sustainability


Liam Young, 29 04 15


Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young and long time collaborator Kate Davies run the Unknown Fields Division. Unknown Fields have launched a new project called Rare Earthenware, developed for the ‘What is Luxury’exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

While journeys to extraordinary places are the cornerstone of luxury travel, this project follows more well-concealed journeys taking place across global supply chains. It retraces rare earth elements, which are widely used in high-end electronics and green technologies, to their origins. A film of the project, developed in collaboration with photographer Toby Smith is composed as a single panning shot along a planetary scaled conveyor belt, documents their voyage in reverse from container ships and ports, wholesalers and factories, back to the banks of a barely-liquid radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia, pumped with tailings from the refining process. To accompany the film, Unknown Fields Division have used mud from this lake to craft a set of three ceramic vessels. Each is proportioned as a traditional Ming vase and is made from the amount of toxic waste created in the production of three items of technology – a smartphone, a featherweight laptop and the cell of a smart car battery.

You can watch the full ‘Rare Earthenware’ film exclusively on our project page at the Guardian

The finished vases are made from the exact amount of toxic waste produced in the manufacture of 3 objects of technology- the smartphone, the laptop and the electric car battery cell. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

Unknown Fields collecting radioactive tailings material from besides the worlds Largest Rare Earth minerals refinery in Inner Mongolia. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

Radiation scientists test the toxic clay collected from the tailings lake and find it to be 3 times background radiation. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

The amount of toxic clay produced in the manufacture of a single smart phone is moulded into a traditional Ming vase form. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

A Chinese factory worker assembles the components of our tech gadgets along a conveyor belt that stretches from Inner Mongolia to a London retail store. Film Still © Toby Smith/Unknown Fields

Rare Earthenware by Unknown Fields. Film and Photography in collaboration with Toby Smith, Ceramics assistance from Kevin Kevin Callaghan, Animation assistance from Christina Varvia

sustainability


Liam Young, 10 03 14


Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains.  The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  This post presents the Future Perfect Wilds, developed by artists Cohen Van Balen through their project Nowhere a Shadow. Watch as we let a live wolf stalk the landscape of the city.

There is no nature anymore. We are wandering a new kind of wilderness, where the line between biology and technology is becoming increasingly indistinguishable. Through genetic modification, engineered meat, cosmetic surgery and geo-engineering we are remaking our world from the scale of cells to the scale of continents. The woods, wild and mysteri­ous from afar, appear as a stage on which every element is considered. Genetically engineered plants, artifi­cially sustained, are hanging from the trees, embedded in the ecology yet detached from it.

Their scaffolding systems of gleaming steel and neon light sway in the wind, waiting. Grey wolves approach the struc­tures during the night to scratch their body on the steel branches. In an intri­cate arrangement of devised symbio­sis, the contraption takes on the role of host organism. The wolf’s move­ments generate electricity for the system, while the blueberries are engineered to contain rabies vaccine in its fruit to protect the animal from self-destruction. Cameras transmit footage of the wolf’s presence around the globe, adorned in invisible garlands of elec­tric display, to be enjoyed by those whose passion for the spectacle of wilderness sustains its survival.

 

sustainability


Liam Young, 11 06 12


Coal miners once hammered rock with twittering canaries living beside them, their changing song a warning alarm for a dangerous gas leak. These living sensors watched over us and kept us safe.

‘Singing Sentinels’ by London-based architect Liam Young of Tomorrows Thoughts Today explores a future scenario where bio-engineered birds once again monitor the air for us. Eighty birds have been released into the New Order exhibition at the Mediamatic Gallery in Amsterdam as an ecological warning system, living in the space and providing audible feedback on the state of the atmosphere. Across the course of the exhibition Liam performed the climate change acceleration piece ‘Silent Spring’ seen in the film above. As a ‘pollution DJ’, he flooded the gallery with CO2, altereing the air mixture to replicated the predicted atmospheric changes of the next 100 years. We hear the canary song subtly shift, their rythmn change and eventually silence, as the birds sing a toxic sky- an elegy for a changing planet.

