Thinking Green

I read with interest your reaction to the mechanized environment in Miami

I am in favor of more personal space—be it work or private. Task lighting and task air conditioning have been used in commercial buildings where work spaces can be tempered by the user. The Washington, D.C.-based office I work in presently is close to this ideal with openable windows, a personal fan, and task lights.

Besides buildings, another area that I am interested in is high density urban conditions. Think of the prophetic Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic dome. He once suggested, when asked how he would redevelop Shanghai, putting a dome over the entire city. This could work for urban conditions that are polluted and are located in more extreme climates much further north of the equator than Miami.

I am a long admirer of Bucky. His visions are now well within the scope of technology and the worsening of the urban condition all point to tempering the environment at an urban scale.

I once wrote in the Hong Kong Morning Post urging private enterprises to install curbside air filtration equipment—designed as street furniture—to filter, clean, and recirculate pollution from vehicle exhausts. Anyone who has walked the Hong Kong streets has experienced mini-buses blasting thick, diesel exhaust fumes at them. Hemmed in by tall buildings without natural air movement, pedestrians in the hot, humid Honk Kong summer like the cool air leaking out of department stores onto the sidewalk. With the advent of hybrid vehicles, Bucky’s vision can now be realized at an urban scale with large envelopes shaped to generate natural air movement in big enclosures.

You may be aware that Norman Foster, also a great admirer of Bucky, won a competition for an urban redevelopment of West Kowloon in Hong Kong; with a proposal for a large canopy/shelter, not an enclosed envelope, covering the entire master plan.

Peter Kou, RIBA
Riva, Maryland

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