Posts tagged with "ecology":

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Design a virtual ecological urban block with Block'hood

No, Block'hood isn't an edgy underground LEGO gang, it's actually a neighborhood-building simulator that encourages experimental cityscapes and sustainable and resourceful architecture. Developed and designed by Gentaro Makinoda and Jose Sanchez, players must prioritize their focus on the environment and their creation's impact. Creations must be able to work interdependently alongside surrounding neighborhoods, for if they fail, when a design begins to fall behind in resources available, environments, buildings, and the neighborhood become susceptible to decay and ultimately failure. Users have access to more than eighty building blocks which they can use to develop structures that harvest the sun and wind to create a sustainable environment. Once built, the buildings come to life and the architect's buildings are put to the test to see if they can withstand the pressures of what the simulator's engine throws at it. Players need to avoid the decay of their city block by making sure each unit doesn’t run out of “Resources." Each block therefore has "inputs" and "outputs" and these needn't be learned, as the user is hopefully already aware that a tree needs water to output oxygen and shops need customers to make money. From this a productive network can blossom provided users harness the environment, maximize outputs, generate resources, and avoid decay. A player's little city block quickly and rather peculiarly becomes something that one can easily become attached too. As life manifests within and users add and take away elements, the block and its habitat become synonymous. Together they must work as one, making clever use of resources in a bid to fight the decline which will plunge your creation that you probably (definitely) spent too much time on, into doom. The small victories, however, for when you do implement an innovative combo are highly rewarding: a user's planning intellect triumphs and one is lulled into dreams of doing a Le Corbusier and starting Paris all over again... Throughout the game, (or "simulation" as some  may prefer to call it) players future planners are asked to "envision their neighborhood," being reminded that "there are no boundaries of what you can create." Dreams of being a planner don't appear too far-fetched either, as Block'hood was featured in the 'My Urban Playground' documentary by Luckyday, showcasing how "Block'hood can be used to design the cities of tomorrow."     Block'hood is now available to download on STEAM.
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Urban Ecology Center Finds New Grounds at San Antonio's Phil Hardberger Park

Last Saturday, the San Antonio community inaugurated the Lake|Flato Architects–designed Urban Ecology Center (UEC). Sited on the West Side of Phil Hardberger Park, the 18,600-square-foot UEC will be home to the Alamo Area Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. This latest showpiece in the city’s park system will serve as a functional ecological system, a meeting space, and an urban ecology learning facility. Parks Project Manager Sandy Jenkins explained that the center was built with the intention of informing future generations about environmental concerns and the preservation of ecological systems. Former mayor Phil Hardberger, who recognized the asset of parks in improving the general urban quality of life, originally prompted the construction of the park in 2010. Covering 311 acres on eiter side of the Wurzbach Parkway, it was built as a means to preserve San Antonio's environmental treasures and natural heritage. The UEC is a $6.3 million LEED green project and was funded by the largest municipal bond program in San Antonio history. It is equipped with water harvesting and reclamation systems, which minimize both operational costs and impacts on the environment. The center is constructed out of sustainable materials and irrigated by an extensive rainwater collection system and a bio-swale that collects run-off, stores it into a detention basin, and reuses it when needed. It is also armed with photovoltaic solar panels capable of powering three average houses. The 8:00 a.m. opening attracted more than 500 visitors, including architects, neighbors, park employees, and environmental activists. It featured guided hikes, a wide array of presentations by civic leaders, green building and recycling awareness, and hands-on wildlife activities. The center embodies San Antonio’s communal effort to preserve its natural landscape and shows how the city has developed a sense of environmental stewardship. A significant amount of work still needs to be done, as only 60 percent of the park's construction has been completed.
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Northerly Island to Soon Become Lake Michigan Oasis

Gazing at Chicago from the east, it’s impossible to ignore the city’s towering skyline. But the latest gem on the southwest shores of Lake Michigan won’t be made from glass and steel—it’s prairie grass and wetlands. Northerly Island, a 91-acre peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan just south of the Loop, was promised a visionary makeover from Studio Gang and landscape architects JJR in 2010. Now the Chicago Park District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are preparing to break ground this fall. The plan is to cultivate six distinct ecosystems throughout the park, to the tune of $6.65 million. From oak savannah to deep-water lagoon with underwater vegetation, the Corps will open each area of the island as it is completed. While the project includes a concert pavilion and will still house the Adler Planetarium, Northerly Island is imagined as an oasis for nature in a state that has eradicated nearly all of the tallgrass prairie for which it was nicknamed.  It’s a deferential vision of environment as architecture. Formerly home to the Meigs Field airstrip, the manmade “island” (it’s connected to the shore by a small causeway) was planned by Daniel Burnham as the northernmost in a string of five islands extending south to Jackson Park. It was the only one actually built. While work may begin soon on Northerly’s latest transformation, the plan calls for 20-30 years of development and ecological rehabilitation. The first portion—the island’s southern half—may be open for use within five years.