A couple days late here, but we are honored that our project is among those selected for the first issue of [bracket].  Looks like a fascinating group of projects (“strategizing a man-made geology for the Houston shipping channel”; “a quick reference guide for the small [food] producer”; an investigation of “the Potlatch Hybrid-Poplar Tree Farm” in Oregon; et cetera) and sure to be worth picking up a copy of once it is published.

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003999.html:

“A single acre of algae ponds can produce 15,000 gallons of biodiesel — incomparison, an acre of soybeans produces up to 50 gallons of biodiesel per acre, an acre of jatropha produces up to 200 gallons per acre, coconuts produce just under 300 gallons per acre, and palm oil — currently the best non-algal source — produces up to 650 gallons of biodiesel per acre. That is to say, algae is 25 times better a source for biodiesel than palm oil, and 300 times better than soy.

Berzin calculates that just one 1,000 megawatt power plant using his system could produce more than 40 million gallons of biodiesel and 50 million gallons of ethanol a year. That would require a 2,000-acre “farm” of algae-filled tubes near the power plant. There are nearly 1,000 power plants nationwide with enough space nearby for a few hundred to a few thousand acres to grow algae and make a good profit, he says.”

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4213775.html:

The science is simple: Algae need water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow. The oil they produce can then be harvested and converted into biodiesel; the algae’s carbohydrate content can be fermented into ethanol. Both are much cleaner-burning fuels than petroleum-based diesel or gas.

The reality is more complex. Trying to grow concentrations of the finicky organism is a bit like trying to balance the water in a fish tank. It’s also expensive. The water needs to be just the right temperature for algae to proliferate, and even then open ponds can become choked with invasive species. Atmospheric levels of CO2 also aren’t high enough to spur exponential growth.

Solix addresses these problems by containing the algae in closed “photobioreactors”—triangular chambers made from sheets of polyethylene plastic (similar to a painter’s dropcloth)—and bubbling supplemental carbon dioxide through the system.”

http://news.mongabay.com/bioenergy/2006/08/growing-algae-for-biofuels-in-negev.html

http://www.oilgae.com/

potential process: CO2 from polluted air + sunlight +algae = biodiesel

it is probable that we would not get enough CO2 from the air alone, and would need supplementary sources of CO2.

One solution to this might be to tap into CO2 emissions from the plant which breaks down and processes the algae.  This plant would also be responsible for pumping in the algae for collection (a process which could also be handled in a more manual fashion, or using the collection trucks/tankers)

mos project (flip-a-strip):

http://www.flipastrip.org/perl-bin/display.pl?id=173&type=1

http://greenhome.huddler.com/wiki/algae-biofuel — contains comparison chart for various forms of biodiesel

It is fairly obvious how a rigid infrastructure — the interstate highway system, for instance — can allow the architect some measure of influence, while also being appropriated by the people of a city1.  But to combine appropriate and influence within a project that is less rigidly defined (given that rigid definition typically comes at the expense of the homes of the poor) is considerably more difficult.  Appropriate is not difficult to imagine — that might be the core of being less rigidly defined, in fact — but what/where is the space for influence?  In particular, where is the space for generative influence, an influence that gives more positive shape to the coming city?  Should that be abandoned as too hubristic?

Or does the infrastructure take various forms, reacting to the degree and kind of influence that is desirable?  More rigid, more generative in the portions of the city inhabited by those with the wealth, time, and ability to influence the placement of the infrastructure as it is designed, while more flexible, less controlled, placement and deployment driven more by the needs and whims of the inhabitants in the musseques?  This would suggest at least two cases: the musseques and the city-center (or ocean-side strip).

[1] An example:

“But the breakthrough came when he noticed that these self-organizations from the informal Alaba Market to the sea of informal traders around the trains and highways are completely dependent on the formal infrastructure of the modernist infrastructure of the 60’s and 70’s.”

more luanda photos

December 31, 2008

For sketching, photoshopping, etc.

