Future Ecology Designed

Sustainable design theory manifested in products, infrastructure, and graphic representation. A utopian glimpse of a future New Zealand where environmental considerations are of tantamount importance, and society is designed to accommodate the native ecosystem.

a Red Herring

Why Biofuels are absolutely NOT a sustainable option.

George Monbiot writing in The Guardian.

"The demand for biodiesel," the Malaysian Star reports, "will come from the European Community ... This fresh demand ... would, at the very least, take up most of Malaysia's crude palm oil inventories." Why? Because it is cheaper than biodiesel made from any other crop.

In September, Friends of the Earth published a report about the impact of palm oil production. "Between 1985 and 2000," it found, "the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia". In Sumatra and Borneo, some 4 million hectares of forest have been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares are scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5 million in Indonesia.

Before oil palms, which are small and scrubby, are planted, vast forest trees, containing a much greater store of carbon, must be felled and burnt. Having used up the drier lands, the plantations are moving into the swamp forests, which grow on peat. When they've cut the trees, the planters drain the ground. As the peat dries it oxidises, releasing even more carbon dioxide than the trees. In terms of its impact on both the local and global environments, palm biodiesel is more destructive than crude oil from Nigeria.


More Urban Planting

A very nice example of re-using exisiting structures. Friends of the High Line is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and reuse of the High Line - a 1.5 mile, elevated railway that runs along the West Side of Manhattan. Preliminary designs are being devised that will allow this railway to be developed into a promenade.


Patent Drawings

Here is a listing of Buckminster Fuller's patents. Most of these designs are a manifestation of his conviction that every unit of effort within a working system should operate with the greatest attainable efficiency of lifetime use. I love the Dymaxion car, and would like to know what the Submarisle does.... http://bfi.org/?q=image/tid/62

De-centralisation ahoy

We can't refer to sustainability and architechture without first acknowledging Bucky: http://www.bfi.org/

Buckminster Fuller described the accelerative process of tracing Industrial design from the first stone tools: ‘Man, in degrees beyond all other creatures known to him, consciously participates -albeit meagrely- in the selective mutations and accelerations of his own evolution.’

From the essay ‘Total Thinking’
Published 1963

He identified that design was in essence the key to our own place in the wilderness, regardless as to whether constructive or destructive.

Buckminster Fuller postulated a lot of principals in a similar vein to the direction for which I would like to take this project- The most fitting example being a worldwide de-centralised energy web, within 'Spaceship Earth'. I believe that de-centralisation is a concept best worked through locally at this stage, globally the transmission losses would be debilitating, let alone the politics; however with respect to ecology the earth is a biosphere which doesn't recognise political boundaries.

Part of the backbone of my contribution is to be formed from some work I did on de-centralisation during 2005. As follows:

Design Criteria – Network Infrastructure Circa 2015

Revised System Criteria

Building codes will require new, and eventually all, residential properties to specify their individual renewable sources of electrical energy. The ultimate manifestation of this code would be a building which has an integral generator built into its structure, providing total self-sufficiency while running. Advances in aerodynamic efficiency of wind turbines, as well as the scale and lack of complexity needed for a single building, would prove this concept to be feasible, safe, low-cost and non-intrusive in a suburban setting.

In areas where a structurally attached generator is not possible, for example the central city, areas with no obvious provision for harnessing natural energy, high density infill housing and apartments, or where the cost of an integral generator proves to be prohibitive, residential properties would each hold a number of shares in individual, medium sized generators. These generators would need only be in the same basic district as the properties served, retaining the proximity of end-user to generation source. Three generators from which to purchase shares would be allocated per property, allowing a degree of redundancy- the system would be balanced to allow a property to run at peak load on two generators, assuming there would not always be the conditions to allow all three to run concurrently. A number of shares would be bought relating directly to the number of bedrooms and other facilities of the house, from the time the house is under construction. From this point, the shares would be viewed as an integral element of the house itself, selling when the house is sold, and no less attached, in theory, than if physically part of the building construction. Removal and addition of bedrooms or indeed of entire houses, thus creating fluctuations in share distribution, would be easily absorbed by a dynamic energy generation share-market.

The energy from the share-held generators would continue to be distributed through the grid. A ‘stream’ of power directly related to the number of shares held is distributed to each house, this stream a percentage calculated in accordance with how much total power is being generated by the three individual share-held sources. To prevent inadvertent losses across the network, transmission losses are calculated and deducted from the provided stream. The residential properties, effectively owning their generators through the purchase of shares, and paying maintenance fees geared towards the size of their holding, now have these constant, if fluctuating, streams of electricity to use as desired. To this end, residential properties featuring either integral generators, or share-held generators are in the same basic position, and both remain connected to the grid.

