As climate change becomes more and more a reality on our small planet, some architects believe that creating design competitions to rush architecture to the uninhabited northern ice caps, where melting is happening at an alarming, is a solution to the problem. After finding out whom sponsors and approves such competitions I started to wonder… Do architects rule the world?
On Tuesday night September 6, 2012, Lola Sheppard of Toronto based Lateral Office spoke about their 2009 design competition entry called Icelink: Occupying the Seam (http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/icelink-land-bridge-yesterday.html). This competition was approved by the UIA and gave away over a $100,000 in awards. The main program of the competition encouraged creative ways to connect Russia to Alaska by means of a bridge incorporating a Utopian peace park. The islands called Little Diomede and Big Diomede were also to be included in the final renderings (http://www.bering-competition.org/).
For the most part there seems to be no debate that manmade buildings (impact technologies) consume almost half of all the energy extracted from the earth and is one of the largest contributors to carbon dioxide pollution that is accelerating the heating of the planet. So when Lola spoke of building this massive carbon intensive project (materials aside) in the already damaged fragile ecosystem I wondered again… How can humans expect the wildfire of climate change to slow down if we keep feeding the fire? And really, aren’t boats designed with luxurious architecture supposed to be an efficient means of connecting the two continents? There will obviously be enough water when the Northwest Passage fully opens.
I tend to side with the recent article I read by David Cox where he suggests we are coming to a slow down in progress, I like to think that this means we need to start contracting instead of continuing to react to the impacts of our technological advances in constructing architecture where ever we please (https://arch3150.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/cox-benefits-of-technology.pdf).
Unfortunately, Lola’s office did not win the competition because their ideas and research were truly compelling, but I am not convinced that Utopia can be reached by heating the earth more quickly. The winner of the competition unfortunately looks just as carbon intensive (http://www.bustler.net/index.php/article/ideas_competition_for_the_bering_strait_project_announces_winners/). How can an international association of architects conjure up such an idea? Maybe it’s because Architects rule the world, some people just don’t know it yet.