Green Architecture for the Future

Exhibition review: Green Architecture for the Future in Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Recently, I’ve come across a lot of talk about transforming cities into green spaces. Not long ago, I wrote about an exhibition in London Building Centre called London Yields: Urban Agriculture. In the article, I speculated on (and modified) a concept first coined by Salman Rushdie, namely tropicalizing cities.

Ecoboulevards (photo: una ballena de seis ojos)

Ecoboulevards (photo: una ballena de seis ojos)

This exhibition also takes on the concept of tropicalization, suggesting how to modify our surroundings towards something greener. Some plans are already under execution, while others are mere scetches. A group called Ecosistema Urbano proposed an interesting (and fully executable) plan as how to increase the amount of trees downtown. As a part of this plan, titled Ecoboulevards, a meeting plaza surrounded by a structure of trees giving shade was presented. Here, community issues can be discussed under trees away from the heat. Simple and interesting democracy/sustainability project.

Some plans were small, others big. Some artsy, others down-to-earth. A common theme was new architectural or city planning solutions to managing energy, water and other resources sustainably. I, as a non-professional, did not understand all of the fine technical details. Nevertheless, I found reading about the technology very inspiring! I was reminded of the Eiffel Tower – made from cast iron, it was an expensive construction with a lot of flaws, but it foreshadowed the era of steel

Transport vehicle in Masdar City (photo:tuexperto_com5)

Transport vehicle in Masdar City (photo:tuexperto_com5)

fortified concrete. Perhaps some of these constructions may be remembered as the start of a greener era? Let us hope these expensive pioneer projects will pave way to what will be mainstream in the future. One very interesting project is the Masdar City, a sustainable carbon neutral city currently being built in Abu Dhabi by Foster architects.

The Endless City (photo:hanba)I forgot to bring my camera along, but it was ok, since a great portion of the exhibition consisted of excerpts from the book The Endless City (Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic, Phaidon) I already have at home. Both this part of the exhibition and parts of the book were a tad disappointing for hanba’s scientist-wired brain. Glimpses of data are presented in a haphazard manner, throwing a figure here, another there in flashy orange writing: “There were 547 million Europeans in 1950” or “121 buildings over eight storeys in 1980 in Shanghai”. It is hard to draw accurate conclusions or predictions from this mess of data. I guess it’s like this so the people would get ANY glimpse of the data. Seeing as percent figures aren’t so sexy to discuss, I guess it’s better to tread on a floor where one can hop over bright colored text stating: “60,981 days to the end of gas”, then to have the data not catch any form of attention at all.

Just as interesting as it is to see the green visions, it is fascinating to see the flip side of the coin. Stefano Boeri decribes in “Green dystopias”, three possible negative scenarios we need to prepare for. One is how to maintain the balance of wild nature and tamed parks if we turn more and more of the city into wildlife. Also, if we turn city into agricultural land, we should make sure that this land will not be “monopolized” for one crop or company. I was reminded of BLDGBLOG’s comment about urban agriculture and disease control (talking about the swine flu); when you mix people and cattle, diseases may catch along.

One of my favorites was United Bottle Project by Instant Architects, featuring water bottles you could recycle just like normal. At the event of a catastrophe, however, you could first use the bottles for clean water and then fill the discarded bottles with sand and use them as building blocks for houses. Very creative.

All in all, the exhibition was  very thought provoking. In fact, since I came home I’ve looked into changing my electricity contract into a green one…

I’d like to finish with a quote on the wall in Louisiana by Stefan Behling, Foster architects: “Consumption is a matter of needs, and needs depend on design. Your need for petrol depends on the design of your car, a need of a car, in turn, depends on how the city you live in is designed. So if you can change the design of your city, you can change your needs and in the end, your consumption.”

See also: New York’s High Line park – a green park that has just opened

Upcoming: Since some readers have (with full right) been confused about the term “pink, saccharine architecture”, the next post will provide a definition for this concept. Newly built libraries in a Swedish city will be used as an example…


6 responses to “Green Architecture for the Future

  1. severnyproductions

    It sounds like a really good idea

  2. A very informative and interesting post, especially ideas such as Tropicalization and United Bottle Project.

    The quote in the end beautifully summarizes the need of the hour. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Kirk J. Steel

  3. Hmm. Is it true? 🙂

  4. thanks for the nice racap…
    Still I must say I found the exhibtion a bit messy. Very admirable but once again it is proven to be very difficult to design exhibitions that is both pedagogical and aestetical. This was perhaps the latter.

    But Lousiana is always worth a visit -this time the contemporary exhibition made the ticket worth while though.

    • Heeeey so nice you read my blog, Henrik! 🙂 And left comments, too. Comments make it look like a blog is very popular… Which of course is an image i strive after. I agree, the exhibition was messy. But the previous exhibition in the series ‘frontiers of architecture’ was even messier. (about cecil balmond and his work. i was so happy i bought the exhibition booklet that time, because only after having read the book did i really get how excellent it was.) i agree with you, it’s challenging to present ideas, thoughts and dialogue about architecture in a way that the public can really take in and digest. still, it’s nice they even try.

  5. Pingback: Enter urban jungle | THE HANBABLOG

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