20 results for “Living Cities”

Driverless and electric, or car-free? How cities are cutting out cars, and why

Vanessa Bates Ramirez
September 26th 2019

It’s common consensus in the tech industry that the days of cars as we know them—powered by gas, driven by humans, and individually owned by all who want and can afford one—are numbered. Imminent is the age of autonomous, electric, and shared transportation, and we’re continuously taking small steps towards making it a reality. Self-driving software is getting better at avoiding accidents. Battery storage capacity is climbing. Solar energy is getting cheaper. This all points to a bright automotive future.…

Future Architecture: Digesting Walls

Mathilde Nakken
November 10th 2016
The University of West England is developing living bricks, turning your walls into a digesting organism.

The Emergence of 4D Printing

João Paulo Miranda Lammoglia
March 12th 2015
An inspiring TED talk by computational architect Skylar Tibbits about 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time.

St. Pauli’s Walls Pee Back On You

Yunus Emre Duyar
March 9th 2015
Tired of drunk people peeing everywhere on the street, people of St. Pauli, Hamburg decided to take a smart step to prevent it.

Communicating with City Infrastructures

Yunus Emre Duyar
March 7th 2015
A recent project, named GENESI, might make it possible for city infrastructures to communicate with us.

The Hotel Run by Robots

Alessia Andreotti
February 15th 2015
A futuristic Japanese hotel will be run by robots, designed to be extremely human-like.

Interview: Chloé Rutzerveld, Designer Who Wants to Grow Healthy 3D Printed Food

Alessia Andreotti
November 30th 2014
Food and Concept designer, Chloé Rutzerveld, explains her 3D food printing project Edible Growth.

Self-Assembling Fungus Tower

Alessia Andreotti
February 12th 2014
Hy-Fi, a structure built from a combination of corn husks and fungus.

A Stroll Through the Bubbles of Chemicals and Men

Etienne Turpin
September 12th 2013
A stunning pre-history of the anthropocene

Interview: Rachel Armstrong, Innovative Scientist Who Wants to Grow Architecture

Alessia Andreotti
July 23rd 2013
Rachel Armstrong discusses living buildings, Venice's foundations, millennial nature and how to improve our future.
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It’s common consensus in the tech industry that the days of cars as we know them—powered by gas, driven by humans, and individually owned by all who want and can afford one—are numbered. Imminent is the age of autonomous, electric, and shared transportation, and we’re continuously taking small steps towards making it a reality. Self-driving software is getting better at avoiding accidents. Battery storage capacity is climbing. Solar energy is getting cheaper. This all points to a bright automotive future.

But not everyone is on board—in fact, some cities are taking the opposite approach, phasing out gas-powered cars altogether, limiting use of hybrid and electric cars, and making urban centers car-free. Will they be left in the dust as the rest of us are autonomously driven into the (energy-producing) sunset? Or do the anti-car folks have it right—is the brighter future one that forgoes cars in favor of even more sustainable and healthy modes of transportation?

Too much of a good thing

What might Henry Ford think if he saw what’s become of his invention? Highways clogged with traffic, accidents a leading cause of death, commuters sealed alone and sedentary in their vehicles for hours.

Ford may have never expected cars to become cheap and accessible enough for us to use them to the extent we do today. And as the global middle class grows, cars are likely to proliferate even more; as people make more money, they want cars not just for transportation and convenience, but as status symbols.

The countries where the middle class has the most potential to grow—that is, countries where poverty rates are still relatively high—are also seeing people flock to cities in search of work and security. The UN predicts that 90 percent of the global shift to urban areas will take place in Asia and Africa, with Delhi, Dhaka, Bombay, and Kinshasa among the top 10 most populated future mega-cities.

It would be messy enough to add millions more cars to cities that have an existing infrastructure for them—and far messier to add them to cities like these that don’t. Plus, even if the cars are electric, the electricity has to come from somewhere, and even the world’s wealthiest countries aren’t likely to get to 100 percent renewables until 2050 at the soonest. And you can only have so much congestion before a city’s quality of life and economy are impacted.

Mexico City was the first in the world to take serious action against traffic congestion, implementing daily “no drive restrictions” based on license plate numbers. London, Singapore, and Stockholm all use congestion pricing, where drivers have to pay to enter city centers or crowded streets.

These are minor measures compared to the steps other cities are taking to discourage people from driving.

Auf Wiedersehen, don’t drive

Ready? Here are some rapid-fire stats on cities taking steps to limit cars.

Madrid made its city center a designated low-emission zone, restricting access by older diesel and gas cars and planning to ban these vehicles from the zone completely by 2020. Hybrid cars can get an “eco label” and circulate freely.

The whole of Denmark is planning to ban the sale of new gas and diesel cars starting in 2030, and the sale of hybrid cars starting in 2035. Copenhagen already has one of the lowest rates of car ownership and highest rates of bike commuting in Europe.

In Paris, no cars are allowed in the city center between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m on the first Sunday of every month. Cars made before 1997 aren’t allowed in the city on weekdays, and the city is doubling its number of bike lanes.

Athens will ban diesel cars by 2025 and already restricts the days of the week they can drive in the city center, based on license plate numbers.

Oslo has set a target to become carbon neutral by 2030, and doing away with non-electric cars will be key to its success. The city has restricted access for private vehicles, turned road space into pedestrian space, and eliminated almost all of the parking spots in the city center.

While Hamburg will still allow cars in its city center, it’s laying down plans that will make it far easier for people not to have to drive, including a “green network” that will connect parks and cover 40 percent of the city’s space.

Brussels will ban all diesel vehicles by 2030 and is heavily promoting public and shared transportation. It’s even making its trains, buses, and shared bikes free to use on days with excessively high air pollution.

The Netherlands will only allow emissions-free vehicles by 2030, and is pumping €345 million into its already robust bicycle infrastructure.

Helsinki is redesigning its suburbs, which people primarily reach by driving, into walkable communities linked to the city by public transit, in hopes that Finns won’t need to own cars at all within 10 years.

Why all the goodbyes?

Cutting out cars has the obvious benefit of reducing pollution—again, even if the cars are electric, we’re not yet to the point of 100 percent clean energy. And in fact, higher temperatures and less rain in many parts of the world mean pollution from cars is even more potent, and gets washed away less frequently.

Going auto-free is good for people, too; it encourages more exercise (by walking and biking more), less isolation (by taking public or shared transportation), more time saved (no sitting still in clogged traffic) with less stress (I repeat—no sitting still in clogged traffic), and improved safety (car accidents definitely kill more people than bike or train accidents do). Greening city centers will also make those cities more pleasant to live in and visit.

It’s worth noting that the cities reducing car usage are almost all in Europe, where such measures are far more feasible than, say, the US, where outside of major urban areas, it’s hard to go anywhere without a car. American cities expanded into now-sprawling suburbs largely thanks to the invention of the car, and have a degree of dependence on driving that will be hard to scale back from.

European cities, in contrast, were further developed by the time cars proliferated; they’d already largely been built around public transportation, and continued to expand train systems even as cars became more popular. Plus, European countries’ comparatively small size makes it much more practical to rely on public transit than in the US; many US states are larger than European countries.

The cities in developing countries that are set for population booms in the next two to three decades would be wise to follow Europe’s example rather than that of the US.

A habit we’ll never fully kick

Cars will, of course, continue to be widely used, including right at the edges of the cities that are banning them. The measures to discourage car usage and ownership are a start, but major shifts in urban planning and in peoples’ behavior aren’t as straightforward, and will take much longer to change.

If big tech’s vision plays out, though, people will be able to use cars and reduce the danger, time, and stress associated with them; autonomous cars will pick us up, deftly navigate city streets, drop us at our destinations, then go pick up their next passenger.

It does seem, then, that the days of cars as we know them are numbered, whether they’re replaced by high-tech versions of their former selves or switched out for bikes and trains.

But fear not—the transition will happen slowly. There’s plenty of time left to sing at the top of your lungs (in between honking at bad drivers and checking a maps app to see how traffic looks) while sealed inside your good old reliable, private, gas-powered, human-driven chariot.