Highly recommended slideshow:

http://flickr.com/photos/marcelvandervliet/tags/luanda/show/

This set is also oddly affecting (I take it to be family photos from colonial Luanda just before independence):

http://flickr.com/photos/corimba_69/sets/72157600833362071/

The Imbondeiro, National Tree of Angola:

link

Individual Photos:

http://flickr.com/photos/cafonso/133191255/

http://flickr.com/photos/afribrasil/287714929/

http://flickr.com/photos/mmdesigner/2851695646/

http://flickr.com/photos/cafonso/131642366/

http://flickr.com/photos/focalplane/307585268/in/photostream/ - the obelisk

http://flickr.com/photos/focalplane/307528334/ – shipping containers as temporary office space

http://flickr.com/photos/molinaz/2524514352/ – apartment building

http://flickr.com/photos/makgobokgobo/1157325411/ – beachfront high rises

http://flickr.com/photos/skifatenum/437995324/ - cemetery (no larger image)

http://flickr.com/photos/wilsonbentos/512163833/

likely a common street scene (wealthier area — razor wire = valuable items inside) – http://flickr.com/photos/51944602@N00/2092951527/

http://flickr.com/photos/sojourners/351137269/ – informal housing

http://flickr.com/photos/sojourners/283035301/ – same site as above, different view

http://flickr.com/photos/afribrasil/290749153/ – informal housing, fantastic shot

http://flickr.com/photos/skifatenum/438003314/ – more containers: this time as a school

http://flickr.com/photos/paulocorado/1202583219/ – coastal suburb

http://flickr.com/photos/skifatenum/438000775/ – high rise flats: unfortunately low quality jpg, but a good shot

http://flickr.com/photos/7762498@N02/460625509/ – informal housing, low quality jpg, good shot

http://flickr.com/photos/marcelvandervliet/3038631116/ – quality shot of street

As I have been thinking about it, it seems clear to me that it is essential that, if our infrastructures are proposed as potentially placed in the musseques, then the infrastructure must not be merely advantageous to the inhabitants of the musseques (as we define advantageous), but manipulable, subject to the desires of the inhabitants as they express them.

I find Lebbeus Wood’s thinking (in a proposal for the insertion of a ‘capsule’ into slums) on this particularly clear:

From the side of the slum dwellers, it might seem an unwelcome intrusion from outside, just another quick fix imposed by the economically advantaged on the desperately poor, serving the interests of the rich by transforming the slum according to their well-intentioned but—to the slum dweller–necessarily opposed values. It is especially important, then, that the transformative capsule enables the slum-dwellers to achieve their goals, serving their values, and does not reduce them to subjects of its designers’ and makers’ will. Inevitably, the values, prejudices, perspectives and aspirations of the designers and makers will be imbedded in the capsule and what it does. Therefore the slum-dwellers should, in the first place, have the right of refusal. Also, they must have the right to modify the capsule and its effects as they see fit. It cannot be a locked system, capable of producing only a predetermined outcome. The implication of these freedoms is that the capsule, whatever its capabilities, could be used to work against the intentions of its designers and makers. Because the effects of the capsule would be powerfully transformative, its possession would involve risk for all the groups, and individuals, involved.

This also suggests to me that it is problematic to think of the infrastructure as funded by or inserted by the government of Luanda/Angola, given the conflicts of interest that have already arisen between the government and musseque-dwellers.

Perhaps it is better to think of the infrastructure as flexibile not just in terms of deployment, affect, effect, etc., but also flexible in terms of ownership and funding.

1.

fpo_angola_pop

[link]

fpo_angola_precip

[link]

2. UN FAO Africa water maps (precipitation, evapotranspiration, etc. — not terribly detailed)

angola: topographical maps

December 14, 2008

1. from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, maps of all of Africa — very large (100 MB+) TIFs available; I think detail is pretty decent for making a fair sized country-wide map (at page size display).

srtm_africa_colored-height_small

download link

srtm_africa_shaded-relief_small

download link

(I believe the bottom one is actually in 3d if you have 3d glasses, the blue and red eyed kind)

2. FreeGIS, a list of links to downloadable GIS information, particularly global information.  Could be of use if the above is insufficient.

