December 09, 2008
City Eco Lab: view from the balcony - and from the net
An overview of the City Eco Lab site on its second Saturday. It was snowing in St Etienne but the place was packed. (80,000 people came to the biennial two years ago but many more seem to be expected this time).
If you scroll down from this story, there are another 18 posts on specific projects.
Some of Kristi's pix are here, Dori Gislason has put an album here, and Allan Chochinov - Mr Core77 - has blogged the bienniale here. Marcia Caines has now posted an excellent review here at the Cluster website. Brice Pelleschi from exyzt has posted some fab City Eco Lab images at Flickr. And here are some more from Juha Huuskonen and a collection from "your bartender"also at flickr.
Allan Chochinov has also posted a mini-movie. of me explaining the project as a whole. I look like something the dog just sicked up - but it was just after the opening. So be kind, listen to the words and visualize the pre-wrecked person I used to be.
Here below is the installation on urban permaculture by Mathieu Benoit Gonin:
here explaining it to visitors
Below is the urban fish-farming prototype of Hugo Bont and Olivier Peyricot; (I'm not sure the cutest baby in the shed knew the fish were to be eaten):
and here is the "Tools for Exchange" stand inside the Tool Shed created by Bethany Koby and Ellie Thornhill.
The containers describe a wide variety of tools and organisational platforms for cooperation and sharing resources.
The popular ones after a week seem to be community-supported agriculture, energy descent action planning (as used by Transition Towns), local economy trading schemes, alternative trade networks, and land- sharing platforms. Visitors add their own recommendations for tools by writing on the blank lables of other containers.
And in the Explorers Club (above) food producers and citizens discuss ways to enhance the AMAP system of community supported agriculture.
Next to the Explorers Club, in the Map Room (Salle des Cartes), Big Picture proposals from The Why factory are mixed up with maps of ecosystems and biodiversity in the Rhone Alps region.
December 08, 2008
City Eco Lab: productive urban gardens
One of the inspiring discoveries we made in putting City Eco Lab together was l’Ilot d’Amaranthes,a five-year-long project in which St Etienne designer Emanuel Louisgrand, in partnership with Galerie Roger Tator, has created productive gardens on abandoned sites in different parts of Lyon.
Given the range of malfunctioning global systems we have to deal with, attempting to design global replacements top-down simply wont work. Instead, we have to "grow" their replacement from small experiments, or seeds, that have the potential to multiply and be scaled up. Solutions will come through intense and diverse experimentation in doing things in a lighter and more sustainable way.
When I speak about experimentation, I don't mean research in a laboratory, or debate in an academy. I mean experiments in the real world with the participation and co-ownership of citizens. Such experiments, when rooted in reality, generate the feedback and rapid learning that's needed in terms of perpetually iterative design.
L’Ilot d’Amaranthes is a perfect model of the kind of activity that we need to see in every city and town. What shines out from the project is that each intervention is unique to that place and that time. This is a sustainable way of thinking: Understanding what makes each place unique, and then defining tools and infrastructures that can be adapted to it.
Roger Tator Gallery have published a new book about l’Ilot d’Amaranthes and the work of Emanuel Louisgrand. I know this because I contributed a short text and have a copy sitting next to me as I write - but I can't quite find it yet on the Roger Tator site. But do hassle them for a copy - it's beautifully done.
City Eco Lab: the art of food proximity
"Let's keep food around us" says Debra Solomon of her presentation at City Eco Lab: Lucky Mi Fortune Cooking. It's is a working example of how a community can optimize its food flow using design. "New (food) products are not the answer" says Solomon; "new platforms, new actors, new configurations are".
There are a lot more of Debra's pix here.
December 07, 2008
City Eco Lab: The river runs through us
If perpetual, resource-intensive growth is no longer a viable model for the development of a city-region, what alternatives are available?
In City Eco Lab, we explored the idea that St Etienne's river, le Furan, and the natural systems of the broader region, might be a fruitful basis for re-imagining the city.
It was in this spirit that City Eco Lab's scenographers - Gaelle Gabillet, and Exyzt - put water and earth in the centre of the space. Man-made stuff was arrayed around the edges.
