Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sculpture and Masdar

The future is well underway, and it isn't in the expected places. Not in LA, NYC or Tokyo.
It's in Abu Dhabi. 

If sculpture is not just the created object but includes all the relationships of objects, people, and movement through space, the new city of Masdar is sculpture on a very complex scale.

NY Times photo
Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture critic for the New York Times, reviews the new city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi. 

Billed as "the world's first zero-carbon city", the city uses new materials and old technology.

Architect Norman Foster, of Foster & Partners, studied ancient Arabic cities like Aleppo in Syria and the 16th Century mud-brick apartment towers of Shibam in Yemen to understand how they functioned in scorching (120 degrees and up) desert heat.
Duncan Chard for the New York Times.
He discovered that the ancient architects used hollow towers to draft hot air away from public areas and draw in cooler air. They also kept the streets very narrow and oriented at an angle to the sun's east/west trajectory to maximize shade and accelerate airflow.
Quoting from the article:
"With the help of environmental consultants, Mr. Foster’s team estimated that by combining such approaches, they could make Masdar feel as much as 70 degrees cooler. In so doing, they could more than halve the amount of electricity needed to run the city. Of the power that is used, 90 percent is expected to be solar, and the rest generated by incinerating waste (which produces far less carbon than piling it up in dumps). The city itself will be treated as a kind of continuing experiment, with researchers and engineers regularly analyzing its performance, fine-tuning as they go along.

For a slide show of the new city click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Patrick, FYI this reporter is very out of date. Masdar City has effectively been cancelled.

Masdar has announced that despite 3 hard years of trying, they could only find one single client to lease 1000 m2:

In a planned development of 6 million m2, that’s a disaster.

Apparently there simply is no demand for this “green city” with zillions of unoccupied office buildings in nearby Dubai.

What now? Obviously it would be very embarrassing to admit failure, so they'll leave the one school building they already built, and wait a few years to see if the property market will recover.

PS. the school’s occupied by some cute and crazy kids (see here: )

You can see the empty, desolate empty plot as well.

Other articles which chronicle the fall of Masdar are here:

One commenter pointed out how every single claim of Masdar City has been discarded (zero carbon, zero waste, no cars, etc). There’s even a photo op picture of German leader Merkel filling her car up with gas at the one gas station there in this so-called car-free, zero-carbon city).

Very funny indeed! Meanwhile, they had no problem building a gas-guzzling Formula 1 track and a huge Ferrari race track in only 2 years, while letting Masdar wither.

I guess their real priorities speak for themselves.

When, I wonder, will the green community stop letting itself be played a fool?