How do we design and build to accommodate changing economics, family sizes, and employee and student populations? How can we merge online technologies with physical architecture to more directly serve our real-time needs?
“The city is a dense network of relationships. The best way to provide infrastructure is to not go in with a meat ax but to practice urban acupuncture, finding thousands of different spots to go into.”
–Nicholas de Monchaux
### nytimes.com February 3, 2010, 6:45 pm
Space: It’s Still a Frontier
By Allison Arieff
Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time.
Our living rooms are empty seven-eighths of the time.
Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time.
It’s time we gave this some thought.
–R Buckminster Fuller
That quote is 40 years old, but I continue to be amazed by the extent to which we haven’t begun to address the problem Fuller highlighted. There’s a staggering glut of empty space around the country right now, unused space that’s not doing anyone much good. That in itself isn’t new; what is unprecedented is our ability to visualise that data in an entirely new ways.
The ability to use GIS (geographic information systems) to locate data spatially, for example, is one reason Barack Obama is president today. His campaign turned a database of voters and volunteers into a map and was able to strategise house by house about how to get those votes. More broadly, GIS allows us to literally view our place both globally and in a hyperlocal context.
That level of specificity, both at the micro and macro level, is helping revolutionise the way we think about, plan for and design the space we inhabit (or abandon). A visual map can show us patterns of overbuilding, abandonment, mis- (or lack of) use; it can teach us something about our current tendency to overbuild.
How can this now-instantaneous access to data add clarity to ingrained patterns, and perhaps allow us to change those patterns according to evolving needs and requirements?
● Allison Arieff lectures and consults on media, design and sustainability, most recently for Urban Revision and IDEO. She lives in San Francisco.
Local Code’s quantifiable effects on energy usage and stormwater remediation eradicate the need for more expensive, yet invisible, sewer and electrical upgrades. In addition, the project uses citizen participation to conceive a new, more public infrastructure as well —a robust network of urban greenways with tangible benefits to the health and safety of every citizen.
Nicholas de Monchaux is an architect, urbanist, writer, and Assistant Professor of Architecture & Urban Design at UC Berkeley.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr