Tar Creek Supergrid

The most recent post this past Wednesday on BLDGBLOG is a thesis project titled “Tar Creek Supergrid”.  The architectural project proposes building a massive frame structure above the ground that addresses environmental systems through its network of interconnected piers.  I think a project such as this is interesting to systems thinkers because of its priority to re-mediate environmental systems and the strategy from which it attempts to do this.  The blog post can be found at (http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/tar-creek-supergrid.html).

The strategy has three levels of program.  The top most level addresses photovoltaic energy and rainwater collection.  Human in-habitation and movement take place on the middle layer.  Lastly, programs aimed towards remediation of the soil and water take place on the ground level.

I think that the thoughtfulness put into creating such a comprehensive solution for the environmental systems of this site is really beautiful, almost utopian-like.  I’ll also add in that the concrete structure would be built by using leftover rock piles from abandoned mines.

However, I think that the BLDGBLOG author started to get at a really good point.  He says “It’s a bit of a Swiss Army knife—in the sense that it tries to solve everything and have a solution for every possible challenge”.  He goes on to say that the project authors focused too much on describing their solutions to the environmental problems and not enough on the architecture.  I strongly disagree, however his observation did point out that this project has designed an extremely complex and interconnected network of systems aimed at solving the environmental problems.  Most importantly, the project implements a single solution for each environmental aspect, and each solution is not necessarily resilient or flexible.  The whole system of the project seems extremely…brittle (non-resilient).

I can’t help but think what would happen to the system due to weathering over time, structural damage from a natural disaster, or changes in the environment.  Would this master plan super structure be able to maintain the effectiveness of its systems or adapt them?

On a similar train of thought, this project reminds me of our current infrastructure.  The project is so precisely thought out and the structure of its systems so interdependent that the system leaves little room for change.  I think this is quite similar to the current infrastructure which has penetrated and connected itself to so many different systems (resulting in in-numerous consequences when changed) that we have become unwilling and afraid to attempt to change it.  This project proposes to set up the same inflexibility and delicateness of our current infrastructure.

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2 Responses to Tar Creek Supergrid

  1. Tracie C. says:

    I liked the fact that you mentioned the project’s inflexibility as well as its numerous possibilities. When I first began reading your post, I was struck by the interaction of so many systems in one design. Reading it, I was reminded of those simple diagrams from elementary school that illustrate the cycle of water evaporation: evaporation, condensation, repeat. The idea of re-mediating the soil was especially interesting to me as the architecture in a way becomes the center of this rejuvenating cycle. Light, soil, and rainwater are transformed into parts that are controlled and modulated by the architecture’s framework.

    However, despite the project’s systematic integration with environmental factors, I thought your mention of the project’s inflexibility was a great point; especially in comparison with our country’s current infrastructure. Thinking in systems does little if the same inability to change and adapt still doesn’t exist.

  2. clairelester says:

    Although you have mentioned what seems to be a huge downfall of this project I still want to commend the architects for even trying! Tackling so many environmental systems in one structure may seem overwhelming and not the most efficient way of remediating our earth, however the blanket approach used in this design reminded me of a quote from the book Cradle to Cradle. On page 10 William McDonough says “I was tired of working hard to be less bad. I wanted to be involved in making buildings, even products, with completely positive intentions.” I think that our structures HAVE to focus on all problematic systems of the site and remediating or not disturbing them. I understand that this approach seems to make the project fragile however I would like to remind you with that with new technologies comes more control, knowledge, efficiency and most importantly awareness. As people hear about this building they will be inspired to also tackle all problematic systems on site and attempt to better them. The first few structures may be similarly non-resistant as this one but I know they will become more and more pliable over time. Thanks for sharing this structure that was able to take the first step!

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