The city is fundamentally an organism and an ecosystem, formed by the flows of energy information and material through it. The city has a metabolism and a metabolic rate that can be mapped and understood like another organism, yet unlike natural systems, due to economic paradigms of continual growth and expansion the city evolves along a much faster timescale.
Where natural systems evolved delicate relationships with the surrounding environment, intricately linked to the ebbs and energetic flows of the planet; mans largest metabolic construction, the city, is inextricably tied to an unsustainable, constantly accelerating pace of life. The current metabolic trajectory of the city and by extension humanity, far exceeds the capacities of the planet. This trajectory is defined by the growth of the city and its cultural and socioeconomic structure which necessitates continual consumption and growth in order to survive. The mass increase in mans population over the next fifty years will not only exasperate the inequalities of humanity but also increase the severity of climate change to unprecedented and irreversible levels. A future where mans unsustainable relationship to material, energy and information flows may result in the collapse of our entire socioeconomic structure.
The impact of carbon emissions persists longer than that of nuclear waste, the archetypical long-lived waste product. Even if we could halt all human carbon emissions today, the climate risks they pose will persist for millennia assuming that we rely only on natural processes to dissipate our carbon glut. It is essential that progress be made to filter our atmosphere to reduce levels of co2. Numerous natural processes remove carbon from the atmosphere and use it to create form and structure through simple chemical reactions. The formation of coral reefs is an excellent example of co2 calcification into the largest of all natural structures. These processes can be mimicked using low energy strategies to create calcium carbonate, heavily used in the construction industry as as a raw/primary substance for building materials like cement. Co2 sequestration from air provides the possibility to create fully carbon negative building materials whilst also creating a carbon sink, purifying the earths atmosphere by storing large amount of carbon.
Striking a balance between complete order and complete chaos, I would like to define the framework and initial conditions for a new type of urbanism to emerge; The sinking volcano creating an atoll and the possibility for an entire reef ecosystem to evolve is an analogy I would like to evoke. Abandoned and derelict industrial sites, exemplifying the failures of the past could provide a ready made boundary and infrastructure for a sustainable form of urban growth of occupy. Having access to only a certain amount of carbon negative building materials, the occupants will physically define their own personal spaces and habitats. The creation of material will be defined by the natural ebbs and flows of the climate and therefore the size and growth rate of the urban habitat with its constrained boundaries will be unable to increase indefinitely. The size and population of the habitat will naturally be controlled by a number of different influences. The program, culture and economy of the urban environment is entirely defined by the occupants themselves. Each space and individual unit is unique; but taken as a whole, a new from of urbanism emerges through self organisation. The principles of scaling and density will create an efficient environment where innovation will flourish to fill economic niches. The cultural evolution of the space will create a sustainable economy of need and necessity rather than consistently increasing consumption; a sustainable paradigm that will physically define the form of the urban architecture itself.