This article originally appeared on Singularity Hub, a publication of Singularity University. Image Credit: Joshua Bolton / Unsplash

[post_title] => Driverless and electric, or car-free? How cities are cutting out cars, and why [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => driverless-and-electric-or-car-free-in-cities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-09-28 13:29:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-09-28 12:29:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=120739 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 68092 [post_author] => 936 [post_date] => 2016-11-10 11:36:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-11-10 09:36:35 [post_content] => A bio reactor inside a wall in your house may sound a bit scary. Some researcher, however, thought this could be a great idea and started the LIAR (Living Architecture) project. They are working at the University of West England to design and develop a modular bioreactor-wall with living bricks, turning a wall into a digesting organism.Each brick will contain a fuel reactor filled with algae and microbial cels. These microbial fuel cels respond to the environment they are in, choosing to create energy, clean the air or even reclaim new chemicals, like phosphate. With this invention, for instance, the waste water of your home or office could go into the wall and coming out clear and drinkable. Or what happens to power sockets when your whole wall is generating energy?Rachel Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture at Newcastle University and co-ordinator of the living brick project, says: “The best way to describe what we’re trying to create is a 'biomechanical cow's stomach’. It contains different chambers, each processing organic waste for a different, but overall related, purpose – like a digestive system for your home or your office".Are you curious to know more about living architecture? Rachel Armstrong is one of our ambassadors, in this interview she explained us more about her research in living architecture.Source: New Castle University, Inhabitat. Image: Inhabitat [post_title] => Future Architecture: Digesting Walls [post_excerpt] => The University of West England is developing living bricks, turning your walls into a digesting organism. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => future-architecture-digesting-walls [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-10 12:00:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-10 10:00:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=68092 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 43473 [post_author] => 850 [post_date] => 2015-03-12 15:53:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-12 14:53:14 [post_content] => [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gMCZFHv9v8[/youtube]The way we build our structures has become more and more sophisticated over the last decades. But the materials used are always static, waiting for us to fit them to the required shape. What if structures could assemble themselves and change form autonomously?3D printing has been widely explored over the last years as well as Self-Assembly structures. However, the combination of both techniques is pushing the boundaries of our traditional manufacturing process and use of materials.Skylar Tibbits, computational architect and researcher at MIT’s self-assembly Lab, is shaping this next technological development. He calls it 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time.In this inspiring TED talk he presents the emerging technology that will allow us to print objects capable of reshaping themselves or self-assembling over time. Imagine printed buildings that can transform before your eyes, or printed pipes able to sense the need to expand or contract. This is just a beginning of a whole innovative world of manufacturing with minimum energy. Tibbits believes this technology could lead to more resilient, lighter structures, able to respond to the world around them. [post_title] => The Emergence of 4D Printing [post_excerpt] => An inspiring TED talk by computational architect Skylar Tibbits about 4D printing, where the fourth dimension is time. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-emergence-of-4d-printing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-12 16:16:15 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-12 15:16:15 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=43473 [menu_order] => 741 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 43680 [post_author] => 835 [post_date] => 2015-03-09 16:13:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-09 15:13:07 [post_content] => [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoN5EteWCH8[/youtube]Tired of drunk people emptying the bladder everywhere on the street, citizens of St. Pauli, Hamburg decided to take a smart step to prevent it. They coated the walls of the city with superhydrophobic coating; so that whenever someone pees on the wall, it will pee on them.Story via Digg [post_title] => St. Pauli's Walls Pee Back On You [post_excerpt] => Tired of drunk people peeing everywhere on the street, people of St. Pauli, Hamburg decided to take a smart step to prevent it. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => st-paulis-walls-pee-back-on-you [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-09 16:10:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-09 15:10:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=43680 [menu_order] => 745 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 43438 [post_author] => 835 [post_date] => 2015-03-07 17:09:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-07 16:09:29 [post_content] => With the Internet of Things, a growing number of objects have sensors implanted inside them. These sensors help to form a network where objects can communicate with each other and with us. A recent project, named GENESI, might make it possible for city infrastructures to join this conversation as well.Funded by the European Union, GENESI stands for Green Sensor Networks for Structural Monitoring. The project aims to implant sensors into various components of city infrastructures, which will enable a more efficient way of checking for stability and possible maintenance. These sensors include vibrating strain gauges, displacement meters, pressure sensors, temperature sensors and soil moisture sensors. The electonic devices are designed to harvest power by themselves and they can communicate fresh readings to scientists whenever requested.A pilot project location for testing these sensors is the underground rail system of Rome. Sensors are placed in certain concrete segments of the railway; they pick up vibration data and forward it to remote servers via a wireless network system. These data can later be used by civil engineers to plan for future maintenance operations.The obstacles for the project are dark tunnels, where sunlight is not available to provide power to the sensors. This handicap might require some form of battery changing. Since the subway is not  an easy place for humans work, the job might be carried out by drones in the future.The success of GENESI could will pave the way for more efficient city structure maintenance and could possibly prevent accidents caused by infrastructure failures.Story and image via Popular Science [post_title] => Communicating with City Infrastructures [post_excerpt] => A recent project, named GENESI, might make it possible for city infrastructures to communicate with us. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => communicating-with-city-infrastructures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-16 14:15:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-16 13:15:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=43438 [menu_order] => 747 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 42875 [post_author] => 809 [post_date] => 2015-02-15 16:00:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-02-15 15:00:42 [post_content] => Check into a new hotel with the help of a keen robot receptionist. After welcoming you, another bot will carry your luggage to your room, earlier thoroughly cleaned by a non-human housekeeper. At the Henn-na Hotel in Japan, the so-called actroids will make sure you’ll have a nice and memorable stay.The 72-room hotel will be staffed by ten real people and ten robots, designed to be extremely human-like. With the characteristics and attitude of young Japanese women, these humanoids will be able to fluently speak Chinese, Korean and English. Mimicking human behaviors, such as breathing and blinking, they can also make hand gestures, eye contact and respond to body language and tone of voice.With the slogan “A Commitment to Evolution” the hotel aims to be “the most efficient in the world”, as stated by company president Hideo Sawada. “In the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots” he added.Alongside the futuristic staff, the hotel - that will open its doors on July 2015 - will feature other high-tech services, such facial recognition instead of key cards, room temperature monitored with body heat detection, and a tablet for each guest to request extra amenities.Henn-na Hotel Henn-na Hotel2The Henn-na project is the first robot-run hotel, but it joins a large group of other cyborg-oriented activities, such as shopping assistantsteachers and farmers. Should we start seeing them as real people? And if so, do we have to tip the robot bellhop?Source: Techxplore [post_title] => The Hotel Run by Robots [post_excerpt] => A futuristic Japanese hotel will be run by robots, designed to be extremely human-like. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => the-hotel-run-by-robots [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-16 14:15:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-16 13:15:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=42875 [menu_order] => 773 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 41896 [post_author] => 809 [post_date] => 2014-11-30 10:54:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-11-30 09:54:07 [post_content] => The next guest in our interview series is Chloé Rutzerveld, young talented and promising Food and Concept designer, from Eindhoven University of Technology. Chloé is interested in combining aspects of food, design, nature, culture and life sciences in a form of critical design. She uses food as a medium to address, communicate and discuss social, cultural or scientific issues.Throughout 2014, Chloé worked on a 3D food printing project, titled Edible Growth, to show how high-tech or lab-produced food doesn't have to be unhealthy, unnatural or not tasteful. Her concept is an example of a future food product fully natural, healthy, and sustainable.The working principle combines aspects of nature, science, technology and design: multiple layers containing seeds, spores and yeast are printed according to a personalized 3D file. Within five days the plants and fungi mature and the yeast ferments the solid inside into a liquid. Depending on the preferred intensity, the consumer decides when to harvest and eat the edible. While the project is still speculative due to technological limits, the concept is very intriguing.We recently talked with Chloé about people's response to Edible Growth, the profession of food designer and new preparation methods and products that could be on our plate one day. Here’s what she had to say:How did you get the idea for the Edible Growth project?At the beginning of my final degree project I was thinking of different ways of making eating more efficient and sustainable, starting from the digestive system and actual absorption of food. I needed answers to a lot of questions that were too specific to find on the Internet, which is why I contacted scientists from TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research). Instead of answering my questions, they were so enthusiastic about my portfolio and previous food projects that they offered me a graduate spot, where I was challenged to think about new 3D printed food concepts.[pullquote]We use new technologies as tools to facilitate or enhance the natural[/pullquote]So the 3D-printing part was added when I start working at TNO. I decided to use and combine the research I did in the first part of the semester to create innovative printed food concepts that would suit my vision. I worked together with bio-technologists, scientists and additive manufacturing experts in the process.The actual Edible Growth idea came from the fact that I wanted this new food technology to be efficient and useful and produce healthy, fully natural food. Printing without additives is very difficult at this point, especially if the material cannot be melted – extruded – and cooled down again like chocolate. So I thought about starting with the basics, the raw material itself. Then nothing can be added, the food does no longer need to be preserved but can be harvested when the consumer wants to eat it. So creating the basics out of raw material with the printer as tool, to let nature do its part. The result: a fully natural, fresh product that transforms and develops in appearance, intensity of smell and taste at the consumers house.3d printenWhat were the challenges in the development of the project?I think the most challenging part was the fact that I knew very little about the topics I wanted to combine. 