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LIVING CITIES Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


Cataloguing data available from Library and Archives Canada. Living Cities : Vision and Method Published by Resource Positive Architecture and Waterloo Architecture ISBN 978-1-926724-10-2 Edited by Philip Beesley Copy Editor: Robin Paxton Design and Production: Victoria Beltrano Living Cities is set in Archer Second edition. Š 2011 Resource Positive Architecture. All rights reserved by the individual paper authors who are solely responsible for their content. All opinions expressed within this publication are those of the authors. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected in subsequent editions.

LIVING CITIES Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


4 PREFACE ERIC HALDENBY—Waterloo Architecture 5 SYNOPSIS 6 THE CONNECTING THREAD DOUGLAS MACLEOD—Okanagan College 10 THE VANCOUVER OLYMPIC VILLAGE EXPERIENCE: Engaging Innovation and Leading Edge Design ROGER BAYLEY—Roger Bayley Inc. This lecture will explore how a contaminated industrial site in the heart of a city was transformed into the Millennium Water Olympic Village project. The presentation will detail the creative process used to bring together the team of five architectural firms and more than 40 engineering and service companies to develop a common vision for a sustainable community that pushed the boundaries of green building design.


MOMENTS OF CHANGE: Space, Institutions and the Evolutionary Potentials in Urban Form ANDRÉ SORENSEN—University of Toronto/Cities Centre This lecture will examine institutional sources of inflexibility and rigidity in urban form, such as regulatory frameworks, zoning systems, property rights and development charges. Understanding patterns of inflexibility provides a window for understanding spaces and moments of openness to change and transformation.


SYSTEMS—RELATIONSHIPS TO DISTRICT ENERGY MANAGEMENT: Cogeneration, Energy Storage and Demand/Load Coupling KEVIN STELZER—B+H Architects The presentation will demonstrate how buildings do not operate in isolation, and pursues understanding of urban interconnectivity. The unique energy demands


of individual buildings can afford the opportunity to optimize energy distribution within cities. Urban energy management can offer great economies of scale as well as energy load diversification across integrated energy loops. Creative use of proven technologies including cogeneration, energy storage and demand/load coupling can help us utilize waste heat for the betterment of the energy performance of our urban environments. 84 SCALE AND SCALABILITY AZAM KHAN—Autodesk Research

The presentation includes a focus on custom software tools created for engineering complex structures. Recent Buro Happold projects will be illustrated as examples of the process by which a tool is conceived, constructed, and utilized. In a second part, specialized software tools created for design exploration will be detailed. These tools allow for investigation of design concepts through parametric modeling, iterative analysis, and visual programming. 146 PLANETARY CITIES: Ecology and

Design for Tomorrow

City visualization will be explored by focusing on a building visualization platform. In turn, the presentation will offer a methodology that scales from a single building to a full city, conceptualizing relevant dimensions for the complex topic of cities, living and sustainability.

MITCHELL JOACHIM—Terreform One/ New York University This presentation will focus on developing innovative solutions and technologies for local sustainability in energy, transportation, infrastructure, buildings, waste treatment, food, water and media spaces.



LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design



There is little dispute over the position that architecture must respond to the environmental crisis and pursue stewardship as a central theme in its theory and practice. At the same time, there is widespread skepticism that the present spate of accredited buildings actually represents the only or even the best way of achieving the goals of a carbon-neutral and environmentally responsible architecture. Living Cities: Vision and Method provided an opportunity for architects and experts from other academic fields to discuss and debate alternate courses for the future of the North American city as it faces the need to achieve its post-carbon state. Most importantly, the conversation


took place in a school of architecture, in front of graduate and undergraduate students who will be the ones most responsible for charting the course of architectural research and practice in the future. While the discussion is still divergent and complex, it will only be refined by exposure and persuasive argument. For this reason we owe a great debt of gratitude to the sponsors, organizers and participants in the Living Cities colloquium.

Rick Haldenby FRAIC O’Donovan Director, Waterloo Architecture

The papers within this publication are drawn from the colloquium Living Cities: Vision and Method, held at the School of Architecture at Waterloo in Cambridge, Ontario, on January 20th and 21st, 2011. Waterloo Architecture presented the event in partnership with the Resource Positive Envelope Design group and Okanagan College, supported by the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate and by Environment Canada. The event was oriented towards urban designers, architects, technologists and members of the public interested in the future of sustainable built environments. International designers and critics presented lectures and workshops focusing on design of sustainable future cities. The colloquium examined experimental and visionary projections of future urban forms that pursue social and environmental viability.

LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design



In a very short period of time, the Resource Positive Envelope Design (RPED) project has produced a wealth of activities and resources that have the potential to change the way we think about architecture. The intent was not merely to design new kinds of buildings, communities and cities, but to design a new meaning for these structures that is predicated on a new relationship with the environment. To fully realize this goal would require a lifetime of work, but it begins with the comprehensive exploration of architecture that is presented here. This exploration occurred through technological research, visionary designs and experimental installations that were founded on ongoing discussions, a willingness to share and a spirit of cooperation. It was precisely this spirit of cooperation that allowed the project to accomplish so much. Over the course of the project, the project team held two conferences, the Mini-Summit on the Future of Architecture and Living Cities: Vision and


Method; participated in the Buildings and Appliances Task Force of the Asia-Pacific Partnership; organized a Green Building Exchange in Busan and Seoul, South Korea, and Shanghai, China, that included some of Canada’s top architects and engineers; developed an extensive curriculum for sustainable construction management; carried out research in interactive and responsive design; built a detailed database of green buildings in a variety of countries; deployed networks of wireless sensors to measure building performance in Penticton, Canada, Busan, South Korea, and Tianjin, China; and conducted an international student competition with over 200 entries—all in the space of 12 months. Moreover, it is a measure of the cooperative spirit of the project that all participants in these activities have agreed to share their materials freely and openly through the project website at In addition, the project was able to forge key relationships with partners and organizations from around the world. For example, project funding was used to help

Roger Bayley travel to Tianjin and work with the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City project, where they are now planning a Canadian Centre for Sustainable Innovation. Discussions with Sun Central led to the deployment of an extensive series of light guides in Okanagan College’s new Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation as well as the participation of project researchers in the Core Sunlighting Solutions Research Network, which is part of the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership. Project members were also invited to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Sustainable Building Network organized by the International Energy Agency in Paris, France. Closer to home, project members also helped to form the pan-Canadian College Sustainable Building Consortium. Because the project generated such a tremendous amount of material, it has produced not one, but two publications. The first is Explorations in Regenerative Design, which documents the innovative research and design projects conducted by project

members. The second is Living Cities: Vision and Method, which examines experimental and visionary projections of future urban forms. What ties these two publications is precisely the need to redefine the built environment. In both cases, this information is provided in digital form in order that it be freely and easily available to all. The most powerful legacy of the project, however, may be the network of connections and partnerships that were built around the world. Throughout the project we have had considerable moral, and financial, support from a variety of federal and provincial ministries and departments, for which we are very appreciative. Through their ongoing work with the Asia Pacific Partnership, Amanda Kramer and her team at Environment Canada provided the vision and impetus as well the major funding for the project. Elizabeth Tang and Glen Webb in particular at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provided constant guidance and support as we built partnerships in other countries. Paul

LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


Irwin and his team with the government of British Columbia were a major sponsor and supporter of our Green Building Exchange, which would have been impossible without their help as well as that of their representatives in the countries we visited. Here we would particularly like to thank K. S. Kim and Injun Paek in Korea, and John McDonald and Sylvia Sun in Shanghai. All of the work carried out during the project was very much a collaboration of friends and colleagues. Once again I had the privilege of working with David Covo of McGill University and Philip Beesley of the University of Waterloo and I look forward to doing so again. Their insights and collaborative approach were essential to the success of this work. Similarly, Davis Marques of Ryerson University was indispensable to the technical aspects of the project. Brian Lee of MGH Consulting contributed his expertise in wireless sensors. Alan Maguire of George Brown College helped ground the project in the real world. Robert MacDonald was instrumental in building our web presence and this publication.


Finally, all those associated with the project owe their gratitude to the team at Okanagan College, who worked tirelessly to keep the project on track and on budget. As project manager, Michele McCready brought order out of chaos and she was ably assisted by Patti Boyd, Jennifer Heppner, Carla Whitten and Margaret Johnson. I would also like to thank Dean Yvonne Moritz, former Dean Dianne Crisp and Vice President of Education Andrew Hay for their support and patience for this project. The issues raised by the Resource Positive Envelope Design project will not be solved overnight or by a single project, but the future of our planet depends on us addressing them now. In this sense, this project provided a critical first step in the right direction.

Douglas MacLeod Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health, Okanagan College

LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design




BAYLEY LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


The Vancouver Olympic Village Experience Engaging Innovation and Leading Edge Design ROGER BAYLEY Roger Bayley Inc.

Roger Bayley harnesses the skills of forwardthinking developers, planners, architects and visionaries to create innovative green buildings and master-planned communities. Bayley’s experience spans 40 years of senior-level project design and management. As a founding principal of Merrick Architecture, which grew from 4 to 70 employees during his tenure, he was responsible for project design, engineering, quality control and project management. From 2006 to 2010 he was the design manager for the Millennium Water Olympic Village in Vancouver, Canada’s first LEED-certified Platinum neighbourhood and the largest sustainable community in North America. Bayley is the Canadian representative to the Tianjin Eco-City in Tianjin, China.



What is so delightful about coming to a gathering like this is to talk to the new minds, those who are going to actually have to go out into our marketplace and deal with the issues that we in the tie-wearing generation have left you, which is a huge challenge for you as you move into the architectural profession. I have got a lot of information here today and I mean to go quite quickly. I’ve had a request that I add a little bit of information about a project we’re doing in China onto the back end of this presentation, and I’d like to do that just to convey to you some of the initiatives we’ve been working on. So these are the things we’re going to talk about today: Climate, and its impact in carbon-related emissions issues. Planning, and the policy behind the

formation of the Olympic Village and False Creek development. Architecture, and the implications of passive design on building development and the ramifications on how that translates to resource savings. I’ll talk a little bit about energy and the strategies we used for energy reduction on the project, and the technologies that were implemented, some of them quite new to Canada. I’ll focus a little bit on water. Water is going to become the petroleum of the next century as water resources begin to deplete in the universe. Australia, of course, doesn’t feel that way at the moment, but water is a significant issue. A little bit on healthy living and on indoor space quality, air quality, amenities and social circumstances. I’ll focus on the net-zero-energy building




Earth surface temperature predictions

that was built for this project, which is really the future, I think, that you are going to have to bring into the work that you do as you move into the field of architecture. Finally we’ll talk a little bit about communication; because essentially all the pieces we just started with, the first seven topics, are of no value if you cannot effectively communicate what it is you want to achieve, and if you aren’t able to get that message out into the marketplace. You are the vehicle of change for this future that we are trying to engage, and if you do not engage it and you do not communicate about it, you’re going to have a very complicated future.



So we begin with climate; I always do this. I know you all probably don’t want to hear about climate, but I like to remind myself of why I’m in this game, and how I got involved in this. This is just some people’s predictions of what might happen with the temperature of the Earth’s surface. Greenhouse gas emission levels are increasing dramatically, which can have significant impacts on global climate conditions. The predictions are not very encouraging, and they confront you with significant issues that you need to resolve and work on, all coming out of melting ice, rising sea levels, burning of oils and fossil fuels, all the issues around waste and how we actually work in this planet and what we do with the resources that we have. (1) Carbon dioxide levels have increased in the atmosphere, which is essentially resulting in climate change. You can’t make this stuff up, it’s real; we’re at about 386 parts per million at the moment, and heading upwards. (2) The sea level has risen over the last 100 years, and you can see that things are continuing to change. As the sea level comes up, it obviously has implications on the communities that we live in, particularly because something like 30–40% of the world’s population lives on river deltas, which is the fertile land that feeds us all. Most of those river deltas are very prone to flooding, as we saw in Pakistan over the last year, and as we’re seeing in Australia. The implications of that can impact the world’s food supplies in a very serious way. That will have its own implications as we move forward. (3)


Atmospheric CO2


Recent sea level rise

If you just look at the current sea level around China, it is clear that one metre higher would create a significant impact. (5) With seven metres of sea level rise, which a number of people have been predicting could maybe happen in a couple of hundred years, China’s coastline would be impacted. It would place Shanghai as an offshore island, pretty much under water. (6) So the ramifications are significant. British Columbia has gone through its own problems. Take the friendly pine beetle, which has eaten $90 billion worth of lumber in British Columbia, all




Emissions and consumption

because the winters aren’t cold enough for it to die off anymore. This is a pretty serious issue; you can see the extent that that beetle has consumed.




Sea level near China—one metre higher

Sea level near China—seven metres higher


It all comes because we put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This figure charts the course; you’ve probably seen these graphs before, I don’t need to go on about them. This is the kind of resource consumption that this industry deals with. (4) As we came into working on the southeast False Creek project for the Olympic Village, the city of Vancouver was very cognizant of the climate change issues around this project. They asked, what can we do to influence how we move forward? These are just some of the points; if we’re going to have action we need both carrots and sticks to try and move forward. We need strong leadership. You are the leaders of tomorrow, you are the people who are going to lead us into the resolution of these issues.

Collaboration is a significant part of any form of leadership that you’re going to be involved in. So the ability to communicate and talk to each other is going to be key. There are significant incentives required to engage our communities in moving forward in this realm, and where those incentives come from has become a real issue. Our development industry is essentially not ready to do this. They are not ready to engage it in any real way. There will be pockets of people in the development industry and in the architectural and design professions ready to do this, but there’s essentially a lack of urgency being expressed at the government level. If we’re going to make change, then you need to do it in a way that’s fair to everybody, so that everybody is working within the same context. And that’s actually quite difficult to achieve. A little question: does anyone know how high the oceans were the last time we were at 500 parts per million? We’ll be there within about 100 years, pretty much guaranteed. I don’t think we’re going to stop polluting the atmosphere. The sea level was 17 metres higher the last time the carbon dioxide level was 500 parts per million. So you can’t tell me what’s going to happen, and I can’t tell you what’s going to happen; but there’s a fair amount of risk out there as to what might happen as we continue to pollute our atmosphere. As Vancouver moved forward into the planning and infrastructure development of the Olympic Village, those were the key issues it was conscious of in terms of the development. If you look at the original city of Vancouver, around the late 1800s, the site for the Olympic Village is located


City of Vancouver, late 19th century


City of Vancouver

in what we now call False Creek. (7) Vancouver is a resource city, and you can see how the city looks now. They love this slide in China because it’s all about the quality of the atmosphere, which is quite phenomenal. You can see the location of the city, and how it’s laid out. (8) We have maps that show the city about 100 years ago, or a little bit less than that, 80 years ago (9) and how the development has occurred over time. (10) As we move forward into the discussion of how False Creek developed, this is typical of the approach that Vancouver has been taking towards the development of residential




City of Vancouver, early 20th century

10 City of Vancouver

11 False Creek area

12 City of Vancouver



13 Southeast False Creek Official Development Plan

space within the city, with high rise development on a podium. (11 and 12) As we moved into the Olympic program, there were a number of people who felt that how this overall plan should be developed should respect a different set of design parameters. So they began to look at the European model of tighter streets, lower buildings, waterfront edges, the kinds of conditions that you find in Amsterdam, or other cities such as Paris and London. (13) The approach to development is a little bit different from what’s been going on in Vancouver for a period of time. The European development model became the influence that drove the development planning from the top model, which is the early design program of high-rise buildings typical of what’s been developed in the

inner core of the city, and moved it towards the bottom design parameters, which are these lower-rise courtyarded European-style buildings. That was very strongly supported by the industry, by the professionals and planners and landscape architects, and then supported by council. As the project moved forward, the centre portion of that overall site became designated as the Olympic Village. This was a projected school building, and the restoration of the salt building which we’ll talk about a little bit. One of the key issues for the overall development plan, and we’ll probably talk about this as one of the questions about social housing within the context of an urban market program: the city was very anxious to have a number of facilities built into this project for low-cost, affordable housing. At our recommendation the developer added these rental blocks THE VANCOUVER OLYMPIC VILLAGE EXPERIENCE


14 False Creek development plan

into the project in order to provide a wider variation of accommodation in the overall program. (14) That resulted in the rezoning model. (15)

15 False Creek development plan



So during that process, what did we learn about how that form of development might be included in the urban framework? Increased density requires a mix of urban amenities to create livable environments. If you’re going to increase the density inside a city, you need to add amenities in order that people have places to enjoy themselves, to relax, to meet and greet and spend time with each other. Community integration, in terms of being able to bring these sorts of communities together, really begins with your approach to how that infrastructure develops, long before you get to think about buildings.

I think the lesson here for all of us is if you’re going to work in sustainable community development, it really starts long before you get to the buildings. Most of us can understand how to build a net-zero building, but actually building a community that depends on fewer resources is really the critical task. So whether mixing affordable housing with market housing was the right decision became and continues to be a question about the Olympic Village. The last item here is about how to actually go through that planning process in terms of setting goals and principles for yourself, and then work together as a collaborative team to achieve those objectives. I ask this question because I think it’s pertinent; the City of Toronto is about to build a village that’s twice the size of this for the Pan-American Games in 2015. My question is who should actually be paying for that Olympic program? Is it really the developer and the buyer of the unit, or should it actually be a governmental cost? In the case of Vancouver, the buyer of the unit paid for the Olympics. I think that’s not appropriate, that it should really be paid for as a global cost that all taxpayers participate in. This is the question I’m left with: will this European form of development actually deliver a more integrated and livable neighbourhood? The question is on the floor still, for us to come back and see how the Olympic Village actually works and functions and whether we’ve been successful in achieving the objective.

A little bit about architecture and talking about the issues around how the architecture of this project was developed. From the very beginning everybody set out to say, we’re going to use passive architectural design as a key element of resource management and energy management. Rather than look for technical solutions to reduce energy use such as more efficient motors, better fans or better ways of distributing resources through the project, can we actually begin by designing and building buildings that don’t require those resources? Can we work with a more passive approach to the design of the project? In the early modelling of the project, you can see that external shading was used to reduce incoming energy, stairwells were moved to the outside of the building so people would actually use them and let light into the centre of the building and evaporative ponds were used for cooling the airflows flowing through the project. A lot of attention was paid to the fundamental question of form of development as a way of managing energy and resources. Looking down on the overall project, you can see the overall development program. We walked around it to see some of the ways that architecture was expressed. At one end there’s a school site to be built, and at the far end, Science World. The rest of this area is now under development as part of the original overall development plan. (16) As you go down and start looking at the buildings, you get a sense of the level of articulation, the use of green roofs, how



16 False Creek area

energy spaces support the activities of the project and how the streetscapes are used to create public amenity that really is about social behaviour and social wellbeing. (17 and 18)

17 Detail of False Creek area

18 Detail of False Creek area



Looking into the heart of one of the projects, you see an interesting relationship between the units on the left-hand side, which are small-scale 500-square-foot rental units, and the units on the far side that are $1.5-million, larger-scale units in the private marketplace. These courtyards are like inner sanctuaries within the project. (19) Looking across that courtyard you can get a sense of what those relationships would be like. Quite different from living in a high-rise building. You have a relationship between people within the block of space. If you live in one of these units you’ve got probably 20 visual neighbours who you can actually see, you can be part of that community. (20)

A number of people comment on the levels of privacy that may impinge on, but I think the truth of how this actually works is a social experiment. We’re all interested to see how it plays itself out. A lot of time was spent on elements through the project that are about private space, contemplative environments, places to go that are kind of away from the hubbub of the area generally.

