| digital – sketching
by ale girá
| digital – sketching
by ale girá
Do you think urban planning & architecture could help improving sustainability, mobility, safety and general living conditions for all?
… landscapes of chance
Before it becomes a reality, it is a project; Before, a thought; Before, an idea; Before, a possibility; Before, a hunch; Before, a chance; Before, it is a reality.
Do you think building more humane and ecologic Urban Environments would be possible? … I do.
explores and interrogates the generation of a new architecture and urban planning for the 21st century. To achieve this, it develops two different working approaches: theoretical and graphical/structural.
Dis-order [a fractal self] researches contemporary human mind architecture, using subjectivity as a way of finding new possibilities in individual an collective identities. Meanwhile, New-order [a global self] presents a vision of the contemporary world from an objective (yet personal) point of view.
Digital Sketching is geometric expression and a synthesis of contemporary human nature: architecture and urban ideas, designs and solutions to contemporary problems, validated by a structural behavior study that confirms their feasibility and stability.
These two approaches to design become part of the actual world as a crystallization of the current historical moment where disorder and order produce ongoing, faster and varying individual and collective (r)evolutions.
It is my intention to focus more on the future than the past, more on freedom and less on indoctrination. It is my belief that theory and practice, dream and reality, innovations and applied technology and art and science, ought to come together to enable personal growth regardless of trends, fashions, established ideologies or moral structures.
URBAN PLANNING & ARCHITECTURE
Due to the rise in sea level it will be soon necessary to leave the current coast settlements, abandon many cities, and create new urban urban environments inland.
Climate change heralds a rise in the sea level for the next century of up to 2 meters, and an exponential rise over the following centuries. Nowadays, the majority of cities and urban settlements are located on the coast, hence they will be affected by this phenomenon.
This and the resulting large mobilization of the population causes the need for planning and building new cities inland to accommodate those populations.
Although there are regulations for the construction of buildings that guarantee stability in the face of catastrophes, high-rise buildings are typically unstable due to their slenderness. Regulations for construction calculations for these types of situations are based on estimations of probability, but cannot guarantee their validity in extreme circumstances, unlikely but possible.
High population density increases the collective risk of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.
Large agglomerations of people inevitably lead to increased collective risk of natural catastrophes. To mitigate their effects we must build cities that are capable both of receiving high population densities and minimizing the consequences of these natural phenomena.
At the present time, high population densities imply unsafe buildings due to their high slenderness, which makes them extremely vulnerable to the horizontal efforts they are subjected to in case of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc., making them dangerous for their inhabitants and those of the surrounding buildings that can be affected by a domino effect by collapsing neighboring buildings due to one of these natural phenomena.
Fire is another threat to the safety of inhabitants of our cities, and even more so for those in slender buildings as they may find themselves trapped if a fire breaks out on a lower story. Today there are numerous detection and extinguishing systems, but high-rise buildings are more difficult and slower to evacuate. In our current cities the buildings are very close to each other, which also means a high risk of spreading easily thereby affecting large areas, both in the case of a fire occurring inside a building as well as outside, reaching outlying urban areas.
The overabundance of uses which land undergoes provokes conflicts of interest that become multiple unsurmountable barriers. Above all, the large transport networks (private, railways, etc.) and large infrastructures in general place limits on wide areas of our cities, which isolate entire suburbs and provoke disconnection-noncommunication resulting in many cases in degradation, lack of development/maintenance and finally, poor conditions of life and lack of opportunities for inhabitants.
Urban populations will continue to grow. This will increase problems of transportation, contamination caused by it, time loss, and life quality caused by large, slow uncomfortable traveling conditions.
Pollution in cities is mainly generated by vehicles, whose numbers have risen sharply and will continue to increase. This increase leads to a worsening of the problem of pollution, as well as other collateral problems, due to the daily transportation of people, such as loss of time, loss of comfort and, ultimately, loss of quality of life for large segments of city dwellers.
The majority of current societies live both sides of the same coin: overproduction. This phenomenon, born of the need and will of economic growth at any cost has led to the generation of large amounts of waste (solids, liquids and gases) that pollute the environment, often irreversibly. The pollution problem is a problem of lack of awareness, both by many governments and the general population, all of whom are increasing the problem on a global scale beyond physical, geographical and political borders.
Surrounding us all we find urban environments in which visual pollution reaches an extreme invasion of public and personal space, objecting us to a high impact of stimuli, sometimes both disturbing and intimidating. This phenomenon is once again a product of imposing economic growth and consumption over any other value and individual/collective right. Besides this, visual pollution is not a temporary problem, but rather it is produced continuously both in public and private spaces, by means of the overabundance of the mass media, affecting and influencing people of all ages.
