Monday, June 29, 2009

Vertical Farming Concepts 2

Feasting on my garden's summer crop of berries, beans and greens has me thinking about the future of our food again. The ability to propagate, plant, cultivate and harvest ones own food is truly a moving experience and I consider it a privilege to have the land and knowledge to do so. In my opinion the disconnection that has been created between how and where are food is produced has shortened in the last 2 years. This reconnection to the land has many advocates including the ones below who are helping us conceptualise the future of urban agriculture.

Charlotte Avignon Architect

Eco Laboratory by Weber Thompson

Vertical Farming Concepts courtesy of

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

exploring the changing urban landscape - the urilift

Most major cities with an entertainment district face the issue of public urination. It is a problem brought on by the lack of public toilets and club goers relieving themselves in inappropriate places.

Here in Victoria BC local retailers are suffering the consequences (odour) that public urination produces.

The public toilet is an unsightly blemish on the urban landscape.
They are generally disliked by local residents and retailers, require an attendant during peak hours,
and are a target for vandals.

Are more public toilets the answer ? Where do we put them ?

The solution to urban public toilet design...........

"The Urilift is placed where it is needed: at hot spots in entertainment districts, for instance. Three people can use the urinals in the attractively styled stainless steel cylinder at the same time without seeing or being bothered by each other. The Urilift is only above ground when it is needed. For the rest of the time, it is completely hidden underground." via

respects the street landscape
Semi-permanent structure that can be moved if the public area is to be redesigned
Usable at the right time and the right place
Easy to operate by any attendant
These covers are designed to withstand traffic class 45 and come in 200 colours
If desired the existing paving can be used to achieve a fully integrated result - via

Retailers and local residents hardly ever object to the Urilift, because it is only above ground during the busiest times. That makes the choice of location much less complicated. A fast-track construction procedure is possible. The Urilift can be installed quickly without causing any significant nuisance to local residents. - via

There has been plenty media attention surrounding the Urilifts arrival to Victoria,
but when will its presence grace our downtown core and relieve the pressure being put on our local residents and retailers doorways?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

MFO Park Zurich, Switzerland

I first came across this project when my former classmate and good friend Eva Bruhin, of Eva Bruhin :: Gärten und Landschaften, chose the site for her Landscape Appraisal Project. I have been following the parks evolution ever since. A recent nostalgia filled conversation with Eva was the catalyst for today's posting.

block 1 images via

A letter from artist Jürg Altherr to the joint planners of the MFO Park, Burckhardt+Partner/Raderschall:

What used to be the “Forbidden City”, an industrial district that only those working there were allowed to enter: A public hall as big as the biggest industrial halls; a park as a walk-on sculpture; the green opera!

A work that redeems the secret of the Forbidden City. A huge structure towering high above the ground – and still lightly touching the earth with tiny feet – and leaving me the freedom to enter and to leave wherever it pleases me – accompanied by my sweetheart, my wife, my children; strolling through different worlds: from street curbstone to the roofed walk, the large hall to the front stalls.

The beauty of the shell, the feeling of bliss that the building is allowed to remain in its most open and beautiful phase!

Walking over wide stairs to the dress circle: letting the balconies tremble – not necessarily by sermons; by my sheer presence.

In the upper circle: objection or greeting? The space is new to me, the light comes from the other end, the stage is on the left and the masses of the upper and lower voids have been reversed.

The rigging loft: Into the roof bench. After the big void the materialistic infinity; with each step a new enormous sum of perspectives, vertical, horizontal sequences of sections, St. Andrew’s crosses condensed into textile patterns, captivating your eye as a two-dimensional picture, then letting it get lost at the next step in a multitude of spatial sequences.

The stairs into the blue of the sky – this outlook! The construction now reaches no higher than above my ankles, the support structure underneath my feet is so light, the ground so far – I am almost weightless – how else could I be here? How else could I stand this?

But here I am – in Zürich! On a creation of classless beauty, not where the flesh will soon drop off the bones, but where flourishing, scented, vital vegetation will make the filigree skeleton grow into an organic body over time. Here, you can joyfully and lightly take Zwingli’s sentence seriously: “For God’s sake, do something brave”!

My best thanks and congratulations to the inventors, the builders, the originators of this work!

block 2 images via Burckhardt+Partner AG

Project courtesy of