We then ran workshops with a variety of individuals and groups who were involved in different ways with the history and the future of the river. From these encounters emerged a map (below) of projects and opportunities.
In St Etienne, much of the river - Le Furan - was built over and hidden during its years as as an industrial and manufacturing centre of France. But thanks to wonderful research by Justine Ultsch and her colleagues at St Etienne's City Hall, we were able to present many aspects of this hidden history during City Eco Lab.
The image below, for example, is taken from a video, commissioned by the city, of sonic scanning that shows where the river flows right under the city centre.
It will not be practical to re-open all of Le Furan - but certain stretches can be brought back into plain view.
But for les Stefanois, developing the river as a tourist sdestination is less interesting than using it to support new business opportunities.
My own hobby-horse was the idea of using floodable ex-industrial land to grow crocuses (from which high value saffron is extracted) as they do in India.
City Eco Lab: St Etienne's Soupe de Ville (City Soup)
Architects are sometimes accused of being more at home in a world of abstraction than in the here-and-now.
Nonsense! A team from St Etienne's architecture school disproved this vile calumny with a wonderful project called Soupe de Ville (City Soup).
Having first done a beautiful job documenting sites around the city where food could potentially be grown....
...the team built a planting bed on formerly-industrial land not far from the biennial site...
When the crop was in, Soupe de Ville staged servings at various points around the city....
...in their custom-made Baravan...
...before makinge a triumphant guest appearance in City Eco Lab
There's piles more material at the Soupe de Ville site.
City Eco Lab: de-motorisation at different scales
A key principle of City Eco Lab was to focus on live projects and enterprises rather than on good ideas in abstract.
The city's dynamic new courier company, Les Coursiers Verts (The Green Courier Company), took us at our word and relocated their office to the City Eco Lab site for the duration of the event.
A key question posed by a start-up like Les Coursiers Verts concerns scale: could their model absorb more than a tiny proportion of the flows of packages around a modern city?
And what about distance? Bike-base couriers may work in a city centre (even one with seven hills like St Etienne) - but what about longer distance traffic?
Frankly I don't know the answer - but the idea of the show was to pose the question and bring different actors together to address it.
Right next to Les Corsiers Verts, for example, the French postal service, La Poste, presented the prototype of an an electric vehicle that they will deploy nationwide.
La Poste delivers five million packages a day in the city centres of France, and they've committed themselves to do this with zero emissions by 2012.
Now, zero emissions is not the same as zero environmental impact. For example, hybrid electric vehicles contain 60% more copper (thanks to their batteries and electronics) than old-style gas guzzlers. Mining and processing copper is incredibly energy and resource intensive.
Dealing with this wider footprint of delivery services is next on the list. For City Eco Lab, we were happy to start a conversation between The Big and The Small.
City Eco Lab: "hybrid reality story scripts" about creative communities
Traditionally, the regeneration of a city has focused on its built fabric; architects and designers propose ways to upgrade or replace the old streets like the one above in St Etienne.
In City Eco Lab, the focus was less on buildings, than on activities that would represent more sustainable ways of organising daily life.
The designer Francois Jegou asked people from St Etienne to imagine their current life using solutions that reduced their impact on the environment and also regenerated the social fabric around them.
The result was a series of 13 "story scripts" that were shown on small screens in City Eco Lab (below).
These visions are "realist and pragmatic", Jegou explains. "They show solutions that already exist in Saint-Étienne - imminent projects here, or solutions that exist elsewhere."
For Jegou, these story scripts form “hybrid realities” that are realistic enough to make us question our own lifestyles, but still sufficiently open-ended for us to be able to adapt them to our own lives.
The resulting series of images are like little photo-novels which together present several solutions and a multi-faceted vision from the citizens' point of view.
Jegou's project at City Eco Lab continues his pioneering work on social innovation and design for sustainability.
City Eco Lab: neighbourhood energy dashboard
In the central space of City Eco Lab, a variety of live projects were on show that dealt with energy, water and mobility. Two key questions emerged: What variables make a neighbourhood sustainable, or not? And how do you measure them?
