Interview by Frame Magazine:
How did you prepare for ‘The Challenge’?
ANDREAS TJELDFLAAT: I studied reports by the World Health Organization and Eurostat that identified households as the single largest contributor to emissions of ozone precursors. As the most significant sources of domestic pollution are closely connected to the city's infrastructure, utility services and air space, it was clear to me that the effectiveness of a solution would depend on the extent to which it interfaces with a building’s envelope – and with the city as a whole.
What’s your solution? A communal space suspended above the street in an urban neighborhood. By consolidating household amenities among residents; utilizing sustainable, high-efficiency fixtures and equipment; and tying into social programs and civic services, we could minimize the total impact of household pollution, while strengthening bonds between residents with communal dining, co-ops and community board meetings.
What kinds of sustainable fixtures and equipment do you propose? Everything from water-recycling bathroom fixtures and induction cooktops to internal waste- and recycling-management facilities. Smart ventilation and heating/cooling systems and wind-turbine energy collection would reduce energy consumption. Civic services could include drone delivery, urban farming and food subscriptions.
How would people access shared facilities? Multistory volumes suspended above city streets could feature bridges that connect households in adjacent buildings. The centralization of the various functions would allow the installed fixtures and equipment to be upgraded to high-efficiency units – waterless toilets, for example – while the supply of food and resources could be consolidated and products chosen for their low environmental impact.
You’ve also made the building itself more efficient . . . Yes. The optimized interior space targets water pollution, soil contamination and interior air pollution. The exterior fights air pollution with a titanium dioxide coating that breaks down nitric and nitrogen oxides when it’s hit by sunlight. Finally, the outer surface will have PVC panelling that harvests solar power, while the underside will accommodate deliveries and waste/recycling disposals – think airline-catering delivery-truck access.
Do you think people are ready to share facilities on this scale? Or does your proposal reflect the idealism needed to change the world for the better? I certainly recognize the idealistic ambition in what I’m proposing. At a surface level, I’m not sure if somewhere like New York City is ready to embrace communal housing. But I do think a cultural shift is already taking place in which the effects of the information economy are fundamentally disrupting social structures. Perhaps it’s more noticeable in cities. A good example is the explosive proliferation of co-working spaces and car-sharing programs. These initiatives show that people are increasingly willing to trade ownership for access. With this in mind, I don’t think it’s that radical to talk about communal living spaces as well. – WG
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