Energy Intensive

Trying to imagine how the landscape of renewables will look in the future is quite a challenge. Will they be industrial or parklike in character? Or will the have the characteristics of gardens or wilderness places? If the future of alternative energy technology mirrors the evolution of the mobile phone we should look forward to an interesting future. How quickly will the first generation carbon neutral cities become technologically and aesthetically obsolete?

When will the classic designs of our zero carbon future become apparent?

10 thoughts on “Energy Intensive

  1. Tom Turner

    Thank you for raising a very interesting question which is most acute with regard to cities. If we all become poor, because we lack hydrocarbon energy, that will force change. But if we remain rich then I believe sustainable cities will have to be made beautiful before sustainable design techniques are widely adopted. And when they are adopted I think we will see a much greater divergence between, for examples, cities in cold wet countries (see the example from old Iceland and cities the arid zone, like the illustrations Lawrence posted). It is a divergence I look forward to!

  2. Lawrence

    Masda, the “World’s First Carbon Neutral City” leaves the big question open, whether a desert region with a chronic water shortage is the right place for any kind of new, sustainable conurbation. One (currently)intractable problem is the continual loss of efficency – up to 85% – of the photovoltaic panels that are a mainstay of Masda’s calculations, due to the eternal dust that coats everything in the UAE. The current solution is to hose them down. Several encouraging studies have been done on underground buildings in the arid zones that suggest that the architecture of the Gulf countries and that of Iceland might well converge, thus disapointing Tom.

  3. Christine

    Tom I agree with you that divergence is inevitable if we take sustainability seriously. However it could be the sort of divergence practiced by architects such as the South American modernist architect Louis Sert. [ ]

    Lawrence I wonder if the solar cells were located in self-cooling greenhouses whether a positive energy balance could be achieved? [ ]

  4. Tom Turner

    Difficult to assess the Maeght Gallery from the photograph but it sounds good and it fits with the Louisiana Gallery, which I have visited. Louisiana illustrates how much more successful Abstract Modernism could have been if there had been a committment to context-sensitive design – or to working with landscape architects for those who lacked a proper enthusiasm for contextual issues.

  5. Christine

    I correct my previous comment. Sert was a Spanish architect not South American, although after immigranting to France and then the United States, he worked in South America on urban planning projects;

    [Sert was] “a founding partner in Town Planning Associates, a design firm specializing in both architectural and urban design projects, with a particular focus on Latin America.”

    He is also credited with establishing the first professional urban design degree.

    His work has received mix reviews so I seems there is much to be learnt from a more thorough analysis of his ouevre.

    The Maeght Gallery is in France and exhibits some of the sculptural forms which characterise Le Corbusier’s work in Chandigarh – although without the monumentality. [ ]

  6. Tom Turner

    Studying urban design is a good thing, but I think it would be a great mistake to professionalise the subject. Too much has been lost by compartmentalisation – far better to keep urban design as a field for inter-professional co-operation.
    Do the trough roofs at the Maeght Modern Art Museum have a function? – or are they an artistic flourish?

  7. Lawrence

    The Masdar solar plant should deliver 10 MW and consists of 22.3 ha of solar cells, the issue of keeping this area dust free is a major one, the loss of 85% of the power too. Anyone who lives in Abu Dhabi is aware of the constant, thick dust that settles on everything outside the whole time, so it is surprising that this problem was not anticipated in advance. Research into non-stick ceramic surfacing is being carried out but this is not yet conclusive. One would need to build a very big greenhouse for the solar park and I guess this would dust over too, just as quickly as the cells themselves.

  8. Christine

    Lawrence, perhaps it might be easier to use some form of self-cleaning mechanism on the glasshouse…but then again I have probably been too influenced by the sci-fi rather than the reality of biodomes!
    [ ]

    Maybe Bioshpere 2 in Arizona might be a helpful example? [ ] and [ ]

    Yes Tom the roof forms at Maeght have both an aesthetic and functional purpose;

    “…the largest building is capped with two, large, u-shaped, twentieth century impluvia that also act to visually lighten the whole exterior. These white, concrete basins collect valuable rainwater, which is distributed to the pools and fountains and is also used to humidify the interior air. Their silhouette, which bears some resemblance to one of Miro’s favourite shapes, is used as the logo for the Foundation.”

    [ ]

  9. Peter Sheppard

    In case of interest, and further to my Maeght photo (referred above): I actually have four in sequence in that Set:

    However, I fully agree with the positive comments on the Louisiana, though it’s many years since I visited. A beautiful setting for enjoying art. Some more-recent large galleries seem motivated by city status, and techi-myopia, or glib entertainment, whereas Louisiana has the atmosphere just right 🙂

    Latest Sets:
    New Travels
    200 Pix with an architectural Eye:
    P 🙂

  10. Tom Turner

    Thank you for the links to the photographs. One can’t criticise artists for being commercial – but the religious motive has often produced more ‘soulful’ art than the commercian motive.


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