3D printers both software or the hardware and microbiology. Though reading, experimenting and expert meetings the substantive part of the project developed every week, which simultaneously influenced the design part of the edible as well (physical appearance, eating behavior, packaging, thoughts about production and marketing etc.).[pullquote]A natural, fresh product that transforms and develops in appearance, intensity of smell and taste at the consumers house[/pullquote]What feedback did you have from people? Would they eat any of your 3D printed living biscuits? Or is the idea of eating a mini fungus and watercress planter box still too much?Until now, Edible Growth is exhibited at the Final Demo Days, during the Dutch Design Week and on Bright Day in Amsterdam. During these expositions I often bring small amuses to let the visitors experience how such a product could taste (see picture below). If I don’t offer them, they often remain untouched. But if I do offer the amuses and give an explanation, almost everybody becomes curious and like to try it. It’s quite funny to observe people passing by and doubting whether or not it’s edible.Whereas a small percentage of the people don’t like to try the edible, everybody likes the appearance of the product. I receive many comments on how beautiful and delicious the prototypes look. Even chefs from all over the world have approached me for that reason and asked me when the product will be on the market!'amuse' edible growthHow, in your opinion, can new technologies influence supply chains, eating habits and food preparation methods?Dependent on the product the 3D-printer makes, the influence of this new technology on supply chains, eating habits and preparation methods might be negligible. But, in case of Edible Growth, the influence is enormous. Because the edible can be printed on demand, with the exact amount of raw materials inside a sterile recyclable packaging, the entire supply chains becomes very short:- No agricultural land is needed - No harvest - No pre-packaging - No distribution - No conservatives necessary - No storage in stores - No decay or food waste - < Co² emissionBecause the product matures at the consumers house and people can harvest their own product at the preferred stage, they become more involved and conscious of the food they eat. New production methods can make different textures, structures and molecular compositions which might require new ways of eating! I’m very convinced that we can create entirely new products with new production methods that are completely new and surprising, but fully natural and healthy without additives by just using and combining the enormous amount of knowledge people in different disciplines (chefs, microbiologist, food-technologist, designers) have gathered throughout the years. We then use new technologies as tools to facilitate or enhance the natural!Edible prototypeWhat are the possible benefits and risks or negative aspects, if there are, in Edible Growth?As mentioned above, the concept of Edible Growth shortens the supply chain enormously. It reduces Co2 emission, food waste and increases people’s awareness about the food they consume. It makes smart use of natural processes like fermentation and photosynthesis and uses the 3D-printer in a useful way instead of using it as a form machine.[pullquote]Chefs from all over the world have asked me when the product will be on the market[/pullquote]Negative aspects are perhaps the time it takes for the product to develop and the size of the product. If you only use the raw material, seeds, spores, yeasts, you cannot eat the product directly out of the printer. It takes at least 3 to 4 days for the product to become edible and 5 for the fully grown product. That’s what I call real ‘Slowfood’! Another risk might be contamination and growth of unwanted organisms. Although that chance will be very small because the product will be printed in a sterile condition immediately inside the reusable greenhouse package with an adjusted climate.IMG_8681It seems technological change is speeding up. Do you feel this is the case also in the food design field? And where will this go?Well, I think everything in the field of food is speeding up. Increasingly more people are interested in where their food comes from, what conditions the animals had, how healthy it is, what it does to their body, discovering new food products and diets.Technological development in the world of food is often used in the food industry to create processed foods with bliss-points to make people addicted to that food. Or in restaurants where they turn everything into a gel, mousse or foam; unhealthy, unsustainable and a waste of raw material if you ask me.[pullquote]With Edible Growth people become more conscious of the food they eat[/pullquote]The demand for pure, natural and healthy food rising and I think food designers are well aware of that. We use these new technologies as a tool or inspiration to create healthy and sustainable food products that educate people and contribute to solving social, cultural or ethical issues!I have no idea where it’s going, but I’m very curious! I’m also really excited and feel privileged that I can be part of those changes.IMG_8562Which new food products do you envision?During the official opening of the DDW I told the host I would really like to see a future with more living food. Food that triggers all senses and is never eaten in front of the television or inside a car. I envision more vegetarian or vegan food, perhaps even with influence of the raw-food cuisine.Do you see 3D printing food as a future way of production on a large scale? And what kind of food design do you expect will emerge from it?Food printing is actually not something new, for example the glazing of pink cakes and microwave pancakes are already being printed for a very long time. But three dimensional food products are less common. Real food or full meals have not been printed yet, only sugar sculptures, chocolate, other sweets or dough and pasta.[pullquote]I'd like to see a future with more living food. Food that triggers all senses and is never eaten in front of the TV[/pullquote]They just change the form by printing it, nothing really happens so I’m actually very sceptical about 3D-printing with food. But this was the same for non-food printing. First it was wobbly plastic, now they can print ceramic, wood, metal and concrete! So I think food-printing will develop as well. The kind of products that emerge depend on the development of the technology, the demand of products and the investing companies.What are the main challenges for a food designer today?I have not really come across challenges at this stage. I’ve received a lot of media attention, fan mail, job offerings and hear nothing but very positive reactions about my work. At this point I’m still figuring out what I really would like to do. If I’m going to continue with the Edible Growth project, or develop another future food concept I thought of. Because not so many people are working as food concept designers, there are enough opportunities and possibilities, I first have to make decisions myself.Edible Growth is still a speculative concept, how is it close to become real?Multiple printing technologies should be combined in order to print Edible Growth. Also the ingredient composition should be perfected and tested. An interdisciplinary team of biotechnologist, microbiologist, 3D-print experts and business developers is needed to complete the project and produce it.met mond - CopyWhat are your big plans for the future?Edible Growth will be exhibited in 2015 at ‘Foodtopia’ at the Boerhaave museum, at the Noordbrabants museum in Leiden and during the München design week I’m talking to several companies about the development of Edible Growth. I hope I may participate in the 2015 edition of the Youth Food Movement Academy. I want to expand my knowledge of natural food and cooking so I can even better combine my passion for food and nature with design, life sciences and culture. That’s why I am going to the Matthew Kenney culinary school in Belfast, Maine in America this summer to follow an intensive 6-week academy about raw gourmet food. It covers the whole process from picking the produce, knife techniques, menu planning, plate decoration to new cooking techniques. To cover part of the costs I will start a crowd-funding campaign in January to pre-sell exclusive Raw gourmet dinners for when I come back. After all this, I’ll see what direction I’ll go!Thanks Chloé for sharing your work and viewpoints with us!Related Posts: Interview: Alexandra Daisy GinsbergInterview: Floris KaaykInterview: Rachel ArmstrongInterview: Arne HendriksInterview: Jason Silva [post_title] => Interview: Chloé Rutzerveld, Designer Who Wants to Grow Healthy 3D Printed Food [post_excerpt] => Food and Concept designer, Chloé Rutzerveld, explains her 3D food printing project Edible Growth. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => interview-chloe-rutzerveld [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-08 11:15:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-08 09:15:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=41896 [menu_order] => 834 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 38190 [post_author] => 809 [post_date] => 2014-02-12 12:00:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-02-12 11:00:20 [post_content] => A breakthrough in living architecture. Self-assembling, industrial and compostable, these are the main characteristics of Hy-Fi, a tower built from a combination of corn husks and fungus.Designed by architect David Benjamin, the structure will open its door in late June at New York’s Museum of Modern Art PS1.The construction will be made of two organic materials, with no energy and no waste. The bricks will be created packing into molds a mixture of chopped-up corn waste with mycelium, a mushroom root material. Over a few days the material will self-assemble, grow and solidify into rectangular solid shapes. Could this material change the way we build?Source: The Verge [post_title] => Self-Assembling Fungus Tower [post_excerpt] => Hy-Fi, a structure built from a combination of corn husks and fungus. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => self-assembling-fungus-tower [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-16 13:58:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-16 12:58:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=38190 [menu_order] => 1108 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 36015 [post_author] => 816 [post_date] => 2013-09-12 11:07:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-09-12 09:07:31 [post_content] => In flipping through the future shock images of biosynthetic speculation, it’s easy to miss the historical trajectory to which biosynthetic practices belong. Etienne Turpin takes a look at the long twentieth century of ‘bubble-expanding’ invention and the underlying drive to maintain our sphere of seven billion people, in order to understand this trajectory. He regards proto-biosynthetic techniques like the Haber-Bosch process, which caused an agrarian revolution by synthetically introducing ammonia-produced fertilizer to farm fields, as a key to understanding the dynamics of living in this brave new biosynthetic world. This essay was originally published in Volume magazine issue #35. Get your copy here.“Round about stood those who inspire terror, shouting: Here comes the New, it’s all new, salute the New, be new like us! And those who heard, heard nothing but their shouts, but those who saw, saw certain people who were not shouting. So the Old strode in disguised as the New, but it brought the New with it in its triumphal procession and presented it as the Old.” – Bertolt Brecht (1939)Perhaps due to its predilection for technological innovation and so-called ‘emergent’ phenomena of technical, cultural, and otherwise mediated novelty, the discipline of architecture tends to characterize ‘the new’ like a keen and eager historicist: notwithstanding the real problem of even beginning to navigate the proliferation of contemporary architectural production in any meaningful way, ‘the new’ often appears within the disciplinary discourse as a diachronic sign that occludes the need for any considered, historical reading. Among the vicissitudes of contemporary architectural production, then, it is important to locate the discourse on biosynthetics within the longer trajectory of industrialization to avoid overestimating the novelty of such material practices, and, perhaps more importantly, to recognize the logic of the technocratic lure that conditions our apprehension of these novelties. It is the task of this essay to examine three related bubbles of our biosynthetic inheritance that would allow us to think – and therefore design within – the present condition of chemophilia and its attendant but lagging global toxicosis.1However, before we turn to consider the spherology of chemical bubbles in our contemporary world, the broader context for this inquiry requires a more complete disclosure. To sufficiently locate the various biosynthetic phenomena within the longer trajectory of industrialization, this brave new world of production needs to be radically re-contextualized within the construction of an environment conditioned by human impact; this impact is primarily produced by technology and design in the long twentieth century, and its analysis begins, at least, with the Italian geologist Antonio Stoppani’s suggestion, in 1873, of an Anthropozoic period, and extends in this reading to the Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen’s more recent neologism the Anthropocene.2 By relocating the technocratic ambitions of biosynthetic production within the long century of the Anthropocene we can begin to track the material and epistemic changes that produce, by design, the contemporary biosynthetic environment of global climate change.3 In our currently accelerating global telemorphosis, wherein the critical distance that previously separated human actors from the environmental consequences of their actions is quickly being foreshortened, the discipline of architecture is tasked with reconsidering how relations among design, technology, and science in the long twentieth century might be reevaluated as a resource for determining the modes of urban adaptation necessary for human survival on a planet with a rapidly changing climate.4 It is with this task in mind that we might now take a stroll through the sensational Umwelt of biosemiotics in order to better comprehend the relation between the reduction of the world and its productive unlocking for the human species.Strolling with Jakob von Uexküll“A ‘scientific’ interpretation of the world, as you understand it, might therefore still be one of the most stupid of all possible interpretations of the world, meaning that it would be one of the poorest in meaning.