Urban Renewal redefined?

Detroit urban farm

Image: Detroit, Michigan is a city in transition. With the car industry gone it will soon host the world’s biggest urban farm. (HantzGroup)

Urban Renewal  normally means more buildings not less.  This story is about a form of renewal in urban areas that replaces brown bricks with green fields.

Given that many of our urban settlements have been developed on once arable land, is restoration of some of that land to food production the way of the future? Continue reading

Stifling innovation #2: Overland Flow

This story is a follow on from the British Standard Fire Test of an earlier post. It is the story of how an attempt to be innovative with design in the aftermath of a major natural disaster foundered on the rocks of tick-box regulation.

Satellite image of Chelmer on the Brisbane River in January 2011. Source; ABC/Nearmap.

Satellite image of Chelmer on the Brisbane River in January 2011. Source; ABC/Nearmap.

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Relentless but Futile

SEO graphic
Every week I receive spam emails that use the same basic template. They are relentless but futile, so I thought they would eventually decline – no sign of that after more than a year… Not even with spam filters and blacklists in place.

Here’s a post-mortem on a typical example from my deleted items folder: Continue reading

Stifling innovation #1: The British Standard Fire Test

Fire Test

Whilst working as an architect in London in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I encountered what has become my template for inflexible regulations that stifle innovation. An encounter with the British Standard Fire Test is now my metaphor for the architect’s equivalent of a Catch-22 situation – thank you Joseph Heller!

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Climate Change: It’s complicated or what!

Solar_Flare_and_Coronal_Mass_Ejection_2010-02-12_lrgCalm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth

First seen (by me) on the New Zealand Herald site.

Originally reported by Jean-Louis Santini (AFP)

Washington — The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late — with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century — prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.

via AFP: Calm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth.

The question that exercises my mind now is what this means for the global warming debate. Continue reading

FlyKly – future mobility

I’ve been interested in alternatives to cars for urban mobility for years. Several earlier posts have covered new and interesting ideas. The latest development to catch my eye is the FlyKly smart bike conversion. Rather than a new idea, FlyKly is an evolution and confluence innovation bringing together pedal assistance, smart-phone control and social media in one elegant retro-fit package.

...missing image?

FlyKly integrates everything in the hub – you control it with an App!

Check out the video:

The project is currently seeking crowd funding. Interested?

Click through to the FlyKly web site for more.

Related posts:

Parallel Universe, 20’s plenty, Parallel Universe reprised

Image

Injalak Rock Art Galleries

I recently had the privilege to spend some time working with the people of Gunbalanya, a small community in West Arnhem Land, part of the ‘great top end’ of Australia. Whilst there I was taken on a tour of the ancient rock art galleries of Injalak Hill.

This is a brief visual diary of that experience:

Injalak Hill from Gunbalanya

Injalak Hill from Gunbalanya

Into the wild... wet season buffalo grass grows to over 8 feet and is razor sharp

Into the wild… wet season buffalo grass grows to over 8 feet and is razor sharp

Pausing for breath and breathtaking views across the flood plain

Pausing for breath and breathtaking views across the flood plain

Viewing the gallery as it has been for thousands of years - no walkways, barricades or interpretive signs

Viewing the gallery as it has been for thousands of years – no walkways, barricades or interpretive signs

Up close and personal Gary Djorlam shares some of the stories and explains the meaning of the paintings

Up close and personal Gary Djorlam shares some of the stories and explains the meaning of the paintings

Rock polished by human contact over the millennia and an ochre grinding bowl carved by stone tools

Rock polished by human contact over the millennia and an ochre grinding bowl carved by stone tools

X-ray style painting - a Barramundi is good eating

X-ray style painting – a Barramundi is good eating

Digging for bush tucker

Digging for bush tucker

Gunbalanya viewed from Injalak Hill

Gunbalanya viewed from Injalak Hill

Find out more about tours and local art at: http://www.injalak.com/

Doha Dreaming

Doha Dreaming

“There is surely a correspondence between an exhausted culture and a populace devolved so far into mental dullness that it can’t recognize its predicament. We don’t seem to get how much the industrial production spree of the past 200 years has just plumb worn us out, not to mention the ecosystem we were designed to dwell in” writes James Howard Kunstler under the title “Modernity Bites” this November 26, 2012.

James’ thesis is that we are at the end of the industrial era and that the economic structures it has spawned are imploding around us.

What if we just accept the reality that the industrial spree was a self-limiting adventure and now we have to move on?

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Community Based Renewable Energy Programs

City of Victor Harbor

Victor Harbor South Australia

I’ve been inspired recently by genuine grass-roots community initiatives to regain control of their energy security as a buffer against increasing costs and supply disruptions through investment in cooperative style renewable energy.  The City of Victor Harbor in South Australia in particular has made an impressive start – more below, but first some background.

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Thin Air – Stuart McMillen comics

How do trees manufacture mass out of thin air?

Stuart McMillen’s latest illustrated essay (he calls them comics, but I think that sells them short) is one of his best yet.  How do trees manufacture mass out of thin air?  How do our human building techniques and processes compare?

Fans of Stuart’s will know to expect a beautifully illustrated and well told story that will really get you thinking – they will not be disappointed with Thin Air!  Newbies please take some time to check out Stuart’s web site, not just his ‘comics’.

Thin Air trees cartoon – Stuart McMillen comics.