Magalie Restalo, a designer from St Etienne, presented the prototype of an energy and resource flows dashboard that would indicate the impacts of different kinds of interventions: feeding the quartier's citizens more from allotment gardens; increasing the flow of foods through the community-supported agriculture system AMAP; and the use of bicycle based couriers such as Les Coursiers Verts.
The animation is not real-time, but it is based on reasonably hard numbers. The idea is to show citizens of the neighbourhood how much difference each of the possible changes would make.
If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I've been trying to commission dashboards for cities and regions for years now - but until the St Etienne project, they never left the drawingboard. (For Dott 07 in North East England, for example, I commissioned a project called Vital Signs which morphed into an quite different art project to the one I'd anticipated).
So I'm doubly thrilled and impressed that Restalo, who was supported in the project by EDF, has made such an effective prototype. It's an impressive piece of work as you will see from the animated version here.
December 06, 2008
City Eco Lab: soft tools for sharing
The "Soft" department (above) within the City Eco Lab's Cabane a Outils (Tool Shed) presented a variety of soft tools such as software platforms, new economic models, and design research networks. The aim was to make visitors aware of the existence of such ‘soft’ tools and present a selection so that they would not be overwhelmed by what’s out there.
Designers Ellie Thornhill (above, left) and Bethany Koby (right) used a variety of physical containers to 'contain' the various soft tools. Some of these included:
- Complementary Currencies such as the Lewes Pound.
- AMAP (French community-suported agriculture (CSA)
- Spot Scout - the eBay of parking spaces (which we reckoned could also be used for rooms)
- Thing Link "Every thing has a story. We help people to link to it"
- Etsy buy and sell all things hand-made
City Eco Lab: open source hardware
Many of the goods and services we take for granted in our daily lives depend on global flows and networks that seem to be unraveling in today's converging crises.
Are doomed to return to a pre-industrial, pre-technological age?
If Jean-Noël Montagné (above, left - with Juha Huuskonen on the right) is around, tools and technologies will still be available - but not the proprietory, closed-system kinds we have now.
In one of the most remarkable presentations in our Explorers Club at City Eco Lab, Jean-Noël told us about the fast-emerging world of Logiciels libres, matériels libres, ressources libres - loosely translated as "free and open computing, materials and resources".
"We need to re-invent self-reliance" said Jean-Noël. The products, services and infrastructures we depend on need to be durable, and adaptable to different contexts. Their production should be based on recycling, and nurture local economies.
Jean-Noël told us about the bricophone project that is being co-develped by Craslabs and left us with a Directory of do-it-yourself (DIY) technologies and resources.
City Eco Lab: Map Room
The focus of City Eco Lab was on live projects from the city-region - but we wanted to place these in the context of the bigger picture.
We therefore invited The Why Factory, from TU Delft in the Netherlands, to present their "Green Dreams" maps in our Salle des Cartes (Maps Room). The project was led by Pirjo Haikola, researcher and lecturer at (T?F).
The map beow, for example, shows livable and unlivable areas n 2100; it's by Pauline Marcombe and Adi Utama.
And the image below shows a proposal for a Hanging Gardens of Barcelona; it's by Magnus Svensson and Nicola Placella.
These maps focused on global and large scale urban view of sustainability. They compared strategies and their impacts on global and urban scale and looked at the big picture numbers. What is the effect of green buildings in an urban scale? How ‘green’ are cities today and how green should they be? Would it be possible to provide electricity for the whole world with renewable sources? What would an urban plan integrating renewable electricity generation be like? Is it possible to grow enough food inside the city boarders for all the inhabitants and how would that transform the city?
The Why Factory is a research group founded by Prof. Winy Maas, MVRDV, Delft School of Design and Delft University of Technology.
City Eco Lab: dry loo solutions
Many people ask, "What has design got to do with sustainable development?".
Well, take toilets.
In the South, 40% of the global population lives without toilets. In most places, scarcity of water renders sewer systems impossible, while ad hoc human waste disposal spreads waterborne illnesses that prey upon millions, and cripple developing economies.
In the North, roughly 20% of our already profligate daily water use is to flush toilets with drinking water. City dwellers have simply got to reduce this appalling waste - but how?
Hardened eco-warriors take pride in using hand-made dry toilets like the ones in the caravan below, and it is not hard to obtain worthy but grim solutions.
