Water: the bad news and the good news

A new book by Alex Prud’homme called The Ripple Effect addresses the “vast and desperately serious subject” of water. The author does not hold back: all the world’s water problems are here. The sewage, fertilizers, industrial chemicals, plastics, paint, drugs, and hand soap, among other contaminants, that find their way into the world’s rivers every […]

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From Powerpoint to Permaculture

When I arrived at Angsbacka, the site in Sweden of last weekend’s first Future Perfect festival, an alarming array of leaflets was on offer in the foyer : ‘Shamanic De-Armouring’; ‘How To UpGreat Your Life’ or ‘Reach The Temple of your Inner Beauty’; ‘The Journey to Bliss’; ‘A Cellular Dance of Oneness’. My first reaction […]

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Ten Ways to Redesign Design Competitions

The image above is a Piezzoelectric skin that could be attached to vertical surfaces on buildings.The skin would generate electricity as wind moved across its tiny hairs. Wind Skin, as the project is called, so enchanted jurors at last week’s EDF Sustainable Design Challenge that it was selected as one of six winners that will […]

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Life is a Picnic in The Fertile City

If you’re in Paris before 24 July a spectacular exhibition called The Fertile City: Towards An Urban Nature is well worth a visit. The show’s OTT poster does not over-promise. The exhibition explores nature in the city from multiple perspectives: historical, social, cultural, botanical, ecological. Two narrative sequences overlap: an “immersion in the urban-vegetal world”, […]

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Edible Architecture

Today seems to be the day when, once a year in this part of France, every spider in the region spins her best possible web at the same moment. Early in the morning, when covered in dew, the whole landscape seems to be dotted with uncountable millions of these amazing structures. Now spider’s web, as […]

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Knife sharpening

Last week I was taught how to sharpen our kitchen knives by a wood carver, Howard Raybould, who’s been honing his technique for 30 years. It’s the most useful skill I’ve acquired since learning how to ride a bike. Howard arrived bearing: a wooden board; a clamp to attach the board to the table with; […]

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Geeked-out gardening

The day after I celebrated his Kickstarter success with Tyler Caruso, co-founder of Seeing Green, which is about measuring the value of urban agriculture, I read a fascinating piece by Simon Kuper in the FT about the use of data to analyse every tiny aspect of a football match.. ‘Largely unseen by public and media, […]

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Shoe Town to Brew Town

When Jimmy Carbone, co-creator of The Good Beer Seal, was considering running for mayor of his old hometown in Haverhill, Massachusetts, he began to ponder possible new uses for industrial buildings that had fallen in to disuse. Could small resource-sharing breweries be a centerpiece of a regional economic development? To find out, he asked his […]

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The high-tech permaculture metabolic engine greenhouse

[Stop Press: Polydome has been shortlisted for the 2012 Buckminster Fukller Challenge] A few years ago urban farming in developed cities was a fringe topic that few designers or architects thought much about. There were exceptions: we tried hard [but failed] to build a prototype of Natalie Jeremijenko’s Urban Space Station at Designs of the […]

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