Population density in medium and big cities will increase, reducing, both public and private, living space per inhabitant.
High population densities are associated with a significant reduction of living space due to the decrease in the amount of private space in the design of the building in response to a high population demand.
The value of the home as a space for personal and family development has been deteriorating to unacceptable limits. Today there are many homes around the world that are subhuman, both in new as well as existing buildings, since they do not come up to the necessary standards for the wellbeing and development of their inhabitants. The concept of home has been reduced to that of a minimum cell (unit) without any spatial value, and with the restricted functionalities of cooking, eating, living (space for television viewing), washing and sleeping. There is no room for any other uses or human needs and even these functions are designed for the minimum space, favoring economic interests over human needs.
Not only is private space diminishing, public space is also becoming smaller as population density increases.
This causes the proportion of public space per inhabitant to diminish progressively at the same time.
Generally, over the last century, and in particular the last few decades, the housing market has undergone the ravages of speculation more than any other economic sector. Speculation in the housing market has meant great business for those agents involved in the building and selling of property, and faced with the passivity of many governments who have not established anti-speculation fiscal measures or regulations which guarantee a good quality, this has degraded the quality of building construction in order to line their own pockets to the maximum. The housing market has subsequently offered low quality at extremely high prices with no alternative for the consumer.
Architecturally, this poor quality has resulted in poor construction, lack of aesthetics, lack of privacy, poor ageing of buildings, bad ventilation, insufficient natural light, poor design features, decadent living conditions, etc.
Millions of people are mobilized to look for more favorable living conditions for them and their families. These people travel to countries and cities with better economic conditions to find a way out of their current situation and a better future. The cities where they end up are not adapted in many cases to offer an alternative lifestyle for this enormous demand, so that the situation for many of them does not improve, and may even be worse than their original one.
The shortage of public space and its main use as support for vehicle traffic will limit the possibility for it to be used and enjoyed by the public.
The large spaces needed by vehicle traffic directly affects public space and its use for any other purpose.
Both the transit of vehicles and their parking require large amounts of space that has to be taken directly from public space. This fact progressively reduces public space as transport needs and quantity of vehicles in cities increases.
Marginalization and social exclusion are two of the greatest curses of modern societies, from which arise problems of safety, economics, affection, behavior, knowledge, self-esteem and self-realization for people in these circumstances. Many people currently suffer from marginalization and social exclusion in terribly adverse living conditions and with little, if any, chance of escape. These problems, whether looked at from an altruistic or selfish point of view, require urgent solutions, given the gravity of living conditions, before they reach a point of more serious social conflicts if that is possible.
The great number and extension of conflicts that exist today in the world (ideological, moral, economic, etc.) very often turn into violent ones. More and more often these differences are interpreted as a threat rather than a form of wealth, which ends up in violent and aggressive and/or defensive behavior, paradoxically in a world ever more plural and varied, in which the mixture is the essence of our time. This fact is so both at an individual as well as collective level, on a personal as well as governmental level, generating internal and external conflicts at all levels in current societies.
Building new cities through macro-structures allows their height to be increased in a safe way when faced with natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, as they have the structural behavior of low-slender constructions. Besides, this type of structure allows horizontal transportation in separate heights, thus fostering communication, shortening distances, and increasing mobility.
In order to guarantee safety and facilitate transport within the macro-structure, there must be a separation of vehicle and pedestrian traffic on different floors at each level in all directions. In this way system collapse is avoided and free traffic-flow is enhanced.
The creation of macro-structures with 12 meters clearance between levels permits and favors the creation of micro-architectures in their interior. Macro-structures create a macro-structural spatial framework for the development of architecture within them that works alongside specific usage needs.
This means replacing traditional urbanism with macro-structures containing micro-architecture. Macro-structures are responsible for favoring overall structure and services and micro-architecture provides the adaptation to specific and particular needs of each use or function within the macro-structure.
This micro-architecture must be controlled by means of regulations that guarantee good quality construction, as well as avoiding the production of both visual and acoustic pollution.
In order to guarantee health and avoid pollution in general, macro-structures must include systems of waste collection for posterior treatment and recycling.
Constructing self-sufficient buildings – that will lead to a lesser dependence on vehicle transportation – will considerably reduce problems of surface traffic excess and therefore, pollution.
