Future Cities Digest #28 (05/06/2014)

by Lukasz Alwast

#Future Cities #competitions #SBRI  #TSB 

The Technology Strategy Board revealed recently results of the first Phase of the Small Business Research Initiative competition for Future Cities Solutions. Focusing on energy, data and transportation issues, some of the funded projects (or currently under development) include: (i) different types of prototype data platforms for real-time power and heat usage – allowing to identify community trends and individual usage patterns, (ii) open-source, comparative city dashboards that synthesise, analyse and map complex datasets, (iii) eight-seat passenger vehicles that will operate wholly in response to short notice demand (full list available here). For the second phase of the competition cities have offered themselves as ‘test beds’ for the innovation process and up to £4mln is available for contracts to develop, deploy and test integrated urban solutions.

#science & tech  #public engagement #horizon-scanning #Cambridge CSaP

Staying in the spirit of this week’s lunch & learn; a group of researchers from the Centre for Science and Policy at the University of Cambridge published a horizon-scanning study identifying 30 future(s) issues involving science and technology that require public dialogue to improve policy development. Selected examples include: (i) energy and transport infrastructure for changing work and living patterns, (ii) novel bespoke models of consumption and production, (iii) managing demand for motorized personal road transport, (iv) decision making of autonomous systems and (v) using public engagement to improve government decision-making (+ 25 more – you can access the whole list here). The article provides a succinct, 250-words context to each of the issues and 4-5 brief ‘science and technology challenges’. Seems to be a good material for up-to-date referencing.

#LFA  #Venice Biennale #Estonia pavilion #clockwork Jerusalem

It is design festival season at its best. The 2014 London Festival of Architecture is currently underway featuring over 150 events, with this years theme ‘Capital’  focusing on ideas surrounding the London housing crisis, the ‘Death and Life of Great London high streets’ and the boom that is transforming the London skyline. Another festival to be aware of is the Venice Biennale, which is a showcase for major international ideas in art and architecture. Already making the headlines is the Estonian pavilion, which explores how people inhabit space. It will be narrated through a digital exhibition showing how architects envisioned the use of city spaces, in comparison to how those city spaces were inhabited in reality. The architects describe this as ‘a negotiation of the two—a space of split agency and authorial ambiguity’. The British contribution to the exhibition is ‘A clockwork Jerusalem’ and it will look at the emergence and development of modernity in Britain.

#cities #resilience #flooding #ICLEI

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability held it’s 5th Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation last week in Bonn. 90 local government representatives and over 400 experts and practitioners from international organisations met to discuss the need for an integrated approach to building resilient cities. The congress touched on topics such as collaborative and community based adaptation, resilient infrastructure and innovative financing models. Singapore’s Garden by the Bay and Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park were amongst two projects that were highlighted as being innovative in turning conservation and flood mitigation tactics into money generating tourist attractions. Another candidate for best practice was Copenhagen’s cloudburst plan, which incorporates low-tech flood prevention measures such as permeable surfaces in urban areas, and replacement of concrete surfaces with grassy areas and trees.

Recent book publications:

“Soaring income inequality and unemployment, expanding populations of the displaced and imprisoned, accelerating destruction of land and water bodies: today’s socioeconomic and environmental dislocations cannot be fully understood in the usual terms of poverty and injustice. They are more accurately understood as a type of expulsion—from professional livelihood, from living space, even from the very biosphere that makes life possible. This book updates our understanding of economics for the twenty-first century, exposing a system with devastating consequences even for those who think they are not vulnerable.”

“Spatial production is inevitably linked to climate issues. In the course of the last 15 years the debate on sustainable architecture and ecological urbanism has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. Architects and urban planners, as well as administrative bodies and developers, face a new responsibility in terms of the complexity of their conventional design and planning methods. Increasing awareness of climate issues in the design process has the potential once more to make architecture in the future more site-specific, giving it back its contextual relevancy.”

“In her book, Judith Donath argues that for social media to become truly sociable media, we must design interfaces that reflect how we understand and respond to the social world. Donath presents new approaches to creating interfaces for social interaction. She addresses such topics as visualizing social landscapes, conversations, and networks; depicting identity with knowledge markers and interaction history; delineating public and private space; and bringing the online world’s open sociability into the physical world. “

Spirit of times:
Interior of the Dragon V2 cockpit (SpaceXElon Musk’s private space-venture – SpaceX – unveiled recently the Dragon V2 capsule, destined to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Although the previous version of the capsule was flightworthy enough to deliver supplies up to the ISS, its life support system wasn’t sufficient for human passengers. Dragon V2, on the other hand, will be able to carry seven astronauts for seven days. The Dragon V2’s landing ability will make it quickly reusable, an ability Musk hopes will cut the cost of space voyages. “As long as we continue to throw away rockets and spacecraft, we will never have true access to space. It will always be incredibly expensive.” So how much will reusability reduce prices? According to Ars Technica, NASA pays Russia about $71 million per astronaut for trips to the ISS. Musk thinks he can drop that number to $20 million or less.