But rickety utilities like these are not a solution for retrofitting millions of urban homes - especially if squeamish people like me are to be expected to use them.
Sustainable urban waste water management moves away from the disposal-based linear system that most of us know now - flushing - to a recovery-based, closed-loop system that encourages the conservation of water and nutrient resources without compromising public health.
And these new closed-loop systems have to be retrofittable to millions of existing homes.
According to Dena Fam an Australian researcher, "the knowledge and technology already exist for this change to take place. There is a gap, however, between the current availability of innovative technology and the cultural acceptance of waterless toilets".
Fam discovered that it is important to maintain a sense of ‘normality’ for the user in the design of new toilet systems. Only a small minority of citizens will opt for sustainable toilet behaviour because it is the right thing to do.
Part of the problem is a lack of system design that makes it easy to maintain,use and manage new waterless systems optimally. "If waterless toilets are to be accepted by the user" says Fam, "the design must take into consideration not only the technical aspects of the hardware but also the introduction and management of the waterless system in order to fit the prevailing socio-cultural context".
The Dry Flush system (below), now being developed in Australia, takes these cultural issues explicitly into account.
For industrial designer Virginia Gardiner, the key is to exploit the economic potential of waste. She has develped a waterless toilet, the G/CH4 (see below) that creates an urban infrastructure in which people trade their waste for biofuel.
Gardiner explains:"many NGOs are hard at work installing composting eco-toilets for those in need - but a continual challenge is to motivate communities to look after their new toilets. By turning human waste into a high-value commodity, energy, the Gardiner CH4 offers plenty of incentive to sustain itself".
The G/CH4 is a low-cost mechanical toilet that is sold alongside a simple biodigestor unit. In the toilet, a biodegradable lining material transfers and contains excrement in a sealed container which the user empties into the biodigestor, sited at an outdoor location, in exchange for methane gas: free cooking fuel.
"We are now preparing to build the techincal rig including a full-scale biodigestor, and test it in London" says Gardiner. "We are gathering funds for this critical phase of the project. Upon its completion, field tests will begin in Lagos, Nigeria, where we have already conducted extensive market research".
My conclusion, after seeing her prototype in City Eco Lab, is that Gardiner should do some trials in London, now, and not wait to get to Lagos.
The contexts may differ, but the need for closed-loop waste systems is shared by both northern and developing cities.
For example, systems to capture rainwater, that can be retrofitted to existing houses, are taking off in a big way because an architect, Sally Dominguez, designed them to be modular, work well, and be easy to instal:
Someone needs to develop hog loos, pronto.
December 05, 2008
City Eco Lab book list
IN THE BUBBLE: Le design pour un monde complexe
John Thackara, Revue Azimut, 2008. It's available from 12 December - perfect timing as a gift for all your francophone friends this holiday season....
THE LONG DESCENT
John Michael Greer http://www.newsociety.com/bookid/4014
PERMACULTURE: PRINCIPLES AND PATHWAYS BEYOND SUSTAINABILITY
David Holmgren. Holmgren Design Services, Victoria AU:2002.
THE TRANSITION HANDBOOK: FROM OIL DEPENDENCY TO LOCAL RESILIENCE
THE POWER OF COMMUNITY - HOW CUBA SURVIVED PEAK OIL
RESOURCE CONFLICTS, SECURITY, AND GLOBAL?JUSTICE. WOLFGANG SACHS.
London Zed Books, 2007. http://www.zedbooks.net/fairfuture
HOPE, HUMAN AND WILD: TRUE STORIES OF LIVING LIGHTLY ON THE EARTH.
