Archive for development

One Million Square Foot Conversion

Posted in Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2012 by javedbabar

Angstrom stepped out of the limousine. He was greeted by a woman in a sharp blue skirt-suit and flat black shoes; even in those, she was taller than he was. Her red hair was striking, in a similar way to the top of a match.

She smiled as if on demand and said, “Good morning, Mr Angstrom. Mr Haza thanks you for coming at short notice. Have you visited this building before?”

Angstrom said, “I did many years back when it was a storage depot. I came here with my father. It was the biggest building that I had ever seen. I wanted to visit all the floors and walk every corridor, and when we had to leave, I cried.”

The woman smiled on demand again and said, “Well, we hope this visit doesn’t end the same way.”

Angtrom tried to remember if he’d visited again during the time it was a factory, but couldn’t recall. How long had it been lying empty now? He had seen the For Sale sign go up, and remain for years, before coming down. He had briefly thought of buying the place himself, but how would he raise the money and what would he do with it?

He imagined creating an artwork called Infinity by filling the whole place with mirrors. There were ten floors of one hundred thousand square feet each. It would seem go on forever. Rather than a place of economic production, consumption and child rearing, it would be a place of self-reflection. We are all nomads between lives.

The woman indicated a small room on the top floor and said, “Mr Haza would like you to turn this space into a luxury suite for his private use.”

“Just this space?” said Angstrom. “It is barely one hundred square feet.”

“Yes, Mr Haza is not an ostentatious man. His preferred style is simple. Will you consider the commission?”

“Not if I am being paid by the square foot!” said Angstrom.

The woman smiled and said, “No, there will be a fee reflecting your professional stature. Mr Haza is aware that you are considered by many to be the best architect in Arcadia.”

Angstrom started work on the job that week He designed a self-contained studio, a place of comfort and light, related to the rest of the building but apart from it, creating a harmonious juncture. It was a jewel in a trunk of armour. A soprano with her mouth closed in the sea.

When he took the plans for sign off, the woman said, “Mr Haza is pleased with what you’ve done so far. He requests that you expand the scale of the design to become a one thousand square foot apartment.”

Angstrom was used to clients testing him with a little project before instructing him on a larger one. He designed the one thousand square foot apartment, creating a masterpiece of open dynamics and gentle flow, with multi-use, multi-occupancy potential.

When he took these plans for sign off, the woman said that he should expand the scale to a 10,000 square foot home. A month later he had done so. She then requested that he scale this across an entire floor to create a 100,000 square foot legacy project This was further expanded to fill the entire million square feet. Money was no object, he was told. It should be built to last forever.

Angstrom realized that the task had changed from a physical conception of home, as a place of residence and refuge, to a virtual one, in computer terminology, a starting view. One tiny space had taken over the whole building. He had a fresh challenge now, how to keep a tiny space – say 100 square feet – of the original structure. It was important to preserve heritage.

Placemaker

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2012 by javedbabar

“This is the place,” said Bertie. “Just perfect. What do you think?”

Shama looked around the village car park. It didn’t seem anything special, just tarmac with some potted trees. “What do you mean?” he said.

“Look, I know you’re involved with the Botanical Garden; that’s a great place too. Lots of people walk around in there before and after work, but it’s a different kind of place. It’s enclosed and full of small trails…”

Shama waved at a girl he’d chatted to in the garden. She smiled and indicated she’d be in the coffee shop. He could join her there when he’d finished with Bertie. Why was this guy so keen to bring him here? wondered Shama; it was only a car park. He said, “I’m not really involved there yet. I’ve just signed up to study. That’s all.”

Bertie said, “What are you studying? Landscape gardening?”

“It’s called Extreme Gardening,” said Shama. “But what’s that got to do with this place?”

Bertie’s eyes lit up when he said place. “I think you understand the concept of place, but you’re not being open. The Botanical Garden is a natural space, but we also need a cultural space in the village. There’s the community centre, of course, but that’s a building, not a place for public interaction; it’s part of a design philosophy that separates civic functions, and caters to cars and shopping centres rather than people. We should be creating good public spaces that promote people’s happiness, and their health and well being. A building of any kind is a contrived environment; we should create open spaces.”

Shama saw a guy he’d played soccer with last week. It was just a kick around in the car park, avoiding passing vehicles, but they’d had a lot of fun. The guy shouted, “Wanna kick around later on?” Shama gave a thumbs up, then returned his attention to Bertie. “Sorry about that. What were we saying? Oh yes, open spaces. What do they have to do with me?”

“Look. You’ve come here from the inner city. You told me the police sirens and search helicopters drove you mad, and you craved peace and quiet. Well, here you have it. But don’t you miss all the social interactions? In the city there are too many people, that’s true, and the only way to retain your sanity is to ignore them. But here in the village, we see too few people. It can get lonely. I thought you would appreciate that and support my initiative.”

