Infrastructure Gap

This post has been sitting on the back burner for two years since I came across the post’s title over on the EPA’s Sustainable Infrastructure for Water and Wastewater. The EPA uses the term to describe the lack of funding, not  physical or technological short-comings. ‘Infrastructure gap’ evokes a deeper range of issues and challenges that our society (and planet) face that aligns with my own interests.

Hillary Brown’s essay on Infrastructural Ecologies over at Design Intelligence (also discussed on Mammoth), brings up some interesting parallels – though it is also about the lack of infrastructure investment and less about the interaction of infrastructural systems (aka an ‘ecosystem’) or about infrastructure that provides ecosystem services.

  • First principle: Systems should be multipurpose, interconnected and synergistic.
  • Second principle: Infrastructure should work with natural processes.
  • Third principle: Infrastructure should improve social contexts and serve local constituencies.
  • Fourth principle: Infrastructure should be designed for resilience, to adapt to foreseeable changes brought about by an unstable global climate.

[I'm starting to hear echo's of some of my earlier writing or maybe I'm just being egocentric...]

Architects seem to be appropriating the term ecosystem to describe typologies and hard relationships, like in Lisa Tilder’s & Beth Blostein’s Design Ecologies: Essays on the Nature of Design. Which isn’t about ecology (or nature) at all, but typologies of design processes. Perhaps this mis-use can be blamed on Jeff Kipnis (the overlord of architecture at OSU where Lisa and Beth both teach.) Full disclosure, Beth was a classmate of mine.

The proposed Mediterranean Grid is a project that aims to span technological gaps, a sea, economic and social gaps to bring Sahara desert based solar power to Europe, and provide power for desalination projects and cities in Africa.

The Land Art Generator Project has been advocating for energy and cultural solutions such as the European Grid for a while. But they are focused on the gap between cultural appreciation of infrastructure (can you say Infrastructural Art?) and the economic utility that creates most of our infrastructural systems. Filling that cultural gap is part of the scholarly agenda behind my upcoming Aqueduct Futures studio this fall.

Searching for ‘Infrastructure Gap’ brings up several maps of Africa since we’re already on that geographic topic:

(to be continued…)

Further readings

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/The-Water-Energy-Nexus-and-Our-Infrastructure-Gap/

Deloitte’s Closing the Infrastructure Gap (2006) [pdf]

 

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