Bill McKibben, Milkweed Editions, 2007
STOLEN HARVEST: THE HIJACKING OF THE GLOBAL FOOD SUPPLY
Vandana Shiva, South End Press, 2000
THE LOGIC OF SUFFICIENCY
Thomas Princen, MIT Press, 2005
PEGAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED
Paolo Frere, Continuum Publishing, 1993
DEPLETION AND ABUNDANCE: LIFE ON THE NEW HOME FRONT
Sharon Astyk, New Society 2008
REINVENTING COLLAPSE: THE SOVIET EXAMPLE AND AMERICAN PROSPECTS
Dmitri Orlov, New Society, 2008
PEAK EVERYTHING: WAKING UP FOR THE CENTURY OF DECLINES
Heinberg, R, New Society, 2007
IN THE BUBBLE: DESIGNING IN A COMPLEX WORLD
John Thackara, MIT Press, 2005
CONTINUOUS PRODUCTIVE URBAN LANDSCAPES
Andre Viljoen _ Katrin Bohm
ed Anna Meroni, Edizioni Poli.Design, Milan Politecnico
FIRE AND MEMORY: ON ARCHITECTURE AND ENERGY.
Fernandez-Galiano, Luis. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. 2000
BIOMIMICRY: INNOVATION INSPIRED BY NATURE
Janine M. Benyus, William Morrow and Company, New York.
SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND TEXTILES
Kate Fletcher, London, Earthscan, 2008
NATURAL CAPITALISM: CREATING THE NEXT INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
WORLDCHANGING: A USER'S GUIDE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
LIVING IN THE CRACKS - A LOOK AT RURAL SOCIAL ENTERPRISES IN BRITAIN AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Johanisova, N, FEASTA and Green Books, 2005
COAL: A HUMAN HISTORY
Barbara Freese, Arrow, London, 2003
SIX MEMOS FOR THE NEXT MILLENNIUM
Italo Calvino, Vintage, London, 1996
Paul Lukes, http://www.suburban-transformations.com/
THE NO NONSENSE GUIDE TO INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Maggie Black, Oxford, 2007, New Internationalist
Frank R Wilson, New York, Vintage, 1999
LOCALISATION: A GLOBAL MANIFESTO
Earthscan Books, London
FAIR FUTURE RESOURCE CONFLICTS, SECURITY, AND GLOBAL JUSTICE
Edited by Wolfgang Sachs and Tilman Santarius
A GEOGRAPHY OF TIME: THE TEMPORAL MISADVENTURES OF A SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGIST.
Levine, Robert. New York: Basic Books. 1997
LIQUID GOLD: THE LORE AND LOGIC OF USING URINE TO GROW PLANTS
The Design Biennial St Etienne Catalogue includes my 2,688 word introduction. The whole book is in French and English.
City Eco Lab: thing-design to-do list
City Eco Lab asked: What would life in a sustainable St Etienne be like? and, in which ways can design help us get from here, to there?
The discovery, mapping and documentation of a territory’s natural, cultural, human resources is a key element in building resilience.
Designers and artists can be especially good at spotting assets in the territory - such as abandoned buildings, disused sites, or vernacular tools - that other people might not consider interesting.
Designers also have the expertise to visualise solutions that do not yet exist; this important activity creates a common objective that people can work towards.
Traditional communication design skills are always invaluable to people organising projects.
Thing design, too, remains important even in the “less stuff, more people” world we're creating now. Designers can improve the quality of experience, and equipment used, in all manner of resource-efficient services.
Interaction and experience designers can improve ‘touch points’ in everything from websites, to shared buildings.
And yes, some designers will ignore clients, contexts and users completely - and create sublime solutions out of thin air.
Putting it all on a ready-to-design plate, here are a few of the most pressing needs that emerged from City Eco lab:
- Biodiversity maps (of eco systems and natural resources)
- Energy and resource-use dashboards
- Rainwater capture and storage systems
- Natural filters and phytoremediation installations
- Waste and composting equipment
- Dry toilets
- Garden planting & planning tools
- Tool sheds
- Urban trellises
- Urban cold frames, greenhouses
- Raised planting beds
- Seed storage and labelling tools
- Shading structures
- Platforms for alternative trade networks
- Carts and baskets for de-motorised distribution services
- Labeling and product information systems
- Food drying racks
- Mobile kitchens
- Benches and tables for communcal eating area
- Solar cookers
- Washrooms and lockers for communal gardens
- Neighbourhood-scale composting services and equipment.
City Eco Lab: Les Stefanois and Sugoroku: only connect
The Sugoroku project, designed by Catherine Beaugrand for the Saint Etienne Biennial, took a fresh look at ways media games might connect people with neglected assets of a city - physical, social, biological.