19 Courtyard

Three of these pictures are affordable housing and one of them is market housing. There’s no real differentiation being made between the kinds of housing being provided in the affordable range to the housing being provided in the market range. That was a decision of the city of Vancouver. (21) This is Arthur Erickson’s last project, parcel four on the waterfront. It’s quite a complicated form; you can get a sense of that. It’s got a curved façade; it’s twisted like a stack of cards, which makes for a quite complicated façade. I think there are a number of different opinions about its success as an architectural icon. (22) Looking down across some of the streets you can see a program which we put in place to create a system of streets in the sky. You go up on the elevator, you come out of the elevator onto a street at level seven, and your front door is actually on that street in the sky. Again it creates a different environment and different relationships among the people living along that edge. (23)

20 Courtyard

21 Details of housing. Bottom right: market housing.

22 Parcel four, False Creek development



23 Detail showing streets in the sky

24 Plaza

25 Entranceway

26 Opening day



This is a very generous open plaza for public events that was created at the centre of the project. (24) You can get a sense of the street scale here. On the right-hand side is the community centre. Market houses and units look over the top with retail space below. (25) On the opening day I think there were 15,000 people on site. It was kind of an interesting, engaging environment where people were, I think, pretty impressed by the work that had been done. (26) I’m looking at the architecture and wondering, what were the lessons? This form of development has a really significant impact on the level of social integration that you’re going to see across the project, the European model versus the high-rise tower that’s typical of other areas of the downtown core. Incentives are required in order for developers to take on some of these more aggressively passive strategies, because they end up adding capital cost to the project. If you’re going to really achieve a reduction in resource use, you need a strongly integrated approach to the building systems that are in the project. Particularly, if you’re dealing with integrated hydronic heating systems, you need to look at what the heat loads are in the building itself and how they relate to the kinds of heating and cooling systems that you’re providing. So architecture begins well back in that process in terms of looking at the overall resource use that a project’s going to take, and how that impacts the form of development. If you’re going to work with these kinds of innovative concepts, we need leadership, as I said earlier on. You are the leaders of tomorrow. You are going to have to step up and build the

27 Thermal energy distribution

capacity of the industry to deal with these kinds of issues. There will need to be very significant change. It’s quite evident in this process we’ve been through that in some ways the development industry is now pulling back even further from the commitment to building green projects. The public is still not on board and willing to pay a premium to have those kinds of initiatives and development programs. This is the question I’m left with: what are we going to do as an industry, and as a profession, to encourage developers to adopt these kinds of design strategies in the development of their projects? I think the school of architecture is the place where this needs to begin as we move forward. I’m going to go on and talk a little bit about energy. The city of Vancouver implemented the district energy system

that feeds energy to this project, which comes from the community energy system centre. (27) This is the main sewer line that runs out of the east end of Vancouver, and we capture energy from that sewer. Lots of people talk about the energy crisis. It’s not really an energy crisis; it’s a formof-energy crisis. There is a ton of energy around, but it happens to be in the form of thermal energy, as hot water, as waste energy in sewers and as sunshine. It’s not electricity, and it’s not petroleum, which have high levels of energy. There is a crisis in those areas. (28) But in terms of waste energy, you’d be staggered at how much energy is in your sewer system. We’re capturing energy using a massive heat pump system. We pull about 70% of all the energy needs for this project off that sewer line, and we’re only taking about 5% of the THE VANCOUVER OLYMPIC VILLAGE EXPERIENCE


28 Heat pump system

energy that’s in that sewer. We’re only recapturing about 5% of that energy. So a huge percentage of that energy is wasted pouring out into the ocean and available for anyone who wants to use these kinds of technologies. The other approach that we took on this project was to use radiant heating and cooling. The strange thing about radiant energy is that nobody seems to understand it. Whenever I talk about what we did, people always tell me that hot air rises, the system shouldn’t work; because all of the radiant systems that we put into this project are mounted in the ceilings. What we do is run hot water through our ceilings to heat our ceilings up, and that creates a radiant exchange with you who are in the space. Alternatively we run cool water through the ceiling and cool you down. (29) So, about 40–50% of your experience of comfort comes from radiant energy. That’s not hot air; that is just radiant energy that is coming off the walls and 26


surfaces of the spaces that you are in. This is the technology that was used throughout this project, and when you combine that together with a resource measurement and management system that looks at all the resources coming into this project—heating, cooling, water and electricity—and you combine that with the passive design elements that were instigated on this project, and the recapture of sewage waste energy from the sewer system, this project globally reduces its energy consumption by close to 50%. So, significant gains made in terms of how energy is used and managed on the project. (30 and 31) What did we learn about all of that in terms of energy use on the project? The first thing is that there are a variety of options available for district energy systems. Some of those need to be looked at in terms of ambient distribution versus high-temperature distribution. An interesting thing was that at the Olympic Village they used high-temperature distribution, which we, the building designers, did not want. What we wanted was ambient temperature distribution so that we could either take energy out of the system or put energy back into it depending on whether we were heating or cooling our buildings. But there was a commitment made very early on that we would use a high-temperature loop. There was an interesting dichotomy between what the City of Vancouver wanted to do and what the engineering fraternity working on the project were doing. On to this issue of sewer heat recovery and where the thermal energy is. There is a lot of technology being developed at the moment to take thermal energy directly out of the air and turn it into

29 Radiant heat transfer

30 Metered comfort

31 Detail of system



hot water. The air has energy in it; even down at -10 degrees, the air has energy in it. You can extract that energy directly from the air and stick it into a hot-water circulation system with some of the new technologies, and you can do that with air temperatures as low as -10 degrees. So significant advances have been made in gathering thermal energy and using it, and essentially it’s a free source of energy. The efficiency of the overall systems focused on the implementation of integrated building systems. We achieved a 50% reduction; our energy costs are very comparable and essentially inflationprotected because we’re just using a waste energy resource, we’re not confronting increases in gas or electricity prices. In order to achieve this, though, we need municipal leadership. You’ll hear that word over and over again, in terms of how we collaborate, how we integrate, and how we provide leadership. That’s the challenge for you, those three words. Collaboration, integration and leadership; those are the drivers that you’re going to engage. So, I ask this question: why are we not prepared, as a community and as a kind of social entity, to use district energy systems, gather the energy from waste sources and put it into play? It’s really because our community is essentially focused on individual issues. I am an individual, I own this property; I will solve my own individual problems rather than stepping back and looking at a collaborative approach to the development of infrastructure. Again, leadership, collaboration and integration of those systems make up how you’re going to approach the future of living cities, which is what we’re here to talk about. 28


Water and landscape—we talked briefly about this. The landscape architects opted in their green roofs to build these motifs of the Olympic legacy, so in the roof structures themselves there are these planted areas that remember the various sports that were held at the Olympic village. It’s kind of nice, just a memory of what was done. (32 and 33) The city spent a lot of time and effort on the development of the area along the waterfront. This was in an absolutely hideous state when they began. On the bottom is Hinge Park, which is not only a park; it’s essentially the storm-water management system. All of the stormwater that comes onto the Olympic site and into the southeast False Creek development zone goes through this storm-water management system before it’s discharged. This significantly reduces the pollutants that are going into the ocean. (34) One part of the development plan was Habitat Island. It’s always nice to occasionally stop and remember that you’re not the only species on this planet, that you have a responsibility not only for building your communities, but for building the communities of other species. So Habitat Island was deliberately developed in order to provide habitat for fish spawning along the edge here as well as for insects, animals and birds. (35) This has been very successful. Herring came back into False Creek this year and lay roe all the way along the edge for the first time in 60 years. This is really home to rats and mice and horrible things that we supposedly don’t like, but are really all part of our urban environment. You can

32 Green roof design

33 Green roof

34 Waterfront development



35 Habitat Island

see here that it didn’t take long for the ducks to arrive and recognize that this was going to be kind of a special place, which it has become. (36)

36 Detail of Habitat Island

A lot of effort was spent throughout the project on developing a kind of serendipitous place for community, with a focus on the children. When they built Hinge Park and did the entire village, one of the lines in the original development plan was that the project should celebrate water. So a lot of time and effort was spent on doing just that, recognizing and educating around the use of water and its role in our social fabric. (37) In some ways, we kind of take it all for granted. We turn the tap on and the water comes past; we brush our teeth and never even think about where it came from, how much energy it took to get to us, how much energy it takes now to get it out and reprocess it and stick it back in the ocean. Those are all



issues that were celebrated and looked at in the development of this project. A real effort was made to develop gathering spaces and places where people can communicate with each other, and build neighbourhood. (38) Here’s a wonderful set of steps that they built down to the water. The notion of getting you down to the water’s edge, particularly where you’re on an ocean and you have rising and falling water from the tides, is always an issue, to make sure you actually feel you’re part of the water. (39) The other thing that we did was use rainwater throughout this project. We captured rainwater on the roofs of this project and circulated it through the buildings for toilet flushing. Of course a number of people were very concerned that in Vancouver everyone drinks from their toilets, so we had to put little signs on the toilets that say please don’t drink the toilet water (and then we translated that into cat and dog). (40) So what did we learn about that? If you’re going to tackle these kinds of issues and use rainwater effectively, how do you do that in a multidisciplinary environment, getting everybody involved in those kinds of initiatives? How do you get approvals for those approaches to resource management? Can you manage stormwater on site? Yes you can, instead of dumping it into the sewer and sending it to someone else to look after. In this case, the innovation throughout the project reduced the potable water consumption by about 50%.

37 Hinge Park

38 Waterfront steps

39 Waterfront steps



40 Rain water harvesting system

In British Columbia it rains all the time, so who cares. But the reality is that water is energy. It takes money to gather it, to filter it, to pump it, to circulate it, and it requires a substantial amount of infrastructure to do that. If you can reduce your water consumption you can reduce your need for infrastructure. That has significant impact on construction-of-infrastructure costs, which all flows all the way back to carbon-related issues, what it takes to actually build that carbon in terms of its contribution in an emissions cycle. Children love water, and anything you can do to bring water into an environment, kids are going to love. I’m still waiting for the first lawyers to phone me up and say, that’s all got to be fenced off because Mrs. Jones’ son got mud on his boots. I’m just hoping that we don’t get into that kind of thing. I mentioned Habitat Island: as I say, we’re not alone. I think the great tragedy of our role on this globe, this piece of



41 Using airflows

dirt hurtling through space, is that we seem to have absolutely zero regard for our fellow species. We’re quite content to see them go extinct one after another at an alarming rate, without even so much as a breath of consciousness about it all. Anything that is evolved, that is living on this world, probably took a million years to get that way, and we’ve spent a hundred years destroying it. Quite frankly I don’t think that’s right. As a species we have a responsibility that goes beyond ourselves. Healthy living: this is just about evaporative cooling and the use of air. With cross-ventilation and the use of independent ventilation in individual units everybody is a master of their own health, and you don’t get this transmission of airborne allergens and other diseases from one unit to another. (41)

Efforts were made in restoring the salt building, a wonderful structure that was built in 1930 which will become a brew pub and focus of the community. It opens onto a square. These light elements are a reflection of the historic significance of the site, which was used for the ship-building industry. Somebody decided to put all of this coloured lighting into it; I didn’t even know about this until the slides were sent to me, but it’s kind of interesting. (42)



The community centre and boating centre: a 30,000 square foot LEED Platinum building built for the city of Vancouver, the first Platinum project in their community program. There is some very innovative technology in that particular project.

42 Salt building and plaza

43 Community centre

44 The Birds. Myfanwy MacLeod, 2010



Of note, the US Green Building Council gave the overall village development a LEED Platinum designation, which was the highest designation given in North America. I think it was a really good opportunity to demonstrate the issues that make up the sustainable community. (43) This was a piece of artwork that was installed into it. A lot of people had lots of questions about this one. It’s all about the sparrow, who is English, of course. He’s an immigrant just like most of Vancouver, so this is about diverse species that now make up the fabric of the community and the city, and a celebration of that. We are a very diverse community as I look out into this audience; I think there’s probably about 20 different nationalities sitting here in front of me, all with different cultural backgrounds, all with different experiences, all coming together to build community and build neighbourhood. We all contribute our unique understanding of human development to that process that we’re in, as the sparrows become a bit evasive. (44) Talking about public space and healthy space, how do we challenge conventional thinking? How do we develop unique engineering solutions? It’s leadership again, and a kind of

progressive approach to planning. This afternoon and for the rest of the day you’re probably going to hear people who are going to talk about the future, right out there, which is really where the inspiration lies. It’s about recognizing that public spaces make a significant contribution to sustainable community development. Without good public spaces, it’s very hard to develop good neighbourhoods and good community. So what makes living communities, what makes a vibrant community? This is the question, this is the challenge for you, what you need to bring to the work that you’re going to as you go out into the industry, how do we support and foster that. This is a little bit on the netzero energy building. This is just to recognize that if we go on doing what we’re doing, this is the impact on the CO2. This is what Planet Action Plan wants from us, and this is about where we are now. We’re continuing on with our old behaviour. If we actually want to do what our political leaders say they want but don’t act on, we have to make very significant changes. (45) Here are some examples of net-zero buildings: Bized in London, (46) and the planning for the Seuze building in Vancouver. (47) We typically look at a normal project in terms of how much energy it consumes; if we make it green we improve it a bit, if we move to net-zero can we reduce it further and then actually generate some energy to add to that on the site. (48)

45 CO2 levels over time

46 Bized, London

47 Seuze, Vancouver



48 The net-zero equation

49 Design model for Net Zero Building

50 Net Zero Building



This is the project that was chosen on the site, this building here; these are the early design models for it. (49) At the end of the day, we reduced its energy consumption from 687 to 374. This building has about 40% better performance than any other building on the site, it generates its own thermal energy and it ends up with a net-zero energy profile in terms of dollars spent on energy over the year. It recovers energy from the grocery store below and generates its own energy which it sells off to other projects on the site. But in terms of its system performance it’s about a 40% improvement, with a significant cost premium associated with it. (50) Because we have a thermal system we can in fact sell that energy back into the system and use that to purchase electrical power for plug loads and lighting on the project. (51)

51 Energy transfer diagram

In order to achieve net zero as a goal, you need a lot of collaboration within your team, and leadership, and commitment from the parties that are setting up those objectives. There was a cost premium associated with this building, it was around 20%. That, I think, will fall as everybody moves forward into this realm. Can you achieve it with a medium-rise building in an urban environment? Yes, you can. It’s a lot more difficult with highrise and easier with lower buildings because of the density-footprint ratio. Essentially, to make a net zero program work you need this kind of shared energy resource that’s servicing a wider community that allows you to move energy around effectively within the overall program. Industry capacity has to be built, and a kind of universal commitment is required as we move

forward with this technology. What would it take for us to influence our government to take on this kind of challenge and move forward? We don’t yet see that leadership coming from our government groups, and we don’t see that demand yet coming from the public who buy the units. I’ve talked a lot about communication through this program. I know that there will be someone who asks me this question if we have any time, so I’m going to talk about the project costing which is what got this project into a lot of trouble; and there’s no doubt the project is in a lot of trouble at the moment. It’s now gone into a receivership. The city has waived their connection to the project and handed it over to the lawyers to deal with. The project has confronted a wide THE VANCOUVER OLYMPIC VILLAGE EXPERIENCE


52 False Creek LEED awards

range of issues in the marketplace. It has some significant premiums that were driven by the circumstances at the time; construction escalation, the form of development, the delay in starting it and the Olympic deadline issues. There were some financing questions, what the Olympic program cost people who are buying it. The sustainable features probably cost 6–8%, and yet people are pointing at the project and saying, see how much the overruns on this project came to, they all came from sustainable design. That is simply not the case; they came from this whole range of other issues. It’s important to understand that when looking at the performance of this project. However, LEED Platinum



53 False Creek development

and LEED Gold for the buildings and the overall development program; it is the greenest community and most sustainable community in North America. (52) This was documented through the Challenge Series, a very successful record of the project’s development, which is accessible on the web. It’s just now gone over 100,000 page views from 150 countries around the world, people who have looked at and read the history and background of the decisions that were made on this project. This image shows the sequence of construction. My friend, who actually shot this material during the development program set it to ‘Mission:

Impossible,’ but it’s an interesting reflection of the kind of activity that went on in the project. (53) Finally, one of the things that we’ve been looking at is the Canadian Centre for Sustainable Innovation. It’s a program that we’re looking at in the Eco-City in Tianjin, China, which is a new development of 350,000 people. This city is a strategic engagement between Singapore and China to look at how to bring sustainable innovation and green buildings into the Chinese marketplace. For those of you familiar with China, Tianjin City is about 20 minutes away from Beijing by fast train. The program is being developed here. (54) There would be a number of people who would comment



that this plan isn’t being done in a way that is particularly sustainable. I would agree; but it is the way it is. (55) The project we’re working on would be located on this site. Essentially what we’re putting together is a showcase program for Canadian technology and Canadian design, to be able to go in there and demonstrate approaches to be taken towards this kind of building initiative. Within that, this is our building site. We will build a custom-designed, net-zero building to go on that site. Part of that program will include educational facilities for Canadian universities and Canadian technical institutes to participate in bringing sustainable community development and green building messages into China. (56)

54 Tianjin Eco-City diagram

55 Tianjin Eco-City diagram



Facilities that will be in that project include: the Global Green Science and Technology Centre, Global Environmental Education Theatre, the Canadian Sustainable Policy Centre, the Sino-Singapore Technology Leadership Program, and Materials Testing. There will be opportunities for Canadian suppliers to showcase their products in that project. This is the CIRS (Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability) building in Vancouver. I use this just as an illustration of the kind of modelling that’s being undertaken for this development to celebrate and engage the community in the application of sustainable innovation. This will probably be an opportunity in the years ahead to build bridges across to Asia, where substantial change in urban population is taking place with huge impacts on the global condition. (57)

56 Tianjin Eco-City diagram

I just have a little piece of inspiration for you, as you contemplate your future: Robert Kennedy said, ‘Recognize that it is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a ripple of hope.’ Really, this is the challenge for you: what is your life going to be about, in terms of the influence that it has and the degree of change that you can bring about as you move forward into your professional career? There are probably more opportunities for change and more challenges in this building industry, I think, than at any other time in history.

57 Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability

I know you have much more engaging and exciting presentations; this is the reality section of your two days. After this you can go into flights of fantasy and have a wonderful time looking at what the future might be. I simply go back to this notion of collaboration, integration and leadership, and that’s the challenge to you all, to provide that leadership for the future.





SORENSEN LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


Embedded Rigidities, Moments of Change: Space, Institutions, and the Evolutionary Potentials in Urban Form ANDRÉ SORENSEN University of Toronto, Cities Centre

André Sorensen is Associate Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Toronto Department of Geography and Program in Planning. He has published widely on urbanisation, land development and planning history. His book The Making of Urban Japan: Cities and Planning from Edo to the 21st Century won the Book Prize of the International Planning History Association in 2004. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the University of Tokyo School of Engineering in recognition of his research on Japanese urbanism and urban planning. He is the editor of Towards Sustainable Cities: East Asian, North American and European Perspectives on Managing Urban Regions (with Peter J. Marcotullio and Jill Grant), Living Cities in Japan: Citizens’ Movements, Machizukuri and Local Environments (with Carolin Funck) and Megacities: Urban Form, Governance and Sustainability (with J. Okata). His current research examines the processes and institutions that generate urban form in the Toronto region.




City of Toronto

This talk draws on a research project that I started last summer with a colleague at the University of Toronto, Professor Paul Hess of the Department of Geography and Program in Planning. In presenting the regional context, I also borrow heavily from the outstanding research of the Neptis Foundation, and I am happy to see Tony Coombes, Executive Director of Neptis, and Marcy Burchfield, their Geomatics Research Program Manager, here today. Thank you to Neptis for all their wonderful research that has helped us enormously in understanding how the Toronto region is changing.

important for the discussion today to note that while there are many path-dependent aspects of urban form, this research also points to areas within the urban fabric and urban institutions that are more open to change and incremental adaptation. The point that I wish to make is that an understanding of such patterns of rigidity or resistance to significant change, and their opposite patterns of greater openness to change, can help us focus on those parts of city regions that are most likely to yield the greatest opportunities for transformative change to more liveable, sustainable cities.

My current research examines path dependency in the institutions, the structure and the development of urban areas, and how certain types and processes of change are prevented, and other patterns are encouraged. It is

This talk has four parts. First, I look at the regional context. Second, I outline the idea of path dependence and continuities or rigidities in urban development patterns. Third, I will reverse this picture, and look at the areas where there is less EMBEDDED RIGIDITIES, MOMENTS OF CHANGE


path dependence and more openness to change. And finally I will focus on a few of those areas where I believe it is possible to push the envelope a bit toward more sustainable cities. I will argue that while the micro scale of buildings that is the primary focus of architects is important, the regional patterns of change and urban function are also a fundamental aspect of how our cities must change, in the ways that Roger Bayley has just been telling us about, towards greater energy efficiency, greater walkability and greater sustainability. I believe that understanding the patterns of rigidity and path dependence in the way we build cities today is useful for city-builders and urban designers, as it will help you to understand, for example, where you’re going to run headfirst into a brick wall of opposition to change. That could be useful in preventing concussions! But I will also look at the opportunities for change that exist within this structure. The approach of looking at rigidities in the form and institutions of city development gives an insight into the sweet spots where significant change can occur. The regional scale is, I believe, one of the most critical pieces in this whole picture of building more liveable cities. The problem is that we are still building radically unsustainable cities. Canadians consume more energy per capita than any other large country in the world (excluding small countries such as Qatar and Bahrain, that is). Building heating and cooling, and the way urban form is built, is a huge contributor to that, and it’s estimated that we can save 40–50% of all of our current energy consumption just by using existing technologies in 46


better ways. The focus here is primarily on automobile use and automobiledependent cities, as transportation is a major energy user at about 20% of total global energy consumption, and automobiles are much more energy intensive per kilometre traveled than other modes. In the Toronto region, even though we’ve been talking about urban sprawl and other problematic patterns of urban form for the last 30 years, we’ve been utterly unsuccessful in changing to a significantly different pattern of development. Vehicle kilometres travelled per capita is still increasing; energy use per capita is still increasing; congestion is still increasing. Even flattening those trend lines is going to be incredibly difficult, and reversing them is going to be even more so. It is widely agreed that for cities to be more sustainable, we need to build less automobile-dependent places that encourage walking, bicycling and public transit for a much larger share of all trips. (1) I would like to start with a very brief portrait of the region, drawing on the work of the Neptis Foundation. An important report that the Neptis Foundation sponsored and published in 2001 called the ‘Business As Usual’ report (BAU) included this figure. A major conclusion of the report was that continuing current patterns of development would result in much higher infrastructure and maintenance costs over the long run than changing to either more compact or nodal patterns of development; but also that continuing the way we’re building cities currently would result in enormous increases in automobile congestion in the region.

4 Name of image here


Congestion in Toronto region by year. Neptis Foundation





Congestion in Toronto—2001


Congestion in Toronto—2031


Congestion in Toronto given infrastructure investment


The top figure shows 2001 congestion in the Toronto region, with red showing high levels of congestion during the weekday morning peak travel period. The middle figure shows the projected congestion in 2031, showing that if we continue the way we’re building cities today, we will have increasingly serious gridlock by 2031. And the bottom one shows the difference between the first and second ones. Increases of congestion are seen primarily around the outer fringes of the built up area, where people basically have no choice but to use cars for all types of travel. (2) The BAU report, particularly the congestion analysis, was very influential in convincing suburban politicians, the provincial government and some of the electorate that we needed to change the way we were building our cities, and in particular that we needed to be much more serious about improving public transit systems. This analysis also seems certain to have contributed to the current Ontario provincial government’s important regional planning policies for the Greenbelt, Places to Grow Plan and the major investments in regional public transit through Metrolinx. I believe that congestion, much more than the problem of global climate change and carbon emissions, has been a huge factor in terms of changing priorities for the way we build cities. In future it is likely that rising energy costs—and the imperative to create urban regions that are less vulnerable to rising energy costs—will also become a big factor, but at the moment it is congestion that is a primary policy driver because it’s going to become more and more problematic if we continue the pattern of automobileonly transportation in the city region the


insert caption here

size of Toronto. Virtually all analysts are now agreed that is impossible to solve congestion problems such as Toronto’s by building more roads. This is a more detailed analysis. This shows actual patterns in 2001, of peak hour congestion; red is highly congested, yellow is congested, turquoise is uncongested. This is the existing road system. The business-as-usual model of future congestion in the region includes continued building of roads, and in fact massive continued investment in road infrastructure. (3) This is projected congestion in 2031, given existing urban growth trends, and shows a congestion nightmare in terms of trying to get around by car. (4) And this is even if we continue to invest billions of dollars in the road system, including completing the 427 to Barrie, completing the 407 to Peterborough,

widening of other major expressways and continuing to build the arterial road network. (5) So even with this vast investment in new road space, businessas-usual patterns of continued automobile dependent growth are predicted to result in gridlock over the whole region. Toronto is already one of the most congested urban regions in North America. (6) One of the amazing things about the Toronto region is how carefully we have planned to produce an automobiledependent region. We have been phenomenally successful in building out the vision of the urban region that was conceived in the 1950s. We are still today building the ideal urban form, the utopian vision of a new urban future that was conceived in the 1940s and ’50s, and we are still chained to that idea of an ideal urban form for the auto age. EMBEDDED RIGIDITIES, MOMENTS OF CHANGE



Metropolitan Toronto Planning Board plan (1966)

This is the plan of the Metropolitan Toronto Planning Board, published in 1966. The yellow is residential, purple is employment lands, red is commercial centres. You can see already in 1966 that highways 407, 401, 427, 404 and 400 are planned. That major skeleton of infrastructure was planned in the 1940s and ’50s. Of course, you can see the downtown core, the high-density mixeduse area. Most of this area is designed as a new type of urban fabric of planned low-density segregated use, with exclusive residential areas, commercial nodes and very large exclusively employment areas. (7) This is a map that I created that shows what we’ve actually built as of 2001. What I think is extraordinary is how faithfully we have built out that concept from 1966. We have grown a little bit more in Brampton 50



Plan showing Toronto growth patterns—2001

and Mississauga than was imagined at the time, but basically the whole structure, and the details of it in terms of how neighbourhoods get planned, how transportation works, are still faithfully building out the vision of the 1950s. (8) A big change has come since 2003 partly as a result of this congestion analysis and the dire consequences predicted in the ‘Business as Usual’ report, and a change of government to the Liberals in 2003. (9) After a period of very little regional planning we have the new green belt at two million acres, including the ORM and the Niagara escarpment which were already protected, the largest green belt in the world, ever. As a result, we are seeing a significant shift towards more intensification in the region. Land prices are going up, and that’s actually hugely important and beneficial in

terms of promoting intensification in the region, as we substitute capital investment in building floor space for land area. The other provincial policy piece is the ‘Places to Grow’ plan that the province put into place, which more stringently defines the designated urban area and how it can be expanded. So the urban growth boundary is no longer a continuously expanding line which is meant to always include 20 years of future land supply and ensure that land prices don’t go up. Now the province has promised to slow down rolling out the urban growth boundary, has mandated that all municipalities must achieve 40% of new housing units as intensification, and has set minimum levels of density in new developments, with a goal of creating ‘complete communities’ in EMBEDDED RIGIDITIES, MOMENTS OF CHANGE



Plan showing green lands

10 Plan for Regional Rapid Transit

11 Plan showing Toronto growth patterns



new developments. Again, this is a very good policy, as intensification will focus investment into the existing built up area, will create a lot of possibilities to create a more liveable, sustainable urban region. We, and especially all of you young architects, have a huge challenge ahead, as just intensification by itself is no solution. It must be well designed, and contribute to more walkable urban areas, more vital streets and neighbourhoods, and better connections between buildings, public spaces, and transit connections, for intensification to yield more sustainable cities. The final piece is the Metrolinx ‘Big Move’ plan, which was initially going to be a $50 billion investment in public transit over 25 years. (10) Part of the investment has been delayed because of the global financial crisis, but the government is clearly committed to a major investment in public transit for the region. Unfortunately in Toronto we have a new mayor who doesn’t really believe in things like light rail lines, because he thinks that they will get in the way of his car when he’s driving around. That has put a question mark under whether we will actually build the Toronto part of the plan, ‘Transit City,’ the first really significant piece of transit investment in Toronto in 30 years. While I think that subways are a very good idea in high density urban areas, it is a terrible waste of money to build subways in low-density suburbs. I believe that the Transit City plan was the most efficient in terms of delivering greatly improved public transit throughout Toronto, and it will be a major setback for Toronto, and for the region, if it is not built.