To accompany the exhibition Liam Young, Geoff Manuagh and Tim Maly have written a near future birdwatchers guide “A Field Guide to Singing Sentinels: A Birdwatchers Companion” with illustrations from comic illustrator Paul Duffield. You can see an excerpt and purchase your copy of the limited edition book online here.

See below for exhibition photos.

sustainability


Liam Young, 02 10 10


This is an exerpt of the travelogue from Acres Green. See slow thoughts for the Beamer Bees, Mobile Mountains and Prosthetic Trees and more from this strange little community.  By  Anab Jain + Jon Ardern of Superflux, Liam Young + Darryl Chen of Tomorrows Thoughts Today and Chris Hand and the ‘Power of 8’ team.

At first the residents didn’t know what to call them. The once strange creatures had no name. Maybe there was a manufacturing code, or an RFID tag attached surreptitiously to their underbelly, but nothing official or as obvious as a logo like on a newly unveiled car. No motor show. No fanfare. They just arrived.

Their size was striking. Not that they were big, but that they were unsettlingly human in dimension, each specimen the equivalent mass of an adult man inflated into a rotund figure. Each displayed a great folded surface like unfurled wings spread into a complete and airtight enclosure. Manufactured with precision pleats and jointing expertly executed, the pristine body constituted an object equal to a small exploratory spacecraft or even a fine tailored suit. Its form had a quality of otherworldly beauty, but in recent years those once virgin husks were now marked with the deposits of airborne nuisances – carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, platanus acerfolia pollens and pigeon shit

A homage to the fog catchers that came and went before them, these sophisticated beings were appendages to the natural environment – microclimatic machines. Fastidious in their task of redistributing water, they were able to green small pockets of the ecosystem with workaholic obsession. Their great canopied bodies expanded to collect moisture and contracted to move more efficiently. Hovering the skies, they sought out humid air systems following low air pressure systems, collecting moisture on their outer skins and collecting them in their fuselage. They then deposited this rain – I suppose you could call it rain – on farmlands outside of cities. A promised land like an old testament morality tale. (more…)

sustainability


Liam Young, 11 03 10


This is the second installent of a series of projects to come out of our Power of 8 research trip to ‘Acres Green: The Way Life Should Be’.

…the hypnotic dance patterns of small, glowing insects against the warm colours of the dark sky left us in awe, and we wanted to know more. We stopped two people dressed in large netted clothing walking down the street. They introduced themselves as ‘hivers’ and told us the story behind these mysterious creatures:

These glowing creatures were the Beamer Bees or Beamer Signum Apis Melifera, formulated by a community of biologists and hired bio-hackers to service under-pollinated trees, plants and vegetables due to the disappearance of honey bees.

The Beamer Bees are guided by radiowaves and electromagnetic landscapes to crops requiring pollination. They are produced in a limited number each year, and their interactions with the bumble bees and other creatures are tightly monitored. It seems that the Acres Green residents can buy licenses to call the bees. License holders use the bugles or other personal mobile devices which transmits radiowaves that the bees can detect. The bees follow the waves to their source.

We realised how the Beamer Bees had became central to the Acres Green ecosystem and people seemed to be able to live in harmony with them. We see a glimpse of one family’s everyday interactions with the new creatures. Practical, yet stylish netted fashion ensured comfort on the way to a party, Gardeners who missed out on licenses opportunistically used wifi routers to attract bees to their plants. (more…)

sustainability


Liam Young, 08 03 10


Darting to the safety of the shadows a biotech ferret munches on its prey…

The fourth installment of an ongoing project.  Chapter 4: the Bioluminescent Billboard, the Roving Forests and an Augmented Ferret. (more…)

sustainability


Darryl Chen, 04 09 09


This project witnesses the result of the London Borough of Sutton’s desire to form England’s first “sustainable suburb” in the outer reaches of Greater London. What was first a twinkle in a councillor’s eye led to Sutton’s local government to write a policy document safeguarding Hackbridge as a showcase of carbon-positive living at the scale of the urban district. Sped by compulsory purchases and decanting of a small handful of resistant residents, the process gained more and more momentum until the milestone formation of the Green Grass Management Trust. First functioning as a para-governmental management arm of the fledgling district, the Green Grass MT gained in stature to be a renegade local government in its own right. As more and more people signed up to live within the confines of the newly established urban Ring, the Green Grass MT became less reliant on government subsidies and eventually became untouchable as a political entity, much to the quiet chagrin of local planners and councillors. Officially a special policy area under the umbrella authority of the borough, the Ring is now in actuality independent and self-sufficient in all respects.