Shama said, “Well, what are you trying to achieve?” Some high school kids called out to him with a chorus of “Yo!”s. He’d joined in with their rapping last week, gaining instant street cred. He shouted back, “Ho!”

Bertie said, “The way to make a real place is to use the local community’s assets, to discover their inspiration and potential. This is an agricultural area. We should focus on food – its growing, tasting and trading. That would attract local people and increase their social encounters. It would get them out of the boxes they live, travel, and work in and immerse them in the real sights and sounds of Lucerne, plus enhance their thoughts and imaginations. In the five minutes we’ve been chatting, a number of people have greeted you already. If only we could create a focus here. It could be the crossing point of a vibrant community.”

It would be a good place, thought Shama. During his life of petty crime in the city, there were certain things he’d looked for – enclosed spaces, opaque barriers, and no windows and doors nearby; flat or dim lighting, hiding places, uncontrolled access points; high risk targets out of view. Lucerne’s car park had none of these things. It was open and free. It would be perfect for natural surveillance; citizens would keep an eye on each other, and the risk of being caught was high. There would be no temptation to return to his old ways. This was The Place, he thought.

Community Resources

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by javedbabar

Bobby was still in the drawing with Naomi. His niece’s jungle had come to life, and whatever they added manifested in her parallel world. They could draw things whilst they were inside the drawing, but this was a laborious process as each item had to be detailed individually. It was much better to draw whilst outside the drawing, where large changes could be made easily. They had already drawn roads, railways, power lines, and factories. Their Village was coming to life.

“Let’s build some houses now,” said Naomi. “Everybody needs somewhere to live.”

“What kind shall we have?” said Bobby. His hand was beginning to hurt from all that drawing. Who used a pencil these days? They were awkward to hold. Why did they have hexagonal profiles? Wasn’t it easier to cut and paste images?

Then he felt inspired. He took terms he’d overheard – smart growth, green building, small footprint, and airtight – and strung them into a sentence. He wasn’t quite sure why he did it. Did he really need to impress his ten-year-old niece?

She frowned as he drew the houses. Each feature he added elicited a new twist to her facial expression. There was something on her mind. “Well, what do you think?” he said, proud of his compact, low-rise, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly, mixed-use development based upon principles of urban intensification, and championing long-range, regional sustainability over short-term parochialism.

“I don’t like it,” said Naomi. “I want a nice house with a pretty garden and fences around it, and lots of open windows for sunshine and breezes. I don’t want to live in a small, sealed-up box with other boxes above it, and below it, and on both sides.”

Naomi wasn’t in tune with the new guard of urban planners, innovative architects, visionary developers, and community activists. She was a traditionalist, a reactionary, an enemy of resource stewardship best practice.

She had told him off already for using up all the trees in the drawing to make electricity poles and railway sleepers, and made him draw new trees for lumber to build her extravagant residences. He didn’t like what she was doing but couldn’t stop her; she had a right to manifest her own world. So he said, “Okay, Naomi, why don’t you draw big houses, and I’ll draw apartment blocks.”

“Okay,” she said, having started drawing before he’d finished the sentence. “The happy families can live in my houses, and the lonely people can live in your boxes.” She looked up from her drawing. “Is that all right?”

Housing, however, was not just made of wood. They’d also need metal. Bobby drew in some mines – surface mines for minerals, and sub-surface mines for ores. He included protestors at the former, and trapped miners in the latter. Even drawings must be realistic.

Once the ores and minerals were extracted, they were sent to factories in the industrial park at the edge of the Village. Nails, screws, nuts, bolts, beams and girders were produced to build the housing, and extra metal was cut, machined, turned, threaded, ground, filled and fashioned into other useful goods. They were simple things initially like tools and weapons, then jewellery and engine parts, and later boats and rockets. Their village transformed quickly from a low-tech to a hi-tech society.

As Bobby and Naomi continued drawing, their new world’s elements increased and connections multiplied exponentially. Soon their Village was a place of televisions, radios, newspapers, and books; then landlines, cellphones, workpads, laptops, and desktops. Everybody was connected to everybody else. Each object was manufactured, distributed, marketed, and sold, before becoming obsolete, disposed of, repurposed, or recycled. Nothing was just what it was in the drawing. Everything was something else.

“Uncle Bobby, I’m getting a headache,” said Naomi.

“So am I, sweetheart. Shall we take a break from drawing?”

“Yes, let’s listen to my iPod. You can have one earphone, and I’ll have the other.”

They needed to disconnect from this crazy world they’d created. Naomi clicked through the screen menus, selecting Ambient>Instrumental>Nature>Jungle Sounds.