12 Greater Toronto Area urban form

This is a huge and very positive change of direction in terms of recognition of the importance of regional planning, and a significant investment of political capital in terms of changing the trajectory of development in the region. Toronto is seeing significant amounts of intensification, as shown in this analysis of intensification in the Toronto region from 1991–2001. The analysis of the ‘Growing Cities’ report shows that there’s lots of intensification, and this has almost certainly accelerated since then. These are indicating the highdensity mixed-use nodes which are well served by public transit, and where you could expect that people would be willing to shift out of using cars as a primary mobility strategy into things like public transit. (11)

The challenge is how we move towards intensification that actually contributes to greater sustainability, both in terms of significantly reducing energy consumption, but also in terms of shifting the modal split towards public transit, walking and cycling, all three of which consume vastly less amounts of energy than using cars on a daily basis, and also generate lively and dynamic streets and street life. The current research project that we’re doing is a long-run analysis of urban form patterns at the parcel scale, individual buildings, measuring the amount of floor space, the amount of land devoted to things like parks, residential buildings, commercial areas, road space, community facilities like schools, all land uses over the whole of the Greater Toronto Area. (12) EMBEDDED RIGIDITIES, MOMENTS OF CHANGE


13 Burlington-Oakville urban form

We are particularly interested in the institutional structures that shape the kinds of development that occur, and how those have evolved over the last 50 years. We ask which aspects of this regulatory and government structure have become particularly pathdependent or difficult to change, in terms of the built form, but even more in terms of the rule sets that regulate change. Rule sets are often even more difficult to change than actual built form, because they develop constituencies of political or public support; for example residential zoning for single family detached homes. But also a lot more invisible stuff, such as municipal government dependence on property taxes for core revenue, or the boundaries of municipal areas, that tend to be very hard to change. We’re looking at the institutional sources of inflexibility and rigidity in urban form, examples being regulatory frameworks, zoning systems, property rights and development charges. 54


14 Ontario government MTARTS Plan (1966)

We’re also looking at areas of opportunity for change. Understanding the ways in which institutions generate continuity and become difficult to change over time helps to understand those patterns and institutions that generate inflexibility, and that in turn should allow an understanding of the gaps in the system where there is more openness and opportunity to change. Such gaps could either be regulatory or spatial, as long as they prevent change or allow more flexibility to change. We’re actually looking at patterns over the whole of the Greater Toronto Area, but I wanted to take one little piece as an illustration of what we’re trying to do. So this area—does anybody recognize where we are here? This is Oakville, and Burlington is over there. This is the QEW. This is Dundas, the 407, this is a hydro corridor. This is undeveloped land. The North Oakville secondary plan for this whole undeveloped area to the north has recently been approved. (13)

When I show this to people in Japan, or to Americans, they are astounded at this line dividing the built up area from the undeveloped area. If you look carefully at the pattern of development in the Toronto region, you can see the control obsession that we have with actually making contiguous urban development. A primary goal has been efficiency in terms of how we build sewers, and cost-effectiveness is an enduring priority of the Ontario government in how we build our cities, which is not a bad thing. We have indeed been extremely efficient in building our major infrastructure systems, which are of very high quality. The ability to do that is quite rare around the world. In the Megacities book that I just edited, we have chapters on Bogota, Mexico City and Bangkok, places like that. There, the authors are saying when five-sixths of all of your development is illegal, what opportunity do have to actually shape patterns of metropolitan development? EMBEDDED RIGIDITIES, MOMENTS OF CHANGE


15 Oakville zone diagram

In Ontario we do, we actually can and do make choices about what we build and how we build it. So this is the Burlington-Oakville urban pattern, and it is a highly planned urban form. This figure is from the MTARTS (Metropolitan Toronto and Region Transportation Study); also done in 1966, in parallel to the Metropolitan Toronto Planning Board Plan. (14) But if you just jump back, (13) you can see the corridor, it’s a little bit different from the one planned in 1966 but not much. If you notice the employment lands, the residential areas, again the QEW employment lands, highway 407, it’s all there. This is the parkway belt scheme; it was called a corridor city, a linear corridor. This is a bit larger scale, but here’s that big employment area, there’s the QEW. 56


One of the big differences between what we actually built and what was planned in 1966 is the older commercial centres did not continue to grow. Instead we built shopping malls, and retail growth then went out to the suburbs to shopping malls. Oakville North didn’t happen as a high-density mixed-use centre. ‘Streetsville’ and the central business district, the planned high-density mixed-use centre for Erin Mills’ new town that became Mississauga, was not built. In practice it got built out as low-density singlefamily homes with a few apartment towers on one edge.

during the ’80s, ’90s, until the present. Just so you can read this, the maps are colour coded by land-use, with the dark brown representing undeveloped land today, purple is employment lands, yellow is residential, red is schools, this darker purple is churches, this bright yellow strip is the expressway, orange is commercial/retail, tangerine is townhouses in these higher density areas. Green is parks, dark green is a golf course. Here we have Oak Park, which is a New Urbanism style of development that I’ll talk about in a minute. That turquoise area is a cemetery.

You can see Highway 407 in its parkway belt, which in practice ended up essentially as a highway corridor and a utility corridor. Most of that route has the parallel infrastructure of high-capacity electrical transmission lines. One quick last thing is this concept of the employment zones, the single-family detached residential, and higher-density housing zones; again, we have been following that absolutely diligently for the last 60 years in quite a remarkable way.

Zone one is the oldest area, south of the QEW highway/railway corridor. (16) Basically, 1950s and ’60s development: filling out the existing grid, and changing the pattern of development from the tight existing grid of the old Oakville town centre to a modified grid of development along existing roads, and some new-style looping roads with a few cul-de-sac infill developments. Of course, it’s important to realize how long the pipeline is on a lot of urban development in this region. Usually 10 to 20 years in advance developers are seeking permissions and looking for and negotiating approval for their subdivision plans. So almost everything that’s being built today was approved 10, 15, 20 years ago, and the form, in terms of the road layout, park, major infrastructure, was all set in place before you were born. And certainly the raw land, like the whole green undeveloped area north of Dundas Street, was bought by development companies back in the 1960s and ’70s.

I next want to talk in a bit more detail about the urban form that we have produced; and it’s useful to look at three zones here. (15) The first zone is the area south of the QEW and the employment lands along the railway. Some of this is pre-second world war, but most of the area was built up during the ’40s and ’50s. Moving north, zone two is the area between the QEW and Upper Middle Road, mostly developed in the ’60s and ’70s; and zone three between Upper Middle Road and Dundas Street, is largely built out



16 Oakville zone one

17 Oakville zone two

18 Oakville zone three



Then for zone two, the 1960s and ’70s. (17) This is the full-blown modernist pattern of suburban development, with complete segregation of uses, and the four-tier road hierarchy of local streets to access homes, distributors within superblocks defined by arterial roads, the big arterial road grid based on the old concession roads of the rural land surveys of the 18th century, and the 400 series limited access expressway system at the top of the hierarchy. This pattern became absolutely dominant, and we’re still building out our region based on this model, with large areas of purely residential land use, very large scale employment districts, and big shopping malls, all connected by a robust road system. A big change from the ’40s and ’50s is much more significant protection of green space. We are able to protect it, and this is not a bad thing, it’s actually one of the significant achievements in the Toronto region. We designate buffers on each side of creeks and small rivers, and we arrange parks and schools along those corridors. These green areas are not habitat preservation, as they are fairly highly manicured park spaces, but they allow a much better treatment of stormwater, as it stays on the surface instead of being drained through sewer pipes. In principle it should be possible to prevent storm water from flowing directly into creeks and rivers through the use of such buffers, and by creating systems of ponds and catchments that will allow water to drain slowly into creeks. This is potentially a much more ecologically sensitive of city building. So that’s a major shift: much more green space is protected.

Next, zone three, the most recent, which is basically developed from the 1990s to the present. (18) Basically it’s the same pattern, with a few modifications. We’ve continued the very disciplined separation of land uses, so that virtually all trips must be by car. One significant shift is towards more highdensity townhouse-type developments. In these study areas the tangerine areas are all condominium townhouses (a.k.a. Strata developments). There are other townhouses and semi-detached housing areas, but people own the land underneath those houses. I am currently doing another research project on Strata townhouses, on the distinctive aspects of land ownership and property management in these developments, and how this differs from single-family homes. The higher densities do not make these areas any more walkable, however, because of the road patterns and the separated land uses. You can’t really do any utilitarian trips without getting into your car. There’s continuing increase in the share of land devoted to green space. In the north-east corner of zone three is a new urbanist development called Oak Park. You can see it follows quite a different pattern of urban design, with a grid of streets focussed on a commercial centre. There are much smaller parcels, mostly of townhouses. The hope is that this will be more walkable, which it probably will be. Certainly a better urban form, but it still has a clear separation of

land-uses. The new town centre is being built out as big-box stores with large-surface parking lots. It’s not a high-density mixed-use town centre in any conception of the term. The pattern of streets and this area does lend itself to adaptation in the future, potentially resulting in a more walkable community. So what can we say about this pattern? (19) My belief is that most of these areas, especially zone two and zone three, will see very little intensification in future, and will be hard to adapt to more mixed uses, higher densities, or more walkable places. The urban form is deliberately frozen in terms of the patterns of land uses and property ownership patterns, and the expectation when people buy into this area is that nothing will ever change. The inflexibility to change is deliberately designed; and has been the overriding value in building suburban residential areas since the Second World War. It’s an idea that started to gain currency in the 1920s and ’30s with covenants and deed restrictions in suburban areas, promising that these areas would never have employment uses, that you would never have an ugly factory or a cinema next door to your house, or a Tim Horton’s drive-through.



19 Detail of Oakville plan

You are protected as a property owner, and your property value is protected against any change. That is a dominant value either as a housing investment or as a property developer, ensuring that that promise is being made to the new property owners. And that’s probably the biggest factor that is going to prevent any kind of meaningful change in areas that are designed in this way. A second major factor is the pattern of streets and property divisions, which mean that there are not enough people on the sidewalks for a commercial use to be viable, even if the zoning was changed to allow commercial uses. These areas are carefully designed to be utterly inflexible. In terms of thinking about how our cities will adapt and change in the future, probably our first conclusion must be that we shouldn’t be looking at these places. I think we’re going to build less and less of this, primarily because land values are going up, but also because of current attempts to build ‘complete communities’ that are less car dependent. But I do think 60


20 Oakville plan

we can afford to protect these areas as quaint relics of the mid–20th century idea of city building. They will probably become very desirable as places to live, because there are single-family homes on large lots, and possibly as a society we’ll be able to afford to preserve this extravagant pattern of urban development as a kind of historical legacy of the 20th century. (20) So the question is where is the opportunity in this picture? If almost all of these suburban areas, almost everything that we’ve built in the last 50 years, are designed to be unchangeable in the future, how will we intensify and create more transit oriented and walkable cities? It seems clear that the big opportunity is the employment lands along the railway line. So far we have been very careful and largely successful in preventing conversions of employment lands to residential lands. What makes this a huge opportunity, of course, is the railway corridor. The GO commuter trains along this corridor are

the most frequent of all the GO system, currently running as long-distance diesel trains. The system is basically designed as a way to get from the suburbs to central Toronto and Union Station. Commuters drive to parking lots near the go stations, park their cars, and ride to central Toronto. I believe that there are enormous opportunities in linear corridors like this to actually build high-density mixeduse nodes, or linear corridors, with clusters all the way along at the stations. Metrolinx recently released their electrification study, basically saying that it makes sense to electrify the GO rail system in stages, and they expect to be able to complete the process by about 20 years from now. I think that the electrification study missed the biggest opportunity inherent in electrification: the possibility of creating express/local rail services. The Metrolinx electrification study basically examined the feasibility of electrifying the existing long-haul commuter rail system EMBEDDED RIGIDITIES, MOMENTS OF CHANGE


with a destination in Toronto. But with electrification, you have the opportunity of a very different rail-based public transit that includes both the express system, which we’ve got now, which offers fast long-distance trips, and also a local service to three or four more stations between each of the express stations that exist now. This is only possible because electric trains can speed up and slow down extremely quickly. With diesel trains, you must have stations this far apart, because it takes so long to speed up and slow down. With local stations, and local train service, the rail corridor becomes more like a subway system in terms of the level of transit service and the pattern of development and land uses that it can support. And you have a much better transportation system than either a subway or a regional rail system because if you’re going long-distance, you use the next express, and for the local service you can use the slower local trains. This arrangement is used all over the world. The local service would have stops every two kilometres or so, and nodes of highdensity mixed use can be created as transit hubs at each one. Now the employment lands have been protected because we want to have lowcost land available for inward investment by employment uses. It’s would not be hard to plan for redevelopment of nodes at each GO train station with a re-zoning that says you can convert to mixed-use as long as you have a net gain in the number of people who are employed in some defined land area. So you’ve actually developed much higher-density mixeduse, as long as you can incorporate some sort of an employment land use. 62


So the question is: how do we build those high-density mixed-use nodes? We don’t really have any institutional structures that could create new highdensity mixed-use nodes. Even if we put a local subway along this line, we actually don’t have either the private or the public land development agencies that could buy significant parcels and rearrange the land uses to provide. We have been buying a lot of them for the parking lots; the province owns big chunks of land right at the station for parking, which is obvious. But an agency that could actually assemble chunks of land, redesign it; because you actually need high-quality public space on the ground near your public transit station, plus all of the urban amenities, and facilities like community infrastructure as Roger Bayley was talking about. That is absolutely essential if you’re going to have a walking and bicyclingoriented city; you need that high quality of urban pattern on the ground.

Finally, I think that a primary challenge for young architects and urban designers such as yourselves is to think about designing places that are flexible, that have the openness to adapt to future needs and priorities that are as yet unknown. Adaptability is important in buildings as well as districts, regions, cities and regions. Our recent focus on stability and creating urban areas that are resistant to change is a problem that will require innovative design solutions to overcome.

In my view, this corridor is the only significant opportunity for the creation of areas of high-density mixed-use transit oriented development in this area. In part because it has been protected for completely other reasons, it still has very large land parcels, and doesn’t have a community that’s going to scream if you change anything nearby them. It also has the opportunity for a high-capacity public transit system that can be built as incremental improvement on the existing system. This could be a fantastic linear development that would add a lot of value to the region, to the municipalities it passes through and to the suburban neighbourhoods, who would have access to a much more urban environment and a high quality transit system that connected them to the rest of the region. EMBEDDED RIGIDITIES, MOMENTS OF CHANGE




STELZER LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


Large Building Energy Systems— Relationships to District Energy Management Cogeneration, Energy Storage and Demand/Load Coupling KEVIN STELZER B+H Architects

Kevin Stelzer is a registered architect and a Building Science Specialist of Ontario. He is a principal with B+H Architects, focusing on laboratory, healthcare and educational building types across Canada and in other countries including the US and China. He is presently studying building physics at University of Toronto Civil Engineering. His many projects demonstrate his interest in systems design and sustainability: the UBC Student Union Building, the Centre for Engineering Innovation at the University of Windsor, the Integrated Learning Centre at Queen’s University, the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research at the University of Toronto, and the York University Computer Science Building. Stelzer is an amateur naval architect. He lives and walks to work in Toronto.




Carrier air conditioning system

I just want to apologize beforehand; my talk won’t be nearly as exciting as the other talks on the lineup. But I do want to indulge my more technocratic, geeky side. I think these symposia that Philip is putting together are enormously useful. I had the great pleasure of participating in one of these symposia a couple of years ago, they are amazing because they afford a great opportunity to access a broad range of all sorts of technologies, and they promote technology synergies and strategies. We are not usually afforded that opportunity. So, I think it’s a great opportunity to just take little peeks into worlds of technologies and systems where we wouldn’t otherwise. Today I want to talk about the whole premise of the symposia, structured around this idea of living cities. What do amalgamations of physical infrastructure

and buildings do for a community? Where can we see advantages and benefits within these amalgamations? I think cities and urban environments do offer us great opportunities, but they also pose great challenges. I want to start by looking at the idea of what advantages we can derive from district systems, and I want to attack this idea of waste heat. I want to talk a lot about that concept, what it means. I’m going to talk a little bit about cogeneration, a bit of theory behind it. I want to talk about a couple of case studies of very specific district systems that I think engage this idea of waste heat and renew this concept, or better redefine it. This is the very famous Mr. Carrier. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Carrier air conditioning systems. This is one of his first absorption chillers, from the turn of the early 20th century. (1) LARGE BUILDING ENERGY SYSTEMS


I put this image up here very deliberately. I consider it a very important image. I want to come back to it at the end of the talk. This is when architecture was poised at a particular engagement of technology, whereby we had very easy access to energy. We still do, but I think our attitudes towards energy are shifting. But at that time there was this idea that we were focused on developing comfort and convenience, and the considerations of energy were very minor. This chiller, one of the first working examples of its type, produced chilled water to cool buildings. This is an incredible benchmark in architectural design, technology and building systems. It’s an amazing thing: you could cool buildings down independent of their configuration, independent of their orientation, independent of other systems. If we look at this in context of the air conditioning systems that we employ today, it is not very efficient. This would have a coefficient of performance of 0.5, which really means you have to put in twice the amount of energy to get one unit of cooling out of it. That’s compared with today, where we have electricallydriven chillers that approach coefficients of performance of about 7.0. Meaning, if you want to move seven units of heat or cooling, you put in one unit of energy. So, the efficiency has grown tremendously. I’m just saying the Carrier is kind of a starting point; and that starting point in essence created this concept of waste heat. Everybody’s probably familiar with the very famous book Cradle to Cradle, where they develop this idea that there really shouldn’t be this concept of waste; it’s an artificial concept. We don’t have the sophistication to use all of our 68


material resources in an optimal way. Not yet, anyway. In the same way, I want to tackle this idea of waste heat or waste energy. In the end we have the ability to use all of it, or very close to all of it. I want to start off with a couple of famous examples of amazing Canadian sustainable design. (2 and 3) My talk isn’t for the most part architectural; it’s much more about systems and doesn’t really have the fancy graphics, grand spaces and sophisticated details that we typically would when we look at great architecture. This is because the ideas are beyond the typical scale of an architectural project. Having said that, there are amazing technologies on the market that are very much about building, building configuration and building design: technologies like phase change materials which are employed in buildings like the Manitoba Hydro Building; high-efficiency photovoltaics, which are not very efficient still, but getting better; variable-rate-flow heat pumps, very efficient heat pumps; and things like solar cooling, which I’ll say a little bit about towards the end of the talk. These are technologies that the architect and the building systems team generally have large control over.


Manitoba Hydro Building, Winnipeg


The North House, installed in Washington

I want to talk a little bit more about very important cultures and systems that the architect typically doesn’t have the same central role within. For example, at the highest level of politics, we have to reinvent the way in which national politics and global politics look at energy. Political will at that level filters down to massively change the way we manage energy across the globe. We also have to start relying on and changing our regional planning initiatives. We have to start designing regions where we LARGE BUILDING ENERGY SYSTEMS


rely more on urban transit, intensify our density. We talk about regional energy production, something we’re going to get into. Also, codes and standards: the building industry is renowned for going to the lowest common denominator, and that’s the code. What does the code say? Even that’s interpretive. Even the Ontario Building Code could use a lot of help bolstering the requirements for energy efficiency. (4, 5 and 6)


Finally, and I think most importantly, building occupants, owners and managers need to take complete ownership over the way they use energy in order for us to save the massive amounts of energy that we need to save. Just as an example, the Canadian Green Building Council is starting a program called the LEED GreenUp Program, where they’re inviting building owners and operators to voluntarily submit the utility data for their buildings. They have a collection of about 1500 buildings across Canada, across building types, and they’re indexing the performance of those buildings against the building typology, their location, the date of construction and any possible verification standards.



What they’re finding is that the most efficient buildings aren’t necessarily the newly constructed or the LEED-certified. They’re the buildings that have building managers and owners who care the most about energy consumption, who put in the maintenance and all the controls and commissioning and even re-commissioning to make those buildings operate optimally. I just want to say that designers think that we have a large role to play, but we need to engage all sorts of other strata of community to get the job done.