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sustainability


Darryl Chen, 03 09 09


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sustainability


Darryl Chen, 02 09 09


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sustainability


Darryl Chen, 29 08 09


“Where The Grass Is Greener” documents a radical alternative in contemporary living, an urban infrastructure, a social experiment, a political statement…. Three thousand residents and counting. In London’s outer suburbs, a community has gathered walling themselves off from the rest of society. These postcards bear testament to their vision. (more…)

sustainability


Liam Young, 20 04 09


The role of landscape is evolving. Developing from a historical position based in conservation and preservation the ‘nature’ of ‘nature’ can now be seen as both generative and dynamic, offering the potential for new ways of engaging with the environment. The distinctions between technology and biology or the natural and artificial are dissolving to the point where they have now become outmoded terms.

Developing from Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s urban proposal ‘City Zoo’, ‘make me a mountain!’ is a standalone infrastructural landscape project.  Whether deployed in a backyard, on a football pitch or a fragile wetland the building mutates from its context to create a habitable ecosystem that (e)merges into and out of its site. More a wilderness than an architecture, ‘make me a mountain!’ operates as a synthetic organism, reinforcing the metabolic and symbiotic conditions found in the surrounding landscape.

In its first iteration the project is tested as a Bathouse, Visitor Centre and Research Station for a London Wetlands site. Like a scuttled ship molded fiberglass shells containing observation, education and research spaces perform as an artificial reef. Glistening from within the rough and lively rock of the artificial mountain is this intertwined set of sinuous and smooth public spaces. This is a dark, discovered, augmented wilderness embedded with technology for remote virtual bat viewing and arranged for intimate but unobtrusive onsite observation. (more…)

sustainability


Darryl Chen, 06 04 09


In the outer suburbs of London, a population has voluntarily separated themselves from the rest of society, and has taken up the mantle of sustainability in an extraordinary way. Driven by a set of ethics that places them in sometimes radical opposition to the rest of London, they have adopted a lifestyle that effectively makes them a carbon sink for the remainder of the city.

Postcards bear witness to how existing geographical patterns have been consolidated to create a giant infrastructural ring containing a series of productive and social programmes. Comprised of terraforming, hybridised architecture, natural obstructions and electronically surveilled barriers, this sophisticated urban crust is a new kind of urbanism – a fortress that protects a community of carbon-positive altruists, and reserves a place within the disorderly fabric of suburban London for pure ideology… where the grass is greener.

‘…where the grass is greener’ by Tomorrows Thoughts Today will be published in full shortly.

sustainability


Liam Young, 21 07 08


 

Contemporary cities are no longer just accidental homes for animals that have been displaced from their natural habitat. They can now be seen as hotbeds of evolutionary change, shaping the adaptations of their resident fauna and providing an ideal theatre in which to see behaviour evolving at a pace rarely seen in the wild.

As we begin to view our cities as worthwhile ecosystems this project investigates the possibilities of a symbiotic relationship between two different systems of organization- technology and nature. (more…)

sustainability


Liam Young, 21 07 08


Barcelona and the satellite city. Rethinking growth: Hyper-density and relational equilibrium

The project has recieved an honorable mention in the AA Prize for Unbuilt Work 2008

 you can view the reults and other entries here

This international architecture competition entry responds to a call for the rethinking of growth given a projected migration into the Barcelona region of 400,000 people over twenty years. Outcomes of the speculation are demonstrated into specific sites in Barcelona and the satellite city of Amposta, 2 hours from Barcelona by very fast train.

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