In recent times, media artists have expored numerous ways to transform the use and experience of public space. The concepts of near and far have been redefined, and private life now emerges in communal areas. Events such as flashmobs combine partying, play, sociability, community and political activism.
Sugoroku combined play, and tool-making, with purpose: help people discover people and places that they would not otherwise connect with.
The name sugoroku comes from a Japanese board game. It's like snakes and ladders combined with a role-playing game. It combines elements of travel, Kabuki theatre and everyday life.
Sugoroku was very popular during the Edo period - seen now, in retrospect, as a byword of sustainable living.
In the original Sugoroku, players followed a route on the road leading from Tokyo to Kyot. On this road, 51 way stations marked renowned viewpoints, culinary specialities, craft products, and assorted rituals encountered along the way.
The e-sugoroku project in St Etienne combined walking in the city, geolocation systems, mobile telephones, and the Internet.
Players chose routes which they located on a board superimposed over a real map. This annotated overlay stimulated players with lavish commentaries on the places they visited. These were not always specifically identified places, but could be found accessed using clues.
The aim of the game was to collect virtual objects located in real places which could be found using flash tags and GPS co-ordinates. Text messages were sent to the players’ mobile telephones telling them where to find the objects.
These objects were then collected and gathered together on a website, where each person managed his or her own collection. To collect a complete set, players had to trade objects with each other. Winning meant gathering the most complete sets.
The search for virtual objects scattered around public space brought players into contact with Saint Étienne's underground network of mine galleries and various sites associated with the city's legacy of industrial and craft-based production of all kinds of objects: weapons with blades, firearms, cycles, sewing machines, mechanical parts, hardware and glassware items, luxury ribbons, etc.
There's lots more here at the Sugoroku website.
And if you mke it to Saint Etiene, be sure to have lunch the Cafe des Sports: it was our works canteen during City Eco Lab and serves steak frites to die for.
City Eco Lab: Velo Wala
A personal treat for me at City Eco Lab was the VeloWala installation that's being put together for us specially by Quicksand and friends in India.
Across the hall the Velowala presentation about bicycle-enabled commerce in India was as fabulous as I knew it would be.
Avinash (below) and his colleagues are building a rich media archive that pieces together the ecosystem of bicycle-based commerce in India.
In City Eco Lab you hear the sounds of the various traders as well as see photographs of them.
All-in-all, there's been plenty already to make me think - and lots more to make me smile. (I do this stuff for myself, of course).
December 04, 2008
City Eco Lab: Debt, Diesel and Dämmerung
What's the poihnt of City Eco Lab? To understand why I believe these modest experiences to be important, take a look at today's The Automatic Earth; it reviews once again the ways that economy, energy and environment crises are converging. The jolly editors of The Automatic Earth, who describe these times as "Debt, Diesel and Dämmerung", rightly criticise politicians' use of words like "probable recession" or "slow down." Pretending that these are temporary problems disables people from preparing for the liklihood that they will be permanent.
November 21, 2008
City Eco Lab: Exyzt's buildings as events
Shown below, Exyzt's hang-out that they built for themselves at City Eco Lab. Not very Design - but the coolest corner in the shed.
Exyzt next project, which is called Monumento that they're about to do in Brazil with Coloco, is to re-purpose this 24 story skyscraper in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
October 31, 2008
City Eco Lab - the encounters
Like all that soil? One of the key ideas in City Eco Lab is to make eco-systems, earth and water the basis of re-imagining the city - not "the economy".
The lower photograph shows jonggi, or earthen jars, used in Korea to store condiments and kimchi pickles. The image introduces a statement about food storage that Debra Solomon has published at culibog.org by way of a preview of her participation in City Eco Lab, at the Cité du Design Biënale in Saint-Étienne which runs from 15-30 November. (The full November Doors of Perception Report is here).
(Together with chef Paul Freestone, Debra will be pickling, sauerchocrouting and making delicious kimchi as one part of her installation in the food area of the event).
I love this image because it answers, for me at least, a central question posed by City Eco Lab (which is, after all, the main event in a national design biennial). If a sustainable life is to be less about stuff, and more about people - with few new buildings and products being made - what is there left for designers and artists to do?