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (1887)To begin to locate our contemporary biosynthetic inheritance, one could certainly do worse than return to the very concept of ‘world’, and, with this concept, the exigencies of empirical description that motivated the pioneering Estonian biosemiotician Jakob von Uexküll. For Uexküll, the world, or Umwelt, was best understood as a perceptual field within which an organism performs as a subject. As the feminist philosopher of evolution Elizabeth Grosz explains in Chaos, Territory, Art, “Uexküll argues that an animal is not immersed wholesale in a given milieu, but at best engages with certain features that are of significance to it, that counterpoint, in some sense, with its own organs. Each organism in every species is surrounded by its Umwelt, ‘an island of the senses’ that is always a considerable simplification of the information and energy provided by any milieu.”5 This island of the senses is thus a kind of biological opportunism that nevertheless remains irreducible: “Uexküll advocates an extreme perspectivism in which objects are not autonomous or independent sets of qualities and quantities, but opportunities for engagement that offer themselves in particular ways to particular organs and remain otherwise indiscernible.”6 The work of Uexküll is thus a key to thinking outside the limits of any assumed objective horizon; each organism (as a species, and each organism in particular) is variously related to the world afforded to it according to its sensation, with the various overlapping elements creating innumerable coextensive forms-of-life and their equally innumerable expressions.[pullquote]Life is also, without question, more than mere survival[/pullquote]In her writing, Grosz is part of an important trajectory developed by recent thinkers, including Georgio Agamben, and Deleuze and Guattari, who have taken up the work of Uexküll to help dispose of the remains of European phenomenology within contemporary philosophy. But, it is also interesting to note how Uexküll’s own introduction to ‘A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men’ (1934) presages the innovative spherological analysis of the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, which is well read within the design disciplines but still requires a more rigorous historical analysis. Uexküll begins by asserting that he is not at all claiming to have discovered a new science; instead, his work  “should be called a stroll into unfamiliar worlds; worlds strange to us but known to other creatures, manifold and varied as the animals themselves.”7 He gives, as the best example at hand, a walk through a sunny meadow that allows a glimpse into the worlds of the so-called lowly dwellers. “To do so,” Uexküll continues:“we must first blow, in fancy, a soap bubble around each creature to represent its own world, filled with the perceptions which it alone knows. When we ourselves step into one of these bubbles, the familiar meadow is transformed. Many of its colorful features disappear, others no longer belong together but appear in new relationships. A new world comes into being. Through the bubble […] we see the world as it appears to the animals themselves, not as it appears to us.”8[pullquote]Each living thing, including the human, is a melodic line of development[/pullquote]In this proto-spherology, Uexküll suggests that the entry into the bubble is one of epistemic opportunity: it allows a way of seeing and understanding that world of the animal that is foreign to the human, but which is, nevertheless, accessible through a kind of appropriation of sensibility. This appropriation, however, is also a matter of intrusion, in the strictest sense, and provokes a question of the relation between an Umwelt and a species’ survival.9 According to Grosz, for Uexküll, “Each living thing, including the human, is a melodic line of development, a movement of counterpoint, in a symphony composed of larger and more movements provided by its objects, the qualities that its world illuminates or sounds off for it. Both the organism and its Umwelt taken together are units of survival.”10 While this is, no doubt, a provocative image of life and its teeming multiplicities, life is also, without question, more than mere survival. In this regard, if the human species can be said to pose a challenge to the dynamism and openness of Uexküll’s biosemiotics, it is most especially by way of a radical remaking of its Umwelt that both exceeds, and is perhaps quite at odds with, survival. This occurs simultaneously in two directions: first, by unlocking worlds previously foreclosed to the human senses through the development of intrusive technological means; and, second, by expediting the growth of specific worlds by fantastically augmenting the distribution of their material components to create apparently advantageous conditions for the expansion of the human species.A Bubble for Seven Billion: Toward a Prehistory of the Anthropocene “Do we really want to permit existence to be degraded for us like this – reduced to a mere exercise for a calculator and an indoor diversion for mathematicians?”– Friedrich Nietzsche (1887)In his magisterial reevaluation of both space and intimacy in the tradition of continental philosophy, Sloterdijk suggests that the moment of our brave new biosynthetic world is a bubble, and in more ways than we might first believe. His spherological project opens a whole series of questions for design, but with respect to our current argument, it engenders an especially poignant inquiry regarding the establishment of the place of the human. For Sloterdijk, “an inquiry into our location is more productive than ever, as it examines the place that humans create in order to have somewhere they can appear as those who they are.”11 That is, “Following a venerable tradition,” this creation of a place to disclose the quiddity of the human “bears the name ‘sphere’.”12 Accordingly:“The sphere is the interior, disclosed, shared realm inhabited by humans – insofar as they succeed in becoming humans. Because living always means building spheres, both on a small and a large scale, humans are the beings that establish globes and look out on to horizons. Living in spheres means creating the dimension in which humans can be contained. Spheres are immune-systemically effective space creations for ecstatic beings that are operated upon by the outside.”13[pullquote]The human is, first, a privileged sphere-maker[/pullquote]Here we see how Sloterdijk both appropriates and reforms the contour of Uexküll’s ethological bubble, suggesting that the human is, first, a privileged sphere-maker, but that, at the same time, the human is also passively acted upon by an outside. While the expansive work of his spherology implicates many further considerations and digressions, presently we will consider how, in the geological time of the Anthropocene, the aggregate impact of the human species must also be understood as a force acting on, unlocking, and harnessing the power of various worlds that augment and delimit the global horizons of the human. If the bubble that the human species inhabits can, in fact, be delimited, it is certainly the ambition of the discourse on the Anthropocene to develop an analysis of this historically-specified occupation.In one of the first reports from popular media explaining the geological and stratigraphic discourse of the Anthropocene, environmental journalist Elizabeth Colbert poses a provocative question about these two figures, and our ability to understand the evidence of anthropogenic climate change. In her words:“Way back in the 1870s, an Italian geologist named Antonio Stoppani proposed that people had introduced a new era, which he labeled the ‘Anthropozoic’. Stoppani’s proposal was ignored; other scientists found it unscientific. The Anthropocene, by contrast, struck a chord. Human impacts on the world have become a lot more obvious since Stoppani’s day, in part because the size of the population has roughly quadrupled, to nearly seven billion.”14Colbert’s claim rests on much more than the scalar increase of human population; without denying the obvious importance of our demographic explosion, the human impact on the earth involves more than human population growth. Since their retort to Barry Commoners’ technological determinism in the academic journal Science in 1971, Paul R. Ehrlich and John Holdren’s equation I = P x A x T – where the human impact (I) on the environment is equal to the product of population (P), affluence (A), and technology (T) – has helped explain the constituent factors of anthropogenic climate change.15 [Fig. 03] This is to say that understanding growth necessarily requires understanding human impact on the environment within which growth is achieved, which is itself the effect of a multiplicative relation among populations, affluence, and technology. This equation also helps call to mind the interval between the first suggestion that human activity is equal to a geological force and the realization of this suggestion as a widely accepted concept (and one far exceeding its debated stratigraphic application); this period of latency can be understood, in my estimation, as the ‘prehistory’ of the Anthropocene, when technology and design affect a series of order of magnitude transformations within the natural environment. As noted above, these changes are both material and epistemic: they change how the environment works by adding previously foreign forces and thus altering the velocity of change of variously scaled ecological bubbles, or worlds; and, they change how the environment is known by reorienting which of its features are worthy of scientific inquiry and economic investment and development. With this equation in mind, we can now outline a few of the requisite trajectories along which we might begin to understand the precarity of a biosynthetic bubble for seven billion.[pullquote]This period of latency can be understood as the ‘prehistory’ of the Anthropocene[/pullquote]The first vector of the Ehrlich and Holdren equation, population growth, requires re-examining the architecture and design of industrial agriculture over the course of the twentieth century. In 1899, the average annual consumption of commercial fertilizer in the United States reached 1,845,900 tons; the following year, the world population was approximately 1.6 billion and the average amount of arable land needed to feed one person was roughly five acres.16 With the development of the Haber-Bosch process (discussed in greater detail below) that, in 1910, first enabled the fixing of atmospheric nitrogen and the industrial production of synthetic ammonia, the amount of arable land needed to feed one person was reduced to 1.8 acres by 2008, in a world population quickly approaching seven billion.17 Such a radical transformation of the earth into a standing reserve for human consumption required a massive reorganization of agricultural technologies and techniques, including the exponential increase of fertilizers, pesticides, and other biosynthetic products such as ripening stimulants. From Marx’s account of the metabolic rift in nineteenth century England, to the rift in energy accounting in the metabolism of contemporary architecture and urbanization, an increasing human population coupled with an increasing rift between cities and ‘hinterlands’ is emblematic of Bruno Latour’s age of separations, and an essential component of the prehistory of the Anthropocene.18 Understanding the ‘great acceleration’ of human population growth following World War Two thus requires a careful reconstruction of the architecture and design of agriculture’s manifold practices, from early tractor and reaper production to advanced biochemistry, in order to begin to understand the stakes and the challenges facing the current bubble of agricultural production in our changing climate.