Understanding and promoting urban tree cover has never been more important.
Increasing a city’s tree canopy contributes to lowering urban temperatures by blocking shortwave radiation and increasing water evaporation. Creating more comfortable microclimates, trees also mitigate air pollution caused by everyday urban activities. Their absorptive root systems also help avoid floods during severe rains and storm surges. So overall, trees are pretty awesome.
Cities around the world are recognizing this and many are developing strategies to increase green canopy cover. In fact, in 2015, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council (GAC) on the Future of Cities included increasing green canopy cover on their list of top ten urban initiatives: “Cities will always need large—infrastructure projects, but sometimes small—scale infrastructure—from cycle lanes and bike sharing to the planting of trees for climate change adaptation—can also have a big impact on an urban area.”
As cities around the world race to implement green canopy strategies, we’ve developed a metric—the Green View Index—by which to evaluate and compare canopy cover. In collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Cities and the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers community, this database will continue to grow to span cities all over the globe. What does your green canopy look like?
More cities coming... check senseable.mit.edu/treepedia/
Web and visualizations by Wonyoung So. For exhaustive list of credits, please visit official website.
There is a massive amount of data stored in an individual’s microbiome: data on eating habits, genetic tendencies, and overall health. As this data is flushed down the toilet, a vast reservoir of information on human health and behavior goes with it and lives on in the city’s sewage. Underworlds is a system to collect, analyze, and visualize biochemical information from sewage water—effectively sampling our collective microbiome. Working closely with researchers in Biological Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, the project will allow the study of different species of bacteria, viruses and chemical compounds to help monitor urban health patterns; shaping more inclusive public health strategies and pushing the boundaries of urban epidemiology.
The project is currently being piloted in Cambridge and Boston, MA and Kuwait City. $4MM in funding has guaranteed the development of the project for three years.
For exhaustive list of credits, please visit the official website.
Shanghai is a complex amalgamation of different eras, ideologies, and cultures. How do we begin to understand and represent such a place? Scanhai is a collection of moments that make up one of the fastest changing cities in the world. The project tests the viability of photogrammetry, a 3D scanning technology that allows anyone with a smart phone to create digital 3D models through photography, in architectural education and discourse.
The initial phase of the project launched when researchers from MIT visited Shanghai and captured a range of 3D samples drawn from their experience of the city.
The second phase of Scanhai will share this database through exhibitions at McGill University and MIT to engage communities in a discussion around technology in design. Scaled urban representations will be created using color 3D printing and stereo-lithography and full-scale reproductions will be CNC fabricated. Using 3D motion control, an interactive visualization will allow people to explore the catalogue in its entirety.
The final phase of Scanhai involves the creation of an open-source digital platform to allow the general public – tourists and residents – of Shanghai to capture and upload unique spatial conditions in a geolocated database, re-establishing the modern map of the city.
This thesis proposes a utopian vision for the very real dystopian future of the Samoan islands: one that includes a depleted energy source, an insufficiency of agriculture, a lack of local economy, and a minimum two-meter rise in sea level. However catastrophic, these anticipated changes are seen as an opportunity for the emergence of a new typology. An elevated infrastructural backbone is proposed for the island off of which other program grows. The thesis explores the design of this spine along with an experimental village: the scale at which Samoan society functions. Unassailable from the dangers of a swelling sea, the project then begins to address the issues of energy, agriculture, and economy
Rather than domesticating the natural conditions and extreme topography, this project aims to exploit their true conditions. An elevated road runs around the island, navigating the slopes to connect even the most dramatic points, capturing a diverse range of conditions. Development clings to this road while allowing the majority of the island to remain untouched, as it has been for thousands of years, preserving the natural and sacred integrity of the mountains. Specific moments, such as the villages, interrupt this continuity responding to the surrounding site and capitalizing on its natural systems. There is an implied style of life in these emerging sites all the while maintaining familiar cultural conditions in an attempt at redefining Fa’a Samoa – ‘the Samoan way’.
The Samoan people have a strong cultural and spiritual tie with the sea. All villages on the island are coastal, and almost always linear and narrow in shape. The proposed typology maintains this important connection to the sea for centuries to come.
The largest 20 islands and their respective coastal boarders are delineated below.
A New World Economy: the internet's undersea world
The Samoan private sector is supported by tuna fishing, processing, and canning. However Japanese and Chinese ships are increasingly fishing in the region, decimating local fish populations. How does such a modest and unsustainable economy afford this dramatic yet necessary infrastructure overhaul?
As South America and Asia continue to witness dramatic economic and population growth, new undersea fiber-optic cables are planned connecting the two regions. The Samoan island chain falls in the middle of this route, making it an ideal location for the cables to pass through. When this happens, Samoa becomes the fastest point on this groundbreaking network.
By 2050, financial institutions, social-media companies and more all want to house their data servers in Samoa. Aside from providing the fastest connection between Asia and South America, geothermal energy and cool ocean water provide cheap cooling solutions for the server farms. These activities fuel the economy allowing Samoa to retool their infrastructure in an age of rising seas.
Click to see fiber-optic cable evolution.
The entire coastline of American Samoa is vulnerable in the event of a Tsunami. The effect on buildings can be extremely destructive and difficult to anticipate and control.
In response to the 2009 South Pacific Tsunami, the government of American Samoa asked us to develop guidelines for a flood resilient home.
By studying the nature of a tsunami and its potential hazards, we developed solutions to integrate into traditional building design. Local architecture and lifestyle, together with the island's unique morphology, acted as a starting point for the development of a series of innovative construction guidelines. A workshop was held with members of the local government, construction industry, and community to bring stakeholders into the conversation.
The proposed methodology, in the format of a 100-page illustrated document, improved overall village safety while maintaining the existing quality and way of life.
Team: Carlo Ratti, Giovanni de Niederhausern, Newsha Ghaeli, Andrea Cassi
The contemporary societal context necessitates the thinking of sustainable solutions for our built environment. But how do these challenge the way we think and design space? How do we challenge our understanding of sustainability from being a set of posterior technological implementations to become part of the intellectual thinking and culture of architecture? Where formalist design traditions uphold the autonomy of the architectural artefact, we ask how ideas of interfacing and actuated behaviour can allow a re-conceptualisation of core architectural terms such as context, shelter, programme, and extension.
Run by Canadian architect Philip Beesley and organized by the Center for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA) at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, this collaboration investigated how concepts of interactivity and responsiveness can suggest new ways of thinking the relationship between the building and its environment.
"In Canada, anyone who spends time in the outdoors camping, canoeing, or hiking, knows that the best way to prepare for unpredictable weather is to dress in layers. With this in mind, North House is constructed in layers. The outermost layer combines flexible thin-film photovoltaic technology with passive solar heat management in the dynamic shading textile. The second layer is a high-performance, highly insulated glazing system with an unusually high solar heat gain coefficient to maximize solar gain. Inboard of the glazing system, is an interior shade to moderate privacy and view, without compromising thermal performance. The interior layers, called the Adaptive Living Interface System (ALIS), is conceived of as a ‘thin’ skin of information systems, responsive to touch, capable of subtle display, and able to measure interactions between the occupants and the building systems." team-north.com
Participation through a course at the University of Waterloo led by Professors Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün of RVTR