Saturday, September 28, 2019

To save the noosphere

Dmitry Azrikan
To save the noosphere

                                                                                    “Birds don't sing here,
                                                                                     trees don't grow,
                                                                                     and only we, shoulder to shoulder,
                                                                                     grow into the ground here ...”

                                                                                     Bulat Okudzhava
                                                                                     “Soldier’s Song”     

Is there life on Earth? Wrong question. The earth itself is a living creature, and people, animals and plants are just its components, along with the oceans, continents, the core and the atmosphere. All these entities are born of nature, with the exception of the noosphere created by human activity. The noosphere is an area of ​​interaction between society and nature, within the borders of which rational, as well as crazy, human activity becomes a determining factor in development.

What has the planet received as a result of many thousands of years of activity of this determining factor of development?

As you know, the forest - the lungs of the planet. However, over the past 100 years alone, humans have cut down 80% of all existing forests. About half a square kilometer of forest disappears daily from the surface of the Earth. DAILY.

Deforestation accelerates global warming, which brings a general environmental catastrophe. Forest is an oxygen generator. But there is no forest in the cities. Hence, oxygen starvation, hypoxia, which contributes to dementia. In addition, a person in a city inhales 20 times more carcinogens than in nature. The content in the urban air of such a toxin as carbon monoxide is 50 times higher than in rural areas.

Thus, in the unanimous opinion of experts, the city contributes to the negative mutation of man. Today, half the world's population lives in cities. By 2050, 2/3 of humanity will live in cities. The danger is obvious, but the paradigm of the city in its visual, constructive and social sense remains unchanged for many hundreds (thousands?) Years. The only tangible change in the character of the city over the entire history of its existence remains ... only a consistent and ever-accelerating increase in pollution, more likely poisoning, and more precisely - the destruction of the habitat of its inhabitants.

The city of Noakkhot. Mauritania.

New York City. USA.

These two urban landscapes indicate that people, regardless of the degree of their wealth and civilization, preferred and prefer to dwell in rectangular boxes. The development of technology and the flourishing of culture have only led to an increase in the size of boxes and a change in the materials from which they (boxes) are made.

It is curious, however, that the number of square meters trampled per capita of the living surface of the planet in single-story settlements is much higher than in multi-storey ones, although skyscrapers, of course, are more pressured. Nevertheless, the coefficient of "beneficial harm" caused by each individual resident of skyscrapers is still lower than the same indicator per inhabitant of one-story or low-rise buildings.

When you look from the porthole of an airplane at cities below, especially industrial ones, they look like spots spreading across the green surface of the planet, reminiscent of staphylococci, eczema or even worse ... The concept of a modern city was formed in ancient times, when settlements were still surrounded by fortress walls. This concept does not imply coexistence with nature and ignores the danger of its disappearance from the noosphere. Civilization and nature are still in a state of permanent war. Civilization wins, thereby destroying itself.

Thinking about what the planet could have become if the history of architecture moved in a different way, you come to the conclusion about some monstrous inertness of this type of creativity. A man reached previously unimaginable heights in science and technology, and here ... we dig a foundation pit, beams, walls, floors, windows, proportions, scales, compositions, facades, golden sections ... Rows of boxes for living, prayer, work, entertainment. We take away the area from trees, grasses, animals. Destroy the most important layer of life on Earth. Ten thousand years is one and the same. It's amazing how we still exist. It's time to take the liberty and call a spade a spade: architecture, sadly, is a barbaric profession, with all the ensuing consequences.

A turning point and a decisive step are needed. Here man learned to build bridges. They are located above the river. NAD is the key word. It is necessary to equalize the rights of the forest and the river. It is impossible to build ON the river, but only ONE. It is also impossible to build ON the earth. The land belongs to forests, meadows, prairies and the jungle. It is necessary to build OVER. It is necessary to build OVER. Cities should turn into structures soaring on the second floor of the planet. On the supports, of course, and with the proper degree of transparency, to give light to the lower, now the only, disappearing green layer of life on the planet. To survive, the Earth needs a second floor.

Unfortunately, levitation does not exist, but it is quite possible to free up the areas occupied by buildings, leave only supports below, and raise inhabited spaces. It will turn out something slightly resembling a bridge, rather a network of bridges. The surface of the earth can be returned to nature, forests, meadows and animals.
This second floor or layer may resemble a kind of lace shell, transparent, breathable, capable of changes. Thus, finally, it will be possible to overcome the visually expressed fear of gravity, a refrain repeated in any architectural image of the past and present.

Inhabited bridges are generally not news. Textbook Ponte Vecchio and Ponte di Rialto. Pavilion Bridge in Zaragoza (Spain) Zahi Hadid. The grandiose project of the bridge city in Calabria, near the center of the province, the city of Reggio Calabria in Italy. Miracles ... One of the poorest Italian regions, located on the very toe of the Italian boot, the area of ​​activity of the mafia, an amazingly beautiful place. It is strange and almost fair that the future of the planet is born here.

Another solution was proposed by British designer of Bulgarian origin Tsvetan Toshkov. His city is located on giant vertical "stems", inhabited peaks of which resemble the opened lotus flowers. The result was a real second floor of the noosphere, although the author did not assume that his buildings should replace the existing cities, but saw them only as a temporary oasis for relaxation.