[pullquote]The 3.9 million-mile US road system is the largest structure built in the twentieth century[/pullquote]The second vector of the Ehrlich and Holdren equation, affluence, can be considered by way of the automobile, a key economic indicator of so-called ‘upward mobility’. The role of the automobile in shaping the architecture and urbanism of the twentieth century, from Albert Kahn’s designs for Henry Ford’s American manufacturing plants to the explosion of transportation infrastructure and its attendant re-patterning of ecologies and landscapes, is a decisive index for considering the exponential increase of global affluence in the twentieth century.19 The extensive 3.9 million-mile US road system, the largest structure built in the twentieth century, appears as a horizontal monument to the technical milieu, its physical structure and attendant effects constituting another essential case of how the Anthropocene has been designed. Thus, not only does this vector of inquiry enable a reconsideration of the architecture of mass production, factory and assembly logics, and the extensive resource extraction requirements for automobile and infrastructure production, it also beckons a consideration of the antagonism such designs wreak on the natural environment.20 These antagonisms are produced by the ability of firms to externalize environmental costs into a socially-inherited bubble, most especially by way of the proliferation of those bubbles known as atmospheric carbon dioxide; these externalized environmental spheres must be mapped among the complex material assemblages of twentieth century automobility as the index of global affluence anticipating the arrival of the earth’s billionth automobile.21A focused consideration of the third line of the Ehrlich and Holdren equation would provoke a further examination of the production of energy in the twentieth century through a consideration of intellectual property and technological patents. The global demand for cheap energy is an especially consequential indicator of the Anthropocene, but the prehistory of this demand, and the architecture and design of the power grid, its relays, controls, and various technologies of modulation, all suggest a hypercomplex narrative of material assembly and environmental transformation. From the appearance of the term ‘megawatt’ (106 watts) in 1900 to account for the increasing usage of electrical energy for power and heat, all the way to the development of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in Hubei province, China, with a total hydroelectric output capacity of 22,500 megawatts, the global demand for energy has transformed the earth into a standing reserve of unlocked potential sources for power. The role of design within this context is formidable, however, the parallel register of technological patents related to the manipulation and modulation of energy must also be examined as a bubble developed in concert with the architecture and infrastructure of twentieth century power.22[pullquote]The global demand for cheap energy is an especially consequential indicator of the Anthropocene[/pullquote]A Brave New Growth Industry“This is our fate, as I have said; we grow in height; and even if this should be our fatality – for we dwell ever closer to the lightening – well, we do not on that account honor it less; it remains that which we do not wish to share, to make public – the fatality of the heights, our fatality.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (1887)Even if the diagram of the Ehrlich and Holdren equation can be read as the bubble of the Anthropocene, of the many vast worlds unlocked by way of the technological innovations of the twentieth century none can be said to have more significance for the expansion of the bubble containing the human species than the Umwelt of fixed nitrogen. This claim is not meant to privilege the population (P) vector of the equation, but instead to emphasize the magnitude of the catalytic feedbacks stemming from this process and thus permitting – at least ‘in fancy’ – the exponential expansion of the human species. As the landscape architect Seth Denizen remarked in a recent interview about his research on soil science: “We should add here as well that the immensity of the change that is made possible by the Haber-Bosch process is usually quite understated. You have to realize that for the last billion years there has been a tendency for nitrogen to become an inert, atmospheric, biologically-unavailable gas through the metabolic processes that defined life on earth. The technology to produce the reverse reaction was held only by bacteria. Only bacteria had the Haber-Bosch process.”23 That is, until 1910 when BASF chemist Carl Bosch joined Fritz Haber to develop a process to fix atmospheric nitrogen and produce synthetic ammonia, the chemical world of nitrogen was only productive, or coextensive – that is, it was only an Umwelt – within the limited scope of bacterial reproduction. As Haber and Bosch unlocked this world and exposed it to human concerns, it was quickly enfolded into a process of world-making characteristic of the human species, namely, agriculture. By 1913, according to Michael A. Morris and John Gerrard: “the world’s first commercial ammonia synthesis plant to produce mineral fertilizer according to the Haber-Bosch Process opened in Oppau, Germany.”24 The appearance of this potent chemical world on the scene of human-scaled geopolitics led, somewhat obviously, to a series of spy missions, including operations by the UK government, with the goal of capturing and reproducing the secret of this prized German world-making process.[pullquote]The immensity of the change that is made possible by the Haber-Bosch process is usually quite understated[/pullquote]Not least because synthetic ammonia can be converted to nitrate for use in fertilizers or explosives, the geopolitical maneuvers of World War One were highly attentive to the new worlds of growth (of armies) and destruction (of everything) unlocked by these biosynthetic processes. In fact, in 1917, the UK government elected that the town of Billingham, in North East England, be expanded as the site for chemical factories to supply the state with ammonia for the war effort. After the war, the Brunner Mond Company took over the plant, converting it to a site for the manufacture of biosynthetic fertilizers. Following a merger with three other major chemical companies in 1926, Brunner Mond formed the chemical giant Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), whose founder, Sir Alfred Mond, provided Aldous Huxley with an image of the World Controller Mustapha Mond in his well-known novel of 1932, Brave New World.25 In fact, it is precisely after his visit to this ICI plant in Billingham that Huxley began work on the novel.Of course, Brave New World would create, in its own way, a literary Umwelt, complete with a paranoia distinct from that of Huxley’s student, Eric Arthur Blair, who eventually penned his prophetic and shocking novel, 1984, under the pseudonym George Orwell. Unlike the Orwellian world of total control, Huxley’s was an ambient environment of affirmation and positivity which overwhelmed its World State citizens with luxurious and mediated pleasures and distractions. The suspicion of such a dystopian world, while more difficult to articulate, nevertheless attracted the criticism of an especially prominent critic. In his rigorous adumbration, the German cultural theorist and philosopher Theodor Adorno made the following damning remarks: “It is not for its contemplative aspect as such, which it shares with all philosophy and representation, that the novel is to be criticized, but for its failure to contemplate a praxis which could explode the infamous continuum. […] If the great historical perspective is to be anything more than the Fata Morgana of the eye which surveys only to control, it must open on to the question of whether society will come to determine itself or bring about terrestrial catastrophe.”26 It is to this vast problematic of the relation between self-determination and tellurian disaster to which we now turn as a means to conclude these bubbling remarks.End: Paroxysm“The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in/ Engines stop running, the wheat is growing thin A nuclear error, but I have no fear/ ’Cause London is drowning, and I live by the river.” – The Clash (1979)To what, then, should we attribute the qualities of ‘the brave’ and ‘the new’ that Huxley discovered in his visit to the ICI plant? To answer this question we must again detour from design and reconsider the source of appropriation from which Huxley extracted the title of his novel: Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and, its biosynthetic industrial détournement. For Shakespeare, it is necessary that the character Miranda – who, prior to the moment of revelation lived on an isolated island in a bubble of limited reference – discovers the bewitching presence of other people whom lead to her terribly ironic assessment of the world:“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t.”27Huxley, for his part, appropriates both the infamous line and its ironic force when his own character, the ‘savage’ John, remarks upon seeing the World State that it is, definitively, a ‘brave new world’. Like Miranda, who bears witness to the heinous behavior of drunken sailors stumbling out of their shipwrecked vessel but, due to her naivety, mistakes their activity for some noble conduct, the ‘savage’ easily mistakes the idiocy of the World State for the brave and the new. Read through this prism of citation, then, we might, by way of a conclusion, speculate a little further about how Huxley’s visit to the ICI helped decipher these ironic attributes.In both Shakespeare and Huxley, the brave and the new is the horizon of intelligibility that results from a bubble: for Miranda, a world of drunken misbehavior from which she was previously exempted; for John, a world of banal organization from which he was formerly excluded. In both cases, the reality of the human is mistaken for a place of bravery and novelty; in reality, for both authors, the world of the human is a world of hubristic absurdity that contains the bubble of inexperience; that is, it is not the bubble from which the initiate emerges that makes him or her ignorant of reality, but the bubble of reality as such. With this inversion in mind, we might begin to re-imagine the vocation of design in the age of the Anthropocene; such an imagination would rediscover a critical relation to the technocratic novelties that populate our contemporary biosynthetic present while appropriating lines of inquiry for a renewed investigation of other-than-affluent architecture practices.To conclude, we could recall the moment in Huxley’s Brave New World Revisted when the author begins to resemble his own ‘savage’ John character: “… human numbers are now increasing more rapidly than at any time in the history of the species. […] And this fantastically rapid doubling of our numbers will be taking place on a planet whose most desirable and productive areas are already densely populated, whose soils are being eroded by the frantic efforts of bad farmers to raise more food, and whose easily available mineral capital is being squandered with the reckless extravagance of a drunken sailor getting rid of his accumulated pay.”28 Huxley’s shock comes from the knowledge that when drunken sailors run out of money to squander, inevitably, a terrible fight breaks out. “Spheres stop being round,” as Sloterdijk warns, “when they burst.”29 It is among these inescapable planetary brawls, following the burst of our biosynthetic bubble, that design must learn to orient itself, find its footing, and punch well above its weight.This essay would not have been possible without the careful and sagacious engagement of Kiel Moe, whose research, writing, and advice provoked these preliminary reflections on the so-called prehistory of the Anthropocene. REFERENCES1 Mark Peter Sloterdijk,  Bubbles: Spheres Volume I: Microspherology (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents, 2011).2 Our interest – for the purposes of understanding the Anthropocene as a framework within which biosynthetics appear – is concerned with relations among design, technology, and science in the ‘long century’ between Stoppani and Crutzen; see Giovanni Arighi, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and Origins of Our Times (London and New York: Verso, 1994).3 Antonio Stoppani, ‘A New Force, A New Element, A New Input: Antonio Stoppani’s Anthropozoic’, translated from the 1873 Edition of the Corso di Geologia by Valeria Federighi, edited by Etienne Turpin and Valeria Federighi, in Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life, edited by Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse (Brooklyn: Punctum Books, 2012), 34-41.4 See Tom Cohen, editor, Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change Vol. 1 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: MPublishing/Open Humanities Press, 2012).5 Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 41.6 Ibid.7 Jakob von Uexküll, ‘A Stroll Through the Worlds of Animals and Men’, in Instinctive Behavior: The Development of a Modern Concept, translated and edited by Claire H. Schiller (New York: International Universities Press, Inc.), 5.8 Ibid.9 Jean-Luc Nancy, L’Intrus (Paris: Galilée, 2000).Mark0 Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art, 43.Mark1 Sloterdijk,  Bubbles: Spheres Volume I: Microspherology, 28.Mark2 Ibid.Mark3 Ibid.Mark4 Elizabeth Colbert, ‘Enter the Anthropocene: Age of Man’, in Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life, edited by Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse (Brooklyn: Punctum Books, 2012), 28-32.Mark5 Science and Public