How does “productive” architecture go beyond sustainability?

The Artdog Image of Interest

TEDx speaker, architect Dong-Ping Wong, lays out a case for moving past “sustainable” and transitioning into “productive” architecture. Specifically, he describes architecture that produces three kinds of benefits:

Solar and wind energy (see below).

Solar and wind energy (see below).

Clean water filtration in a river, via his +POOL project.

Agricultural crop yields in the middle of a city (strong echoes of my Rana Station, here! Who knew?). He calls it an “urban quilt of productivity.”

At left is an overview map of the peninsula jutting out from Copenhagen that was chosen for the development. At right is a detail of an area with several arable fields and even a water treatment facility.

I’ll warn you: this is longer than my usual “Image if Interest” video. But I thought the direction he’s going, and the solutions he outlined, might be just as fascinating to you as they were to me.

Moving into the 21st Century by moving beyond “first thoughts” about sustainability is, to me, an essential next step. 

I liked Wong’s example of housing conceived as a solar array. It’s designed as a five-tower residence in LA, the largest city in a state that has already mandated that as of 2020 solar panels be incorporated into all houses). 

The illustration shows three images: a traditional rectangular-block building that captures higher wind velocity along one edge of the roof at left, then in the middle is Wong's triangular shaped building with wind turbines staged all along the hypotenuse of the right triangle (it actually would be a prism in 3-d). On the right is an artist's visualization of what the triangular-shaped buildings might look like.
Instead of capturing increased wind velocity at just one point,  Wong and his colleagues designed structures to create a whole surface capturing much more energy, to the point that they become more than self-sufficient.

He also describes a south-Dallas project designed to capture enough wind energy to “power a 600-unit housing block,” and actually produce more energy than it needs.

If we are actually to have a chance of slowing climate change and ameliorating its effects, we must react intelligently.

I think our responses must resonate all the way down into basic design principles, built on entirely new assumptions about the purpose of our built environment. It starts with thinking the way Wong and his colleagues are.

IMAGES: Many thanks to TEDxDumbo 2012, a TEDxCity2.0 event, for this video. I screen-captured the still images from Wong’s presentation.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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