A big part of the answer is to seek out daily life solutions that already exist - such as the collaborative, low-energy food storage solution shown in the photograph - and then to adapt and improve them for new contexts.
We can discuss that further if you make it to the event - or via this blog.
For now, here is a summary of the encounters and presentations that will run in City Eco Lab during its two-week run. This list will evolve day-by-day and announcements posted on the City Eco Lab blog. (The blog will come properly to life life just before the opening).
Avinash Kumar on the story behind velowala.org, a media installation made by a team in Delhi that brings the bike-based commerce of the streets of India alive – in St Etienne. (Saturday 15/11)
New economic models, complementary currencies, local economy trading schemes, alternative trade networks, community supported agriculture: Bethany Koby & Ellie Thornhill talk about their shop-within-a-shop for eco-software. They are followed later that day by special guest Alex Steffen, editor of Worldchanging. (Sunday 16/11)
DESIGN IMPERATIVES; ENERGY
Allan Chochinov, editor in chief of Core77.com, gives a keynote on “design imperatives”. Later, a worskhop on design and energy wil discuss: can design help us choose among the growing number of green energy offers ? (Tuesday 18/11)
COMPOSTING; DE-MOTORISATION; MANZINI
Clare Brass + Flora Bowden from SEED Foundation talk about neighbourhood-level composting services. Later there’s a design clinic : Design for mobiliy, or de-motorisation? There follows a special keynote by Ezio Manzini on "design strategies for the small, local, open and connected". Oh yes, and the French edition of In The Bubble is launched at 18h. (Wednesday 19/11)
OPEN SYSTEMS AND INFORMAL TECHNOLOGY
A sustainable world will be densely networked – but not by closed, proprietary neworks. Juha Huuskonen (Pixelache, Piksel, Pixelvärk, Afropixel, Pikslaverk, PixelAzo) and Jean-Noel Montagne (CrasLabs, Paris) discuss how self organisation and technological autarchy will be crucial in the coming years. (Thursday 20/11)
KIMCHI AND THE CITY; EDIBLE GARDENS IN LYON'S BROWNFIELD SITES
Emanual Louisgrand talks about l’Ilot d’Amaranthes - his gardens on brownfield sites in Lyon. Later, a design clinic on Food and the City features Matthieu Benoît-Gonin (Jardinethic) ; Debra Solomon, (culiblog.org); and François Jégou (solutioning.net). (Friday 21/11)
DESIGNING SUSTAINABILITY EVENTS
Doors of Perception lunchtime discussion. If you are serious about hoping to do a similar event in your own region to City Eco Lab (or Dott 07), Doors cannot fund it, but we can help with the strategy and process. (Saturday 22/11)
RE-LOCALISATION AND SMALL BUSINESSES
Design clinic for and with local companies.(Monday 24/11)
NURTURING A REGION’S HARD AND SOFT RESOURCES
How to find, document and enable eco-materials - and human savoir faire (Tuesday 25/11)
WATER AND THE CITY; SUDS
Re-connecting a city with its natural systems, including projects for St Etienne’s River Furan. Plus a design clinic on sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS). (Wednesday 26/11)
MAPS OF THE FUTURE
Pirjo Haikola from the Why Factory (NL) a research institute on the future city founded by Winy Maas and MVRDV, shows how maps are used in rethinking, researching, reshaping and enhancing images of future urban life. (Thursday 27/11)
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ECO NEIGHBOURHOOD?
Citizens and designers involved in one of St Etienne's "eco quartiers" (eco neighbourhoods) will discuss what functions make a place eco - or not - and how to measure their performance. (Thursday 27/11)
LESSONS OF CANTEEN 80KM
The City Eco Lab restaurant serves food sourced within a 80km radius - the maximum distance food may travel in France without being refrigerated (Friday 28/11).
October 16, 2008
City Eco Lab: on site and building...
...only we're pouring earth not concrete See you in our little shed!
September 01, 2008
City Eco Lab - Preview -70 days to go
This two-week-long market of sustainability projects opens in 70 days from now in St Etienne, France. We have set out to design a scalable, reproducable event, at the level of a city-region, that will materially accelerate its transition to sustainability. As with Dott07 in North East England, citizen co-design of projects are at the core of the City Eco Lab experiment.