Affairs: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Vol. XXVIII, No. 5 (May 1972), 16-27; 42-56.Mark6 John Gerrard and Michael A. Morris, ‘Corn Bomb: A Short History of Nitrogen 1660-2008’, in Collapse: Philosophical Research and Development, Issue VII: Culinary Materialism, edited by Reza Negarestani and Robin Mackay (July 2011), 85-118.Mark7 Ibid.Mark8 Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993Mark9 Richard T.T. Forman et. al., Road Ecology: Science and Solutions (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2003).20 See among other S. Solomon et al, editors, ‘Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis’, Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).2Mark John Sousanis, ‘World Vehicle Population Tops 1 Billion Units’, Wards Auto (August 15, 2011)22 See Timothy Mitchell, ‘Carbon Democracy’, in Economy and Society 38:3, 399-432.23 Etienne Turpin and Seth Denizen, ‘Stratophysical Approximations: A Conversation with Seth Denizen on the Urban Soils of the Anthropocene’, in OrgansEverywhere, Fall Issue (September 2012), 35.24John Gerrard and Michael A. Morris, ‘Corn Bomb: A Short History of Nitrogen 1660-2008’, in Collapse: Philosophical Research and Development, Issue VII: Culinary Materialism, edited by Reza Negarestani and Robin Mackay (July 2011), 85-118.25 The name is also a reference to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkey.26 Theodor Adorno, Prisms, translated by Samuel and Shierry Weber (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), 116.27 William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I, ll. 203–206.28 Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (New York: Rosetta Books, 2000), 6.29 Peter Sloterdijk, Neither Sun Nor Death, with Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs, translated by Steve Corcoran (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2011), 305. [post_title] => A Stroll Through the Bubbles of Chemicals and Men [post_excerpt] => A stunning pre-history of the anthropocene [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => a-stroll-through-the-bubbles-of-chemicals-and-men [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-03-16 14:00:53 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-03-16 13:00:53 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=36015 [menu_order] => 1276 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 35301 [post_author] => 809 [post_date] => 2013-07-23 10:44:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-23 09:44:39 [post_content] => The next guest in our interview series is Dr. Rachel Armstrong, interdisciplinary practitioner and sustainability innovator. Armstrong’s work uses all manners of media to engage audiences and bring them into contact with the latest advances in science and their real potential through the inventive applications of technology, to address some of the biggest problems facing the world today. She designs solutions for the built and natural environment using advanced new technologies and smart chemistry.You may know Armstrong from her essay Self-Repairing Architecture and her research in living architecture and protocell technology, a new material that possess some of the properties of living systems and can be manipulated to grow architecture.We recently talked with Rachel Armstrong about living buildings, Venice's foundations, millennial nature and how to improve our future.You work somewhere between science and architecture, how would you define your work and how did you start?I’m a concept and ideas explorer. I like to test the ideas that I have to see how they might work and then re-apply what I learn during my experiments to further refine my ideas. I use a range of different methods and don’t comfortably fit in any particular discipline although I am very happy working across disciplines and learn a great deal from my collaborations.How did I start? It has been something that I've done since childhood, when I was a child I could do art and science, English and math, anything. I was just interested in things, even when I went to university I didn't want to specialize particularly. I remember when I was about five years old I put my hands down in the earth just trying to figure out what it was made of. I thought this substance was so special that perhaps we could use it to make incredible things. I guess it’s an interest that never died. At university I studied medicine because my ambition was to design and engineer with the natural world, it was the only discipline that allowed me to do this with living things. There wasn't synthetic biology at that time. Biology itself was an incredibly backward looking practice. Of course now it’s all changed with advances in biotechnology, but when I was a young student it was only really medicine that gave me the opportunity to design and engineer, keeping art and science together. Part of my medical training was to choose a sabbatical. I went to India and worked with people with leprosy and observed how people could restore their lives by bringing together issues of identity, the body, technology and the natural world through art and technology. So, right from the beginning of my career, I never limited myself to one discipline and when I did I got incredibly frustrated, so that’s really how I started.The integration between architecture and biological systems is already reality, there are some precedents, like the living bridges of Cherrapunji, in northeast India. Here the locals learned to “drive” the roots of the Ficuselastica tree to build bridges able to support the weight of 50 people and reach 30 meters in length. What could 21th century architects learn from these dynamic construction principles? How we could apply these methods to urban areas?You are absolutely right! Nature itself is larger than the architecture scale. If we actually think about life on this Earth and the mega structures that are produced by living things, for example the algal blooms and aspen trees, which are giant multiple bodies sometimes comparable to cities in their scale, we can see that nature is geological scale in terms of its effects. What we have to learn from nature is to understand its technology. Understanding form and function of natural systems is not enough – we need to understand those processes through which these outputs are produced and how the outcomes are entangled. Culturally, in the modern Western world, we use machines as our technological platform. Machines come from a very particular way of understanding the world. They have a unique ontology that is born from a very particular set of ideas. Most notably machines assume reality is made of objects, which can be defined geometrically and hierarchically linked. It also assumes that the world is at effective equilibrium where matter is passive, so machines need external energy for their functional object hierarchies to do useful work. Nature doesn't work like that. Its technology deals with processes that we can describe as ‘metabolism’. These are functional chemical interactions that are never static, or the systems are no longer living.[pullquote]What we have to learn from nature is its technology[/pullquote]Nature needs to do work to be living but it doesn't require humans to provide external energy. However, metabolic processes can be prolonged by external energy sources such as, the sun and carbon dioxide. There is an internal agency in the technology of nature that can create effects that don’t work in the same way as machines. I think that if we look at a very low level of what nature is – at the level of chemistry – and unravel how she produces her effects we will begin to understand these secrets and much more ecological forms of technology. These systems won’t be machines but will be a different kind of technological platform, which we can call an ‘assemblage’, with completely different outcomes and impacts on the environment to those we associate with the industrial age.Do you thing “bio-architecture” can become the main architecture in a future next natural world?Many people adopt the term “bio-architecture” in many different ways. Some refer to bio-mimicry has being a bio-architecture which broadly-speaking, uses industrial processes to copy nature’s shapes and more recently, its functions. Although the outcomes of nature are pretty, and/or useful, we’re really only looking at the end products of hugely sophisticated systems. So the pursuit of ‘mimicking’ biological outputs doesn't really interest me in a huge way because I’m more concerned with the way that the chemical hardware and software of natural systems are spatially entangled through metabolic processes to shape these kinds of events. When we simply replicate what we think nature has been doing, we do not understand the processes that we’re mimicking at a sufficiently deep level and ultimately we are still working within an industrial paradigm. The kind of architecture I’m dreaming of engages and designs with metabolism and for example, could produce buildings with organs and physiologies, which for example, process vital nutrients, filter our water and even produce energy. Potentially organ systems within buildings will help us transform our waste into rich soils or other products that may replenish, not deplete our environment. I hope this will be the future of architecture.[pullquote]The kind of architecture I’m dreaming of produces buildings with organs and physiologies[/pullquote]My own practice seeks to identify alternative technological platforms to industrial technologies and culture, simply because they are so wide spread now that they’re causing an imbalance in the chemistry and the natural world. I am not fundamentally ‘against’ machines, but I am ‘against’ them being our only technological option. I would like to see a much greater range of technological platforms to help us deal with the challenges that humans face. By diversify our technological approaches hopefully, we’ll find that the inevitable imbalances between the different systems start to balance each other out. It reminds me of Ben Moor’s definition of “beauty” – to paraphrase - somebody is beautiful when all the imperfections cancel each other out. I think that’s very much the kind of condition that I would like us to technologically and culturally be at!The path has already been shown by some pioneers of architecture inspired by the life, such as Richard Buckminster Fuller and Antoni Gaudí. More recently we can find other examples of Biomimicry, innovations inspired by nature, did humans begin to understand and accept the fact that technology can have some living systems properties? Is it possible a mind-changing?I think that people have to observe our contemporary lives differently and wonder at the kind of technological advances that we have accesses to right now – even if, as William Gibson notes, they are unevenly distributed. Warren Ellis in particular reminds us to reflect on just how amazing our lives are when we are able to have a conversation from different parts of the world, send rockets to the International Space Station and understand that some people are actually living there - beyond the Earth atmosphere. So when we look with wonder at the technologies around us, we may actually begin to observe that the patterns within the internet appear to have some lifelike qualities and – teetering on the edge of the uncanny valley - machines and robots are becoming recognizably more lifelike. Yet, most of the times we fail to consider just how amazing these developments are, since we adapt to our surroundings very easily. [pullquote]Technology follows, not leads, invention[/pullquote]We culturally edit our preferences to suit our technological developments and match them to cultural demands. Right now, we are living in an epoch where we do not expect our machines to be ‘alive’, so we ignore their liveliness and assimilate these incredible developments into the quotidian. But things are changing. We desire to live in a more ecologically connected world where human development may be good for, not bad for, our biosphere. So, we desire more lifelike technologies and perhaps we are beginning to recognize and design with more lively technologies in mind. In fact, this kind of collective appetite may be thought of an innovation driver in which technology follows, not leads invention. I think that in the idea of innovation driving cultural changing, culture plays a large part in established markets. For example, Symbiotica made the provocation in 2000 that we could produce ‘victimless meat’, thirteen years later Andras Forgacs has developed a technique that cultures meat like it was yeast with no cow deaths involved and the first very small squares of leather are being produced that are coveted by international fashion designers. The ‘victimless meat’ idea has also spurred on the idea of cooking with cultured meat – so collective desire manifests in many different forms through a variety of cultural expressions. In other words – it is not always science and technology that leads innovation. Indeed, one of the things that Next Nature Network highlights quite beautifully is the role of culture in innovation and the development of technology.Assuming we as humans are co-evolving with technology. What can we do to steer this in a desired direction? Can we steer at all?We have the power to shape our own technological evolution – even if we use ‘soft’ control to direct the outcomes. One of the really interesting things about having many different practices, paradigms and different