Diagram of voltage conversion

We’re in the early stages of a paradigm shift where there’s no longer any such thing as waste. We look at the total available material resources and all energy resources as something to help propel us forward. The idea here is, whenever you want to use energy you have to take it from one accessible form and convert it to another useful form. Having said that, of that total energy available to us there’s the usable portion and the unusable portion. The usable portion is exergy, and the unusable is anergy. What I mean by this is that we need to focus on the total energy capacity that we have available, in order to maximize our efficiency—not just energy (which includes waste)—but exergy. This is a concept we have to start looking at more closely: in simple terms, what is the quality of energy that we’re using? If we look at typical energy distribution systems, usually there’s a large central plant of some sort. Sometimes it’s a hydro plant, sometimes it’s a nuclear plant. I think it is debatable how we talk about nuclear energy production as carbon-neutral, but a

lot of people call it carbon-neutral. I think we just haven’t quantified the carbon cost of nuclear energy right now, especially in terms of remediation of the toxic waste that it produces. Nonetheless, being an ecopragmatist, for now it is for the most part a carbon-neutral source. (7) Most of the world’s central energy production is thermal, which means it burns fossil fuels. We have a central plant, we burn fossil fuels, we create steam, turn turbines and create electricity. We ramp up the voltages to hundreds of thousands of volts to push them hundreds of kilometres so that they come to substations where they’re ramped down in voltage to get to 120 volts, so we can use our lamps and our computers. If you talk to the utilities, they say it’s pretty efficient, we only lose about 10% through line losses in all the voltage increases and decreases. If you talk to people who deal with co-gen systems, they say it’s a lot less efficient. But let’s start with the 90%.




District heating network

So right off the bat, whatever we produce here we lose 10% before it gets to your house. When we burn coal, let’s say we have 100 units of coal, about 30% of that chemical potential energy gets transferred into electricity. The reason I say that is that one-third goes right up the stack, the products of combustion go right out to the atmosphere, so 30% of the energy is lost. The other 30% goes into the machinations of the production system, mechanical friction, et cetera. So when we burn coal, we get 30% of that total chemical potential energy. Then we shove it down the lines to our house and we lose another 10%. So where are we ending up? At best, people say, we’re at about 35% efficiency for central systems. Now I want to introduce this concept of cogeneration. You’re probably all familiar with it. In Europe it’s called combined-heatand-power (CHP). (8) The idea here is that we can recapture a large portion of the 60% of energy lost due to the products of combustion being evacuated to the atmosphere and the mechanical friction, et cetera. If we have, 72



Conventional generation versus cogeneration

for example, a local generator, it might be a diesel generator, might be a natural gas turbine. We burn the natural gas to turn the turbine, it turns a generator, it produces power, it can go into the grid or it can go into our house. That machine makes a lot of heat, so it has a cooling system. That cooling system produces heat, and we capture that heat. The exhaust stack is very hot; so we put a heat exchanger on that gas stack, and we capture that heat. We take that heat and we heat our house with it. That’s cogeneration: we produce power and we produce heat. Putting aside the losses of 10% across the distribution network, here we regain a large portion of that lost chemical potential energy, so we have an increase in efficiency. Furthermore, we can say because these installations are not regional, but more district- or building-related, we remove those line losses as well. So we’re talking about massive increases in efficiency. The next chart came from a company that produces cogeneration equipment, so they have a bent to say that most of the

losses from central production are recovered via co-gen. Say we want 35 units of energy for electricity to power our lights and computers, and 50 units of heat to heat our homes; if we have a co-gen plant, it’s very efficient. 100 units of chemical potential, we lose 15, and the rest goes directly to our use—85% efficient. They are saying that if we want to do it in the conventional way, the power station needs 106 units of chemical potential to get us the 35 we require to light our home—but we have no heat. We actually require an additional boiler—and that boiler can be quite efficient; we have boilers that are 90, 95% efficient. It produces the 50 units of heat here. There’s an input of 58 from the boiler at home, 106 from the central electrical generator; so in total we need 165 units of energy, 52% efficient, compared to 100 units for cogeneration. I realize this sounds rather didactic or arithmetical, but I just wanted to introduce the concept. (9) It’s not very architectural, but if we have a vocabulary of basic understanding, we can at least start looking at projects in a certain scale and a certain understanding, LARGE BUILDING ENERGY SYSTEMS


10 Conventional generation versus cogeneration

because architects have a particular relationship to the building industry in the way that we focus and channel and coordinate information. If we’re aware of this stuff we can pose the right questions, we can develop the right studies and hopefully get some of this implemented. This comes from Detail magazine, so this is a bit more objective. They say if we want 62 units of heat and 28 units of electricity, we need 153 total units of energy input if we’re relying on the conventional system. They’re saying the power plant is 35% efficient. Whereas, to get the 62 units of heat and 28 of electricity, they’re saying the co-gen plan is 90% efficient, so there’s a loss of 10 here. I’m just putting that out there, that the data suggests that this is a real means for us to develop energy efficiency at the district scale, the multiplebuilding scale. (10) I think these diagrams are kind of cool. What I like about them is the comparison of the grid systems. This is the conventional system: large, regional 74


11 Centralized and distributed systems

sources of energy. The grid is very linear. You pick your source, it’s delivered to you—and that’s it. There’s no redundancy. If this is overloaded you don’t get your power, that’s it. The alternative intelligent grid system suggests that if we had a strategy to engage micro-production and co-generation, we could all be interconnected in a smart grid. Say I have 7 kilowatts and my neighbour has 10. If I need heat because I’m sleeping, but I don’t need power, maybe my neighbour is up studying using his computer, but he doesn’t need heat. The heat can go to a district system, the electricity can go to a district system and we can interconnect them. (11) This image is actually made by VW. This is a little 25-horsepower cogen unit. (12) In Germany they’re looking at systems where perhaps condominiums, apartment blocks and even big houses have their own co-gen facilities. They allow the utility to control when they turn this facility on, when they turn it off.

12 Cogeneration unit

They combine it with thermal storage, so if you require electricity because you’re studying, doing the dishes or whatever, it produces heat in tandem. It will channel the heat to a storage facility where we can use it later. It has a lot of potential, and I think in terms of energy efficiency we have to start thinking not just of the building but larger district systems. I hope that was somewhat linear and understandable. LARGE BUILDING ENERGY SYSTEMS


13 Left: Vauban, Germany; right: SolarCity, Austria

Here are a couple of examples of communities that were designed specifically to exhibit high-quality architecture and high-quality urbanism in the name of sustainable cities and lowering our ecological footprint. Now, I identify these because they’re both powered by district cogeneration systems. They are out there, they are being developed. The theory is proven. I think we have to go in that direction. (13) If we are thinking about cogeneration as architects, we have to look at a few things. We do have to look at our loads carefully, and this is where we start. If we have a big heating demand, then we should look at cogen because we’re going to need the power anyway; why not generate the heat as well. We also want to look at when the heating and electricity peak loads are synchronized, because if they’re synchronized then co-gen is going to work very well. If they’re not, we have to look at thermal storage. There are technologies for thermal storage, so we can store the heat even when we’re producing the power. 76


14 Diagram of Deep Lake Cooling system

I want to bring up one other thing—I love the names that industry is coming up with here. This is tri-generation. For me it’s still cogeneration, we produce power and we produce heat. But it’s called tri-generation because we use the ‘waste’ heat to drive cooling, and we’re going to talk about how we do that a little bit later. The next system I want to talk about, there’s no real system to it, but I think this is a pretty interesting idea. This is the Enwave deep lake cooling system. B+H architects were actually the coordinating consultant for this with TMP. This system uses deep lake water, just like it says. They drop fivekilometre tubes, about 2 metres in diameter, down 82 metres and haul water at about four degrees Celsius into a regional pumping station. This pumping station is actually the pumping station for the municipal water supply for Toronto. (14)

This is where the waste heat comes in. They bring in water at four degrees Celsius; nobody needs tap water at four degrees Celsius. In the end after we use the water and discharge it back into the ecosystem, it’s warmed in any case. What this system says is that, I’ll just take the heat sink, thank you very much! I don’t need any of the water; I just need its thermal capacity. It’s huge. So we suck in the water and pump it over to the treatment plant, but in between we have this energy transfer station. The architecture isn’t particularly exciting unfortunately, but nonetheless the guts are really interesting. This is the energy transfer station. Really it’s just a massive heat exchanger. The six-foot-diameter tube of water comes rushing in, very cold. Downtown Toronto, because of its high occupancy, needs to be cooled year round. There is a district loop that links the buildings, they dump LARGE BUILDING ENERGY SYSTEMS


15 Diagram of energy transfer system

their heat into the loop and then that loop dumps its heat into the water, raises it about 1.5 degrees Celsius, and then it goes to the treatment plant. The idea is that nobody is using that thermal sink; we might as well piggyback it. (15)

16 Energy transfer station

17 Energy transfer station



What’s interesting is that this photo was taken five years ago, I think, and these are plate-frame heat exchangers. The reason I show you this is that plate frame heat exchangers are very efficient, but they’re also expandable; you can add more plates to the frame. Then you just bolt them together, and you can run a greater capacity of water through here. You can see this is a huge facility. This is a massive amount of water; I think it’s just fantastic. (16 and 17) The heat exchangers are expandable. Again, this was taken five years ago; it’s now totally full. 50,000 tons of cooling, and it’s at its capacity. Another interesting thing about this is that given the water conservation strategies that the city has developed, there’s an agreement

18 UBC condensate recovery system

between Enwave and the city that they can only raise the temperature of that water about 1.5 Celsius, so that further down the road no pathogens or microbes will grow in the water. They’ve already reached that temperature, because the city has reduced its water consumption so much. So that’s why the capacity has been set at about 50–60,000 tons. This is a project we’re working on at UBC. It’s the new student union building. They came to us with a very deep ecological/sustainable mandate. Not only do they want to design a superefficient building, they want to power the building with as much renewable energy as possible. We looked at the UBC campus, which is driven right now by a high-grade steam district plant. At the central plant there’s a natural gas boiler; it boils water and produces highpressure steam. It’s pumped through the campus, the buildings draw off the heat from that steam, and when they do that they produce a condensate. They take the hot steam, take the heat out of it, the

steam condenses and there’s water left over, which they must pump back into the system. (18) Central systems usually have a supply temperature and pressure and a return temperature and pressure so that they can balance the system. We talked with the UBC operations people; they have a high-capacity condensate line running past and then zooming off to the central plant, and that condensate is still 65 degrees Celsius. We’re designing this building with low-temperature, lowdensity heating systems where we don’t require high-grade steam. So asked if we could take the leftover waste heat, and they said yes. So off that condensate pipe we’re running a heat exchanger, and we’re extracting that waste heat into our building so we can drive the heating and cooling of this building and also provide the domestic hot water. This is the facility. I show this because we have a large array of domestic solar-thermal collectors. LARGE BUILDING ENERGY SYSTEMS


19 UBC student union building

We’re coupling this system with the waste heat of the condensate in order to have enough heat to heat the building, and also have enough heat to cool the building. (19 and 20)

20 UBC student union building

The building, for the most part, is going to be passively ventilated. There are areas, however, that are really high-density. This is about a 250,000-square-foot building; there are about 1500 users at peak occupancy. It’s pretty high occupancy, so we’re going to need some mechanical cooling in some of the larger student areas. But for the most part we’re going to try and let the breezes do their work. We’re using bubble deck here, which is thermoactive. We’re running our heating coils right in the slab, so it’s radiant heating. It’s very low-density; you won’t need high-temperature water. (21) We’re taking that heat out of the condensate, taking the solar energy, and we’re converting it to heat. Here’s an image of some vacuum-tube collectors; these are very efficient, about 80%. Of all the solar radiation that falls on those panels, we



21 Airflow diagram

convert about 80% of it to heat, as compared to the high-end photovoltaics, which convert about 15% of that solar-incident radiation into electricity. We will have some PVs on here too. The students are very interested in all these technologies. This is an adsorption chiller, one of my favourite pieces of equipment right now. This chiller is what’s going to cool the building, and it’s driven on heat. That heat is gathered from the sun and from waste heat.

22 Diagram of adsorber

I just wanted to describe very quickly how this operates, because it seems very counterintuitive: how can I use the heat to cool? It took me a long time to gather enough courage to look at it and actually see how it works. (22) The way it works is that we develop a micro-sieve desiccant in two chambers. Adsorption is the film of water vapour that sticks to all hydrophilic surfaces. We’re in a vapourrich environment right now, and certain surfaces have a tendency to adsorb moisture; they’re hydrophilic surfaces. The water vapour in the air always sticks to a certain degree to any surface. LARGE BUILDING ENERGY SYSTEMS


23 Interior, UBC student union building

Sometimes it’s a layer one molecule thick, sometimes it’s 20. That’s the adsorbed layer. It’s not water vapour; it’s more like a liquid than a vapour. When adsorbed layers of water vapour stick to the surfaces, there’s a latent heat transfer, a change of phase. When they do that they actually release a bit of heat. We use that process to try and drive our chiller. Every chiller has an evaporator and a condenser. The evaporator takes the heat out of the building; the condenser rejects the heat to the atmosphere or to the water, or whatever the heat sink might be. In the middle are the adsorbers. What happens is we have the pipes coming from the hot building running through this water. It heats up and evaporates the water. When the water evaporates, it wants to absorb heat. So it cools that water, that cooling water goes back to our building and cools our building. But that water vapour gets introduced into our adsorbed micro82


24 Exterior, UBC student union building

crystalline desiccant structure. Here, because it’s so fine and so hydrophilic, it adsorbs that water vapour. So it drives more and more evaporation off of the hot pipes, and drives that cooling. It seems like we’re getting this for free, but it has an ultimate capacity. Once that capacity is reached, we close the gate, and we open up another; and this one’s empty. The reason it’s empty is we use the heat energy from the sun to super-heat this adsorber, and we burn off all that adsorbed water. That adsorbed water goes out into the condenser and gets rejected into the atmosphere. Now it’s ready for the next process; we flip it, we continue boiling, evaporating this water, it gets absorbed here and that’s how the cycle gets driven. Why don’t we do this all the time? This process isn’t inherently efficient, in that in order to drive one unit of cooling we need at least two units of heat. This is where the concept of waste comes in—we want to reject that sunlight anyway; we use it to drive this process.

These are some images of the SUB. We hope to develop this kind of amazing social environment around some key elements. (23) They have a theatre and a lounge here, and they want this kind of big gathering space where they can call home—the agora. On the campus right now, right in the middle of our site, is what they call the knoll. Here’s an image from the exterior. (24)





KHAN LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


Scale and Scalability AZAM KHAN Autodesk Research

Azam Khan is head of the Environment & Ergonomics Research Group at Autodesk Research. In his early work in the field of human-computer interaction, Khan focused on advanced 3D camera navigation interaction techniques, large displays, visualization and penbased interaction. More recently Khan has been exploring modelling and simulation, including physics-based generative design, air flow and occupant flow in an architectural context and simulation visualization and validation based on sensor networks. In 2009, Khan founded and chaired the Symposium on Simulation for Architecture and Urban Design (SimAUD) to foster cross-pollination between simulation research and architecture research communities. Khan is also the principal investigator for the Parametric Human project. In 2010, Khan became a founding member of the International Society for Human Simulation.




Digital 210 King project website

I guess I’m a strange mix of things, so the talk is also going to be a strange mix of things. Hopefully it’ll be interesting. What I’m going to talk about is how we think about things, how we are toolmakers. As toolmakers it’s important to us what the user believes they’re doing, and how they can understand what the problem is. Just a little background. I’m from Autodesk research. If you want to go to the website,, we have all kinds of publications, videos and all of our stuff there. We’re quite good at documenting everything we do. We also have this project doing a digital model of our building. We’re interested in existing buildings and how to improve them, and we want to include architects in improving those as

well. As part of that project, we thought we’d start right in our own backyard and create a highly detailed digital model of our building, with sensor networks and so on. This is one of the projects I’m working on, Project Dasher. I’ll show you a bit more about that later. We’re publishing all that too: there’s a detailed building information model there, and some 3D point cloud scans and so on. So check it out. The blog documents our process pretty well, too. If you want to do that to your building, hopefully this will help you (1) I have this other life too. I’m interested in developing the most advanced biomechanical model of a human possible. We’re working with the Department of Anatomy at the University of Toronto. We’ll go sub-anatomical if we need to, but only if it affects biomechanics. SCALE AND SCALABILITY


We’re starting with scanning bones with point cloud scanners, and then once we develop a shape descriptor language for these organic shapes we hope to move on to the connective tissue, muscle systems and so on. Eventually we have to have a controller for that, much like a building has a control system. But hopefully it will be a little smarter than a building control system.


Parametric Human project website

Here’s an example; L4, I think that is. That’s a point cloud scan. It’s two million points or something. There’s quite a bit of data there. That’s not a mesh—it’s actually just all the little points. We’re still in the process of creating good meshes out of that. (2) I’m also a founding member of the International Society for Human Simulation. That’s also new. I like to start a bunch of things and work with other people who start crazy things. That’s also going to be a publishing opportunity for anybody that’s interested in human simulation. We started the Symposium on Architecture and Urban Design last year. The idea was to get the architecture research community to talk to the simulation research community, because if we didn’t do something like this they would never know about each other. The simulation research community has a lot to offer about general simulation research, and I’m hoping that’ll be the conversation starter to really push things forward to a new level. Finally, I am a human-computer interaction researcher. Within SigCHI, I started the CHI 2011 Sustainability Community. That’s an effort to get human



computer interaction researchers involved in sustainability in terms of creating new applications and devices for end users, but also for architects and engineers, to help them in creating sustainable designs. As I mentioned, we collect all the work and we put it on the web. There’s a bunch of papers and videos and stuff like that there, I hope you check that out. I wanted to start with a definition of sustainability, because sometimes we just gloss that over as though we all know what we’re talking about. I like to use the United Nations definition here: it’s the balance between the production and consumption of resources. There’s a whole branch called the Sustainable Production and Consumption Branch. They try to understand how to create metrics for these things, how we can measure these things; and there isn’t one answer, of course. (3)


United Nations sustainability definition and data

But as a mechanism to help us think about this, we can rate things with their global warming potential, land use competition or human toxicity, and then we can weigh those together in a way that’s meaningful to us, with environmentally-weighted material consumption. You can see that the biggest one, certainly in land use competition, is animal products, animal protein and fish. In the weighted average that is number one. Number two is crops, and number three is coal. Those are the top three largest environmental material consumption problems. The problem with consumption is that it creates these artificial concepts that were just mentioned like emissions and waste. And of course, they are artificial. It’s just because we don’t care enough. In the context of this talk I’ll focus a SCALE AND SCALABILITY


little bit more on emissions. Emissions can be classified into water and the atmosphere. There are multiple ways of measuring emissions. The common one looks at greenhouse gases. I don’t know if you know, but there are quite a few gases involved in greenhouse gases. We often hear about carbon dioxide, but water vapour is a major greenhouse gas. Clouds, not as a gas but as an object, are also a factor. (4) 4

Greenhouse gases

Then there’s CH4, methane, which is considered to be more dangerous than CO2 because it has a longer lifetime, 10 years or something. Even worse is nitrous oxide, which has a 100-year lifespan. The problem with this is when you burn methane, which you can—close to my house there’s a landfill methane station that collects methane to burn for fuel—you create CO2 and H2O. Also, if you release it into the atmosphere, it naturally dissolves into CO2 and H20. Nitrous oxide is worse because it lasts much longer, and it’s considered about 300 times more dangerous than CO2. Ozone is a funny thing, because as you know, if you have too much of it, it’s bad, and if you don’t have enough of it, it’s bad. You have to have just the right amount. For the next one, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the problem is that they break down ozone, creating ozone holes. It’s also a very symmetrical tetrahedral structure, very strong, so it doesn’t break down very easily. But when it does break down it clones itself, and creates more CFCs. It’s considered so dangerous that there is a worldwide ban. I’m not sure if all production is stopped, but there are plans to stop all production of CFCs. Is chemistry in the curriculum for an architect? Helping us to think about it—so we have some more tools to think about it—you




Contributors to greenhouse gases

often see charts about energy use or CO2 production. They’re all a little different. If you actually look at them, you’ll see some of them say buildings are the biggest part. But is it 30%? 40%? You’ll see different numbers, and that’s because they’re actually measuring different things. (5) Often you’ll just see CO2, not the whole collection of greenhouse gases. Often you’ll see electric bill use. Often it’ll just be for the United States, not for the whole world. Things like that. If you take these two data points together, the US Green Building Council and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, you can express it in a more useful way for people to understand, which is that 48% of greenhouse gases come from buildings. Basically half of all air pollution is caused to produce the energy we use in

buildings. The meat industry represents 18%, mostly from factory farming around the world. Transportation is 14%. That’s all of transportation, not just cars; it’s buses, trucks, planes, ships, everything. I have another talk, called the Counter-Intuitive Aspects of Sustainability, about how people always think they should ride their bike and walk. And that’s great, you should, but it won’t make any difference if we don’t fix those other two things. The reason I like to express this problem with this graph is that we can now also separate out what you can do about it; because the first one and the last one, I really think about as infrastructure problems. The second one in the middle is behavioural, in the sense that if we all wanted to stop using animals for anything, we could eliminate 18% of global greenhouse gases right away. You can’t change your city by yourself, so SCALE AND SCALABILITY


we have to work together on those issues; and really that’s the responsibility of professionals, to apply these solutions to help everybody solve those problems, as well as the problems of transportation and buildings.


