on Readingtoronto.com January 1, 2007 and voraciously taken up by readers of http://www.BlogTO.com, http://www.Spacing.ca, and the http://www.Torontoist.com make a difference?

Will the contributions of everyone who attended TransitCamp be wasted? Will the T.T.C. and its web developer have taken the easy way rather than the better way? I can't make the event—one days notice—so I'll be anxious to read the reports from bloggers and the media who can.

What would a great site look like? There is no one model, but there are good references. A great site would have clear, easy to understand information on routes, timetables, delays, special events, and a whole host of other information in real time. It would be mobile friendly. Waiting for those often late streetcars on Broadview would no longer require calls to the 1-800-clairvoyant line for hints on when to expect the next one.

Can we have a drum roll please?

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 06/05
2008 06 03
What Would It Take . . . ?

What would it take for Toronto's subway to make a list like this? Probably billions of dollars and a remarkable vision that's been absent from Ontario politics for over 30 years. Perhaps we should think a little less about over sized waste bins and put our energies where they are most needed like transit.
[email this story] Posted by P. Rogers on 06/03
2008 05 22
Mutable Spaces Of Innovation

In a world that is increasingly mediated by online exchanges, it is always refreshing to remember the role well considered architecture plays in the act of connecting people and ideas.

I'm at the MaRs Centre in downtown Toronto attending Mesh08, a conference celebrating the power of Web 2.0. The tag line for this conference is "Connect, Share, Inspire." In its third successful year, Mesh gathers together the people who create the collaborative online experiences we enjoy. Those people are behind a technology-driven social shift that is changing the world—look at the "people-powered" movement of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama for an obvious example.

As significant as that change is, it is important to remember that one of the reasons conferences like Mesh work is that they take place in social spaces like MaRs. A first for Toronto, MaRs' objective is to:
MaRS is a non-profit innovation centre connecting science, technology and social entrepreneurs with business skills, networks and capital to stimulate innovation and accelerate the creation and growth of successful Canadian enterprises.

The symbiotic relationship between this mission and the space that contains its activities is essential to the Centre's success. The designers of MaRs anticipated that too many prescriptive spaces would limit the innovation that might take place here. The spaces here are mutable in that they can adapt needs of the people who use them.

Spaces of impromptu encounter and assembly in the MaRs atrium
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 05/22
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