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PROJECT B.A.R.C. | Greening the Metropolis

November 27, 2009

PROJECT B.A.R.C.  – Beyond Architectural Regulations in China. BARC is an ambitious collaborative design-research project initiated by the Dynamic City Foundation. BARC aims to deliver a holistic planning model for green cities. The project brings together ten teams from Holland and China in a two-tiered compressed study to conceive fundamentally new concepts that look beyond the realm of engineering and design. Phase I is a workshop that maps our ultimate desires for green living in the future. Results will be presented at the forum ‘Green From Scratch’ at the HKSZ Biennale 2009. Phase II is an actual urban proposal presented at the Shanghai World Expo that simulates a longterm development for Caofeidian Eco-city. Ten teams planning on top of each other for five year periods until 2060 will reveal the possibilities of evolutionary green planning.

Climate change is unique among contemporary issues in being both utterly global in scale and truly modern. There is no precedent to mankind making a sincere and conscious effort to bring the world’s weather systems under his control. However this is in effect what conditions necessitate. The near continuous series of industrial revolutions that have swept across the world over the last two centuries have been driven by a particular kind of thinking: one which has achieved phenomenal productivity growth and, as we are now coming to appreciate, accreted an extraordinary output problem. Solving this problem, as Einstein would have pointed out, will require a revolution in thinking of no lesser magnitude than that which created it.

However, far from embracing bold new avenues of thought, much of the current response is characterized by fear. There is the direct fear of the planet itself — of the floods, hurricanes, droughts and extreme temperatures which it is threatening to serve up to us. But deeper than this, and more insidious, is the fear of ourselves: the fear of our previous creations and the monster they have unleashed, and consequently, a fear of our power to create anew.

From the press release:

In direct opposition to this, BARC is founded on a belief in the power of mental experimentation. It extends the challenge to designers to think in a completely new way about the organization of our spaces and how we inter-relate with them. If the society we have to date been so ardently building is not green, then we must now ask, What is green living? What does it look like? and, What do we want it to look like? At the same time asking, Where are we locked by the old framework for reality? and, How can we explore and describe the new concepts we need in the language we have?

BARC is the product of a contrary: that the most concrete and detailed problem of our times requires the most imaginative and unfettered approach. The realistic response demands that we dream. It is a oxymoron, and as such gives rise to a string of further contraries, tensions, paradoxes and dualities. We believe that by tackling such contraries head-on, we may break through to a new kind of thinking on the other side.

HKSZ Bi-city Biennale for Architecture and Planning, Shenzhen Civic Center, Dec 7, 10 AM CHINA
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