Design Observer

About
Books
Job Board
Newsletters
Archive
Contact



Observatory

About
Resources
Submissions
Contact


Featured Writers

Michael Bierut
William Drenttel
John Foster
Jessica Helfand
Alexandra Lange
Mark Lamster
Paul Polak
Rick Poynor
John Thackara
Rob Walker


Departments

Advertisement
Audio
Books
Collections
Dear Bonnie
Dialogues
Essays
Events
Foster Column
From Our Archive
Gallery
Interviews
Miscellaneous
New Ideas
Opinions
Partner News
Photos
Poetry
Primary Sources
Projects
Report
Reviews
Slideshows
The Academy
Today Column
Unusual Suspects
Video


Topics

Advertising
Architecture
Art
Books
Branding
Business
Cities / Places
Community
Craft
Culture
Design History
Design Practice
Development
Disaster Relief
Ecology
Economy
Education
Energy
Environment
Fashion
Film / Video
Food/Agriculture
Geography
Global / Local
Graphic Design
Health / Safety
History
Housing
Ideas
Illustration
India
Industry
Info Design
Infrastructure
Interaction Design
Internet / Blogs
Journalism
Landscape
Literature
Magazines
Media
Museums
Music
Nature
Obituary
Other
Peace
Philanthropy
Photography
Planning
Poetry
Politics / Policy
Popular Culture
Poverty
Preservation
Product Design
Public / Private
Public Art
Religion
Reputations
Science
Shelter
Social Enterprise
Sports
Sustainability
Technology
Theory/Criticism
Transportation
TV / Radio
Typography
Urbanism
Water


Comments Posted 12.01.10 | PERMALINK | PRINT

John Thackara

Jellyfish Farm




Scientists warn that most natural seafood could disappear by 2048. The tragedy is that fishermen, wholesalers, food processing firms, retailers, chefs and consumers, do not actively “want” to destroy the world’s fisheries. But they are prevented from seeing, and responding appropriately to, the bigger picture by the linear structure of supply and communication chains.

The thing is we now know how important it is to take whole systems into account when proposing designed solutions to these life-critical systems. But, as I wrote in an earlier post about fish systems and design some designers continue to propose wondrous solutions that fail to take whole system costs into account.

A good example of this was Studiomobile's concept for a vertical farming skyscraper in Dubai.

In this concept, seawater is used to cool and humidify greenhouses and to convert sufficient humidity back in to fresh water to irrigate the crops. This provides a fresh and humid climate for the crops that in these conditions "need very little water as they are not stressed by excessive transpiration."

As a technique, the use of seawater to cool and humidify greenhouses has the potential to make sense in regions where fresh water supplies are limited. Large tracts of the planet fall into this category. The trouble is that putting farms into skyscrapers — with or without seawater systems — is highly unlikely to make economic or environmental sense once the embodied energy costs of their construction and operation are factored in. Attention-grabbing design 'concepts' can do more harm than good if they distract attention from the true costs their implementation would entail.

In Dubai — desert-home of indoor ski-slopes and perpetual shopping — these considerations may not count for much. But in the rest of the world, designers really do need to adopt a whole systems approach if their proposals are to be sustainable in the real sense of the word.

I am more optimistic about Studiomobile's more recent prototype [below] for a Jellyfish Farm.



Presented at a recent edition of ArtVerona in Italy, their installation proposes a form of floating and vertical bio-desalination machine. "The object proposes a kind of neo-nature" says Studiomobile, in which "an autonomous living organism is put to practical daily use."

I don't know if anyone from Studiomobile will be there, but if you you are in or near Treviso this coming weekend, I'm speaking at the city's three day festival of sustainable design — and we can debate vertical farms face to face.

Disclaimer: I have not seen the installation in person — but something tells me they are not real jellyfish.
|
Share This Story

Comments

Design Observer encourages comments to be short and to the point; as a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.
Read Complete Comments Policy >>


Name             

Email address 




Please type the text shown in the graphic.


|
Share This Story



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Thackara is a writer, speaker and design producer, and director of Doors of Perception. In addition to this blog, he is the author of twelve books including In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World and Wouldn't It Be Great If….
More Bio >>

DESIGN OBSERVER JOBS









RELATED POSTS


Data Loss
Adam Harrison Levy on losing everything he had stored on his phone for three years.

A Security Camera Worth Looking At
A thoughtful take on what security cameras should look like, and why.

The Compulsively Visual World of Pinterest
I have always liked Pinterest’s exclusively visual focus and unlimited boards structure. A week ago I joined.

Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.

Mona Lisa Selfies
Inevitably, the famous Mona Lisa has crossed paths with the selfie — and the results are charming.