In the food zone, projects to do with production, distribution, storage, and composting will surround the biennial’s best restaurant, Cantine 80km. (It’s called that because 80km is the limit beyond which transported food has to be refrigerated). The Cantine will feature Green Maps to help visitors identify and contact suppliers directly. Nearby, Debra Solomon will present the Lucky Mi snack wagon from the Netherlands, including its high-performance sprout-growing module. Also in the food zone, visitors will be able to pickle vegetables using locally-sourced pots, and babies will make bread. Francois Jegou will present scenarios for enhancing AMAP, the French network of of community-supported agriculture systems; and we’ll see how AMAPs compare with the new spin-farming idea from the USA – and alternative trade networks for coffee.
Casino, a big supermarket chain, will present its state-of-the-art green labeling scheme. St Etienne’s architecture school will launch Soupe de Ville which is based on ingredients grown within city limits (some by the architects themselves). Visitors will also be able to compare small, medium and large-scale composting solutions: these include the beautiful pots of the Daily Dump system from Bangalore; London’s SEED foundation proposal for a neighbourhood green waste service in which the celebrated Rocket composter accelerator is used by a new social enterprise; and a high-tech, industrial-scale system in Clermont Ferrand.
City Eco Lab’s mobility zone will be mainly about bicycles, and especially their potential use to de-motorise the distribution of 7,000 items of freight about the city each day. Prototypes of new bike-based services will be presented by Les Cousiers Verts and by La Poste. Plans for a city-wide car share system conceived for poorer people, will be shown - and compared with Dott07’s Move Me project presented by David Townson.
The central area of City Eco Lab will ask: what exactly is an “eco quartier” (neighbourhood)? Live projects on show will deal with energy, water and mobility. A team led by Justine Ultsch at St Etienne’s city hall will explore ways to re-open Le Furan, the city’s built-over river. Tools to capture and clean rainwater will be on show, next to a description of Melbourne’s extraordinary plan to turn that whole city into a water catchment, and Rotterdam’s vision of itself as a water city. A unique array of dry toilets will be on show, together with proposals from an Australian designer, Dena Fam, of ways designers can make them physically and culturally more attractive. A community-wide energy dashboard will be demonstrated by Magalie Restalo. Half way through the event a town hall meeting, convened by the Maison du Quartier,wil discuss what to do, and how, with the ideas and scenarios emerging from the City Eco Lab marketplace.
Continuing the water theme, plans to remove 60 dams from the Rhone will be presented by the World Wildlife Fund’s Martin Arnoud. Designers Hugo Bont and Olivier Peyricot will demonstrate their proposal for large scale urban fish farming. The artist gardener Emanuel Louisgrand will recreate elements of his stunning l’îlot d’Amaranthes gardens from Lyon.
Next to the Eco-Quartier zone will be the “Germoir” (Nursery) co-designed by the rural design collective Pomme_Z. Here, school students from the region will work on live projects to reduce their schools’ environmental footprint. Five schools are involved in this Defi Eco Design, which is based on Dott07’s Eco Design Challenge for schools in the UK. Defi Eco Design is the trial for a larger programme that it’s hoped will be launched in 2009.
In addition to these daily-life zones of City Eco Lab, a large Cabane a Outils (Tool Shed) will contain some of the resources citizens will need to start their own projects. The Tool Shed will feature books and films 9in English and French); a database of environmentally high-performance materials; a selection of software platforms; templates for new economic models; a map of skills available within a 100km radius of the event; and a range of environmental monitoring instruments and off-grid media tools.
City Eco Lab will also feature a Club des Explorateurs (Explorers Club) in which a wide varietry of groups will meet to discuss practical ways to enhance or scale up their projects. Companies, community groups and grassroots projects from across the Rhone-Alps region will participate – often together with international visitors. The Explorers Club will be located next to to a Salle des Cartes in which a wide variety of resource maps will be presented by a team from The Why Factory led by Winy Maas and colleagues from TU Delft in The Netherlands. 15-30 November, St Etienne, France.