Over the past two years, we’ve been bringing you a series of stories published by Orion that explore the ways in which America’s infrastructure is changing for the next generation. Although infrastructure may not be a subject one expects to be covered by a nature magazine, our national infrastructure both reflects and reinforces some of the most problematic environmental issues of our time. This series has showcased projects that are raising the bar on how we think about infrastructure—as well as the ways in which government, businesses, and grassroots groups are coming together to create an approach to infrastructure that puts a premium on sustainability, community, and innovation.
In this, the last installment of the Reimagining Infrastructure series, we look at projects that are not yet real, but represent some of the most ambitious thinking about the built environment of the future. For example, the Strawscraper, designed by the Swedish architecture firm Belatchew Arkitekter. This under-taking proposes to transform an existing Stockholm skyscraper into an urban wind farm by covering it in piezoelectric fibers that turn motion into electrical energy. The result is a new kind of wind-power plant that revolutionizes our thinking about how buildings—new or old—can become energy-producing entities.
The ideas surfaced in the Reimagining Infrastructure series have demonstrated that infrastructure isn’t just about roads and bridges. It is about our philosophy of how the world works, our philosophy of our place in the world, and about how that philosophy is embodied in the things we build. Reimagining our infrastructure is one of the greatest opportunities humans have to move decisively toward a better future, and to put a saner, kinder, greener philosophy into place.
By H. Emerson Blake