Conduit Urbanism

[The ‘Post Carbon Highway: Strategic Differentiation of the Sectional Construct‘]

“Parallel to the current crisis of carbon-based fuel supply, planners, politicians, engineers and industrial leaders foresee a future of increasing demands for mobility combined with an unprecedented intensity of regional, polycentric urbanization and a decaying transport infrastructure… With mobility and energy infrastructural transformations already underway, and with its manufacturing base and population currently shifting and growing, the Great Lakes Megaregion might capitalize on the intersections of necessary infrastructural retooling and expansion by developing an ambitious and robust regional vision that re-conceives the entire network within an integrated physical, ecological and societal perspective.”

For a scenario-based take on regional urbanism – one which expands and contrasts with the distribution logistics of big box retail (per the current Infrastructural City blogiscussion), check out Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thun’s Conduit Urbanism. Their speculative project was recently featured in the worthwhile collection of essays in Landscapes of Energy, examining “the potential for bundled high speed mobility, communications infrastructure and freshwater resources tied to renewable energy sources within the Great Lakes Megaregion to engender new forms of urbanism, industry clusters, and symbiotic networks.

One comment

  1. thanks for bringing this up. I like the idea, especially the approach of rethinking the highway through the cross section with the plan being used to fill out the details. Currently, most of landscape design is still pretty cartesian (though a few excellent practitioners have been working to change this in recent decades, which the Marthur/DaCunha interview at Places points out well). Most of the time, at least in professional practice, the design is done in plan and the section is used only to fill out details. But if that is reversed, and the design in done in section and the plan is only coordinating the different sections, the ideas could be interesting.

    Anyways, a good precedent for “conduit urbanism”, and tying in to your interest in corporate landscapes, would be the banana republics in the early 20th century. The company that became Chiquita banana agreed to build railroads for the central american governments desperate to “modernize”, and then they planted banana plantations in the ample right-of-ways alongside the tracks. This of course allowed them to “bundle resources and enable hypermobility” (or whatever). They had free land and transport for a new lucrative cash crop (as well as control of the railroads which allowed them to create puppet governments; hence the name ‘banana republics’).

    Decent project, though the fact that there would be multiple “cross sections” which would have to be coordinated in plan doesn’t seem to be dealt with. For instance, wind turbines can’t laid out according to the exact same logic/geometry as a highway and still work optimally, so how is that difference negotiated?

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