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Resources.07 Beyond Oil: Shanghai
From the Cities and Energy Series

Beyond Oil: Shanghai

In the western world, societies and lifestyles have been predicated on access to cheap oil. The expanding economies of the East have heedlessly copied this fossil fuel based model. In the Middle East, gasoline is presently cheaper that water. Experts now predict that at the present rate of consumption, our reserves of politically and geographically accessible oil will be exhausted within 20 years. Some researchers maintain that we are already there; that we have already reached the moment of Peak Oil and that we have left the age of flowing oil behind us.

Must architecture, urban planning and our own lifestyles radically change as the flow of oil ebbs out? What is the correlation between energy and architectural form? Resources.07 poses the question if Form Follows Fuel? Or is it Fuel that will have to follow us? Is it simply a matter of replacing our Hummer’s gasoline engine with a hydrogen fuel cell, as Arnold Schwarzenegger has already done, or should we invent a new vessel for our journey? Will Peak Oil counteract the globalization and homogenization we have just recently become accustomed to; thereby allowing local initiatives to supplant them on a global and national level? Should we be searching for new utopian visions, or is it a plethora of small solutions that will create a serviceable patchwork pattern for the post-fossil city?
resources07_prospect Further course info here

The Response

The approach for Shanghai’s central district of Luwan was to develop the city’s urban systems and create synergies in both time and space. The scenario work explored the relationship of density and self-sufficiency – a crucial discussion for any city within the context of sustainability, but particularly relevant for Shanghai with its communist tradition of independent industrial city blocks. These are now being transformed into gated communities bringing with them a rapidly changing density but also the potential for greater self-sufficiency. The proposal called Syncity defined itself in the future of a dense but self-sufficient urban environment, which put specific demands on how density is achieved. Focus was put on developing The Syncell Block as a self-sufficient entity organized by synergetic thinking. To retain the transitory quality of heterogeneity, a block typology was developed that retained the same built density as the 30-story high- rise buildings, but with an entirely different connection to the street, as well as providing other economic, social and spatial qualities. This building typology was based on biomimetic principles initially developed during the earlier workshop and was re-worked to include a passive cooling system to reduce the present reliance on oil-based electricity. The group statement – We see peak-oil as an opportunity – bears witness to the proposal’s innovative and up-beat take on the grand challenges we face – a life beyond oil.
Download catalogue for final project:
Beyond Oil: Shanghai

The project won first prize in the international, Swedish/ Chinese student competition Cities Beyond Oil and has been published in the Chinese magazine Urban China.

resources07_exhibition More exhibition images/stories/mejanarc here.