kind of solving approaches through technology, is that we are increasing our ability to remain fluid and adaptive to change. We are definitely going to need resilience and adaptability as key drivers of human development in this century, if the predictions of an unstable earth and rapid increase in the number of people on the planet are correct. In facing these significant challenges we need not to just consider the amount of ‘life’ that we can support but invest in ensuring a good quality of life. A healthy relationship with technology may help us achieve this as I view technology as being the way that our minds are embodied in the process of problem solving. As this century unfolds, Nature will increasingly be the challenge that we need to address – so there will be an even tighter coupling between technology and the natural world than already exists.You studied a protocell technology that could stop the city of Venice from sinking on its soft geological foundations by generating a sustainable, artificial reef under the foundations of Venice and spreading the point load of the city. How this project is close to become real and concrete?This is a very interesting question, because I think it relates to the way that we envision the future. My Venice research is at a prototyping stage and it could be ready in 15 or 20 years. In reality the future is much more complex than just setting a linear time line on laboratory developments and prototypes, it’s contingent on many different events that are beyond the control of the designer. ‘The future’ is not an empirical quantity that can be guaranteed by setting up a chain of events – it is probabilistic. It is therefore only possible to orchestrate a diverse series of supporting events as best as possible to try to create the conditions in which a desired outcome is most likely. The advent of an artificial reef ultimately depends on many factors that are beyond my direct influence and require decentralized control over the project. Firstly, in my view, the people of Venice need to want this particular idea to happen. Its success also heavily depends on the political and economic situation and on my ability to raise funds and put together a team to make sure that the technology works in an environmentally enhancing way. Then the way that the technology and its relationship with the environment needs to work in ways that it has been imagined. If not, further research and development will need to be conducted to re-shape the possible outcomes in ways that continue to be desirable. There is nothing inevitable about the future, we need to continually negotiate it – on many different levels – and since we only have finite time and resources we may as well dedicate these to shaping the kind of outcomes that are important to us. If the idea of an artificial limestone reef under the foundations of the city of Venice is something that the citizens want and is supported by the government and external funders, then this greatly increases its likelihood.What are the possible benefits and risks or negative aspects, if there are, in self-repairing architecture?The benefits are that you don’t have to spend a lot of time, money and energy trying to work against nature or natural forces. Inert, or non-living systems, inevitably deteriorate due to the continual actions of nature that is not in equilibrium on their static surfaces.Currently we spend around 2-3% of the original cost of a new building every year on maintenance and repair. Of course, as the buildings get older the percentage of the original value spent on maintenance and repair rapidly rises. So, for older buildings in particular, it may be economically prudent to find ways of introducing self healing systems into an architectural structure, as there will be a huge cost and maintenance saving.[pullquote]We spend 3% a year of the original cost of the building on maintenance and repair, with the self healing system there will be huge savings[/pullquote]Regarding the negative aspects of the technology, questions are always raised about how the system is controlled. Obviously, if something has living properties there will be concerns about the potential for it to contaminate and destroy the natural environment. Yet dynamic chemistries need our active participation for them to survive in their surroundings. They can only work as long as they are externally fed and replenished. For example, they can’t go into the Adriatic Sea in an uncontrolled fashion, as we would have to direct and support this process. Lifelike chemistries need humans to keep on living. The droplets are not a GMO, with a gene with the autonomy and the ability to survive without us. In this way the droplets inhabit a twilight zone of existence being between acting in ways that suggest they are ‘alive’ and simultaneously being far from being completely autonomous. Another negative aspect to the technology is this degree of engagement that we need to exert for the droplets to work in meaningful ways. So, they will require a lot of care for them to do what we need them to do, like growing a delicate garden. In face, we will be more like surgeons or doctors rather than throwing magical seeds into the water and walking away without any accountability for what they do.At this point it is clear that architectural processes are becoming much more dynamic, what kind of aesthetics do you expect will emerge from it?The aesthetics of these structures will be co-constructed by human preference and the limits of performance of the system. In the same way that a wood carver can only works with a particular kind of wood, which suggests what their work will be, it will be the same for lifelike technologies, which will offer a certain quality of substrate that can be shaped by our aesthetic preferences. This idea of co-design is a challenging one for designers who are used to working with obedient digital geometries. I suspect we will have some really good designs and some really bad ones, but this is the same with all media concerned with aesthetics.Is there the prospect of using your new materials in different areas other than buildings?Yes, for example, we can use this technology in areas that are flooded because protocells do very well when there is water around. Indeed dynamic droplets need an aqueous medium before they can move. So, this particular technology will enable us to design able to design in place where water damages buildings, so that the presence of water in the system may activate a set of protocells that stimulate growth – like the way the Florida Glades bloom and swell after sudden rainfall. Protocells may even be used in food stuffs – where our dinner may move around on the plate, rather than lie still! There is probably a whole range of possible applications, like the cavity inside the body. Who knows, we may like to have jewelry for body cavities that can only be seen when we have an X-ray or a medical scan. These kinds of applications are not really functional – but frivolous. I like the idea of protocells not being bound to rational solutions. A system that is playful, peculiar, intriguing, beautiful and unpredictable is sufficiently wonderful!Nature caused by people is the focus idea of Next Nature and the fact that humans are increasingly able to manipulate natural processes also appear in your activity. In your opinion, how does nature change along with human culture?Timothy Morton asks us to deconstruct the idea of nature and proposes that it is a cultural concept. He does a wonderful job of exposing the different kinds of natures that we share when we talk about the natural world. Everybody has a different idea of nature. Some envisage bucolic, picturesque landscapes, neo-environmentalists consider nature as a creative resource that can be consumed, while for others, nature is a place without people. However, after deconstructing the idea of nature, we need to make new propositions and profess our biases. My view of nature is a millennial one. Millennial nature is vast, raw and relentlessly material. It is more than biology and is a combination of geochemical forces working with living systems that are deeply entangled and keep each other away from collectively reaching relative equilibrium.[pullquote]Nature is a cultural concept, everybody has a different idea of nature[/pullquote]Millennial nature is much less picturesque and much more democratic in its materiality than more Romantic views of nature, which are concerned with a particular organic aesthetic. Millennial nature is not anti-human, but needs to be properly engaged using the language of chemistry and ‘metabolism’ that enables us to connect with the processes that forge the natural world. In this manner, millennial nature possesses the possibility of transformation and may be ‘technologiesd’. This for me is the defining characteristic of millennial nature – that it’s a material transformer that requires us to treat it with respect. It’s not against our survival, but we need to align with it as a technology, to continue to live ‘bios’ - ‘the good life’.Why are we having this Next Nature discussion now, and not 1000 years ago or in 100 years?On reaching the third millennium we have encountered two major factors that are enabling things to happen that have not been possible before. The first is the Internet, which has established the condition for a global conversation about the state of humanity and what it means to be humans. The second is the biotechnological revolution that is allowing us to develop tools to build and shape technologies that are not machines.[pullquote]Third millennium major factors are the Internet and the biotechnological revolution[/pullquote]In combination these factors are beginning to bring about a paradigm shift in the way that we imaging and build the world. This is why next nature is incredibly exciting, because it’s not just about the technology, it’s actually us asking much deeper questions about our humanity and how we’re going to shape it as we experience a paradigm shift in the way we live. It’s taking place on a global scale very rapidly. Each of us is shaping our future every single day and bringing together those ingredients that we think are important, whether we are conscious of the new possibilities, or not. Next Nature Network is doing a great job of raising awareness of these transitions and is providing a platform through which we may be able to work together and imagine and construct the futures we want.Which one of your works do you think is most successful and representative of your activity?I would say that the Hylozoic Ground, an installation for the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, probably encapsulates my thinking the best, because it’s been built and it works. It was a collaboration with architect Philip Beesley. I scaled up a chemical system that was only a millimeter big and modified it to a point where people could see it without a microscope. Then I developed it in a way so it could connect with the lively cybernetic framework of the Hylozoic Ground installation. It’s not a mechanical environment; it’s a strange, emotional, playful space that seems to want to participate with its visitors. I really hope to do many more kinds of project like this.[pullquote]We have to work together and imagine and construct the futures we want[/pullquote]What are your big plans for the future?To keep on doing more of what I’m doing now, I’m having so much fun. My five year old self would be proud of where I’m at today and the kind of things that I’m doing. Very immediately I’m working on the Persephone Project which is concerned with the design and implementation of a giant natural computer that will form the ‘living’ interior to a world-ship. It is going to be officially launched at the Starship Congress,in Dallas, from august the 15 of this year. I will also talk about Persephone further at Future Fest in the UK which runs over the weekend 28th to the 29th September. The idea is to literally grow a living interior from the basic ingredients necessary to make its first soils. Although this is a real project, it is also an innovation platform that proposes to use Black Sky Thinking to escape being constrained by what already exists by taking a bold and creative leap into the unknown – or unknowable. In that way, Persephone provides a context where we may deconstruct and reconstruct ideas around the idea of what it means to be human – and reflect on how these relate to the kind of nature we would like to see ‘evolve alongside us’ - just as Next Nature Network proposes.Thanks so much, Rachel, for sharing your work and viewpoints with us!Related Post: Interview: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Interview: Floris Kaayk [post_title] => Interview: Rachel Armstrong, Innovative Scientist Who Wants to Grow Architecture [post_excerpt] => Rachel Armstrong discusses living buildings, Venice's foundations, millennial nature and how to improve our future. 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It’s common consensus in the tech industry that the days of cars as we know them—powered by gas, driven by humans, and individually owned by all who want and can afford one—are numbered. Imminent is the age of autonomous, electric, and shared transportation, and we’re continuously taking small steps towards making it a reality. Self-driving software is getting better at avoiding accidents. Battery storage capacity is climbing. Solar energy is getting cheaper. This all points to a bright automotive future.