3. NOAA maps, several at this link (below is a clipped and lower-res version of one of them):

africacolshade_small1

4. Land and ocean topography, both in raster and GIS formats.

angola: general information

December 14, 2008

Angola: a country study (somewhat dated, but good for background information and history, particularly on pre-colonial, colonial, and early post-colonial periods) [link]

Angola in the CIA Factbook (current information, political status, economy, etc.) [link]

Angola on wikipedia (all wikipedia caveats apply) [link]

Sonangol, national oil company of Angola // link to a (rather attractive, actually) map of the oil concessions off the coast

AllAfrica.com Angola feed (seems to be something close to a feed of government press releases)

An extremely comprehensive compilation of links related to Angola, via Stanford [link]

Angola country analysis brief, US Department of Energy (likely of particular use in case we want to show the relationship between new energy production and current energy production) [link]

These are old, but fantastic (especially the map of industries, which I could see being altered to reflect current reality and future infrastructures, as a diagram).

Link to source (UT-Austin).

angola_econ_19701

angola_pop_1970

angola_tribes_1970

angola_veg_1970

on intervening in slums

December 1, 2008

Insightful commentary on _urb_, from Mark Collins of proxy:

“Slum ‘upgrading’, as it is understood by municipalities across the world, is about infrastructure. Sao Paulo has been extremely aggresive in introducing electrical metering, road construction, sewage channeling and other infrastructural efforts to alleviate the ill-effects of overcrowding and unplanned growth. These efforts were highlighted in a recent ‘Global Dialogue’, which brought together representatives from governments in China, India (Mumbai), Egypt (Cairo), Kenya (Nairobi). Sao Paulo’s methodologies were hailed as the standard bearer for slum upgrading and each delegate seemed to suggest that it could serve as a template for urban remediation  in their own locality.

But what about the space? Infrastructure upgrades invariably mean demolition, wich means relocation…

At the Slum Lab, we have identified three modalities of approaching the slum, each of which can be engaged in in parallel, continuing within the framework of opportunism. One can sense the need for preservation, albeit frustrated by the slum’s insistence on continual self-transformance. We have engaged in attempts to record the spatial characteristics of the favela, through photo, video, 3d models and data sets. You can approach the slum as a researcher and look to formulate hypothesis and construct models. That is our preferred modality at Proxy – we are foremost interested in architecture as an informational medium. Finding connections between emergent morphology and the myriad variables of sociability, financing, politics and physical circumstance is a deep project, which is made more substantial by the availability of new data and more capable software (software that speeks specifically to the ‘bottom-up’). Lastly, the slum is a place of architectural intervention and invention. It must not only act in unconventional ways, but it must do unconventional things. By necessity, infrastructure, community and sustainability invest projects with a moral compass while the challenges of geography frustrate normative designs. These are interesting places for creative minds to work and experiment – especially given the void of conventional practices – but it means coming to terms with ‘bottom up’, whether through grudging co-existance or synergistic opportunism.”

This is a challenge for our project.  I think we have the outline of an ‘unconventional practice’, but the territory that we aim to act in is unstable; it has emergent intentions and immediate needs of its own.  Because our project is a proposal, it will be our responsibility to allow the territory to imprint itself on the project.  It would be easy to ignore the intentions and needs of the slum in favor of using the slums (to present ourselves as ‘sustainable’ or as ‘community-minded’ or even just ‘hip’); we will have to work to avoid that (though I think our preferred methodology, of intervention through the insertion of a flexible and responsive infrastructure, is a great starting point for accomplishing exactly that work).

A couple of news items that intersect with these concerns:

Angola ‘made thousands homeless’:

Angola’s government has been criticised for forcibly evicting thousands of people from their homes to free land for new housing projects in Luanda.

A report by Amnesty International also says the Catholic church has been involved in evictions in the capital.

According to Amnesty, homes have been demolished repeatedly in one district since September 2004 to make room for new public and private housing.

It says none of the affected residents has received compensation.

Neither have they been offered adequate alternative accommodation, the human rights group says.

Making way for Angola’s middle class:

The Angolan capital of Luanda is home to five million people, about a quarter of the country’s entire population, with most living in “musseques” or slums.

One of those used to be Lucas Kaxingadoes, who has lived in Bairro Cambamba on the southern outskirts of Luanda for several years and where some families occupied the land 30 years ago.

His family began by farming the land and built houses with whatever materials they could find.

But they also took manual jobs in the city, saving what they could and eventually building houses made of concrete.

Lucas, however, doesn’t have a house any longer.

His home, like many others, was cleared to make way for new property to house the country’s burgeoning middle class.

Lucas says policemen came and destroyed his home and those of his neighbours in an effort to clear the land to make way for new developments.

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