Green Lighthouse, Copenhagen


Diagram of Green Lighthouse

Buildings specifically cause half the world’s air pollution. How do we think about it? What tools do we have to think about that problem? It helps us, of course, to narrow it down to the scope of a single building. This is a building I like; it’s in Copenhagen, it’s called the Green Lighthouse. It’s a neat little building. The concept is actually based on the sun; it works like a sundial. It has self-shadowing in the front. It has solar panels on the other side. You can see the automated blinds there. It has geothermal power generation. It’s supposedly the first public net-zero building in Denmark. It’s part of the University of Copenhagen. (6) The other thing I like about this building: it’s not huge. You can think about how this building actually works. I like to show this picture because it’s a typical diagram we see all the time, with arrows and buildings and stuff. They’re always nicely drawn like this, like some illustrator took some information from the architect and decided it probably works like that. All these things are going on, all the elements are here; the sun, the moon, air flow, solar cells, labels, geothermal, the under-floor heating and cooling, the natural ventilation shaft there in the middle. (7) But this inspires me to want to do the real version of this illustration. We need to have a 3D program with real sensors in that building collecting all that data. Then collect data on the occupants too. This is so I can represent



it in real time, so that I can also play it back over time, and really understand how the building works; does it really work? Is it really a net-zero building? I hope so; it’s probably close, and there’s probably a lot we could learn from it. But when you see it in a presentation for a couple of minutes are you really going to learn how this building works, how you can use those ideas in your own building? I think it would be more compelling if you could really see it over time, and with real data. That’s my goal: it’s upside down, so instead of ‘How Buildings Learn,’ how can buildings teach? Can we take every building and make it a learning tool for good and bad, so that we can collectively get smarter? This is where the human-computer interaction scientist comes in. We step back and try to look at the most general side of this problem. This is also influenced by my parametric human project. I thought even if I have all this data, can I even look at it. It’s like the Matrix; it’s heavily encoded, you can’t look at it directly—especially with these large data sets. We talk about large data sets, but have you actually run a large data set with something like 800 gigabytes of data? This brings me to the point matching the title of the talk, Scale and Scalability. Looking at it in real life doesn’t scale. We can’t go around every building in the whole city and walk around it and figure it out and come to a new understanding. So we have to try to develop some tools to help us look at these datasets. That’s the toolmaker perspective, of course. Not


Non-photorealistic rendering research by Tobias Isenberg

just single scale, building scale, but the whole scale, from the entire planet with the Earth dashboard down to a single device and what it’s doing. One way we can do this is to build little machines, meters, sub-meters, different types of imaging systems, and some virtual tools as well. Here are some very cool renderings. This is non-photorealistic rendering research from Tobias Isenberg where he renders airflow, to the right of the image, and then water flow in a contained area on the left. Those are some of the things I want to think about: how we can represent the data to somebody so that they can understand the complex flows for designing a natural ventilation systems or passive building. (8)




Problem number two. Looking at the data might sound easy: okay, I’m just looking at the data, there it is. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, because all of our experiences are human experiences, at a human scale. Even looking at real imagery is not as easy as it sounds. So when you get into something that isn’t real, it’s even more confusing as to whether you’re looking at something that could be validated or not. I like this particular Escher waterfall image because it kind of represents sustainability—the machine that’ll work forever with no inputs. We’re a little better off than that. At least we have the sun and the moon as inputs to our little experiments. (9) Waterfall. M. C. Escher, 1961

We’ve done lots of research on how people move around in a computer when looking at a 3D model. That was all great and we learned a lot from that, but it started me on a new track for sustainability and for the parametric human on multiscale data sets. In particular we had three papers: multi-scale 3D reference and visualization, multi-scale 3D navigation, and exploring the design-space multiscale 3D orientation. They probably all sound a little crazy, and they kind of are. I’ll show you a little more about those. First, what is a multi-scale dataset? There are a couple of examples here, like the universe. It exists at many scales; some of them are more useful than others. The human muscle system, going from bone to muscle, to muscle fibre bundle, to an individual muscle fibre, to some proteins, actin and myosin, and down to individual molecules. In between there are the things that we’re trying to control and design; you could even say it bridges those two worlds. Really it’s one big, continuous, multi-scale data set. (10) 94


From a single building we want to have a structure which might make sense to a human, even though it doesn’t make sense to any system. Your sub-meters might not be organized by building floor and area, mechanical zones might not be organized in a way that makes sense to a person, and it’s the same with a city. So that’s the kind of dataset I’m thinking about. Human-computer interaction is kind of like psychology in the sense that we think about what the user is thinking about and how we can read their minds. How everything just does what you expect it to do. This is a great find for us—this is Cutting and Vishton, 1995, ‘Perceiving Layout and Knowing Distances.’ You probably have similar references in architecture research. You can see at the top there’s personal space; action space, which is a local thing, let’s say 20 or 30 metres; and then vista space beyond that. (11) The lines in the chart represent the different depth cues you have when looking at a real scene. Accommodation and convergence really only work for very close things where you have stereo vision. Motion parallax is interesting because it works almost all the time; it works quite well from close distances to far distances. Relative size, relative density and occlusion are funny because they just go straight across; they are available all the time. You might wonder why using some things on the computer is difficult or when looking at virtual imagery; it’s because we really only have two cues. In virtual space we really only have occlusion and motion parallax. We’ve stripped away a lot of the other ones because everything’s projected onto 2D and you have to rebuild it in your mind before you can think about it. (12) This

10 Multi-scale datasets

11 Diagram showing different visual cues. Cutting and Vishton, 1995.

12 Diagram showing motion parallax. Cutting and Vishton, 1995.



13 Intellection and navigation

is why if you look at somebody building something in 3D you’ll see that they often jiggle things around. You’ll see this all the time: they are always wobbling their model a little. Why is that? It’s so you can keep it alive in your mind, before it goes funny. Because when it stops you can’t tell what’s in front and what’s behind. We have some research on that too, some funny little things. We did a big survey paper where we try to put it all together, try and figure out what’s going on. We call it the process of intellection: trying to collect your understanding of what you’re looking at so that we can eventually create visualizations for you, but also so you can eventually understand how a building works, how a city works, hopefully how the world works. I’d like to understand those things. We think these are the key components. There’s too much to talk about at the moment, but let’s say the key things that interact are 3D navigation and intellection. You basically use the feedback from doing something and you see yourself doing it and that’s how you learn—with that feedback loop—how things 96


work. We want to make sure that we support that kind of system in any visualization we do, especially in multi-scale datasets. (13) This video shows part of our grid, if you look at the grid as we’re zooming out of the city here. It collapses the lines so you don’t get overly dense lines, and it fades off into the distance nicely, and it exists everywhere so you don’t get lost. It doesn’t exist in the sky; we’re trying to add other depth cues like the horizon line, height in the visual field and other things so you can tell what you’re looking at. (14) In this video we’re just panning straight up and the same thing happens. (15) You can see the sky here as well; those are some of the other depth cues that we have. We try to have a legend of the scale, and so on. There’s still a lot of work we can do there. This video shows the orbiting function. All these things seem so simple, but when they’re not there, it just doesn’t work at all. By the colouring of the sky you can tell you’re upside down, we’re looking through the ground. A lot of subtle things are going on right there. (16) Finally, there are these position pegs that attach everything to the ground. You can see relative distance; you can see when things are under the grid and so on. These are just some of the research ideas we have on how to help people understand what they’re looking at in 3D that scale to multiscale data sets. (17) Here we put it all together in a big infinite zoom. Has anybody seen the 10-times cosmic zoom in the NFB film from the ’70s? We go from the blood cells to the guy standing on the floor in a little dollhouse, in a house, in a town, next to the city, in the suburbs, on an island, in the middle of nowhere. There’s actually a ton

14 Digital zoom model

15 Digital zoom model

16 Digital zoom model

17 Digital zoom model showing position pegs SCALE AND SCALABILITY


of geometry there and it’s hard to draw it all. There are other things there like depth of field that all complicate each other. (18)

18 Infinite zoom demonstration

19 Zoom tool

20 Shanghai

Here’s another project. We’re rendering the distance to everywhere into the cross on the screen, which represents the six faces of the cube surrounding the camera. It’s very focused on rotation and stuff like that so it doesn’t have to change a lot and it doesn’t have to be re-rendered that often. We went from outer space to the city with only three or four clicks. We’re changing the clipping planes and all kinds of things based on the distance to everything in the world, so that we can go from outer space into a little building and into an object on the coffee table. In some of our commercial tools, you’d previously have to be constantly opening the dialog box to change the clipping planes because half your model would be clipped away. (19) Another interesting effect: you can see in the windows that are rendered that the distance is infinite, so we also have a backing-out tool. This is a very simple 3D multi-scale dataset, but if you had a more complicated one—such as inside an organism—you would want to have the idea of a back button. We realized that we could do a back button by finding a hole in the environment and backing out through that hole. We went from outer space to a few centimetres there. So let’s switch to real life. I went to Shanghai last year and it was an amazing experience for me. People talk about Shanghai, but I hadn’t really seen any pictures or anything. We drove for an hour like this. I call it the infinite city. It just kept going on and on. (20)



21 Shanghai

We finally got closer to our hotel; this is another exercise in scale and scalability. My little guy here is helping me out; I don’t know if you can see the police officer there directing traffic. This is about 20 metres distance or so, so he is my 20-metre man. This building is three or four storeys. It sort of exists that tall. The thing I noticed about this picture after I took it was there’s a convenient line of wires going straight along here, so we can compare things. The hotel that we’re going to doesn’t even have the typical storeys you can see, it looks like an office building. You can’t actually tell that it has 60 storeys; it’s actually really big compared to these other things. (21)

22 Shanghai

23 Shanghai



This is the view from my hotel room. Normally you’d see this from the air, right? You’d be flying somewhere, landing for a while, and you’d look out the window and see this. So none of our regular depth cues apply; this is really the aerial one on the far right end of the chart. (22) 24 Shanghai

25 Shanghai

26 Shanghai

27 IFC Mall, Shanghai


At night it’s even more difficult, you lose even more cues. You have no sense of scale, really; you don’t even have the fog depth cue from all the pollution. (24) If we put our little 20-metre guy in there, he’s actually as big as a 10-storey building. (23) This is a close-up of my view from the hotel. You get a little more sense of scale, there’s still the infinite city that goes on into the fog there. But it’s an optical trick. I zoomed in; I didn’t see it like that in real life. You don’t experience it that way. (25) This is the IFC tower. I call it the can-opener building, affectionately, but it’s an amazing structure. Here again is the 20-metre man; the people standing here are a little smaller than that so it’s probably at the right scale. But these buildings have no relationships to the rest of the scale in this picture. In between the people and the buildings is the Huangpu River, so they are even further away than you think. We’re going to go up to that building. I thought it was funny that it was called the IFC, that’s the file format for building information files. (26) We’re going to the IFC mall. Here, at least, there’s some reference when we took the subway to get there, because it looks like you could maybe walk there.

You can’t, you can take the ferry or the subway. There’s a regular human here, and you can see that they’re closer than 20 metres. (27) When we got out of the subway, this is the building we saw, the Jin Mao tower. It has 88 floors, which seems like a lot until you go into the IFC building. We’re going up there, to the observation tower on the IFC building, and looking down on the Jin Mao building. (28) This is what you see when you’re looking down. You see the Jin Mao tower and the other buildings that were in the skyline before. When I took the previous picture, I was looking at the west part of the river. Again the little man is there. I had to put him high up in the picture just so it would make some kind of sense at all, even compared to the 30-storey buildings. Everything is so out of whack; it’s not anywhere close to human scale. (29) I zoomed in with my camera to take this picture; you wouldn’t see this normally. I noticed there is someone in the window. There is actually somebody in that building. I can’t tell whether that’s one storey or maybe a couple of storeys. (30) The other interesting thing is the track with the window-washing gear. Standing on the observation deck of our building, you can see our little truck with the window washing stuff. It probably just continuously nests there because of all the pollution. (31)

28 Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai

29 Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai

30 Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai

31 IFC Tower observation deck, Shanghai



This brings us to point number three, scale. If it’s hard for us to relate to something real, how do we expect to relate to something virtual? Just to show I’m not picking on Shanghai, this is New York City, where I took this picture from the 10th storey of a building. Our 20-metre man is a little more normal. (32)

32 New York

33 New York

34 Copenhagen


This is in Copenhagen, from the Royal Library. This is quite different; the buildings occlude the entire city. I have no idea what Copenhagen looks like; there’s no skyline in Copenhagen. There’s no profile that you recognize. That’s why if you Google it you’ll see the Little Mermaid and stuff like that. (33) This is Copenhagen from the air, from an airplane. I didn’t take it. It could’ve been from the IFC tower, except that then we’d be higher up. That’s what Copenhagen looks like. It’s really unmanageable like that. You might go there and ask somebody, how do I get to this place? Is it north of here? They would have no idea. There’s no north and south there, they don’t even know. They’ll say, well, take this train and that bus. In the field of human-computer interaction, we actually have an annual contest to design a ticket-buying system for the Copenhagen train system, because it’s impossible. (34) This is the Google Maps version of Copenhagen. You can see that there’s not really a normal grid structure, except a little towards the south where later it was a little more planned. (35) Some of you are probably familiar with the 1947 finger plan. The city of Copenhagen was designed with transit in mind, to branch out to these

35 Google Maps image of Copenhagen

36 Copenhagen 1947 finger plan

surrounding regions. Just for fun, I was born at the end of the pointer finger, in a town called Roskilde. (36 and 37) There’s a new book out from a Danish urban designer, Jan Gehl, which is really interesting. It’s called Cities for People. It’s really interesting because it talks about all these scales and how you experience scale, and how you can design for people to experience some of these things that some of the previous speakers were talking about. Roger Bayley talked about the community feel, taking ideas from Europe and incorporating them over here. It’s really well documented, starting with the scale of how you see somebody. Here it says ‘social field of vision,’ where you interact with people. That’s how you should design a city. Here’s my 20-metre man. At 20 metres, he is still around the right size. When I was putting the slides together, I was trying to see how that works and how it doesn’t work. (38)

37 Copenhagen 2007 city diagram


38 Image showing fields of vision from Cities for People, Jan Gehl (2010).

Here’s another picture from Jan Gehl’s book. My 20-metre man is a little small. Here’s the same kind of thing about different thresholds; and an important threshold, after which people become just like ants and you don’t really interact with them. In Copenhagen, that’s bad. (39)

39 Image from Cities for People, Jan Gehl (2010).


Bringing this back into the computer, I’m sure one or two of you have played a video game. Video games use our tools Maya and Max. In crowd simulations, you’ll see all kinds of people walking in the background. Usually it’s doing a terrible job; the people are passing through each other, they’re walking in random directions like they’re all on their phone or something. What we want to do is try to encode those

rules, not the bad ones, but real ones of how people really behave, and give those as a tool to somebody so we can visualize and understand how people work at different scales, in a real or in a simulated community. The closest related work we could find was from George Mason University. Jan Allbeck is a researcher on so-called functional crowds, crowds which aren’t just zombies that need to be shot down or whatever: people that sit down and can do some basic things in a kind of office setting. They can compete for chairs; they can participate in an evacuation. I don’t know if you guys ever run any evacuation models on your building designs, but it would include stuff like that as well. We have a couple of research papers in this area. We’re just starting to learn about it; but it’s all statistics and stuff, so there are no interesting pictures I can show you there. But we’re working on it, adding some visualization to it as well. This brings us to our real building in Toronto. Any of you are welcome to come by. I’m sure you can Google me and find me. Just let me know, we’ll be happy to show you around. (40) Above is one of the cubicles, and just below that is the virtual cubicle. This is the Digital 210 King project, where we’re trying to create a very detailed model of our building and add in all these sensors. (41 and 42)

40 210 King Street, Toronto

41 Photograph of cubicle space

42 Digital model of cubicle space


43 Sensors

44 Power sensor output

A Canadian company called Phidgets, from Calgary, makes these little sensors. You probably play with them if you have any kind of hardware lab. You can hook them up for different purposes, power, temperature, motion, humidity, light. It’s kind of fun, you can put them all together in a system like we’re doing. (43) This is the part where we hook up the sensor values to the building so that we can see them and visualize them in 3D in the building information model. (47)

45 Light sensor output

46 Humidity and temperature sensor outputs


This is some power sensing showing the computer monitor; you can see when this guy came in and when he went home and when he went for lunch, because the monitor went off. You can see his computer is burning power like crazy all the time. (44) This is a light sensor, which is kind of interesting. The light sensor shows a pattern as though there’s natural light, and then at some point the artificial lights came on because it got too dark.

47 Data flow diagram

Same thing with this sensor, but it’s closer to the window so everything’s scaled up. That’s my theory, anyway. If I saw it in 3D, I would know if it was closer to the window. (45) Humidity, temperature—you can see the pattern of the mechanical system reflected in these charts. (46) We also put a weather station on the roof, and we have a little sensor app so we can click on something and get the values. This is the motion data for Ryan Schmidt; he came in 9:00 to 5:00 there. He came in 9:00 to 12:00, and then I know he went to the University of Toronto; he wasn’t just goofing off. At this point I always get asked, what about privacy and stuff like that? This is research. (48) This is the power use for the whole building, so another type of sensor is your meter. You can see the pattern here of the weekdays and then the weekend. But you can see even on the weekend, the building is burning power like there’s no tomorrow. (49)

48 Motion sensor output

49 Electricity meter output



50 Building information model for 210 King Street

51 Digital model of HVAC and electrical systems

52 Digital model of lighting system


I’d like to know where that power is going; so we put in some sub-meters, one on each floor, so we could make sense of that. We built this building information model, six floors, so we could put some sensors in there and model them as well. We export to IFC format, and we play with some visualization files too so looking at this model would make sense to people. We chose ambient occlusion rendering because we can layer our visualizations on top of it. This is a lighting-independent method of shading, but you still get some of the depth cues so you can see what’s further away and so on. (50) We didn’t have MEP expertise in our group, so we worked with a company called PlanIT. They created the MEP data for us in the building information model, based on the blueprints and visual inspection and so on. This is the HVAC and electrical systems. (51) Here’s a lighting layout. (52)

53 Multi-scale visualization

Here’s the innovative part: We put these little things in the model and we labelled them as sensors so that we could place the sensors in space and create this. (53) Our goal is to create

this multi-scale visualization of our building and understand how it works. The prototype we have working is called Project Dasher. If you Google it you’ll hopefully see the video.


Here’s some colour temperature visualization of another building we did. This is our partner Johnson Controls, who makes building control systems. You can see they could use a little extra glazing there, it’s heating up a little too much. (54) This shows some of their occupancy data. It’s not occupancy data per se; it’s motion data using motion sensors in each of the cubicles. You can see the pattern over time. (55)

54 Colour temperature visualization

Building performance involves a complicated balance among many interacting factors. To better understand the current performance levels of a building, real time floor-plan dashboards have been used for some time. While effective at many things, these dashboards have become less effective as the complexity of the building has increased. It has become apparent that these existing systems do not capture the complex relationships among many of the building elements. Project Dasher is the result of research and development efforts by Autodesk’s corporate research team, and represents an interactive building performance visualization prototype that uses a building information model as a powerful platform to aggregate and visualize data collected from the building control system, the sub-meters, or any custom sensors embedded in the building.

55 Occupancy data


Dasher bridges the gap between design and building operations to allow highly-developed building information models to be leveraged as a rich context for visualizing building performance throughout the life cycle. The model on the screen is of Johnson Control’s headquarters building in Glendale, Wisconsin. Through a strategic

56 Project Dasher demonstration

collaboration on this project, we have been able to explore potential workflows in a sensor-rich environment. Dasher allows complex interacting factors to be recorded and represented over a selected time period within a rich 3D context. As an example, being able to understand the effects of occupancy on building performance could be critical context for evaluating hot and cold calls. We can look for trends in occupancy that may correspond with the frequency of those calls. Moving to the Autodesk facility in Toronto, we can see the use and incorporation of the advanced visualization techniques to display the external factors that may also be impacting the overall performance of a building. For instance, we can evaluate our energy

usage for a selected time period. Project Dasher also allows the user to quickly communicate factors such as energy usage while correlating the collected values to local features found in the 3D model. Furthermore, Project Dasher allows us to break down this energy usage into a hierarchy from the building level to the floor level to the zone, the cubicle, or even to a selected outlet. Additionally, factors such as thermal comfort or discomfort can quickly be communicated in 3D over a period of time, instead of simple 2D or a numeric abstract representation. The goal of Project Dasher is to extend the value of a building information model beyond design and construction to building performance visualization throughout the life-cycle of the building. (56)



So have we achieved that? Not yet, but it’s a lot of work just to load in the model and render the ambient occlusion and all that so that it’s hopefully usable by many different types of users. Here we have Maya Fluids, which we can use to do some of the animated airflow stuff we want to do. Hopefully that’ll come together. (57)

57 Maya Fluids

58 City planning tool

This is a video that was not created by my group, and there’s no real software. Again, it’s just a visualization of what a ‘city’ Dasher could look like. What I’d like to show you is Autodesk’s vision for a digital city, which illustrates concepts that we see as the future for managing urban design at a city-wide scale. This demonstration shows tools and techniques that we think will be useful for creating, analyzing and visualizing the digital city. The first thing we’re going to do is enter our world and then fly to Boulder, Colorado, where a property developer is planning on building a new residential apartment block. The project area sits between a sports stadium and the university campus. Zooming in on the project area, we can choose to turn on or off the range of cityscape, allowing us to work in a simpler wireframe mode. We can then select the land parcel for the development, which could be managed in a spatial database using AutoCAD Map 3D, and we can then import a building information model from Autodesk Revit. Once we have accurately positioned the building using GPS survey or address information, we can then plug it into our city. This is a concept that we call the utility lens, which allows you to see the underlying water, gas and electricity networks and see how they are impacted by adding this building into our city. A



detailed building information model can be used not only to determine the impact of adding the building on utility services, but also on the environment, such as through greenhouse gas emissions or carbon footprint. But these are only some of the ways in which a building affects the urban environment. Another aspect is its physical presence on the surrounding community, such as through the shadow it casts. Here we have a simple user interface that’s designed to allow people in surrounding communities to understand how this new building might affect them. This simple control easily allows somebody to visualize, at different times of day, where the shadow is going to fall, and whether it might impact them. But what if it was a different time of year? Say the mid-winter solstice, whereupon the sun is at a different inclination? By simply dragging this control, the user can adjust the time of year, and also the way in which the shadow falls. But buildings don’t just exist on their own. They also interact with each other. This apartment block is next to a stadium, and during sporting events, the sound radiating from the stadium could reflect off the front of the building and into the surrounding community. By using the digital city, you can model the effects of the interactions between these buildings, and also the impact of making changes in design to the new building or to existing structures; in this case, to the front material on the apartment block, showing that the sound radiating from the stadium is reflected at a much lower and more acceptable level. The digital city provides a way to both visualize and to analyze urban design.

Let’s apply this approach to a larger area, for example in Washington, DC, south of the National Mall. Here we have a model that’s looking at energy consumption and carbon footprint over time, in this case over a day. It could equally be a week, a month or even a year. Another example is this model, which uses a dark cityscape with neon bright lights to help understand traffic flow. The speed, brightness, and length of the lines help to provide an intuitive representation of traffic volume, and to highlight problem areas. For example, in this simulation, which could be based on an actual traffic model, we’re able to make a choice as to whether or not to take this bridge out of service, for example for repairs. These concepts illustrate how Autodesk envisions digital cities, helping our customers visualize, analyze and simulate urban design. (58) So just to summarize: this is what I’ve been learning and what I’ve been thinking about in terms of how we can scale everything up so we can have a real understanding of how things work, and hopefully make things better.





