Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Design Flow

In the race to create a sustainable world, designers will be key players. I’ve always been a big design fan and I salute the new sense of purpose now apparent in every aspect of this industry. It’s becoming more experimental, more challenging, more ethical, and more exciting without losing its core functions – to stimulate ideas, change behavior, and offer help and hope.

Sustainability brings a whole new set of issues to the design table and a grandiose challenge was recently issued by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In a blaze of publicity, Sarkozy invited 10 architects to project 20 years into the future and come up with some ideas for the world’s most sustainable metropolis.

The Italians, Bernardo Secchi and Paola Vigano, came up with an extraordinary idea that upturns urban conventions. Instead of starting with hard infrastructure (roads, subways, walkways), they started with the existing waterways of Paris. The Seine is an icon of Paris but there is a less well-known network of canals, rivers, and waterways. There are already efforts underway to renovate this 81 mile network, but Secchi and Vigano had even grander designs on it shaped by a fantastic metaphor: the sponge.

Sponges are living creatures that shift and change with conditions and survive on a constant flow of water through their bodies. What a beautiful idea. A city that flows, grows, and responds. A city that is more inclusive. A city that attracts ideas found in the natural world. So often designs founded on compelling metaphors are the ones to capture the public imagination. “Renovate the canal system” or transform Paris into a sponge. No contest. Projects to improve sustainability, or based on sustainable principles, often fail the inspiration test. That’s one reason why at Saatchi & Saatchi we have bonded with Blue as a motivating spirit. As Japanese designer, Fumi Masuda has pointed out, the job ahead is not to “sustain society as it is, but change society for sustainability”. That means inspiring people. The concepts of the 10 architects will be publicly displayed, debated, tested, and challenged in true French style. Paris to the Channel as a single city, Paris as archipelego, Paris as an eight-petal flower, a Paris of urban fields, Paris as sponge.


GreenFeed said...

"In the race to create a sustainable world" Brings to mind that famous quote by Senator John James Ingals in 1872 "Next in importance to the divine profusion of water, light and air.... may be reckoned the universal beneficence of grass. It yields no fruit in Earth or air, yet should its harvest fail for a single year famine would depopulate the world". And as the world farming areas are decreasing rapidly due to over grazing, droughts and climate changes, innovation can come to the fore as it has in a small New Zealand town called Dannevirke. A system has been developed using nutrient film technology, to hydroponically produce in a factory 21 meters by 9 meters fresh green fodder for livestock at the rate of three tons a day every day 365 days a year. It grows from seed to feed in only eight days. Just imagine that, it feeds and fattens 600 head of beef cattle which put on 1.1 kilos a day. But let your imagination expand further in line with "the sustainable world". Should this little New Zealand Company expand, it could conceivably remove the starvation and desert results of the sub Saharan populations, if they had a Green Feed Fodder Factory they now could feed their own goats and milking cows and provide meat from pigs, chickens, and beef cows. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him forever” All it takes is the imagination, the will, a few resources, like a little help from the professionals, a bit more financial capital and the world paradigm of farming can change, which the New Zealand company will try and do with that help.

Anonymous said...

What is stated sounds phenomenal and if you’re right could save millions of lives. Something of this nature should be the in the sites of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who with Warren Buffet have set aside millions and millions of dollars for projects to improve the lot of the sub – Saharan peoples. I would imagine it would be very difficult to get your project or system before them but probably worth a try. What you need is some connections of high credence to help you along.

Even as a drought solution for everyday farmers your Green Feed Factories sound amazing. More and more of the world are being severely affected by the ravages of climate change that affects the efficiency of farming and hence the food supply chain. Whilst the world needs for protein as in beef, sheep, pigs and chickens are growing, the farm areas to produce it are shrinking by the inability to provide sustainable pasture. There is no doubt whatsoever that by producing economic volumes of fodder for livestock on such a small footprint fits the very ideal of sustainable farming practices in its truest sense.

If I had the resources available that you need you would have them in a flash.