Entry Title: "
Category: Professional, Concept
Designer(s): Dietmar Koering
- constraints for european offshore farming
This research tries to combine the science of cybernetics
with autonomous farming in a trendseting concept in the North Sea
Floating permaculture is a polemical utopian system to link systems that offers a closed feedback loop of energy and food production. It adapts the futuristic vision of the Metabolist movement of the 1950s and 60s to contemporary society. In this proposal, green reactors are projected onto the shallow waters of the North Sea.
Given the pressure of urbanization on agricultural land in the North Seas coastal zones, a logical solution would be to generate new farmland on floating islands in order to feed the urban population (more than eighty per cent of our urban areas with a million or more inhabitants are close to an ocean).
As futuristic as all this sounds, the use of floating permacultures is an ancient idea. A thousand years ago the Aztecs used chinampas floating gardens
to feed their cities where normal farmland was barely available. But in this
case the floating islands would generate not only food, but energy as well.
The history of civilization can be seen in terms of a competition for food and
energy, in which human beings created a distortion in the balance of food and energy chains by taking more out of the system than it could sustain. The development of high-yielding varieties of different crops after World War II, part of the so-called Green Revolution, has boosted food production and helped to reduce the hunger for food. But this was achieved at a high environmental cost, and without reducing the hunger for energy. Quite the opposite, in fact.
An increasing hunger for energy was a driving force behind the development of offshore oil and gas platforms. Offshore platforms could also work to satisfy our hunger for food, using the ideas of the Metabolist movement, which started in Japan in the late 1950s. Metabolism in architecture was based on the idea that the built environment could become an adaptable and expandable megastructure, flexibly responding to changing needs. The Metabolist visions resonated in the work of European architects and artists like Constant and Yona Friedman, who developed utopias housed in comparable megastructures.
Most of these utopian megastructures were concerned with social issues and housing. Food production was hardly a topic, even though the name of the
movement suggests otherwise. Few of the projects were related to energy.
The project blurs the boundaries between floating permacultures and inhabitable megastructures, blending the ideas and visions of the Metabolists with a process of energy and food production that is based on cybernetics, a science developed by Norbert Wiener in roughly the same period as Metabolism.
Cybernetics as described by Wiener deals with control and communication
in animal and machine, and this opens the way for effectively combining ecology and technology in floating permaculture, creating dynamic balances and eliminating negative feedback loops. Due to the human involvement in
the system, it is what von Foerster calls second -order cybernetics. The first order of cybernetics deals with outside observation of the system, while in the second order the observer of the system is part of the system he or she observes. Floating permaculture focuses on second-order cybernetics, because man is always and inevitably a part of the system.
Each permaculture seeks to combine sustainable energy and agriculture in a closed system. The input is divided into natural and waste feeders. Natural feeders gather input from wind and sun resources, while waste feeders gather input from sewage and biomass generated by the megastructures.
Human beings have broken out of their ecological dinner jackets their food supply is no longer limited by what they can grow, but by what they can transform.
In one way, Lavoisier was right: Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everthing
is transformed. As such, we should aim today for transformations, which are linked to sustainable feedback loops.
We cannot prevent climate change anymore, but we can minimize its effects
by acting now by modifying our thinking and through a combination of erious energy efficiency and a wide variety of new technologies. Floating pemaculture as a sophisticated part of a new Metabolism; a positive organism that will adapt to human bodies and culture, creates the battery that will provide the modern autonomous Technobody with energy. Human beings must aim for autarky as a solution to our current over-exploitation of