This is a very lengthy post in which I post all of my notes/observations from the Sustainable Dutch Symposium.
We build out of necessity but with no eye toward aesthetic. Infrastructure is built on fear. Think of design standards without aesthetics.
Comparing the deltaworks with agricultural patterns in the US.
The grid is the fundamental core of his work.
We erase the lines of history by building by numbers only.
Create work that is progressive yet balanced with its surroundings/environment.
Disconnect between policy makers, engineers and designers. We need to bridge that gap. How can this be achieved?
Cor Geluk - Juurlink en Geluk, Rotterdam, NL
This was a brilliant talk centered around Juurlink en Geluks focus on using water as a design element in their urban planning. Some of these projects were nearly unbelievable in their brave thinking and execution, notably the Philips Industrial park and the Haarlem projects.
One of the best ideas I got from this talk was to use part of the city as a central spot for runoff and flooding. A manmade swamp / ecological park that allows for overflow. Midcity / City Park seems a natural choice for this.
Think Global Act Local - a cliche but also a very useful phrase to follow honestly.
Using Water as a condition for design
forced to use water as an element of design
creating urbanism that relates to the landscape
lowest area allows for flooding, when the rainfall is heavy
creeks and swamps as the identity of a place - London
use the swamp to deal with water overflow using natural waterways
Haarlem - Mix compact housing with existing architecture, blanced waterway
Philips Industrial Park
Retirement community with community garden that works by collesting rainwater from the roofs.
Chicago Shoreline Protection Project
This is a unique project that allows local gov't to work with Federal Sponsor (Corps) to save time and money. Basically they are shoring off a shoal in Lake Michigan which will be turned into a new ecologically friendly and sustainable park space. They control flooding and prevent erosion by building new embuttments and floodwalls in the lake.
One of the most fascinating aspects of this project is that they use a Public Input Process that was developed by creating a focus design group consisting of public agencies, community orgs, and civic/professional orgs. This project could be good to use as an organizational model for some of our tactical goals.
Jerry van Eyck - West 8
This was perhaps my favorite design talk of the day. West 8 do really adventurous work that pushes the limit of what urban planning and architecture can do. Their Duindornstaad project is one of the most exciting and innovative projects I have ever seen. This kind of experimental planning could only take place in a country where 1/3 of the land has been reclaimed from the sea.
Dutch struggle with Global Warming
ice caps melting, runoff from Alps
peaks in rain, monsoonification
Polders are sinkng
The results is kvell, which is a Dutch word for seepage from the ground
Duindornstaad - sprayed in soil/earth, seeds dropped by crop duster, dunes built up 90m and allowed to spread naturally.
allow natural development/settlement by surfers & bicyclists and other adventurous subcultures first. Urbanity and commerce will follow.
This is wild, speculative earthbuilding/urban design/masterplanning!
We need more of this in the states but this sort of thing can perhaps only exist in a country like the Netherlands.
Panel Dialogue between all presenters:
Design is Survival for the Dutch - this should be true for Louisiana as well.
Engineering standards in America are controlled by the Nanny impulse, but how do you balance real saftey concerns/needs with adventurous design?
You have to be clear in design methodology/communication when working with large groups. It's the only way you can get your vision to come through.
Panel 2: Policy on Sustainable Development
Cathy Hudzik - Assistant to the Mayor on River Initiatives, City of Chicago
This was a fascinating talk on the City of Chicago's river initiatives and their environmental policies in general. Again, the city's programs are unique in the way that they work with community groups. We need to force the City of New Orleans officials to do the same.
Green Action Agenda - comprehensive plan
good arguments for making the city green
make it a place people will want to live and work
new standards for new and refurbished buildings
training for professionals
encourage green infrastructure
reduce stormwater runoff
Annemieke Nijhof - Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands on Environmental & Sustainable Policies
This was perhaps the most important of the day. Her statement that "Politics are about Emergencies" is so resonant with our cause. We have such an opportunity and we, as citizens and design professionals, need to ensure that the changes that come out of Katrina are appropriate ones.
People, Planet, Process
Here and There - What you do here has effects there.
We must consider the long and short term.
Politics is about emergencies:
1953 - Sea Flooding
1980 - Soil Pollution
1993/1995 - River Floods
2000 - Fireworks Explosion
2005 - Air Quality
What happens after an emergency:
(look for someone/something to blame)
Perfect Administration Reflex (Hindsight is 20/20)
No Matter the Costs...
...Until Time goes by
The Dutch Sustainability Plan:
1. Decoupling of Economic Growth and Environmental Pressure
2. No Shift of Consequences
3. Sharing Responsibilities
4. Combine Ambition with Meaningful Steps
Don't lower ambition because of fear of failure
Accept that you are not going to reach all goals, be pleased with the goals that you do meet.
Everything you put into Energy Initiatives grows.
Millenium Development Goals - must support poorest nations
Honesty, Humanity, Humility
Openess, Transparency, Show what you are doing
Take Human Factors into consideration
No single person can change the world but working together we can accomplish many things.
Panel 3: New Orleans and the Dutch - Living Below Sea Level
Wayne Troyer - Troyer Architect, New Orleans
Wayne told the crowd his story and his hopes for the city. He also wants to see more progressive architectural forms to come out of this thing. He also thinks that parts of the city should be turned into ecological parks and that we should compress the residential/commercial areas of New Orleans. I met Wayne after the conference and he's definitely down for getting the initiative together.
Dico C. van Ooijen - Senior Advisor for Dikes and Dams, Ministry of Transport, Rijkswaterstaadt
This was an interesting talk where I learned all about the deltaworks, dikes and dams of Holland. We need defenses like these and a systematic approach for them.
When solutions are searched for and developed too quickly after the disaster environmental and other concerns may be overlooked.
The citizenry must be vigilant.
In order for these massive projects to work they need legal implementation, political conviction, financial support and public support.
Peter Torbijn - Director of National Spatial Planning Policy, Advisor to the Dutch Minister of Housing
This was a talk on housing and building approaches as well as urban planning and land use in relation to the reduction of flooding risks. Great stuff but something we will may never see in this country at the federal level. Maybe at the city/state level in NO?
Alternative Building methods must be attempted
images of floating buildings and buildings on piles during flooding
Take water and the environment into account early in the design process.
Three excellent recommendations for New Orleans:
1. Aim for a greater level of safety
2. Take water into greater consideration when reallocating land uses and functions
3. Set up organizations specifically focused on water management and give them political powers
Larry J. Prather - Assistant Director of Civil Works, Army Corps of Engineers
After a beuatiful day of hearing near utopian urban vision and execution we had the pleasure of hearing this Washington beaurocrat speak. He opened up by walking through the cryptic maze of legislation that both empowers and limits the Corps. Basically, unless things are greatly changed through executive power and an Act of Congress we can count the corps out of doing anything majorly different than they ever have. The only silver cloud to this guy's presentation were some looming questions that he left us with at the end of the day:
Should the Corps shift emphasis from Flood Damage Reduction to Flood Control? (uh, I say yes)
Has the Corps narrowed it's vision too greatly? (again, an easy YES)
Is property damage the correct focus? Should we put people's lives first? (In NOLA it's a matter of life, livelihood, property, commerce, society, environmental facotrs and everything else. We must have a comprehensive flood prevention system in place to protect the city or we need to abandon it all together)