Traveling, by vehicle or other means, is due to the daily necessity to commute to/from work, service places, and others. If buildings were self-sufficient, i.e. if they contained all these uses within them, their inhabitants would not need to move, therefore the amount of movement would be minimized, thereby reducing pollution of cities generated by transport. This would also improve the quality of life for people; minimizing the daily need for long and uncomfortable commuting would increase users’ free time and comfort.
Communication and transportation are fundamental for economic activity. We ought to replace the concentric pattern of our cities with isomorphic, poly-centric structures that will encourage, facilitate, and accelerate communication and transportation.
The concentric (mono-centric) structures of our present cities are due to radial growth. This model produces huge problems in terms of transportation and communication.
To solve this problem we must build cities whose structure are polycentric, isomorphic. This type of node structure is the one that allows greater fluidity and enhances transportation and communication.
Promoting transportation and communication is essential to facilitating economic growth.
For this purpose we must adopt structures that facilitate and favor transportation and communication to the maximum, for which the polycentric and isomorphic structures are the most appropriate, as demonstrated by the functioning of the Internet.
At the present time, technology of self-driving vehicles is evolving rapidly. This technology has many advantages from the point of view of efficiency, comfort, and transport safety.
Cities whose structures respond to precise, specific geometric patterns facilitate the implementation of this type of transport and improve general mobility.
In addition, self-driving vehicles allow the creation of a general public transportation service, since vehicles can be used as taxis without a driver, which greatly reduces the number of vehicles needed. In addition it will practically eradicate parking problems.
Both features would drastically reduce the problem of pollution, and increase the availability of public space for uses other than car parks.
In high-rise buildings transportation is vertical. Distances between means of transport are less than in conventional structures that are fundamentally horizontal, which leads to distance reduction, organization and much more efficient transportation.
Current buildings and transportation are mostly horizontal. This means that traveling takes longer.
High-rise construction involves vertical transportation, that in terms of distances are smaller, since the measurement of a storey in height is much less than its horizontal dimension. This results in shorter distances and faster movement.
In addition, this type of vertical transportation can be organized more efficiently according to demand and time requirements through computerized systems, which in turn facilitate mobility and shorten transportation times.
Generation of public space through construction of buildings that free up maximum ground level space for public social use, while taking in high population densities.
Macro-structure construction allows maximizing the ground level for use as a public and social space.
Macro-structures can be supported at points distant from one to the other. This results in a practically full release of ground level, allowing its public and social use without barriers.
New construction and industrial technology allows the creation of pre-fabricated cities in which a number of predetermined repeated elements have the capacity to generate a macro-structure, expected to save money and time in the construction process.
Today’s industrial manufacturing, as well as construction technologies, make the idea of prefabricated cities possible.
Just like large-scale civil works are built, cities could be constructed in the same way, with a series of predetermined prefabricated elements that would shape and conform the macro-structure. This type of prefabricated construction could result in greater speed and economic savings in construction, as demonstrated in other smaller-scale industrial products.
The creation of new cities (along with the maintenance and development of existing ones) requires strong social policies with the purpose of finding solutions to problems of marginalization, social exclusion and any type of violence.
These policies must tackle problems in such a way as to provide good living conditions both from a physical and intellectual point of view. In order to do so, policies will be needed that deal with people’s basic necessities(Maslow’s pyramid) as well as in terms of self-realization.
Maslow’s pyramid shows us the order in importance of the basic human needs from the greatest to the least (from bottom to top).
In the ‘physiological’ section are the basic needs for the functioning of the organism, such as food, drink, etc. These types of needs require a minimum income level in order to be satisfied. In the ‘safety’ section are the needs for accommodation, healthcare and assistance, environmental safety, good physical and mental treatment, hygiene, etc.
Finding solutions to these needs in this order is fundamental for guaranteeing humane conditions of life for many people.
But, besides this, we should also read the pyramid the other way round (from top to bottom). People with a high level of self-realization enjoy greater self-esteem and less frustration, which leads them to acquiring more knowledge, which produce more love and tolerance and better conduct, leading to better self-care and of others, as well as their surroundings.
Thus, social policies must deal with Maslow’s original pyramid and its inverse simultaneously, which could result in a substantial improvement in many people’s lives, both physically and psychologically (complementary facets that feed each other).
These social policies must be supported with international aid if necessary, by means of strong and solid cooperation for development between rich and poor countries, and must be demanded worldwide of all governments and ideologies.
Structural calculation conclusions
Both of two models of cities studied show how their structural behavior is similar to that of low slenderness buildings (with short vibration periods), which greatly contributes to their structural stability despite being very tall buildings, improving their structural behavior towards horizontal actions.