Category Archives: Thoughts, ideas, musing

my stuff

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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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/

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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Five Tips for Low-Impact Living

There is a lot to think about when trying to live a low-impact lifestyle particularly if as I do you live in an affluent western society.

Without doubt our western lifestyle has evolved into something of a monster rapaciously consuming resources and spewing out pollutants at an exponentially increasing rate.  We know this is unsustainable, but how can you or I make any real difference?  Easy. Change happens when something better comes along. That ‘something better’ doesn’t just appear by magic it is pioneered by innovators and early adopters until eventually the idea reaches a tipping point, then everyone is into it.

After 25 years of studying and practicing architecture I’ve distilled five principles that underpin low-impact (maybe even sustainable) living principles for built environments.

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How Clean and Green is Coal Seam Gas?

There are conflicting claims about the greenhouse friendly nature of coal seam gas in Australia. In this article, Colin Hunt finds that the differences turn on assumptions about the quantity of gas that escapes to the atmosphere from coal seam gas operations and the gas’ global warming potential. He argues that both better measurement of the fugitive emissions of coal seam gas and an official update of its greenhouse potency are required. These recommendations have important implications not only for meeting Australia’s greenhouse targets but for the tax rates on emissions under the Clean Energy legislation.

via The Brisbane Institute » November 2011 Issue.

Out of the Blue – a new model for a resilient economy:

10 Years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs Returning to business as usual as soon as possible was the mainstream mantra after September 2008; such was the shock of the collapse. A crash like that is never an easy time for considered reform and few countries had the resources to make any serious attempt in any case, so invested were we all in the good old days of cheap abundant energy and exponential growth. August 2011; here we go again?

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