Design will Save the World

Friday night and I have been suffering from a virulent gastro-intestinal virus going the rounds. My sister remarked the other day that people think climate change is all about global warming and cooling, when it is about increasing severity and frequency. She also stated that the same thing is happening with being sick, people are now getting colds that are lasting 3 to 4 to 6 weeks, when they used to last 3-4 days. The same with viruses, apparently this one, lasts about a week and a half, rather than the more typical 24 to 48 hour maximum.

There’s a Frenchman named Patrick Blanc who has been designing vertical gardens that loop up hotel walls and germinate across shopping mall interiors in Paris, Kuwait, Bangkok, and Gdansk. From his headquarters in Sweden, Folke Günther developed a vertical growing wall to promote more efficient and ecologically sound urban farming. He has named it the “Folkewall,” after himself, but vertical gardens are also being called “growing walls” and “living walls.” He has a very interesting blog about how to get rid of carbon dioxide, improve the soil and earn money, all at the same time. Arbo-architects Ferdinand Ludwig, Oliver Storz and Hannes Schwertfeger call their work “building botany.” They make building structures that are a fusion of trees and steel pipes. The two intertwine such that organic and inorganic become a single being. Essentially, they want to make living, breathing, growing houses (Spaces and Flows Newsletter, February 2011).

Here in North America,  a colleague of mine from Ryerson University, Professor Nina-Marie Lister participated in a design competition for building highway passes for biodiversity conservation. Some of the designs are really awesome, again showing the power of design to connect or disconnect us from our landscapes, check out their video.

Can one really improve on the design of the hummingbird in this header–the beauty of the colours, his fuel efficiency, the contribution he makes to the system through pollination, and just the sheer magic of his being? So, designing with nature, rather than over nature, will save the world, simply redesigning one building, one community, one region at a time.



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