The ever compelling Alex Steffen over at WorldChanging is talking about Infrastructure a lot lately. A lot of the US and much of the world is built on an infrastructure of highways, electric grids and waterways, which are struggling to keep up with population growth and increased costs, especially of fuels. Whilst new technologies like superfast trains and solar panels are good, they need investment in the infrastructure for it to work – as seen by Britain having to spend millions to replace track for the Eurostar because Margaret Thatcher chose the cheaper infrastructure in the eigthies, whilst the rest of Europe put in place track suitable for what became the TGV.
There’s a lot of interesting ideas out there, from Alexander Trevi’s use of carbon-harvesting nanocrystals and radiation reprocessing to produce a green ‘New Chernobyl’, to architects IwamotoScott‘s ‘Network Hydrology’ reimagining of a water and hydrogen-producing algae based 2100 San Francisco. There’s plans to artificially create a new river delta to protect the Louisiana coastline and Amsterdam might drain its canals to create a new underground subcity. Or what about BLDGBLOG’s idea to create housing projects in the same way people make zoos? By combining good design in new infrastructure with the inventions already out there we can start looking at a future way of living rather than just trying to extend the one we have beyond its lifetime. And is it coincidence that most of best ideas also look ridiculously cool?
One thought on “Infrastructure for the twenty first century”
Interesting. I remember going to open forums in my hometown of Indianapolis to listen to people discuss puttig in a light rail system. The biggest obstacle was cost, so people wanted to use older, cheaper technology, rather than newer, expensive, but upgradeable rails, etc.
Seems to be an affliction of taxpayers, looking only at the money they have to spend now. Why pay more when later generations can shoulder the burden?
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