menu

Designing Our Cities As Living Organisms [My Ideal City]

Designing Our Cities As Living Organisms [My Ideal City]
Design

PSFK chats with green architecture pioneer Eric Corey Freed about recycled resource systems and their impact on urban development.

PSFK Labs
  • 5 may 2013

As part of our series looking at the future of citiesPSFK.com reached out to experts to get their take on key trends we’ve identified that are currently affecting urban environments. Eric Corey Freed is the founder of organicARCHITECT whose goal is to make every building a green building, and focuses on all types and scales of projects – from designing houses to drafting green policies. He spoke to PSFK.com about how recycled resource systems are helping to build sustainable growth in urban settings and why we should look upon cities as living organisms.

How can regenerative solutions that redirect and limit wasted resources positively impact urban environments?

Whether you realize it or not, a city is a living organism.  It is full of systems, processes, interactions, and symbiosis so complex that we can’t really understand how they work together.  Sure you can look at an individual part and study it, but the combination of those interactive systems starts to mimic the complexity found in Nature.  The key to making better cities is in studying the deep lessons of Nature.

Imagine a city that produces oxygen, absorbs carbon, provides habitat for hundreds of species, creates food and filters and cleans water.  That is what is possible – but we have to stop this habit of “slash, burn & dump.”  We need to transform all of our existing buildings quickly to fix the mess we have made and to repair and restore the environment.  We need living, regenerative, healthy, beautiful buildings, and we need them now!

Can you share any other creative design solutions that put wasted energy towards new uses? What are the implications of maximizing energy efficiency within city environments?

We already know everything we need to make living and regenerative buildings.  The key to maximizing energy efficiency within the city is to look at all of the inputs and outputs – that is all of the things going in and coming out of the city.  There have been those proposals for piezo electric sidewalks, or elevators with regenerative braking, but I like the old school approaches of using thermal mass, passive solar and dynamic glazing to better use energy within the building.  I like the idea of designing the stairs so people prefer them over the elevator.  I like buildings that grow their own food and have an onsite living machine to filter the waste water.  These are not new ideas, but they are still considered on the fringe.

Looking ahead, how do you see green and sustainable design practices influencing urban development?

The difference between today and the early days of the green building movement is that we have lost the luxury of choice.  We have stalled for so long that we can’t afford to wait any longer.  We are going to have to make every new and existing building meet a minimum (but high) level of energy and water efficiency.  Soon cities will only approve developments that have a low energy use intensity (energy per square foot), so sprawling big box stores covering 15 acres would never qualify.  And all of this drumbeat is leading us to a final and inevitable conclusion:  that very soon every building will have to be a net zero building.

In fact, the State of California has already mandated that by the year 2020

What three things would you include in your perfect city?

I like to look at how Nature builds committees, and it does it with Density, Diversity and Symbiosis.  So that is what I look to inject into all of our projects.

Density in terms of scale, size, and compactness of features.

Diversity in terms of use, people, functions, activities and flexibility.

Symbiosis in terms of all of the magic things that happen when you combine the first two.

Thanks Eric!

Check out Eric’s recent talk about applying design thinking lessons for sustainability at PSFK CONFERENCE SAN FRANCISCO:

Eric Corey Freed: Designing For A Post-Carbon Future from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.

organicARCHITECT

MyIdealCity

Q. What local resources should be better recycled and reused?

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site – or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #GreenScaping

recycled-resource

Over the next 6 months, PSFK and a team of experts imagining the future of a city will be asking you what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Tweet us your ideas and view all the submissions at the MyIdealCity site.

Design
Trending

Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World's Largest Open-Air Gallery

Culture
Asia Today

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Today

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Health Today

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Today

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Related Expert

Beau Trincia

IDEO Design Thinking

Design & Architecture Today

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Today

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

Fashion Today

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs Today

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Automotive Today

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

Op-Ed Today

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

Work Today

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Today

Mischievous Drone Will Drop Paint-Filled Balloons On Targets Of Your Choosing

A German photography team developed the flying device to accurately deliver a payload wherever needed

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Fashion Today

100 Backpacks Made For The World’s Top Influencers

Heineken and TUMI have collaborated on a unique custom NYC-inspired bag

Financial Services Today

This Peer-To-Peer Insurance Company Is Powered By Bots

Lemonade is a new product designed to lighten the paperwork and provide instant, helpful service when needed

No search results found.