But not everyone is on board—in fact, some cities are taking the opposite approach, phasing out gas-powered cars altogether, limiting use of hybrid and electric cars, and making urban centers car-free. Will they be left in the dust as the rest of us are autonomously driven into the (energy-producing) sunset? Or do the anti-car folks have it right—is the brighter future one that forgoes cars in favor of even more sustainable and healthy modes of transportation?

Too much of a good thing

What might Henry Ford think if he saw what’s become of his invention? Highways clogged with traffic, accidents a leading cause of death, commuters sealed alone and sedentary in their vehicles for hours.

Ford may have never expected cars to become cheap and accessible enough for us to use them to the extent we do today. And as the global middle class grows, cars are likely to proliferate even more; as people make more money, they want cars not just for transportation and convenience, but as status symbols.

The countries where the middle class has the most potential to grow—that is, countries where poverty rates are still relatively high—are also seeing people flock to cities in search of work and security. The UN predicts that 90 percent of the global shift to urban areas will take place in Asia and Africa, with Delhi, Dhaka, Bombay, and Kinshasa among the top 10 most populated future mega-cities.

It would be messy enough to add millions more cars to cities that have an existing infrastructure for them—and far messier to add them to cities like these that don’t. Plus, even if the cars are electric, the electricity has to come from somewhere, and even the world’s wealthiest countries aren’t likely to get to 100 percent renewables until 2050 at the soonest. And you can only have so much congestion before a city’s quality of life and economy are impacted.

Mexico City was the first in the world to take serious action against traffic congestion, implementing daily “no drive restrictions” based on license plate numbers. London, Singapore, and Stockholm all use congestion pricing, where drivers have to pay to enter city centers or crowded streets.

These are minor measures compared to the steps other cities are taking to discourage people from driving.

Auf Wiedersehen, don’t drive

Ready? Here are some rapid-fire stats on cities taking steps to limit cars.

Madrid made its city center a designated low-emission zone, restricting access by older diesel and gas cars and planning to ban these vehicles from the zone completely by 2020. Hybrid cars can get an “eco label” and circulate freely.

The whole of Denmark is planning to ban the sale of new gas and diesel cars starting in 2030, and the sale of hybrid cars starting in 2035. Copenhagen already has one of the lowest rates of car ownership and highest rates of bike commuting in Europe.

In Paris, no cars are allowed in the city center between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m on the first Sunday of every month. Cars made before 1997 aren’t allowed in the city on weekdays, and the city is doubling its number of bike lanes.

Athens will ban diesel cars by 2025 and already restricts the days of the week they can drive in the city center, based on license plate numbers.

Oslo has set a target to become carbon neutral by 2030, and doing away with non-electric cars will be key to its success. The city has restricted access for private vehicles, turned road space into pedestrian space, and eliminated almost all of the parking spots in the city center.

While Hamburg will still allow cars in its city center, it’s laying down plans that will make it far easier for people not to have to drive, including a “green network” that will connect parks and cover 40 percent of the city’s space.

Brussels will ban all diesel vehicles by 2030 and is heavily promoting public and shared transportation. It’s even making its trains, buses, and shared bikes free to use on days with excessively high air pollution.

The Netherlands will only allow emissions-free vehicles by 2030, and is pumping €345 million into its already robust bicycle infrastructure.

Helsinki is redesigning its suburbs, which people primarily reach by driving, into walkable communities linked to the city by public transit, in hopes that Finns won’t need to own cars at all within 10 years.

Why all the goodbyes?

Cutting out cars has the obvious benefit of reducing pollution—again, even if the cars are electric, we’re not yet to the point of 100 percent clean energy. And in fact, higher temperatures and less rain in many parts of the world mean pollution from cars is even more potent, and gets washed away less frequently.

Going auto-free is good for people, too; it encourages more exercise (by walking and biking more), less isolation (by taking public or shared transportation), more time saved (no sitting still in clogged traffic) with less stress (I repeat—no sitting still in clogged traffic), and improved safety (car accidents definitely kill more people than bike or train accidents do). Greening city centers will also make those cities more pleasant to live in and visit.

It’s worth noting that the cities reducing car usage are almost all in Europe, where such measures are far more feasible than, say, the US, where outside of major urban areas, it’s hard to go anywhere without a car. American cities expanded into now-sprawling suburbs largely thanks to the invention of the car, and have a degree of dependence on driving that will be hard to scale back from.

European cities, in contrast, were further developed by the time cars proliferated; they’d already largely been built around public transportation, and continued to expand train systems even as cars became more popular. Plus, European countries’ comparatively small size makes it much more practical to rely on public transit than in the US; many US states are larger than European countries.

The cities in developing countries that are set for population booms in the next two to three decades would be wise to follow Europe’s example rather than that of the US.

A habit we’ll never fully kick

Cars will, of course, continue to be widely used, including right at the edges of the cities that are banning them. The measures to discourage car usage and ownership are a start, but major shifts in urban planning and in peoples’ behavior aren’t as straightforward, and will take much longer to change.

If big tech’s vision plays out, though, people will be able to use cars and reduce the danger, time, and stress associated with them; autonomous cars will pick us up, deftly navigate city streets, drop us at our destinations, then go pick up their next passenger.

It does seem, then, that the days of cars as we know them are numbered, whether they’re replaced by high-tech versions of their former selves or switched out for bikes and trains.

But fear not—the transition will happen slowly. There’s plenty of time left to sing at the top of your lungs (in between honking at bad drivers and checking a maps app to see how traffic looks) while sealed inside your good old reliable, private, gas-powered, human-driven chariot.

This article originally appeared on Singularity Hub, a publication of Singularity University. Image Credit: Joshua Bolton / Unsplash

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