El Lissitzky came up quite close to the idea of ​​a bridge city with his “horizontal skyscrapers”, where the horizontal part of the building was located on the tops of vertical supports. Lissitzky himself explained his idea this way: “... if there is no space for horizontal layout on the ground in this section, we raise the required usable area to the racks and they serve as communication between the horizontal sidewalk of the street and the horizontal corridor of the structure.
Goal: maximum usable area with minimal backwater.
Consequence: a clear division of functions. But is there a need to build in the air?
"Absolutely” not. While there is still enough space on earth "...

Lazar Markovich believed that the only problem is the availability of free space on Earth. In those days, and even more so in that country, they had not yet thought about preserving the planet for future generations. By the way, the idea of ​​Lissitzky was brilliantly embodied in 1975 in Tbilisi, where the building of the National Bank of Georgia was built (authors Georgi Chakhava and Zurab Jalaghaniya). Today, this concept is gaining new popularity in various variations and in different countries. The only trouble is that it is still based on rectangular boxes, although they interact differently with each other.

Zaha Hadid declared and won the war against rectangular boxes, before which I take off all my hats. She could have brilliantly solved the problem of a bridge city, or an arch city, but no one, including the cunning Patrick Schumacher, posed such a problem for her, so she was engaged in pure form-making and her greatest achievement is the fact that she forever changed the expressive language of architecture. In addition to her genius, a change in the creative tool, the computer revolution, played a huge role in this event, of course.
Strange thing. If you ask the Internet the theme “Futuristic Architecture”, it will throw out hundreds of fantastic, amazing imagination projects. The vast majority of them are endless exercises with form. Parametric tools provide unlimited possibilities for experimenting with form, creating completely unthinkable compositions, surfaces, volumes, and images in the pre-computer era. An unprecedented boom in architectural creativity is clearly observed. It is clear that a new expressive language is being created. However, the projects that solve some serious problems of being in this set are the least ...

Of these, ideas based on environmental concerns deserve the most attention. Interesting projects of Vincent Calebo and a number of other authors who use the walls and roofs of buildings as places for planting trees. Among such ideas, the work of Milanese architect Michel Brunello and his associates is most impressive. The embodied project Bosco Verticale (vertical forest) is a residential building whose walls are covered with trees planted on special supports. The authors of the project believe that the 27-story eco-skyscraper and its partner can replace a park area of ​​50 thousand square meters. Another interesting fact: the cost of all the devices necessary for a comfortable plant life, as well as the purchase of plantings, increased the total construction costs by only 5%.

However, the foundations of buildings devouring the earth continue to be an untouchable element of the human environment. We have to assume that the main danger on Earth is not earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and eruptions, but the usual old, new or even futuristic settlements of people who, despite centuries past, are still based on the medieval paradigm of the house and therefore are dug into the earth with the entire area inhabited space. Naturally, the scale of destruction of the planet’s green cover per each inhabitant of a high-rise building is lower than that of a resident of a one-story building, but this does not change the matter.

It seems to me that one of the serious brakes preventing the creation of a second, inhabited floor of the planet, freeing the first for the forests, is the “house-city” dichotomy. Is she out of date? She is too many years, the conditions under which she was formed, changed dramatically and many times. The two-element system "house-city", which for many centuries has been an unshakable stumbling block for any architectural search, needs to be rethought. Crates dug into the ground, arranged so that horse-drawn carriages can pass between them (or cars, what's the difference ...), is this really the only possible model of human settlement?

Let's try to forget about the house as a backbone principle, the atom of the human settlement, its morphological unit. Imagine inhabited arches soaring above the surface of the earth or water, or bridges with a minimum footprint and elevated inhabited volumes, including what are now called houses, that is, dwellings, communications, public places.

Each of such clusters soaring above forests, meadows and the water surface can include everything necessary for everyday life - separate spaces of private housing (call them whatever you want - apartments, dachas, cottages, mansions ...), as well as public institutions - for children kindergartens, schools, medicine, trade establishments, etc., etc.

Naturally, absolutely individual dwellings are not excluded, but they, in any case, like all other buildings should be raised above the earth's surface to a level sufficient for green life below, and rely on arched frames, like other buildings.

The roads? In Tokyo, many highways are laid on the 4th, 5th floors, so there is nothing insurmountable in this sense either.

The structure of the second, artificial layer of the planet should be sufficiently transparent, "perforated" to provide the necessary level of solar radiation that nourishes vegetation on the surface of the earth. For the same purpose, it is important to arrange habitable volumes taking into account the heavenly routes of the sun.
Of course, new materials and construction technologies will be needed (Production? Assemblies? Cultivation? ...). But just this sphere is developing faster than the philosophy of architecture. Gigantic 3d printers, elastic concrete, composite materials consisting of natural and artificial components with previously unthinkable set of properties appear.

In conclusion, a few sketches. It is not a home or city. This is an attempt to imagine what new residential clusters might look like, maybe including some public spaces. I hope that these sketches will help to understand what is at stake and what tasks the future design of the noosphere has to solve.