KEOUGH LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


Software Tools for Engineering and Design Exploration IAN KEOUGH Buro Happold

Keough’s work with Buro Happold has focused on the implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the design of software for linking modelling and analysis applications. He has been part of the design team for the Brian Lara Cricket Academy, the United States Institute of Peace, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the tour stage for the 2009 U2 tour, Club de Fútbol Monterrey Stadium and several collaborations with artist Janet Echelman. He has lectured widely on BIM, design automation, and computational design at such venues as the SIGGRAPH, the Columbia Building Intelligence Panel, and ACADIA. He won the Best Paper Award at SimAUD 2010 for research describing his CatBot software, with David Benjamin. Keough’s software goBIM is the first BIM viewing application for the iPhone and iPad. His new tool Dynamo for Revit enables visual programming using the Revit geometry application programming interface.



3D scan of JFK airport, New York

My presentation is about software tools for engineering and design collaboration. I work for Buro Happold Consulting Engineers in Los Angeles, very formerly of New York, and I’m an architect working amongst engineers. I do a lot of building information modelling, but I also spend a lot of time writing code, writing software to link different modelling applications with analysis applications and looking at different ways for visualizing information. I’m going to present a cross-section of Buro Happold’s work, hopefully at a number of various scales that give you an idea of the breadth of work that we do and the technologies that we’re involved with. I’ve split up the presentation into a number of segments, and I’ll have a little intro to each one. The first one is Designing Through Data. The idea here is that very quickly we’re moving into a period

in design history where architects and engineers are going to have to be really good at dealing with massive amounts of data. What do I mean by this? The image you see above looks like a photograph. It’s not actually a photograph, it’s a 3D scan. So this is the type of equipment that’s typical now, when they go out and scan building sites, or scan building artifacts. This is the inside of a hangar at JFK airport in New York City, where we were 3D scanning some artifacts from the collapsed remnants of the original World Trade Centre. I usually put this into the beginning of presentations to get people in the mood to think about the amount of data that we’re going to be dealing with as designers, because things like 3D scanning are going to be very commonplace when you start looking at measuring and surveying sites, and creating geometries. (1)




Digital model of World Trade Centre trident structure


World Trade Centre, New York

Here on the left, you see a reconstruction of one of the original tridents of the World Trade Centre. (2) The job that Buro Happold was tasked with is we’re working on the structural design of the World Trade Centre Visitors and Orientation Centre, which is going to be right on the site of the original World Trade Centre. Next, you see a picture of the original tridents, these original pieces of the façade of the World Trade Centre. (3) The challenge is to scan these things not only as architects, because the curators for the exhibition wanted to have a very high-resolution record of them, but also for their positioning, because they’re going to take two pieces of the original trident, which are 60 to 70 feet long and weigh about 70,000 pounds apiece, and they’re going to stand them up in the atrium of this orientation centre, more or less in the orientation that they would’ve been in the original structure. The challenge is to use the model and use the scan data as a way to get a very accurate representation of these pieces of steel, which are actually bent. The way the building collapsed on these giant pieces of steel bent them such that it is an issue to position them accurately in space, to resolve any over-turning that might occur if these things were a little bit out of plumb. It’s a very complex site, and obviously a very political process.


3D scan of World Trade Centre trident

The next slide gives an idea of the sort of resolution of the scan data. That’s actually one-tenth the resolution of the actual scan data. You can see some of the original steel, with some of the original bolted connections. (4)



The other way that we deal with lots of data is in some of the types of analysis that we do. Typically we do types of analysis that run for very long periods of time, like CFD (computational fluid dynamics) analysis or certain types of finite element analysis. On the left is an example of an inner face that David Smith of our lighting department in New York put together that actually compiles all the data from a series of lighting analyses. Looking at a site, he’s essentially compiled photometric rendering for every instant of that site over a 24-hour period, and then through an entire year. (5) What’s really cool about what he’s done here, and what we’re doing more and more often with this kind of data: It churns all night, and then in the morning, or three or four days later, or a week later, you have a pile of data. He has ways of post-processing this into an interface that the client can then use to evaluate or anticipate the lighting condition on the site during a given time of the day, during a given period of the year. On the next slide you can see the changed lighting condition. (6) The graph on the left changes to represent the sample point on the site plan on the right-hand side and it shows you the areas in shadow and the areas in light throughout the day. The next slide is another version of the same. (7) This is a Flash interface, so it runs in a browser. It’s not uncommon for us to do this type of analysis and then hand it off to the client as a link. It’s amazing how much bang for your buck you get from this, compared to trying to explain, through a sequence of still animations or rendering, what those conditions are.


Buro Happold lighting analysis software by David Smith


Buro Happold lighting analysis software by David Smith


Buro Happold lighting analysis software by David Smith





Digital models of the Cooper Union Academic Building, New York

Atrium sculpture, mid-construction. Cooper Union Academic Building, New York

10 Design document. Cooper Union Academic Building, New York


The next segment is called Designing to Capability. We watch a lot of presentations by people talking about the latest in CNC technology, the latest in parametric modelling and all of these things that are fantastic and wonderful. We use them every day. But often, when you actually get to construction, somebody much less sophisticated is constructing the building. You might use a Catia model to design a building, but the guy who is actually constructing the building might be using AutoCAD Release 12, if not just drawing it out on butcher paper, and might be using not entirely sophisticated fabrication tools. Designing to Capability talks about some of these issues for a couple of projects. This was a project that we did with Morphosis at the new Cooper Union academic building in New York. It’s

11 Completed atrium sculpture. Cooper Union Academic Building, New York

basically just an atrium sculpture; it goes up through 10 or 15 storeys in the middle of the building. It’s a very sophisticated shape that was originally modelled in MicroStation and then handed over to us to do the analysis. The contractor said, look, all we’re going to have to build this thing is a chop saw, a pile of pipe and a guy with a welding box. We had to figure out a way to document this thing so that we could achieve this complex form, but do so with minimal tools. Using BIM, we were able to schedule the node locations in space. Then we literally hung plumb bobs to measure off those things, and used laser lights and laser levels to coordinate all the 3D locations of these nodes in space. (8) An example of just how sophisticated that was—guys climbing over the thing, welding this stuff together. (9) It was all done with coordinated plans that were

up to date, so the architect could change the shape of the thing. We did a version to feed into our BIM workflow, which happened to use Revit. All the nodal locations would update in the plan, and then we just presented a table of XYZ coordinates. (10) In the end, you have a very complexlooking product made with relatively minimal fabrication technologies. (11) The next project actually takes this to a ridiculous degree. We’re working on a project with Moshe Safdie’s office called the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It is a series of buildings which we call the bridge buildings. The bridge buildings are named as such because as you can see to the left and right of the image, those grey masses—those are actually concrete abutments, like bridge abutments.



12 Digital model of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

Hung between the abutments is a series of 4-inch-diameter galvanized-steel bridge cables. Spanning between them in the transverse are two-foot-deep 10-inchwide glue-laminated members. It’s a really weird hybrid building, kind of like a bridge, kind of like a boat. It has a sort of layer cake of layers that are built up through it, all based off this doubly-curved shape, reminiscent of a tortoise shell, that the architects had given us. (12) We had to develop a skeleton model, a parametric model, which allowed us to very quickly adjust the shape of all of the layers of structure within the thing when the architect provided us with updated set-out geometry. In addition we had to provide fabrication models so they could crank out the information the fabricators would use. The fabricators are located in Arkansas, United States, and they are not very sophisticated. The cool thing was they were very open to experimentation, and they knew exactly what they needed. 122 IAN KEOUGH

One of the things that was critical to this process was, very early on we sat down with all the fabricators and said, what’s the least amount of information you need? They said, we need these 10 critical dimensions. So we tailored the models to pump out exactly those 10 critical pieces of information in a spreadsheet and then it went to them. On the next slide, you’ll see a detail of just how complex some of this stuff is. You can see one of the abutments at the end of the building, with the bridge cable running over it, and cast turnbuckle connections on the ends of the gluelaminated arches. All of this is a Catia model. None of the fabricators were using 3D, so we use this model as the centrepiece of the conversation, as a coordination tool to make sure everything is in the right place; but in the end, we were giving them data that they were going to use to reconstruct in 2D the elements that they were going to create. (13) This is another detail of how complex some of these are. No one of these sections is the same; it’s axiomatically symmetric, but only in one-quarter of the thing. Every connection, every piece of wood and every piece of steel is different. (14) In the next slide you can see a mockup shot, showing when they actually started to build this thing from the model. We were happy to see that everything was coming out more or less like it was supposed to. (15) In the next shot you can see a detail of custom-cast components that are pieces designed to take the shape of the cable. The cable is taking a complex curve in space, but has to mate with a

13 Detail of digital model. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

14 Detail of digital model. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

15 Roof, mid-construction. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

16 Detail of digital model showing custom-cast

components. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville



very fixed, orthogonal end of a piece of glue laminate. To give an idea of scale, the glue-laminated arches in this project span 60 feet across the widest part on the middle of this building. So it’s not by any stretch a small, weird building. (16)

17 National Portrait Gallery, Washington

Design for Iteration: Another challenge is working in situations where we need to very quickly iterate through design options. That might be for a number of reasons. We might be trying to hit a specific price point for the client, we might be trying to minimize some particular type of behaviour or we might be trying to provide a number of different options. We have to design projects that can be very quickly iterated such that we don’t run out of budget trying to design the thing and can give feedback as often as the client wants it. In the next slide you can see a slightly older project. This was Norman Foster’s project at the Smithsonian. This is the National Portrait Gallery; it used to be the US Patent Office. I was involved, but at the very tail end, when I had just started at Buro Happold. Much like he did with the British Museum, Foster covered the interior courtyard with this triple-bulbed hourglass canopy. (17) The challenge for this canopy, unlike the British Museum canopy, was that it couldn’t sit down on the existing structure. This was a structure that had to sit inside of, and not actually on top of, the existing building. So it actually alights on eight round steel columns. Because this is sort of a grid-shell surface, where that happens there are collections of stress in the surface that need to be dealt with; we couldn’t use a consistent cross-section across the entire surface. So


18 Digital model showing cross-sections. National Portrait Gallery, Washington

we developed a Catia model that allowed us to have these variable cross-sections. (18) The variable cross-sections are then instantiated across the surface based on varying stress conditions. What you can see in the next image is that locally, in the lower corner of this image, the members are actually growing larger to a point; and that point is where the column is. (19) This was one of our first experiences with a parametric model that allowed us to have feedback from the structural analysis. You could literally bring in the results from the structural analysis and have it select a section size for you based on what was happening analytically on the surface. This is a technique that we have used over and over again on any number of projects. Again the benefit is that it gives you the ability to iterate through

19 Digital model of roof structure. National Portrait Gallery, Washington

solutions very quickly. You can run a new structural analysis, import the results and the model will update, if you’ve built it correctly, essentially in real time.



On the left are a couple images showing its rationalized quad-panel roof surface. For anybody who has worked with doubly-curved surfaces and pieces of glass: this was the solution in the project for making sure that square, flat panels of glass could be used, allowing the corners to rock up. You could use the model for all kinds of other analysis, like ponding; you could figure out whether water was going to sit any place on the surface, because there were depressions. (20 and 21)

20 Inside view. National Portrait Gallery, Washington

21 Roof detail. National Portrait Gallery, Washington


The next project, the Club de Fútbol Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, is much larger scale. This was done with our friends at Populous. More and more now, we’re getting information from architects, on every scale of project, that’s coming from Grasshopper: parametric models that they’re driving through all different types of sliders and inputs and reading in from Excel. What we get from the output is a collection of surfaces, curves and points in space. Very early on when we’re scheming out how this process will work, we’ll sit with the architect and tell them the base level of information we need. In the case of this project, where we knew they were going to go through a number of different roof designs, to gain client approval, to get the number of seats that they needed in the stadium or to achieve a certain aesthetic, we knew that we were going to have to very quickly iterate through a number of different versions of the structure. We said to them, we need an outer surface and an inner surface; we’re going to stick some trusses between those two surfaces. Whatever comes out of the Grasshopper model is fine, as long as it has these two surfaces. Here are some nominal depths that you need to achieve within these surfaces.

22 Digital model of Estadio de Fútbol Monterrey, Monterrey

In the next image you can see the first run of a tool that we custom-built for stadium creation, which basically fills in the gap between the surfaces with trusses and allows the engineer to put in a certain number of inputs to specify the number of subdivisions that we need within the truss cells . What’s very nice for us from a workflow standpoint is that a lot of stadiums are the same, theoretically. You’re just marching around gridlines, chopping the thing up, and doing something at each one of the bent lines, and then lacing all of those bent lines to create the structure. With very small tweaks to the base of code we can make it into much more of a generic stadium design tool. (22) The next image again goes back to the idea of designing for capability. (23) A lot of times you’re working with an engineer who says, your 3D model is great and all, but at least at the schematic level I need to know that certain fundamental requirements are being met. For example, these trusses can’t be malformed in

23 Digital model showing truss design. Estadio de Fútbol Monterrey, Monterrey

24 Digital model of Estadio de Fútbol Monterrey, Monterrey



any way; I don’t want any truss cells that, because your algorithm runs with a particular setting, end up being tiny, skinny or long and strung out. Their request is for us to lay the things out as we process through the entire stadium, and at the end give them a flat sheet so they can look at it visually and use the human brain to pick out any problem areas; and then we can change the inputs to the algorithm and we can run the thing again. It’s not atypical for these very complex pieces of code that we write to generate geometry to also produce very simple 2D output which is basically for checking. Because we’ve got the assets, it’s then very easy to move those assets from whatever application we’re using to build the analysis model or the centre-line model into the BIM model and back. A lot of the tools that I’ve worked on have been about how you get this information from one application to another, from Grasshopper to Revit, from Revit to Robot, from Robot to Catia and so on. That way we have flexibility and can be agnostic about what platform we use. We can use the right platform to do what it’s best at. (24) Designing for Participation: Most of the time if you’re working with an artist, or a community board, or a real estate developer, they want to have a lot of input into the design process, so you have to design projects in a way that allows people to contribute. Again, this ties back to the idea of iteration. People need to be able to quickly iterate, so you can get them the ideas and visualizations that they want to see, but you also want to be able to give them some small ability to input into the process for some result. 128 IAN KEOUGH

In the following image you’ll see another lighting tool that David Smith in New York worked on which is for the Sperone Westwater Gallery in New York City. He’s compiled all kinds of lighting data, real photometric analysis of the site and real analytical data provided by the light manufacturers, to put together an interface that allowed the client to choose their lighting scheme. This is a very public-facing building for a high-profile gallery, and they want it to be a real signature on the block. What David did for this project, and has since rolled out for a number of other projects, is develop an interface that allows the architect or the client, through a series of sliders and pre-sets, to actually choose what their lighting scheme is going to be. (25) In the next image you can see a version of that lighting scheme. (26) Moving through these little sliders like you’re adjusting the equalizers on your stereo you get a different lighting condition, and then we can save that lighting condition and send it to David and say, I want you to design to this. We find ourselves doing this on more and more projects now, because the clients seem to have become aware that we’re using tools that enable this. It used to be that a client asked for something, and you went away for six months and came back and they said yes or no, and you went back for a couple more months. But now, everybody sees Rhino or Grasshopper and sees all this stuff with sliders, and they say, I want something with sliders that I can slide around and adapt.

25 Sperone Westwater Gallery lighting software by David Smith

26 Sperone Westwater Gallery lighting software by David Smith



27 Her Secret is Patience. Janet Echelman, Phoenix

28 Digital model of Her Secret is Patience. Janet

In the next image you can see some collaboration we did with Janet Echelman. This is the Phoenix Civic Centre in downtown Phoenix. Right in the middle of Phoenix there was this old abandoned space. We fixed it up and they commissioned Janet to do a giant sculpture to hang there. Janet works with fishing nets, literally commercial-grade fishing nets. She came to us with a shape that she had developed with an architect, and she gave it to us and said she wanted us to turn it into a fishing net shape. (27) The stuff that Janet had done before was relatively simple bowl-shaped geometry. This was a completely different thing, so not only did we have to rationalize this complex shape into something that could be built out of fishing net, but also to allow Janet input into the process as it was going on so that she could tweak the shape here and there or change the colours just a little bit.

Echelman, Phoenix

29 Detail of loom

We ended up writing a tool that would take the underlying shape, using a series of colour swatch files that Janet provided and some bitmap images to control the sort of draping of the form, and we basically generated versions of this net geometry that was actually coloured the way that she specified . Because, of course, you can only get the material in certain colours, so she was mixing and matching the things all the time, changing them out, and then taking versions of the models to the city to get approval. (28) In terms of an urban project, this is something that they set aside $10 million for, and they said this is money we’re going to spend on a sculpture. Meanwhile, they can’t pay for textbooks in the schools. Obviously, people are very upset that


30 Instruction set for mesh construction

there’s a pot of money that’s reserved for the sculpture. So at every point along the way, Janet had to meet with the city and say, this is what it looks like now, this is how we’re progressing. We needed to be able to develop the process so that literally, within hours, we could turn around a version of the sculpture that we knew would work sculpturally, we knew would work analytically; and then she would take these images off to them. The next image goes back to the idea of non-sophisticated technology. The guys who make this stuff are literally guys who make commercial fishing nets. They have big looms that were built in the 1950s, and they’re following complex instructions that we’ve given them. (29)

In the next photo you can see a diagram of the way that we roll these things up, kind of the dance steps for how they would build this. (30) The woman who was working the loom would stand there and run the loom for a certain number of cycles at a certain spacing, then stop it, and run it a certain number of times at another spacing, stop it and run it. After hundreds of these cycles, she would get a shape that, when it came out of the loom and was hung from one edge, was actually a doubly-curved shape. If you can’t see anything else in the image, on the left-hand side you can see a series of coloured bands. That was Janet’s input. She would have the people at her studio put together this little JPEG file and send it to us, we would run that through the program that actually made the netting, and it would specify each bobbin, what colour each bobbin was going to be.



This is part of the structure that was made by hand. There were aspects of the sculpture where these guys had to individually tie knots to put together this kind of complex shape. (31)

31 Design document for Her Secret is Patience

32 Her Secret is Patience. Janet Echelman, Phoenix

In the end, the turnaround time from when we got edits from Janet to the time when we had a new version of the sculpture coloured and patterned and analyzed was four or five hours. She could call us in the morning, and by right after lunchtime we could have a new version of the sculpture for her to get approval or for her to spin around in and get her own artistic side of it. (32) The next section is called Design for Rationalization, and you’ll notice that all of these sections stack up on each other because all of these projects hit images or ideas from the section before. Often times we’re asked by the client to rationalize something. If the architect is the client, the architect comes to us with the shape that they’ve developed in Maya and they say: We have no idea how to build this. Can you figure it out? Here’s what we can afford. We can afford it to be in glass, or we can afford it to be in steel, or we can cast the whole thing out of bronze. But a lot of what we do, on all different scales, is figuring out how to make things stand up, how to make things out of a certain material, or using a certain process. Next is the Saudi Aramco Cultural Centre. This is a project that we did with Snohetta Architects. The premise of this is they wanted it to look like a series of pebbles in the desert. This is a cultural centre; it has a library, an auditorium and a sort of office tower. All of these pebble-type buildings are


33 Floor plan. Saudi Aramco Cultural Centre, Dhahran

stacked up on each other. From afar, it’s a complex shape, but it’s not that crazy. Until you get close. (33) Here you see a slice, which is a typical steel plan through one floor of one of those buildings. (34) Of course, I’m saying ‘building’ as a sort of tongue-in-cheek comment, because in the next image you’ll see that this is actually a building that’s suspended between two other buildings. So how do you take a very complex shape, in this case developed in Maya, and turn it into a more or less rational steel plan? If all we had to do in this project was to take these pebble shapes and turn them into something we could make out of steel, it really wouldn’t have been that big a challenge.

34 Digital model. Saudi Aramco Cultural Centre, Dhahran



But in the next image you’ll see the more challenging aspect of this project. They wanted to cover every one of these buildings in 70-millimetre diameter stainless steel tubes, spaced 10 millimetres apart. Five buildings, 70-millimetre steel tubes, you can imagine how many hundreds of miles of steel tube, all bent in 3D, because it’s a non-rational surface.

