How to build cities and destroy motorways: a radical perspective on environmental design

Liam Joel Stumbles, Alessandro Melis

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Over thousands of years, human beings have built habitats in response to their increasingly complex needs. The ultimate form of these habitats is the modern city: a feat in which the benefits are self-evident. However, the city has grown into a paradoxical phenomenon. Providing for the present compromises the ability to provide for the future.
The unidirectional metabolism of the city is consuming the world’s resources and disrupting the climate system at a rate that is not sustainable. Cities need to undergo profound physical and systemic changes if they are to provide for the future needs of human beings.
This book critically examines the implication of the environmental crisis on conventional methods of urban development and architectural thinking. In contention with conservative ‘green’ building schemes, this work undertakes a radical and systemic renegotiation of environmental, population, and life-quality issues in architecture and urban design.
While the conservative stream of architecture implies an endogenous and therefore linear model of development, this work implies a heteronomous (open) model in which architecture reforms in response to major societal and technological changes. Associative thinking is employed as a research tool that allows diverse experiences and knowledge to converge. This perspective is applied to the environmental crisis for the purpose of rethinking the increasingly complex relationship between environmental impact and urban development.
The design component of this work speculates on the future potential of emerging technologies such as drones and 3D printing for detaching environmental destruction from urban renewal. Resulting concepts include cyclical and adaptive urban systems that aim to grow, mutate, and reform built fabric into climate-sensitive and adaptive architecture, while simultaneously reducing the impact of the renewal process and improving the urban, spatial, and aesthetic quality.
Design experimentation ranges from 1:1 structural realisations to simulations of behavioural production systems. The project culminates in a future urban vision depicted through an experimental representation technique that aims to shift the viewer through time and perspective.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherD Editore
ISBN (Electronic)9788894830170
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2018


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