Some inspiration from kokkugia

From the project Swarm Urbanism…

“Agency operates through two main processes within this proposal: firstly by using design agents to self-organise urban matter and secondly encoding intelligence into urban elements and topologies.”

“Agents within this system are not generic, instead there is an ecology of agent systems which interact, each set of agents programmed with their own desires and information.”

There are two key points here that they use to relate a swarm model to urban phenomena. First, the interaction between agents and their landscape. The agents have a series of behaviors, but they are also directly affected by information that is stored in the landscape, and the landscape itself is affected by the agents. This is the basic definition of an ecosystem.

Second, there is a hierarchy of agents, each performing their own task. In this model, there is a group of agents who aggregate matter, similar to the behavior of termites in building a colony. A second class of agents operates more like a slime mold, to build infrastructure by connecting certain locations in a minimal system.

I think both of these points are crucial when starting to think about how swarm models can be applied to think of the organization of a city.

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man-made earthquake created for geothermal power

Tectonic Warfare

Earthquakes could be a new form of warfare, or a means of energy generation.

1. Build a Dam

2. Inject Liquid Into the Ground

3. Mine a Lot of Coal

4. Drill a Gusher Dry

5. Create the World’s Biggest Building

via WIRED

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Check out their interactive demo:

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new scales of movement in response to an obstruction

Obstruction or distortion could be a means of affecting the system, altering speed to create new environments.

meander movement

river meander movement

Laboratory experiments allow hydrologists to study the movement of water at faster speeds because river simulation scales both time and movement. Using the idea of “sandbox” environments, our system could quarantine time and test new possibilities.

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“In the desert 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles is a suburb abandoned in advance of itself—the unfinished extension of a place called California City.In the desert 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles is a suburb abandoned in advance of itself—the unfinished extension of a place called California City.”

It would be instrumental for us to think about the record of cities throughout time so we may make some decisions about which places we want to preserve and which places would be more conducive to constant change, and of course, everything between these extremes. To that end, we should think about delineating 4 or 5 different types of cities: 1. Reconstructed Cities (Paris, Berlin, Rotterdam, West Bank cities, Dresden); 2. Instant Cities (like new capitals such as Brazilia); 3. Frozen Cities (Paris, New York?); 4. Constantly Changing Cities (American Cities); 5. Abandoned Cities (California City, Chernobyl, Machu Pichu).

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Chernobyl has become a wildlife haven in its abandonment. Some scientists believe the new vegetative growth and animal life show signs of mutation and are worried the species (especially birds) will affect outside habitats. Radiation is also affecting tree growth – confusing a hormone signal that a tree uses to determine which way to grow.

More at National Geographic

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Reconstruction Issues in Berlin

“The dominant philosophy of Berlin redevelopment is “critical reconstruction.” Its adherents want to recapture the “mythos” of the city at an earlier time.”

“‘It is a paranoia of historiographic reconstruction – or pretend historiographic reconstruction,” he says. “It is the fear of history, in Berlin and in Germany. It is a kind of allergy. Berlin is a new city. It is not 1870 or 1910 or 1930 – thank God.'”

This article exposes some criticisms of Berlin’s state today (1998, so a bit dated but still relevant). Reconstruction here looks both at the past and the future. This is obviously typical of reconstruction, but in a city that has represented so many different things at different times in its history, there is a lot of disagreement over which past it wishes to reconstruct. At the same time, there is the concern to make the city relevant to the present and the future so that it may recover economically.

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“Iraqi tank graveyard in the desert near Al Jahrah, Kuwait. This graveyard of tanks will bear witness for many years to the damage that war causes both to the environment and to human health. In 1991, during the first Gulf War, a million depleted uranium shells were fired at Iraqi forces, spreading toxic, radioactive dust for miles around. Such dust is known to have lasting effects on the environment and to cause various forms of cancer and other serious illnesses among humans.”

“Town of Koh Pannyi, Phand Nga bay, Thailand. The south-western coast of Thailand offers a series of beautiful bays lined with many islands. Phang-nga Bay’s special formations were created after the thawing of ice 15,000 years ago. Rising waters then submerged arid calcareous mountains, leaving only their peaks visible to the eye. The bay was turned into a marine park in 1981. One of its popular attractions is the village of Koh Panyi, which was built on piles two centuries ago by Muslim sailors coming from Malaysia. The inhabitants make a living via traditional fishing and tourism. Preserved by its configuration, the bay floor of Phang-nga Bay suffered much less from the tsunami of December 26, 2004 than nearby sites.”

“Mountainous countryside near Maelifellssandur, Myrdalsjökull Region, Iceland. Once the young lava fields of Iceland cool down, life begins anew little by little. Ice, wind and water flatten and carve out shapes to begin with, then, during the summer, bacteria, lichen and fungi prepare the soil for plants, in particular mosses which adapt to an environment which remains difficult. These plants colonise the most favourable sites and terrain little by little, forming a new ecosystem.”

Photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

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