Power companies would continue to play a role in the power generation system: manufacturing the generators; controlling maintenance of both the generators and the grid- invoicing the shareholders a half-yearly fee for this service, balanced by the number of shares held; and supplying electricity surplus to the supplied stream. If more energy is required over that which has been self-generated or allocated in streams, it would be bought seamlessly from the grid. This would be at a dynamic price geared to the amount of unused energy currently in the grid system, paid to the power companies, who would also be required to ensure a constant buffer of extra energy was always existant on the grid, particularly for non-residential requirements. The capability would also exist to sell surplus power from the allocated streams back to the grid at market prices. These prices would be dynamically geared so the grid would not be constantly losing revenue, that is, more money would need to enter through demand for extra capacity, than exit through paying for surplus energy returned to the grid. The extra capacity required would be more a demand of industrial entities, where energy needs are harder to meet through self-generation, -an example of the New Zealand family being able to directly benefit from increasingly offshore corporate cash flow. It is also considered that each residential property would have a high-capacity integral power cell, where during times of high surplus electricity provided from the stream, energy can be stored in preparation for times of high electricity use.

The net result of this system would be almost complete user control of energy generation. The grid would become holistically focused, with energy generation at all times precisely matched to real-world demand. Infrastructure costs would be more effectively absorbed, efficiency would be enhanced immeasurably, and the whole grid would act as an organic, ever-changing entity. Losses to multinationals would be cut, capital would remain in New Zealand and the only financial input required from the end user would be that required to specifically generate electricity.

Interactive architecture

"Interactive Architecture dot Org is a weblog about the emerging practice within architecture that aims to merge the digital virtual with tangible and physical spatial experience." > www.interactivearchitecture.org

I am realy getting into this LED, light wall (and light installations in general) trend. Like these glowing places

Blimpy blimpy


This is excellent: taking eco-systems and biological mimicry, and applying it to a human environment. The principal here is exactly where we should be looking, if not in the application itself. Imagine a form of transit where you dialled a ride out of the ether, and knew there was always some element of chaos impeding the likelihood of actually arriving at your destination, while all the time knowing that your journey was in fact at the mercy of everyone else's movements.... I can't quite work out a practical angle here, but it is immensly appealing.

Oh, and I have a blimp fetish too.

Tank Farm

Cheers Niclause for posting the inital writeup. I took the liberty of doing some visual beautification (which is in fact purely form follows function), and make it somewhat easier to the eye.

To get us going once more for the comming year, one small contribution.

Reading through the NZH today, I came accross a follow-up article to something I had spotted last year. (and have to say was quite exited about) It was about the 'Tank farm' development propsal thats seems to be gaining some momentum. I have been intrigued by this plot of land for a while, and was contemplating what would / could become of it.
I had no idea they had already come to a 'concept proposal' stage, and zapped myself over to the website to check it out. > http://www.tankfarm.co.nz

My inital reaction to the NZH story was a little sceptical, considering how current AKL developments are stacking up. But my first impression after looking through the site are a lot better.

- The 'Reflection Ponds'. + in eco-credits and it could look quite cool.
- Park on norther tip. Would be a shame plonking a poorly executed building here. (which sadly, most new AKL sctructures at the moment are)
- The 'offset warf' on the eastern side could be quite effective I think.

whats not so hot:
- Does not seem to be very much 'creative space'. Be it public art and performance areas.
- The whole thing could just as easely turn into a property development/retail frenzy, rather than an auckland urban-design & enhancement opportunity.
- Will the 'spine' just be a bunch of up market watering holes in the likes of the Viaduct?

Will be interesting to see where this goes.

Combined Sustainability Exhibition

Initial Plan

Some thoughts on your writeup.. (CB)
In reply (NH) 5-12-2005

Overall Objectives
  1. To provide a multimedia exhibition of exceptionally high quality and audience appeal. Concepts of sustainability and an interest in the native New Zealand environment will be endorsed through visual arts and design.
  2. To provide a portfolio entry for contributors. Contributions will be indelibly linked within the project context, yet capable of standing alone for archival purposes.
  3. To provide networking opportunities for contributors, both through working with companies in the R&D phase, and exposure resulting from the exhibition and zine.
Yup, this all sounds good. The overal objective, I think we have established so far is focused around a public exhibit. Which is a good, consice and realistic objective to work to. The fact that it is for the general public will also give us a quality benchmark.
Each of us will probably also have several personal objectives that we like to achieve. (such as you expanding on your portfolio in regards to industrial design)


Sustainable design theory manifested in products, infrastructure, and graphic representation. A utopian glimpse of a future New Zealand where environmental considerations are of tantamount importance, and society is designed to accommodate the native ecosystem.

Individual submissions will identify further key themes to work with.

Ahh..the theme.. The word 'Sustainable' seems to come out as a strong contender. Exactly what the theme will encompass, I think will emerge and evolve as we work on it. Sustainable systems could be our starting block.

