The technological field’s convergence with architecture results in a single track towards digital urbanism: both data driven and produced cities in the name of sustainability. Automation of building techniques, optimization of building forms through simulations, and increased streamlining in transportation methods have each restricted the design process. Designers’ traditional focus on space and materiality has been overtaken by narrow schedules and finite opportunities for sustainable materials and practices. There has been a recent push for architects to “go green,” yet the superficial emphasis on sustainability has actually degraded the term. Sustainability is defined as the practice of reducing or eliminating the impact of the built environment on nature in order to maintain current ecological levels. Thus, the term has been drained of the reformative power it once held.
Cities continue to expand outward into agriculture; forests are further depleted by construction – and the public as a whole is losing its relationship with nature. Although developers use “green” as a buzzword in conjunction with sustainability, it does nothing to improve the environment. Any green element affixed to a conventional exterior envelope does not promote sustainability. Adding a hat to a consumptive box of space does not alter its identity. This form of ornament allows users and designers to become complacent with how they live their lives.
Inspired by the way plants are able to grow through concrete or a bed of rocks; this installation confronts the urban citizen on their block. These “seeds” could be implemented throughout the city of Chicago as a critique on how the built environment has encroached on the natural world. The installation highlights the many layers of unnatural materials that are below the sea of concrete. Many of these elements are white, grey, or black. The final upturned layer reveals earth with growing plants. The number of layers between the concrete surface and the natural elements is meant to signify how far removed urban dwellers are from nature. Functioning as bike share stations, the enclosures encourage the public to seek measures to mitigate their effect on the environment.
The true costs of building and transportation can no longer be measured monetarily. Instead, the proximity to nature (or levels of separation) should be the true indicator of environmental health.
Poster: Green Duplicity