35 Digital model showing cladding structure. Saudi Aramco Cultural Centre, Dhahran

36 Mock-up of Saudi Aramco Cultural Centre in Austria

In the image on the left you can see part of the Catia model. Spanning across the windows on this building, the sort of slot windows that they added on to the building, they wanted to reduce these tubes down to fins, to crank the tubes down so that they were fin shapes so that when you’re looking out the window you’re looking through this skinnier cross-section of tube. The first thing that we did was write an algorithm that, starting from certain key openings in the building, would propagate the tubes outward like ripples in a pond or almost like your thumbprint. In fact that was one of the original images that they sold to the client—they said they were going to pattern the tubes on the building like a thumbprint. Through a series of different operations and scripts, you get the final output here. (35) In the next image you can see part of the mock-up that was built by GIG in Austria. I think GIG ended up getting the contract to build the building or build the façade. You can see through the tubing that it’s actually a typical façade inside, with this stainless steel tube grillage offset from it. They’re going to panelize the whole thing and have these little pieces to cover up the gaps in the panelization of this complex façade. (36)


37 Digital model of concert stage for U2 360 Tour

The next image is a couple of details from a project which is kind of a once-ina-lifetime opportunity for an engineering firm to work on, considering that U2 goes on tour just about once in a lifetime. U2 came to Chuck Hoberman, who is an architect who makes these kinetic sculptures. If you know nothing else about Chuck Hoberman, you might know his toy Hoberman spheres, these expanding spheres. In the last couple of years he’s started up a partnership with Buro Happold called the Adaptive Buildings Initiative. Part of the Adaptive Buildings Initiative is using some of Chuck’s patented linkages to make architectural geometries: surfaces that move, skylights that open like the oculus under a camera, façades that change from fritted to un-fritted almost magically. (37) We’ve been fortunate to work on not only the structural engineering, but also the environmental engineering, trying to determine whether or not the façade of a building that actually moves or changes is offsetting the environmental benefit that

an adaptive shading structure would give; because it takes energy to actually make the façade move or change. These are of course ongoing studies. But this project was just a little bit more fun. U2 came to Chuck Hoberman and said, we want this stage, we want it to be this tall, and we want it to open and close. In the image on the left, the purple thing is the stage; that’s about 80 feet tall in its fully open condition. It shrinks down when it closes to about 20 feet tall. What’s really interesting about this is in the image on the right-hand side. Those hexagonal tiles are each tiles of LED. The whole thing is a giant JumboTron. When it closes down and compacts, it looks like an elliptical JumboTron. When it opens up to its fully-extended condition, it looks like a JumboTron that’s been blown apart. They have live streaming video of Bono racing around the stage throughout the show. The challenges are many, of course. We had to design the structure to be good not only for one condition, closed



38 LED panels. Concert stage for U2 360 Tour

39 Concert stage for U2 360 Tour

or open, but for any state in between. So we wrote a piece of software that allowed us to link the motion paths from Chuck’s kinematic analysis with our structural engineering software, Robot, so that we could slide a slider and open and close the analytical model. At any point we could press ‘analyze’ and see, for instance, what kind of deflections were happening in the structure when it was half-open with a 60-mile-per-hour wind. Obviously, as a kinematic assembly, deflections past a certain amount are very bad because not only do they affect the structure, they also affect the mechanism; the thing can’t open or close. We had the typical deflection criteria for a structure, so that it stands up or in this case hangs, but also a loading condition given the fact that it needed to continuously operate, whenever they asked it to during the show. In the next image you’ll see one panel of the thing. There was one other challenge. The structure needed to be able to be installed in one day by a bunch of roadies. It also needed to be struck, that is taken down, crated and put on one of the 200 trucks that U2 travels around with in one day, by roadies. This was another challenge; not only the fabrication of the thing but also the ability to make it so that it could be quickly assembled, and would operate for the full duration of the tour. (38) Next is an image of the actual stage in use. Way down there at the bottom is U2 in the middle of this round stage, and the screen is three-quarters of the way open. The armature for the screen was so large that they actually had to build three of them, because they couldn’t take it with them when they left certain continents. They made one to sit in Europe, one to sit in Asia, and they made one for North America. (39)


40 HEAT tool by Alan Sheppard

The next category is Designing for Resources. Oftentimes we’re asked to design towards a certain resource goal. Once a design has already been done, maybe by somebody else, or if a building is already in place, we’re often asked to evaluate the performance of the building, either structurally, mechanically, environmentally or in terms of sustainability. We have to develop tools to look at existing conditions or even predict conditions before we even start designing anything. Next is a project that we did with Woods Bagot which was a fictional site in China. They wanted to see if we could design a zero net-energy building for this high-rise and complex. We participated in two aspects of this. One aspect was a structural design for the diagrid façade. Like a lot of architects now, on the high-rise buildings they wanted to have integrated energy generation with

wind turbines. Obviously wind turbines have a structural effect. So we used Catia to actually design a model of this thing wherein we could not only generate the appropriate structure but also iterate through a number of different types of structure, different spacings of this diagrid, to achieve lateral stiffness, and also to achieve a certain amount of opacity or transparency. In the image above you can see a tool which I think is really one future of environmental analysis at Buro Happold. This is a tool developed by my colleague Alan Shepherd called the HEAT tool, which stands for Holistic Energy Analysis Tool. This is a relatively unassuming set of Rhino scripts and Excel files that when linked together generate geometries, and analyze those geometries according to certain energy inputs and certain mechanical inputs—but in real time. (40)



41 Catia modelling software

To give you an idea of why this is interesting, in our real evaluation of a building from an energy performance standpoint it can often take a number of days to conduct all the different types of analyses. Alan’s insight was that maybe it’s not necessary to always conduct an analysis that rigorous for every stage of schematic design. Maybe in the very early concept stage, the early schematic stage, you want to have a very high-level understanding of what’s going to happen with the building, a predictive ability to understand, if I chose compact fluorescents versus LEDs, what would my energy usage be, what would my CO2 output be. This tool does exactly that, with relatively simple massing geometry. It can tell you exactly what the performance of your building will be, given the place that you’re looking, types of orientation on the site, given a number of different energy inputs and mechanical inputs, given a certain density of the population on a given 138 IAN KEOUGH

42 Diagrid façade designs

floor. It gives you this sort of feedback almost instantaneously. Again, this goes back to the idea of iteration; we’re able to take this to a client and say, this might not be the shape that this building is going to be, but it’s relatively close and it’s giving you a holistic notion of what’s going to happen. This is sort of a predictive analysis. The next image is part of the Catia model. (41) Although we didn’t tie it to Alan’s heat tool, it’s definitely viable that an ongoing project will be able to take a parametric model like this and tie it to that analysis tool so that the feedback comes in through an input in Catia and actually changes the propagation of the diagrid members on the façade, to create more shadowing for instance. Similarly for structures; we’re looking at creating certain predictive analysis tools that would allow us to do something very similar, but from the structural side. The image above is a series of options for the diagrid façade. (42)

The next video (screen captures) is actually from some of my colleagues from Bath. In particular, Shrikant Sharma has been working on a tool that he calls SMART flow. When I say designing for resources that can mean a number of different things. That can be designing for the kind of materials you want to use, it can be designing for energy, for carbon, for any number of different points and evaluation. But space is a resource, and time is a resource, and people need to be mapped moving through space and time. Shrikant has been working for a number of years on tools to look at very real, robust simulations of agents moving through space. He’s used this on a number of different sporting venues. Here you can see an example of it being used on the Sochi 2012 Russian World Cup stadium, where he’s looking at egress paths. Basically he has the ability to tap on any one of these agents, and give the agent a mission: I’m going to my car, I’m going to the restroom, I’m going back to watch the match,



whatever it might be. He can simulate enough of these agents to give people an idea about how things will be moving through space. That’s pre-design. You can use this tool to inflect the space of design, so that you have more spaces for people to congregate or get out of the flow of traffic. If the building has already been designed, he’s also used this in context. (43) We were hired by a school which was having trouble with congestion in the hallways when the school bell rang, and they couldn’t figure out why. So we came in and did a SMART flow analysis of the school, modelled the hallways, put in the number of agents and simulated the school bell. It ended up that there simply wasn’t enough space in the design of the school as it was to achieve the flow that they needed when everybody left the classrooms all at one time. The recommendation was just to stagger the times of the school bell. One classroom got out 20 seconds before another classroom, which got out 20 seconds before the next. Having validated this with the analysis, they did a trial run and found out that was exactly what they needed to mitigate this flow problem. 43 Digital simulation of crowd patterns for Sochi Olympic Stadium


In the next video (screen capture), you can see another tool that’s being worked on by Shrikant and his colleagues in Bath as well as in the L.A. office, called the SMART City Viz tool. A lot of times clients come to us and say, we have a number of properties, we have all these sensors in our buildings, we have all this data, and we don’t know what to do with it; we’ve been told we’re supposed to measure how much CO2 we’re creating, but we have no idea of how to go about it.

44 SMART City Viz tool

This was a web-enabled tool that was developed to give, in this case, UCLA the ability to scrub through the data that was coming from the buildings, things that we knew about occupancy and energy use, and to simulate the effects of different types of changes: if you changed the occupancy in the buildings, if you changed the types of power that you were using, if you changed the time cycles of things. This is in its very early stages, but we imagine rolling this out to a number of different clients who have come to us with similar needs. (44) The last segment that I have here I’ve called Designing What’s Next. A lot of our research is piled on to the back of jobs, which is nice. But sometimes we have little projects that we do on the side, because they’re interesting things that don’t necessarily fit into the niche for one particular project.

Particular to stuff I’ve been working on, in the next image you can see a class that I taught at Columbia where we gave architects a piece of software called modeFrontier. ModeFrontier is a tool for multi-objective optimization that’s used by the automotive and aerospace industry. Basically multi-objective optimization asks, if I have two goals—cost and weight— how can I achieve something that comes as close as it can to both of those goals without moving any further from one or the other. In this class, we gave the students the ability to build models in Catia; parametric modelling was a skill that a lot of the Columbia students already had or else wanted to learn. Then we taught them a little bit about structural analysis, because unfortunately Structures 101 in graduate school doesn’t usually cover it. We had to go through some of statics and some of finite element analysis. (45)



45 ModeFrontier software

Then we wrote a little piece of software to glue this process together called CatBot, which allowed the students to connect Catia, modeFrontier, and Robot. Here you can see a work flow from modeFrontier, which probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Basically, one of the nodes represents a parametric model, one of the nodes represents an analysis, and the rest represents goals and schedules for the analysis. Students could literally set up a model as a genetic algorithm. I want to see, if I run this thing for 10,000 generations, what’s going to happen to my structure. In the next slide you can see a version of one of these things running. (46) I should mention that the structural side of this was coupled with a class taught by David Benjamin of Living at Columbia, who was doing the parametric side of things and 142 IAN KEOUGH

46 Tower designs in modeFrontier

the studio part. In one semester they designed towers, and then in one semester they designed a certain type of bridge. It was the typical sort of genetic algorithm process, in which they would develop a generation, pick ones that they either aesthetically or analytically thought were really fit and then mate those with the next generation, and on and on until you got versions of the most fit. This research is ongoing. (47) Then, finally, it wouldn’t be fair for me to leave this conversation without a shameless plug for my own software. This is goBIM. Everybody’s been trying to figure out how to get BIM data out of the computer and into the field. You see all kinds of different ways to do this, including a guy holding a laptop on site. Anybody who’s held a laptop in the crook

47 Bridge designs in modeFrontier



48 GoBIM software

of their arm, looking at something while trying to work on it at the same time, realizes how difficult that can be. It occurred to me when the first iPhone came out, what if we could put this data into your phone so you can carry it with you? This was obviously on the back of a lot of really interesting research done by a lot of people over about the last 10 years. Then of course the iPad came out right after that, and it just seemed like a perfect moment to actually take 3D information out of your desktop and into your field. The next slide shows a version of the interface, which allows you to load up models that are exported from Revit. (48)


49 Demonstration of BIM goggles software on iPad

The next slide is a pretty schlocky movie of what we’re calling BIM goggles right now. Although the model in the background is not the model that’s actually showing on the screen, the idea is that the device is locationaware. You will be able to walk into an environment that’s synced up with a BIM model and be able to experience a sort of pseudo-augmented reality, whereby you’re positioned at the same location and, using accelerometers and gyroscopes and compasses, can actually look around the space. (49)

categories that I talked about before. Real-time sensor information: we have a project at the University of Southern California right now to look at some of their 4000 sensors and get live streams of data that then play back in the BIM model. You could have a synchronous experience of being inside the model, looking around in the real environment, clicking on a sensor and finding out how loud is it, how much oxygen is in the air, any amount of data. This again is research ongoing.

You can imagine the type of data that could be layered on top of this, and it links back into a number of different





JOACHIM LIVING CITIES | Vision and Method for Regenerative Design


Planetary Cities Ecology and Design for Tomorrow MITCHELL JOACHIM Terreform One, New York University

Mitchell Joachim is a leader in ecological design and urbanism. He is a co-founder of Terreform One and Terrefuge. He earned his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MAUD at Harvard University, MArch at Columbia University and BPS at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Joachim is an Associate Professor at New York University and was previously the Frank Gehry Chair at the University of Toronto. He was formerly an architect with Gehry Partners and Pei Cobb Freed and Partners. He has held fellowships at TED2010, Moshe Safdie and Associates and the Martin Family Society for Sustainability at MIT. His awards include the History Channel and Infiniti Design Excellence Award for the City of the Future, and Time Magazine Best Invention of 2007 (Compacted Car) for the City Car with MIT’s Media Lab. He was chosen by Wired magazine for ‘The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To.’


We run a non-profit in Brooklyn, New York. We are kind of a team of scientists, architects, designers, poets and people who think about infrastructure, urban design and architecture at all sorts of scales. We move from the smallest things like the doorknob to the entire democracy. We’ve been doing this since 2006 as a non-profit. We’ve been, for lack of a better term, starving, and we wanted to make a little more cash and actually pay our employees a little bit more. We had about 40 people this summer at our climax, and a lot of them come to work for a nonprofit as love slaves because they get to do the work that they want to do. No one is forced to do some ridiculously terrible staircase detail for one straight year and get nothing out of it; you actually explore your own projects with us. We have a very creative and collaborative group that take on big subjects.

However, a lot of people that come to us are business as usual folks. So we’ve just started a new company called Planetary One. It’s a partnership of eight folks, all of them with different kinds of doctorates in fields from ecology to computation to medicine. We’re working together to take on the same kind of projects, but without having to worry half of the time about raising money for some of these projects, and getting more money funnelling through. So if you come by Brooklyn again—because I think the last time I was here I made an invite and some of you actually showed up, which was great. I doled out some coffee and beer, depending on the time you arrived. We’re still doing the same thing but it’s a much different atmosphere. We have our research arm which is Terreform, but the business arm will be Planetary PLANETARY CITIES



Joachim family photograph

One. I wanted to show some things that I’ve been working on since I was here last time. My daughter is probably my proudest creation by far. (1) As a designer, I highly recommend for the rest of you designers to have a kid at some point, not to increase population growth, but because it makes you a better designer. There’s just so much about the world that you see through the filter of your own kid’s reasoning that changes everything you approach in design, from spiny corners on the edges of tables, to making things softer, to negotiating a streetscape. Children just give you the best education possible. My daughter, I’m super proud of. Just last night, I arrived here on the plane and I missed one of her biggest accomplishments, my wife told me on the phone she just learned how to use the potty, which is great; I wish I was there for that moment. On to the general theory of what we do. We’ve been lumped or labelled as this kind of group that works in sustainability or ecological design. A lot of the work we do is like that, but we also think about what the next 20, 25, 50 years of architecture might be like. I don’t think the sustainability mission is going to last forever, and it shouldn’t. It’s a task we need to solve within 10 years—actually it’s 9 years now, it’s 2011. Otherwise everything we’ve been saying doesn’t meet any professional standards. We made these promises, I think we can do it; we’ve got to move on to new topics. This is the only slide I’m going to use to discuss the entire issue of sustainability. It sums it all up in one wonderful drawing by Robert Crumb, this great illustrator. This guy, who is a bit of a curmudgeon, says that most of



Illustration by Robert Crumb

the debate revolves around point zero, which says if you don’t do a project that is sustainable, if you don’t support this kind of research, if you don’t work in that field, the world is going to end. (2) This is the theory of apocalypse or eschatology: the sky is falling, acid rain, ocean temperatures changing. A lot of people use this to justify their work, whether it’s the next building design, a concept for a city, a new kind of car, whatever it is. I don’t think that promoting this works. Certainly if you know anything about Sarah Palin or many folks in America, as soon as they hear this they do just the opposite: if we’re going to die, I’m going to buy the biggest possible SUV using the most amount of energy and drive it as much as I want because I’d rather burn out than slowly fade away. It’s just a philosophy that we don’t aspire to. We work somewhere between one and two, between

the technological fix and the ecotopic. The technological fix is under the supposition that through some grand silver bullet, through some feat of geo-engineering or science, we will solve the problem of climate change. JFK said it best: If man created problems, man can solve problems. The issue is complicated, it is not complex. Complicated means there is an end to it. Complex means you can never possibly solve it. Music is complex; you don’t solve music, you just keep on playing it. The ecotopic is the idea that we can learn from the vernacular, the ways and means of the initial relationship that we had with nature. The original traditions of building construction are still valid today. So it’s kind of a merger of the two that we work with, between the technological and the ecotopic.



We get asked to do these very big projects, and I’m going to run through them really quick. They’ll slowly ramp up to longer projects. I’m not going to show the projects that were complete failures, although there are tons of them. When you work in this field, you make a lot of experiments. There are things that are just not worthy of discussion beyond that point. (3) 3



Solution: Change the name

This one was pretty successful, not this exact image, but the idea that Detroit has got a serious problem. Go anywhere and say ‘Detroit,’ people immediately light up with, bad cars are polluting the atmosphere, or some film they’ve seen, or maybe some rap stars, whatever the case is. It’s a place that’s been worked on in the field of urban design. Giant manoeuvres have been made since the ’50s, certainly the ’60s and ’70s. The general body of theoretical work we’re working on right now is also quite robust and really interesting, but nothing is working. So our solution for the problem of Detroit is this: change the name. Once you start thinking about a new name for Detroit, a lot of these issues like ecology, economy, real estate, shrinking or not shrinking go away. One of our interns, a metal-head, thought this would be a great idea. Actually showing it in the folks in Detroit, they were excited about this, so I think we can solve the problem right off the top by just doing something—I guess this would be called branding. (4) Another project we’re working on is the population problem. We’ve done all sorts of charts; and I think we’ve seen a number of really good ones today, with these hockey stick–like graphs accelerating into no-man’s land, where through Malthusian growth we logarithmically reproduce and reproduce until the human race eventually eats up the entire globe. Well, that’s just not scientific fact;


that’s not true. Population is always capped or limited by some kind of disturbance or event. If we were just allowed to follow the math as is, we would reproduce ourselves to mirror the constellations. There would be more humans than stars if something didn’t go in and affect it. (5) The idea now is that we have a choice: We either wait for that disturbance to happen— and there are probably 30 things out there right now that could wipe out massive parts of the population—or we have the choice, which is to figure out ways of mitigating population growth. This is a touchy subject for designers. There was a group of designers—well, they were designers; the Nazis were thinking about doing this kind of thing early on. There are other groups in China who impose draconian laws to stop population growth. We thought about the passive-aggressive North American attitude, which involves incentives to stop population growth or at least to mitigate it. One thing would be an active policy called the 4.5 policy, where all men are responsible to carry a pregnancy for at least 4.5 months, half the term. Certainly it’s been possible. I don’t know if you’ve seen this individual on Oprah, it’s a man—a trans person—carrying a baby. If you had a law there, you’d have a consequence to population, and I think folks might slow down a bit if they had to be pregnant. It’s not a desire of mine to be pregnant, so I’d probably avoid having a second kid if we did this. I also think it’s manly to have a kid, if you’ve seen the Arnold Schwarzenegger film; it’s not just Hollywood, I think any true man can carry a kid for a little bit of time. I think that’s sort of our big design solution for population growth. (6)


Pregnant male


Photo still from Junior (Universal Pictures, 1994)

We’ve been thinking about another incentive. Working with our biologists, we’ve actually looked at some very useful systems. We’ve been changing the flavours of plants, which was pretty easy to do, and just moved over to bovine genetics. We’ve been able to change the flavour of bull semen, or else change the taste buds of your tongue so that, well, it doesn’t end up in the place which would cause another child. We’ll leave it at that. It’s important that designers can take on any particular subject. (7) PLANETARY CITIES




Thinking about bigger pictures in general, this is the design of an entire city. We were looking at the entire city, just to ramp it up even further. There is a lot of background to this work before you even get to it. Some of these ideas about designing a city from scratch have been around for over 102 years. This is King’s Dream of New York, where he’s looking at connecting dirigibles to skyscrapers, circulatory cores connecting to bridge mechanisms between tall buildings, a canyonated system of mobility that separates horses and carriages from pedestrians, all flowing. We’ve got eight bridges here in the East River. This is all designed from one kind of vision. (8) This was my dissertation at MIT; it was the idea that you have to kind of holistically think, if not rethink, the entire system. Wear multiple hats at once. Design the buildings, design the cars, design the infrastructure from one perspective and come to a table with a group of people that also have that same mindset. There is the idea of the silos in the separate disciplines, but branching out to solve big problems in the city is absolutely necessary and this is the kind of work that we do.


‘King’s Dream of New York.’ Harry Pettit, 1908


This is one of our versions of this. I’ll apologize for some of it, but this made the cover of Popular Science. As a little kid, this was my biggest dream, to get on the cover of Popular Science. I mean, Popular Science has been lying to me ever since I was a kid, so here I am contributing this kind of information about the notion of an ecotopic future city. We worked with these guys to develop a lot of the things that we have in common, mobility, skyscraper sustainability, et cetera, and produce these kinds of populist images so that the dialogue, the questioning and the provocation that they incite almost


An image of the future

immediately will continue beyond just the disciplines in this room to everybody who ever picks up something like this. (9) I think that it’s been really successful; anonymous bloggers up late at night in their pyjamas have all commented. We actually cull that information, extrude it for something really logical and take that as a direct criticism in how we approach the next parts of our projects. I’m going to show you things about jet-packing in the city of New York, blimps actually serving as buses and different buildings interacting in the city in that particular way. Some other background: again, this has been done before. This is bridging and housing connected simultaneously. (10) Raymond Hood did this. This is the city within a city where all those bridges become a hypercollective, a critical mass of connected tall buildings servicing all the different boroughs simultaneously. These kinds of visions have been out there. They did not come true, but they stay within our hearts and minds and imaginations as we pick up

10 Bridge housing

11 Plan for Manhattan



our history books and think about our next approach when it comes to an urban design scheme. (11) There are others, even more egregious. This is Hilberseimer’s proposition after he escaped Nazi Germany for Manhattan. He’s thinking we’ll just wipe out Manhattan and replace it with this munificent ring road, with lots of parking and slabs of housing. This becomes absurd, something we do not teach in the academy, you don’t design things from scratch. But it’s not absurd. (12)

12 Plan for Manhattan

When you’re confronting places like Dubai or New Orleans or way back in the day with Hiroshima, this is something you do need to consider. What is the first principle of design when it comes to designing a city? What are the approaches, what is considered a maximal build-out? Know that the very nature of your profession, in its very name it is at fault, is not exactly perfect: urban design. You can certainly author the design part; you cannot author urbanity. Urbanity is going to happen with or without you, so I think that’s something to recognize. We’re still not there.

13 Motopia

Another project that has been a big influence is Motopia by Jellicoe. He’s separating the figure-ground and replacing it with a road system and a building system. So mobility takes up the building space; where there used to be building it becomes these green spaces. What’s happening in these green spaces? Well, nothing—at least nothing productive. It’s just a bunch of recreation, people throwing Frisbees, some people on sailboats. We want to take this same kind of scheme and think about future cities or models of future cities that are productive in their green spaces, cities that deal with waste, food, water, energy and certainly mobility needs. (13) 156 MITCHELL JOACHIM

14 S.O.F.T. mobs diagram

We do all these kinds of charts, but we look specifically at notions of energy, ecology, materials and, in this case, vehicle systems in cities past, present and future. I’ll just show you the future part. Somewhere up here we looked at different types of vehicles as part of the future; not the Segway, but vehicles that would be stacked vertically, vehicles that would be soft and light to touch, vehicles that would move in packs and herds, et cetera. Doing this kind of research actually leads us closer to designs. (14 and 15) At MIT, I was part of the Smart Cities group where we designed the car of the future. But it wasn’t just a car; we said we don’t just need one car, we need a set of ideas or technologies that would fit into any vehicle. So we decided to put everything in the wheel in this case—drive train, suspension and motoring. You add wheels together, they talk to one another and you can add any envelope on top of that. You get vehicles or swarms that are about talking wheels, not so much a car. Any manufacturer can pick up this same theme. (16)

15 Detail of S.O.F.T. mobs diagram

16 Wheel design



17 Zero Car

18 Car prototype

We did what we call the Zero Car. It spins like a car and it’s fully omnidirectional. This is definitely a new relationship to the city. (17) You can see in this plan it’s not doing exercises, but it can spin. With the added armature systems it can couple to a rail system and go up in the Z axis so that these vehicles can actually integrate vertical space and buildings. (18) The video shows how there is a new agility in exploring the city with this kind of vehicle. We’ve designed cities around cars for the entire 20th century. It’s now time to start designing cars to fit the city. So, here the wheels move 360 degrees, the cabin moves 360 degrees. It’s a car that can fit in any kind of city. (19)

19 Model of Zero Car


This then becomes a theory of gentle congestion or soft mobility. These are a bunch of the soft cars that I’ve done. (20) We did a whole series of these under Bill Mitchell in the Smart Cities group. This was one of our vehicles called the Bit Car. This is a shared ownership model.

