“Farmscraper” masterplan concept created for Shenzhen, China : TreeHugger

Vincent Callebaut Architects’ “farmscraper” complex in Shenzhen. From Treehugger.com.

In this post, Kimberly Mok of Treehugger describes what may be one of the most fully-formed proposal for what has long been little more than an architecture school assignment: the vertical farm. Vincent Callebaut Architects for Shenzhen, China, would be a mixed-use project that would be oriented to take greatest advantage of sunlight and would get all of its power from integrated wind power and photovoltaics.

I’ve long wondered where the demand for a vertical farm actually is, and I think that is why right now it is mostly the purview of architects and not farmers or developers. I think right now in most cities there is just enough demand for community gardens, not a large-scale operation like this. I wonder if anyone other than a heavily Statist government like China would even be able to staff it. I could be wrong: maybe all we need is one good demonstration project, and then vertical farms will start going up the world over. But until that time, I think, like the arcologies of old, the vertical farm will not make it from the rendering to real life.


More eerie ‘ghost cities’ popping up

Chinese-built ghost city in Angola. From wnd.com.

Chelsea Schilling writes this post about ghost cities built by the Chinese both at home and abroad. Apparently the way things are set up in China, there is an incentive to build regardless of whether or not people will move into these buildings, so entire ghost cities are going up in the middle of nowhere, to the tune of 64 million vacant units. What I think is interesting is not just that these places are being built, but the model they are being built upon. These places are Modernist urban design dreamscapes. Why are they building cities with no shade and huge amounts of space devoted to cars in a country as hot and as poor as Angola? Check out these crazy pictures:

From wnd.com.

From wnd.com.

From wnd.com.

From wnd.com.

Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction – By Peter Calthorpe | Foreign Policy


Calthorpe criticizes China’s growth. From foreignpolicy.com.

I’ve had a number of people tell me that my posts have a habit of running a bit long, and that means I can’t always post often, or even regularly. I want to fix that. Starting now, posts will be shorter, and hopefully, more regular, with occasional long-format posts mixed in. We’ll start with this article from Peter Calthorpe, one of the founding fathers of New Urbanism.

China is a fast-growing nation with an ever-expanding economy, which allows it’s people access to new services, including cars. Calthorpe argues that China is on the path to repeating the mistakes of the United States in designing cities for cars rather than for people. The US spent years making Le Corbusier’s modernist dream of towers in the park connected by highways a reality. Only in recent decades have many Americans decided that this was the wrong direction to go, and cities are beginning to return to walkable, mixed-use centers where people are put before cars. China, on the other hand, is not learning from our mistakes, and is putting the car before people. This has already lead to massive congestion and environmental degradation, as Calthorpe points out the measures Beijing went to to try and make itself presentable for the Olympics four years ago, despite the constant smog. It certainly isn’t too late, but if China doesn’t change course now, it could lead to disaster for them and the world at large.

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