Playing chicken

On a visit to this week to Z33, an amazing art centre in Belgium, I learned about the Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen and his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (TCCP). It’s wide-ranging investigation of what it would take to create and manipulate scores of chicken breeds from whole over the world into a new species, a universal […]

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Are you, or do you know, a wind catcher expert?

A friend in Colombia has sent me this picture of the model of their proposed new house. She asks my advice on its wind-catching performance, how wide these have to be…etc. Now I’m flattered to be thought to be an expert on such an incredibly sustainable thing as zero energy airco – but my practical […]

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JT West: Experiencing Sustainability

Climate change, peak debt, peak energy: these are all stakes being driven into the body of business as usual. The days of acting as if infinite growth were possible within a finite system are over. Where does this leave (interaction) design? To find out you need to attend my talk on “Experiencing Sustainability” at IxDA […]

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City Eco Lab: view from the balcony – and from the net

An overview (above) of the City Eco Lab site on its second Saturday. It was snowing in St Etienne but the place was packed. (80,000 people came to the biennial two years ago but many more seem to be expected this time). If you scroll down from this story, there are another 18 posts on […]

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City Eco Lab: productive urban gardens

One of the inspiring discoveries we made in putting City Eco Lab together was l’Ilot d’Amaranthes,a five-year-long project in which St Etienne designer Emanuel Louisgrand, in partnership with Galerie Roger Tator, has created productive gardens on abandoned sites in different parts of Lyon. Given the range of malfunctioning global systems we have to deal with, […]

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City Eco Lab: the art of food proximity

“Let’s keep food around us” says Debra Solomon of her presentation at City Eco Lab: Lucky Mi Fortune Cooking. It’s is a working example of how a community can optimize its food flow using design. “New (food) products are not the answer” says Solomon; “new platforms, new actors, new configurations are”. There are a lot […]

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City Eco Lab: The river runs through us

If perpetual, resource-intensive growth is no longer a viable model for the development of a city-region, what alternatives are available? In City Eco Lab, we explored the idea that St Etienne’s river, le Furan, and the natural systems of the broader region, might be a fruitful basis for re-imagining the city. It was in this […]

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City Eco Lab: St Etienne’s Soupe de Ville (City Soup)

Architects are sometimes accused of being more at home in a world of abstraction than in the here-and-now. Nonsense! A team from St Etienne’s architecture school disproved this vile calumny with a wonderful project called Soupe de Ville (City Soup). Having first done a beautiful job documenting sites around the city where food could potentially […]

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City Eco Lab: de-motorisation at different scales

A key principle of City Eco Lab was to focus on live projects and enterprises rather than on good ideas in abstract. The city’s dynamic new courier company, Les Coursiers Verts (The Green Courier Company), took us at our word and relocated their office to the City Eco Lab site for the duration of the […]

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