20 Car designs in cityscape

It connects to regional transportation systems, it connects to your subways, buses, major trains and light rails. The frame stands up, it articulates, it has a lithium-ion battery system embedded inside it that’s shaped. It’s a drive-bywire on the directional system. You don’t own it; you pick it up, you go to where you want to go. It’s connected to some other system. You whistle, the next one comes. You don’t have to park it. It’s a totally different way to think about cars, and we’ve done a number of variations on this theme. (21) Also, the skin could be something else besides shiny precious metal. So we’re thinking of these soft skins that project a social set of information, using e-ink technologies. Or the entire car could be solid and project an aperture wherever the driver looks. Or the car could be

21 Car design

22 Stacking car design



23 Details showing car design

completely transparent and naked, with a visor that tracks the sun. You can think of these tram stacks, charging electrically. You summon them with your cell phone, you get in one of these soft cars and you move in these herds. (22) 24 Traffic model


In the next figure the red cars are the hard ones, the blue ones are the soft ones, and it slowly morphs over into this new way of integrating into the city. (24) If you find a Hummer, you can surround it with your soft cars and move it off to the side, as these vehicles take over. Here they are climbing vertically up the side of a building, separating passengers systems from freight systems. Here’s another view of that in one of these tall building clusters. (23)

Thinking about ways of making cars that are so radically different, something you would be fired for if you were working as an engineer for General Motors or something. An idea such as making cars that you could eat. Henry Ford had succeeded in doing this. Here he is hitting a car with an axe, a car made out of soybased plastics that are grown on a farm. He’s marrying the grand agricultural economy of America with its automobile economy. The axe bounces off and does not leave a scratch because the coloration is impregnated in the soy. (25)

25 Henry Ford

We’re taking the same sort of soy and using different starch foams and air bladders and even micro-quilts made out of ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), and making one of these vehicles. We call it the Hug and Kiss Lamb Car. The first principle of this car is that no one will ever die in a car accident again. That was the design signal. That meant it didn’t need to go faster than 30 miles an hour. It was designed for a context. It doesn’t go off-road and over rocks and beer cans. It’s designed for a city, it’s meant to share the space of a pedestrian, it’s incredibly lightweight, it’s got a very long stroke volume and if it runs over your sister it tickles her, it does not kill her. It’s a new way of thinking about braking in this kind of vehicle. This is the contact patch where friction hits the road giving the ability to stop. In this case, the entire belly of the car collapses to the road, increasing the friction patch by 10,000-fold. (26) The car is mostly filled with air, so it can go flaccid, you can stack them like car cakes. You’d have an attendant pull one out, inflate it and off you go in your vehicle.

26 Stacking demonstration



Another sponsor was very interested in the car—they were shoe people, Reebok. They wanted to get into the car business, and why not; they’re really good at making shoes and things. So this is the shoe car. Very sexy, you’ve got a zipper to get in and out of the vehicle. (27)

27 Shoe car

28 Smart Car

29 Zero Car


And then, thank you Europe, this is the Smart Car. Eighty-six inches in length; this is the footprint we want to beat. (28) This is the same vehicle that we had designed, but remember these wheels articulate, the entire vehicle stands up, so we’re about 30% smaller than a Smart Car. (29) You get off directly onto a sidewalk. Ingress and egress is treated at normal height. It’s the height of a regular seat. One of the most inelegant things you can ever do is get into a car, especially if you’re tall or old, or you’re in a sports car and you’re dressed really nice. Now we have seats at the right height with a canopy that protects you from the elements, opens up in front and you can move out directly onto the sidewalk. These cars interlock like shopping carts, so they take up less space on the street. (30) If I was an alien species looking down at the planet Earth, there would be a number of things I’d be thinking about. But one of them would be that these shiny metal boxes that we call cars are designed mostly to be parked. 90% of the time they don’t do anything. That’s when this project came into being. When they are parked, they mostly don’t do anything, but they’re very big batteries on wheels. Now it’s no longer about cars whatsoever. This is about a new kind of integrated electric system for a city. Not a centralized system, but a distributed, dynamically loaded system that can absorb peak demands and redistribute loads on the fly because it’s batteries and microgeneration on wheels. One notion is that it should be

30 Interlocked cars

generated from renewables as much as possible; I’m showing that here in this slide. But it’s a very different way of thinking about how these cars fit into the city. (31) Thinking about a different kind of power—human power. This is called the Human Power River Gym. It’s powered by you working out. You move on a loop from walker to walker, between Brooklyn and Wall Street or wherever you want to go. This is the notion that—and I always get this criticism— if we move in all of these devices that we’re imagining here, we’re all going to be fat just like at the end of the movie Wall-E. So here’s something that kind of incentivizes human power, connecting it to your commute and transport, and certainly giving you a much better view than you’d get at the gym, which is probably fluorescent lights and a mirror and whatever else. We won some award for that project. (32)

31 Solar charging station

32 Human Power River Gym



33 Balloon transportation system

Thinking about another form of mobility, which is air-based. This was a fantasy. I was finally able to bring my daughter to the Thanksgiving Day parade. I share the same sense of wonder when I see these giant balloons on Thanksgiving Day in the United States, the Macy’s parade. There’s about 40 men trying to hold down Spider-Man or SpongeBob, and at the time I thought, we should harness this power and use it as a mobility system. Have these soft tentacles on ski-liftlike chairs. (33) The thing is constantly moving very slowly. You hop on, you hop off. It’s ok if it bounces up against a building or two, it’s controlled by a funicular. But they move in these large, lumbering herds. (34)


Another fantasy, about integrating different types of mobility in the street and connecting all of these things together to what are called soft mobs and smart dots. Simple RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are linking and talking to all of these devices to make sure we’ve removed the problem of congestion, but we privilege the most important part of a city, which is, I think, pedestrians. The alpha position of the foot is the best interface for exploring a city. Bicycles, a fantastic invention, can improve upon it but it works really well. (35) If you have to move in these other things, you should do it in a fashion which treats bicycles and pedestrians in the most protected manner. You can imagine a little girl dropping her ball in the street, the street reading that a little girl has just done that and negotiating the flow of traffic around it so that the little girl can go in and pick up the ball without being harmed. Kids will do that constantly once they know they can do it. So it’s not a perfect system, but we’ve been working on it.

34 Balloon transportation system

35 Soft mobs and smart dots

This is also something Popular Science promised me and probably all of you—jet packs. I was hanging around some brainiac friends who are brilliant in urban planning, and one of their snarky little brothers came along and said: you know guys, all this crap you know about cities, all this knowledge about planning can just all go to waste one day when some guy comes along and invents the jet pack. The brainiac friends with giant egos nervously laughed and said it will never happen. So no one cared; and I got worried, and thought it’s kind of a cool idea. The kid didn’t graduate high school and he’s spot on. (36)



36 Jet pack design

37 Jet pack design

Well sure enough, a couple of months later on the cover of the New York Times: ‘The Jet Pack is Here.’ Not the jet pack we’ve seen in the 1984 Olympics; there’s already a company, Jet Pack International. But the key difference is the safety mechanism to make jet packs reliable. If it was 150 years ago and I was telling you we would be moving in cities based on a technology called the ‘elevator,’ you’d get scared and nervous yourselves. You probably wouldn’t buy into it. It wasn’t until Otis invented the safety brake, the mechanism to make it impossible to die in an elevator accident, that this was allowed to happen. (37) It’s the same thing with the jet pack industry now. For about $100,000, you can go on the Martin Jetpacks website and you can buy a jet pack. The entire device is privileged around the idea of safety. We’ve taken that same kind of solution and we’ve said, let’s think about jet packs in cities. As a side-note, it has been done before. Japan has been designing skyscrapers with jet pack platforms for landing and taking off. Good for them; I think the Japanese have always been ahead of us anyway. We’re trying to catch up, and we thought about these jet packs that have the same principles that the cars did; in this case, soft, light shells where you can bounce into other jet packs. Right around the crotch area is a parachute in case all hell breaks loose. You move in these flocks, hit other jet packs and say ‘ciao’—they are designed for collision. You move in larger flocks by a sky tug to get longer distances, because the maximum range of these things is


38 Sky tug and connected jet packs

about 30 minutes. But you can go from Newark, New Jersey to downtown New York within seconds, as opposed to half an hour in an SUV. (38) This is a project which took the idea of infrastructure in the United States to a whole new level. This slide is looking at the problem of sprawl versus what we’re looking at here, which is a linear urbanism called home way, which is all flows. All commodities and all needs for human dwelling, food, energy, waste systems, all alongside our existing infrastructure nodes, all alongside our American highways, getting Americans to constantly move. Not move fast, but to never stay in one place. Instead of—what are we, doubling the amount of housing in the

next 20 years, is that the stat? Instead of building it in Greenland or virgin territory, why not build it, put it on wheels and get America constantly moving. Meet the current demand of the younger generation which doesn’t really stay in one place; we’re constantly vagabonds moving. (39) We looked at trailers and took them very seriously. From a lifecycle analysis point of view, trailers are much better for the environment than a suburban house, and we got them to move for about a quarter of the price of a home. If your home is $400,000, at $100,000 you can pimp it out and get it to move. And you get the biggest SUV imaginable. (40)



39 Diagram of home way


40 Motorized hous


There are a number of reasons, but probably the biggest one—I don’t know how else to say it. We just want to stab Mother Nature directly in the face and kill her outright, by using so much oil so quick, we’ll be forced to leave this system, a fuel-based one, and move into a completely electric-based system. We use these hybrid cars; it’s a great idea but it’s just slow torture. We’re not getting where we need to be. We need to get to peak oil tomorrow so we can move on to the next economy. In about three years we’d switch over. With a scheme like this in place, we’d certainly let it happen. Fast-moving transportation here gets us from city core to city core. (41) These move from city core to city core on forty-minute loops. You don’t have to stay in one place, so you can enjoy Florida until you’re sick of guys in ball-huggers, whatever they wear,

41 Home way

and go up to the North where they have libraries. They don’t have libraries in Miami, they don’t. (42) So here you have all the suburbs moving. We love making models, it’s probably the only reason I’m here; I love to make these things. So, there’s a giant model of home way going from the downtown to the linear burb, or the home way model. (43) There are all kinds of views of homes, fitting into this renewable grid system that is 100% green, 100% self-sufficient. There are no inputs and outputs on this system; it’s all contained alongside the highways. Here you see an example of a house party. You could have a neighbour for 24 hours, do whatever you want to that neighbour, and drive away the next morning, maybe really early. (44)

42 Motorized houses

43 Model of home way


44 Pleaching

45 CNC pleaching

46 Fab Tree Hab design

47 Fab Tree Hab designs


We’re looking at new ways to configure buildings. The base core of construction, 100% different. This was a project that was in the MOMA, called Fab Tree Hab. This is taking a technology that is 2500 years old, called pleaching: it is grafting inosculate matter into one contiguous vascular system. We do it with a bit of sophistication, using CNC to control the growth of plants knowing their PSI, knowing we can get an accuracy of six decimal places if we want to; creating a home made out of absolutely living, and therefore performative, structures. We’ve been testing it on our roof for some time until eventually after various tests we’ve killed off as many species as possible, and we’ve just kind of stopped. (45) Here is a doubly-curved surface that we’ve been growing different types of plants on, dealing with infestations, dealing with capillary activity from water, looking at what the final results are from a home like this, the Fab Tree Hab. It is a part of the landscape; it fits into the metabolism of the environment. You can pre-grow a village of these homes in advance, homes that are 100% a part of the environment. Not zero effectors on the environment; we’re not an efficiency model, which is less bad, we’ve all heard the McDonough thing. Not zero which means we do nothing like Switzerland, but a positive contribution to the environment. The only thing you have to do is wait. (46 and 47) I think the best argument for that is if we can wait 12 years for a bottle of Scotch, I think we can wait 5 to 7 years to pre-grow a village of homes that fits symbiotically into our landscape, based on the local tree

species that work. Here’s the model for the MOMA, showing it growing. Because it’s a dream project, it’s all over the internet. You get tons of people asking to have one of these tree houses. It’s not a product that we just ship, it takes time. But eventually we might as well think about doing something like that. (48) This is for a client in Beverley Hills, studio city. We took living components of the wall, in 3’ 2” by 3’ 2” grids, and integrated them into a design that was more business as usual construction—timber frame or balloon frame construction. (49) We’re considering the bioclimatic vectors of the site, pulling up these components in the landscape and fitting them in with other things besides living sections. We’d fill it in with PV, a natural vent, water systems that deal with gray to potable, et cetera. (50) The next project is absolutely changed beyond this slide. I’m not too lazy to take a new picture, I really should. We teamed up with a number of years ago with these biologists—well, one biologist at first— to work on new projects in architecture. So we had successfully done the green vegetable house, but now we wanted to make homes out of—we didn’t know this at first—meat. We built our own biology lab instead of buying a 3D printer, and it’s expanded to triple the size. We have seven full-time biologists, very smart people. I thought after so many years of working with us, they’d decide to go back and do some real science but they’re still around our office. We occasionally work with them on impregnating males and other things.

48 Fab Tree Hab model

49 Living house designs

50 Living house design



51 (left) Typical stud wall construction and (right) meat house wall section

We had started making printing geometries out of bovine cells in very specific shapes. This came from regenerative medicine in 2001. The first papers had shown that you can make any geometry out of simple skin cells or keratin or chitin or various types of cartilage to replace knees or esophagus. Here is a bladder that you could grow; a patient who had suffered from skin cancer needed a new bladder. You can grow the geometry exactly to the way you want it and put it inside. We thought well, great, we can do this in architecture, what are some of the bigger purposes for it. (52) It’s research, so that doesn’t mean we have the answer up front. A lot of times in research and architecture you have



the answer up front, you just backtrack to get there. This is a very different case; it creates more questions than it answers, but it’s created some very fantastic questions. This is a typical stud wall construction that you can find in any home. (51) This is our meat house, where it’s got cilia for wind loads, fatty cells for insulation and sphincter muscles as our proposal for doors and windows, to get in and out. We made the thing very ugly, because it’s a home made out of meat, that’s what it looks like. (53) Here’s the one that we had. Essentially what you get is very, very expensive beef jerky, because you don’t want to keep it alive. The biggest mistake you can make is to believe that it has an immunological system or any kind of capillaries or blood-flow. It’s not a living organ, you cannot reproduce organs; but you can reproduce tissue into exact geometries. It is a scale model. It is not the size of a real house. I guess you guys know better, but other people think that it is full-size. (54) It has an incredibly long shelf life like Twinkies; it’s still around. The MOMA likes it. We had a number of shows in Prague. This one, we decided to put the meat house in front of the cathedral so religion could confront it. (55) The last two projects are about thinking about the big numbers that influence and make up cities. We do these charts. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and Berkeley produced these wonderful flow charts called Sankey diagrams, which are about looking at big comprehensive studies

52 Artificial bladder

53 Meat house

54 Meat house

55 Meat house model



56 Energy use, United States vs. New York City

of energy. I think I was just fascinated by it visually at first, but now I understand how to make my own Sankey. (56) This is a new project looking at energy and the usage of energy for New York, which is extremely green, versus the rest of the United States of America. We have a second part of this, which is another project called Drunk on Energy. Everyone is always telling you you’re using too much energy, you’re very bad. Bad you, person using energy; you must be a globally responsible citizen. There was an article in the New York Times saying that people who don’t pay for their energy bills in New York leave their air conditioning on all day long in the summer so their little dog or some plants can enjoy air conditioning, and so when they come home they don’t have to wait to be immediately cool and calm. And the New York Times says, you nasty people you, since your landlord is paying your electric bill. I’m thinking it’s not really nasty people. It’s almost 174


57 Productive green space

human nature on some level. It’s almost an expectation to say if we built these technologies to do it, and of course if we don’t have to pay for it then we should realize, screw the embodied energy count or whatever the deal is; this is what we want to do. So what if energy was completely free, and it was all-you-can? My two favourite things, free and all-you-can. Bill Gates proposed a project called TerraPower, I was there at TED two years back when he showed it. It’s amazing, $11 billion in a system that does just that. We’re now working on how much energy could you possibly use in making a building and in dwelling in that building? If it was endless and free and all-you-can, if you gorge yourself on it, where would you go? Before we get there, this is what we do today. This is megawatts per person per year; black is from coal. This is the average American using tons of coal, very bad. This is the average New Yorker, no coal. This is the amount of petroleum

for the average New Yorker, average American; most of that difference is due to transportation, we don’t use cars, we use the subways. Coal from heating, we have the stack effect. When you heat your apartment in New York City, Vinnie above you gains from that heat. It’s good. If you heated some place in the middle of the suburbs, it just goes out into the middle of the atmosphere. Then it’s about designing an entire city around some of these principles. So, making a city that is 100% self-sufficient. Just like the Jellicoe project before, we looked at switching the figure-ground as the rule. So here are streets in the old grid: some public space, putting new buildings in the streets designed for light, air, views, orientation. Opening up the spaces where they used to exist, preserving some of those buildings and using adaptive reuse, creating these green spaces that gain in energy, food, light and air. That’s the kind of process for this kind of a project. (57)



58 Plan for New York City

59 Detail of plan for New York City

60 Vertical farms

We’ve switched the entire figureground of all of Manhattan. We concentrated on the Lower East Side, and then Brooklyn. (58) I’ll show you those projects to get into the detail of this. We can run Manhattan on nothing but sun. It costs about $48 billion; solar panels running at 26% efficiency, with batteries to back them up. We take over the entire landmass of Staten Island and 18% of Brooklyn, and we would have Manhattan running on nothing but sun to meet our energy demands. But that would be absurd to just do that. We have 3000 acres of unshaded roof space; we can certainly integrate that inside the city, and connect it to wind and water and geothermal-based power systems. (59) Here is another view, looking at Central Park turned into a space that’s for vertical farms. Growing food for the amount of inhabitants is also important. (60) We have a city that’s designed with no inputs or outputs. Everything in the city of New York is produced and kept within the city of New York. The only thing that


leaves and enters is culture; that’s about it. Everything we need to live, from a selfreliance standpoint, is capped. We divided it up into these quadrants of 10 million square feet, for about 20,000 people; about 400–500 square feet per person. (61) We articulated a city in that manner, we built this giant model to show what Brooklyn might look like 100, 150 years from now. This is a propaganda piece to discuss what a city of the future could and should look like based on these principles. One of the bigger points is that infrastructure becomes the new centre, the new cathedral, the new kind of downtown skyscraper. The spectacle of the future city would be the celebration of its phenomenally effective infrastructure system. (62) This is not a citadel, but rather a waterworks and waste and energy plant connected to the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway). Where there used to be housing we remove it and put everything in the BQE. The BQE is horrible, it’s this giant highway. It divides neighbourhoods. People have forever been trying to stitch and stitch sections of the BQE; that’s not going to work. Put the housing in the BQE, think of it as kind of a ballast system in the peri-urban condition, taking water flows from the East River where it meets the ocean, and naturally allowing them to be absorbed like a sponge; allowing overflows to happen in the BQE, capping population inside of it and thinking of a new city based on this. (63)

61 Plan of New York City

62 Model of Brooklyn

63 Detail of model of Brooklyn

People always say, what are those forms? Where do they come from? I have a number of answers for that. One, the last generation of architects, thank you very much, has created endless forms for anything. In fact, I have yet to see a form that you couldn’t build. There are way too many smart PLANETARY CITIES


64 Model of Brooklyn

65 Photo still from WALL-E (Pixar, 2008)

people out there that can make any form possible; so that’s fine. Our dictum for this, our marching order, is that form follows anything, so long as you’re accountable for the basics of architecture: gravity, light, air, views, a kind of a purpose. You can put the ‘funk’ in functionalism all you want as long as there is a deeper premise on top of it. It’s actually very realistic forms there—boxes outside of boxes, there’s characterization at their limits. But essentially it gets to the same square footage you’d find in any other kind of city. (64) The last project was a kind of deeper love affair—and my daughter shares this, possibly because she’s my daughter, and has watched the film with me—a deep love affair with Wall-E. Wall-E is probably the best architect I’ve seen in any generation. He’s a non-stop solarpowered robot building these ziggurats like Nebuchadnezzar all day long, and he’s been doing it for a century or so. (65) Before the movie was made I’d showed this to Ben Schwegler at Disney Imagineering, a good friend. (66) Wall-E


66 Waste production over time

did it better than us, but we had looked at cities that used waste as their primary resource, to the tune of New York City, which is 36,000 some-odd tons per day. New York City was invented to make waste; you can’t imagine how much waste that is. How much waste is 36,000 tons? Can you picture it? Part of what we do is to picture it and think about how we can mine it for a new purpose. We use off-the-shelf technologies, we modify their jaws slightly, so instead of making dumb bales of trash or bottles or cardboard, they make intelligent puzzle-fitting bricks that can connect together to make all sorts of geometries that eventually will retrofit buildings and become an entire city where there is no waste used.

67 New York waste production

This is one hour of waste at 36,000 tons per day in the city of New York. It’s larger than the Statue of Liberty. This is compacted waste, so I think this is probably helpful enough to show what we’re producing in our city. (67)



We also did a tower of 24 hours of this waste, which turned out to be a 53-storey skyscraper with three façades. It has jet pack ports and some vertical landscaping. We did this for Toronto when we came here for the show. It was a good excuse to do that, show how wasteful New Yorkers were. (68 and 69) 68 Detail of Waste tower

69 Waste tower

These last two slides are about the kind of theory of a city. This was on the cover of Architect magazine. This is thinking about a city where waste has gone away. Gertrude Stein has said it best: there is no ‘away.’ When you throw something away, it’s going to end up someplace. We’re thinking we can move from this society of industrialization and consumerism to an age of recovery, constantly mining our landfills. Everything that people have ever created is in a landfill. We mine them for the most precious things that we need, and then for raw materials. Use them to retrofit our buildings, and eventually have a system where there is no waste. Waste has completely gone away and resources are cycling again and again and again, from creation to creation to creation. (70 and 71) That ends that project; and that’s some of the work that I was going to show you today.


70 Reusing waste material

71 Reusing waste material



Living Cities: Vision and Method, revised  

Living Cities: Vision and Method provided an opportunity for architects and experts from other academic fields to discuss and debate alterna...