Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Posts Tagged ‘strategic design

The Oil We Eat

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Connected to my last post on strategies to redesign the global food production, distribution and consumption system, here’s a link to a landmark essay which goes right to the heart of the matter in lucid and frightening fashion.

The Oil We Eat by Richard Manning. PDF available. Author of the critically acclaimed Against the Grain.

Nice video of Manning discussing his fundamental premise below.

The story from the Indian perspective:

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 8:45 am

The Vertical Farm Project

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The first phase of working on the CIID-Intel industry project was exploring current and future thinking around sustainable energy management technologies and concepts.

One of the prototypal projects I have been very kicked about for some years now is the Vertical Farm Project. I guess my background interest in this comes from understanding something of the terrible consequences of large-scale commercial farming in India: where the benefits of farming necessarily need to first impact the immediate local, small-scale community, and sustain the local economy. The unconditional dependence of the small farmer on the big market (read urban consumption) distributors is a sad tale which I won’t go into here. The central need is ‘local’. Extending the idea that small farmers need to grow food in order to first feed and sustain their immediate community, a ‘urban farm’ located within close proximity or within a city neighborhood to supply the needs of the surrounding community sounds like a good one. And apparently the concept is being discussed quite actively; here is a description and some videos + links on this fascinating concept.

A description from verticalfarm.com: “An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.”

Inside the vertical farm. From http://www.verticalfarm.com/designs.html.

Inside the vertical farm. From http://www.verticalfarm.com/designs.html.

This page with rich designs for the concept continues to grow!

A New York times article discussing viability and costs associated with the project.

A slideshow of pictures from the New York times.

Sources for this blog post:
http://www.verticalfarm.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/science/15farm.html

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 8:05 am

Desert ‘Kites’ – Ancient strategic design genius

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I was awed by this example of strategic design from over 5000 years ago.

The ‘kites’ – so called because of their kite-like appearance to British pilots flying over the area in the early 1900s – resemble walls stretching over hundreds of meters of desert, meeting at angles with rounded trenches at the intersections.

Scientists have found that these structures were made by ancient desert people over 5,000 years ago as mass hunting apparatuses. Found across the deserts of Jordan, Syria, Israel and the Sinai, scientist teams concluded that the kites were constructed specifically to direct wild animals along the walls and convey them toward the trenches, where they could be hunted with ease. The extensive study also exposed the thinking processes that were invested in planning each trap. “The traps were places in locations where animals migration routes were concentrated into bottlenecks. There is no doubt that the prehistoric inhabitants of the desert had a lot of knowledge: they knew the cattle migration routes very well and knew where to each of the traps very efficiently.” the study by an interdisciplinary group funded by the National Geographic said.

The walls of a kite leading to enclosures for trapping animals. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk.

The walls of a kite leading to enclosures for trapping animals. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk.

The kites were designed so that the wild animals’ migration routes would converge into the hidden trenches. According to data gathered at the sites, the kite “branches” spanned over 200 meters in length, some even surpassing a few kilometers. The walls of these branches were quite broad in both height and depth, leading researchers to conclude that kites were used to hunt large hoofed animals. Some kites were constructed with elevated stages that probably served to conceal the large trenches below and heighten the leaping wall.

But the part that’s totally intriguing to me – sketches on stones nearby reveal detailed drawings of shapes and use of the kites. This raises a whole bunch of questions. Were these ancient designers sketching out their ideas, probably even iterating designs and refining solutions – an ancient prototyping effort – as part of the process of kite construction? What ‘process’ did they use and was sketching an important part of it? How successful was this method compared to traditional building processes?

Drawings on stones in the heart of the kites location. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Drawings on stones in the heart of the kites location. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Ancient kite drawings from the sites where kites are found. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Ancient kite drawings from the sites where kites are found. From http://www.megalithic.co.uk/

Sources for this blog post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1235898328320&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146412866
http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=16284
http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/index.php?option=com_datsogallery&Itemid=27&func=detail&catid=52&id=2058&p=1&l=1280


Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 13, 2009 at 11:12 am