Yeah, I’m a bit wary of using the word ‘sustainable’- It doesn’t imply improvement or a revolution in terms of thinking about our place in the environment. To sustain is simply to continue in a manner that could be continued indefinitely- we want to actually positively improve. I also think we need to be careful of using words that are currently en vogue

As far as theme goes, I thought we could individually further refine our own approach. For example, I would like to view infrastructure as an eco-system in itself, using the same principles of order and supply. Bio-mimicry, if you will… This would encompass the work I have done on transport, energy supply etc. Thematically we would need to overlap, so the whole presentation had a feeling of unity. The outline you provide below covers most of what I had in mind, so we really just need to talk about the work itself.

Overal thematic ideas/fields:

- Living environments | Going from how people live (home) to the systems built up around them. (city/country?) Concentrating on the physical structures & systems mainly I think. Even though social and politcal etc. play a role they will not be the focus.

that would encompass, to pick a few:

- Urban devlopment |

- Transport / Logistic | your key area of expertese :-)

- Power systems | Production and supply and usage aswell. A key aspect of sustainability.

Ecology (natural environments) | With this I imagine exporing how they integrate and complement other systems.


NZ as a model | I tend to dislike the use of utopian, as implies by definition that it is of reach. If we do go with a 'this is what it could be approach', I believe its important it is not instantly dismissed as a ficticious, totaly out of reach presentation. But at the same time you need to exite people with the possibilities.

Yeah, striking a balance is important The projects I want to develop further here do however require some degree of social revolution- particularly where they have potential to run counter to a number of established interests- read de-centralised energy. Ummm, maybe if we just don’t mention utopia anywhere? We can’t let semantics define our work at this stage.

Design & its relevence | How the process and role of designers is relevent to developing and implementing these ideas. Design as an integral part of the process, not just as a dispossable luxery.
This seems to be emerging as a key theme, especialiy in NZ at the moment.
We might show and answer this just by doing what we are doing, but could be a thematic to explore.

Note on the narrative of the Exhibtion, or exibtis: (if such a thing exists)

Man.. ages since I did semiotics, but I agree we need to actually have some philosophical discussion about the role of this exhibition itself. We are almost looking at urban planning here- how can we place our position at a different level? How can we explain why we are doing this? (apart from getting to draw cool cars and planes and maybe solar powered killer robots and stuff, of course)

And I'm sure theres more. I think at this stage we just collect anything we might think could slot in, and then weed out what is irrelevent.
Its getting rather late once again so will just quickly skim through the major things...


Exhibitions, Auckland and Wellington

Yup, would be fantastic to do both metropolises

  1. Each participant presents work within a defined area of the exhibition space, leading to a layout which compiles individual portfolio work, yet shows a degree of group thinking. Separate spaces which reference each other philosophically are the aim.
  2. A multi-media approach is important to engage the audience. Impact will be greater with a number of different formats presented, these may include A3 explanatory boards on foam core, A2 posters, photography, video, interactive computer terminals, and 3D maquettes and models.
  3. The design process itself is to be considered an important aspect of the final work output. Visual diaries and other records of working progress are to be displayed with final work where applicable.
Not sure about #1. Although it would give whoever is involved a defined target when it come to the exhibtion space, there is the danger it will frament the show. (through inconsitencies, in quality or contribution for e.g.)

I like the idea of mixing different disciplines into one space, for example what we discussed a vehicle interior design with a conceptual interface incorporated into one experience/presentation.
Will think think about this..

I was being slightly selfish in wanting to have an easy transition to a personal portfolio. But it seems ridiculous to under-employ our respective areas of expertise. I guess this is something to work out by each case- We both need to define now what we are working towards, so we can find areas to overlap and create a more refined overall finish. Next step! This will need to be detailed, so I don’t expect us to have anything more than a very loose draft in a week or so

#2 - Most deffenetly. Anything to get the message accross. How and in what medium will, i think be dictated by our final pieces.

#3 - Absolutly. This would complement the 'relevence of design' theme quite well and engage the viewer into the thinking process a lot more.

It might also be worth to start considering, location whise were we envision something like this to run.
I had a thought that an actuall outside exhibit would be kinda cool, (just parts of it) but probably just poses too many problems. Anyway, worth starting to process some ideas on this.

Hadn’t thought much about this, kept seeing a deisgn-school type final exhibition. Possibilities are interesting- some sort of customized series of stands, even in a tent or something? (being fairly basic here). This is where I thought a grant from Massey might be a possibility


A small booklet/zine will be produced compiling the material from the exhibition, for wider distribution. Sales will start at the exhibition and continue at various retail outlets subsequently.

Format will consist of bound A4 printouts, forming an A3 booklet. The printing will be primarily black and white, with a number of colour pages- sustainable printing techniques will be followed where possible.

Sounds good to me :-) More than happy to oversee production of this. Depending on pricing we could even look actuall printing runs etc. But sustainable, environmental sound is the key here.

Bloody ripper