Could Detroit become the City of Urban Agriculture?

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The idea of returning Detroit to farm land is an interesting idea that was recently covered in New Geography(DETROIT: URBAN LABORATORY AND THE NEW AMERICAN FRONTIER, Nov. 4) and New York Times(Plowing Detroit Into Farmland blog post Nov. 9 based on New Geography article).

The New Geography article reviews the size and scale of Detroit in comparison to other cities and the extent of urban decay since the 1950’s and that Detroit could become farmland.

In my opinion, Detroit could become a city of urban agriculture; it has the land, water & infrastructure(roads, rail) and lots of deserted industrial space that could be converted to markets and storage/logistics.  However it would require a either a grass roots movement which gets financial backing (after initial results) from investors or a federal incentive as the city of Detroit is shrinking and resources are already stretched.

Urban agriculture could supply the people of Detroit and other cities in region with food. Large areas of housing could be converted to open fields where the blocks are large or rows of green houses where the blocks are narrow. The agricultural areas could also grow crops for ethanol(although resource intensive) to supply raw materials for fuel(refined in Detroit) for the farm machinery and cars.

Urban agriculture combined with alternative energy such as wind and solar could convert Detroit from a city to a urban core with villages (see New Geography for diagram). The city could become self-sufficient and a possible testing ground for urban design that could be used for other North Americans cities going through the same changes in size and urban form.

New Orleans is currently a hot bed for Urban Design experiments for the South, which came about from a natural disaster maybe Detroit can come back as the hot bed of Urban Design for Northern climates.

Detroit has the opportunity and basic resources but does it have the will to change?

Read more information used as background for this post at [New Geography] & [New York Times]

By Damian Holmes

West 8+MRIO Planting 8000 trees & participating in Xian IHE 2011

West 8+MRIO plant 8000 pine trees in Madrid
West 8+MRIO recently started with the planting of 8,000 pine trees for the Salon the Pinos in Madrid, Spain. As part of the master plan West 8+MRIO designed for the reclaimed riverbanks and the new urban area above the M30 motorway, the Salon de Pinos will act as a spiral cord, connecting the various park areas included in the design.

read the full post at the [SOURCE: West 8 – News]

Xian International Horticultural Exhibition

West 8 have also announced that they will be participating in the Xian International Horticultural Exhibition from April 9 to October 9, 2011.

The theme of Xi’an International Horticultural Exhibition 2011 is “Harmonious Coexistence Of City And Nature “. The Exhibition will create a plant-dominated natural landscape, highlighting the history, culture and local characteristics of Xi’an, displaying the harmonious coexistence of city and nature, andexploring the future development of harmonious coexistence among human, city, landscape and nature.

Read the full news post at the [SOURCE: West8 – News]

[IMAGES SOURCE: West8 – News]

Hamilton cuts waterfront budget

Panorama of Hamilton, BermudaImage via Wikipedia

The Royal Gazette reports

The Corporation of Hamilton (Bermuda) has revised its plans for a waterfront development — slashing the budget from a quarter of billion dollars to less than $200 million.

Mayor Charles Gosling announced that “It is more in keeping with Hamilton, more affordable and will be quite an enormous resource for the city and Island as a whole,”

Read more at the [SOURCE: The Royal Gazette]

Berlin to get square to mark the fall of the Wall

Recently SPIEGEL ONLINE reports that Sinai won the competition to design the new “Platz der 9. November 1989” (Nov. 9, 1989 Square). The square is to commemorate the day the Berlin Wall was opened when the first East German walked through the gates into the West.

Currently the site is somewhat neglected and has little to signify the importance that the site played in the history of Berlin and Germany.

The design for the Square will highlight the remaining 160 metres section of wall with a path running the length of the wall. The path will have “movements” represented  with steel inlays inscribed with a word or quote.

A.W. Faust, the project leader from Sinai was cited by SPIEGEL ONLINE saying

“We wanted to recall the sum of these moments,” …… “Each moment made a huge impression and added to the momentum of the previous one.”

……….at the final point of this part of the display there will be a small copse of cherry trees (see graphic)….Faust explained that the firm has chosen a variety, Autumnalis, that blooms in the fall. “Hopefully there will be cherry blossoms falling on the ground every Nov. 9,”

The Square is expected to cost €350,000 ($520,000) and be finished by summer 2010.

Read more at the SOURCE: SPIEGEL ONLINE – Where the Berlin Wall First Fell: Historic Border Crossing Finally Gets a Facelift

New carbon-negative cement wins Competition

London Development Agency reports

The London Development Agency (LDA) has congratulated a London company that has been recognised for its innovative and environmentally-friendly approach to construction.

The company was recognised for its potential contribution to the engineering and construction industries at the London Technology Fund (LTF) Competition awards ceremony held on Wednesday night at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s head office. Sarah Ebanja, Deputy Chief Executive at the LDA presented the Environment Award to Novacem, a start-up company developing carbon-negative cement.

Novacem, a spin-out from Imperial College London, has developed a groundbreaking type of cement, which has the potential to transform the cement industry from being a significant emitter of CO2 to being an absorber of CO2. Novacem estimates that for every tonne of ordinary Portland cement replaced by Novacem cement, around 0.75 tonne of CO2 could be captured and stored indefinitely in construction products.

[SOURCE: London Development Agency – New carbon-negative cement wins LDA-supported London Technology Fund Competition]

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