Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zome Idea-Metropolis Competition

The 2009 Metropolis Magazine Next Generation Design Competition Challenges Designers to Fix Our Energy Addiction. So we decided to enter our design. Here is the proposal:

Part I
Personal Information

First Name: Patricia

Last Name: Algara

Street Address: 3123 King St. #B

City: Berkeley

State: CA

Postal Code: 94703
Country: United States of America
Telephone: 415-509-3728

Collaborator #1

First Name: Robert

Last Name: Bell
Firm/Department: Zomadic, LLC
Telephone: 415-407-6793

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Part II
Your Proposal

What is the title of your proposal?

Urban Foodscaping : A Greenhouse Garden Zome

How would you describe it?
Our design is an integral first step in facilitating the change in consciousness to end our energy addition by addressing the second largest energy consumption sector; The production and transportation of food. To facilitate a shift to an urbanized agrarian society we present a community based, elegant food production solution.

How does it pertain to energy?
Growing locally reduces or eliminates the fuel needed to transport food to one’s table. It eliminates the energy used to produce the packaging and eliminates these materials from the waste stream. It eliminates the use of fertilizers and pesticides. And by harnessing the Sun’s energy one extends the growing season.

What makes it important?
The Problem: There’s a pressing need for Design Science to create an accessible, sustainable, local, organic food production solution. Why? The United State of America (US) accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population but consumes more than 25% of its energy. Within the US, the agricultural sector is the second largest consumer of energy (after cars) and the largest consumer of electricity and water. An average of 400 gallons of fuel is used to transport food for one person per year – our food travels 1,500 miles between fields to fork. Even more energy is used to produce synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, process (drying, milling, cutting, sorting and baking), package, store and refrigerate food. With the current food production model, it takes 10 calories of fossil fuels to produce a single calorie of supermarket food. And grain-fed cows consume 35 calories for every calorie of beef produced. In addition, a significant amount of energy is used to pump water. In California alone farmers use 10,000 gigawatt-hours (GWH) per year. The USDA estimates a 10% efficiency gain in irrigation systems would save eighty million gallons of diesel annually. Successes: In 1945, US households grew 40% of their food in backyards, schools and community gardens – also known as the ‘Victory Gardens’ campaign. In Moscow, two thirds of families grow their own food. In Havana, over 80% of produce consumed in the city comes from urban gardens. Barriers: While most US families live in single-family homes, space in backyards is limited for food production. Soil quality, weather and pests are other obstacles to producing food all year round and in parts of the US. Our Solution – A Modular Greenhouse Zome: People should be able to grow their own food, locally and organically, using rain water. If each family in the US ate 1 meal a week that was not produced in a large farm far away, our overall energy consumption could be reduced by 1.1 million barrels of fuel…per week! The equation is simple: food grown close to home needs less processing, packaging, refrigeration and transportation to get to your kitchen! Also, locally grown food is fresher and more nutritious. The Greenhouse Zome allows people to harness the sun’s energy to grow their own food. The modular design is light and easy to assemble and can be used anywhere from suburban lawns to urban rooftops. It can be expanded or contracted in size to fit the available space. The greenhouse incorporates a water catchment system, which not only prevents runoff and provides water that can be reused for watering the plants but it also contributes to the thermal effect of the greenhouse by convective heat transfer. Outcomes: In addition to reducing a significant amount of fossil fuel consumption, and providing fresh local produce, urban greenhouses like these serve as air filters, help recycle wastes, absorb rainfall, present pleasing green spaces, provide food security and jobs, educate kids and revitalize communities; creating a space where experiences can happen.

How do the photos or renderings illustrate the concept?
The Garden Zome is the manifestation of a knock-down, modular, prefab building pattern. Material usage is minimized by distributing the compressive and tensile forces across a zonohedral spaceframe. Produced with CNC technology the Garden Zome is the fruition of an inexpensive, locally manufactured, easy to assemble, extensible and re-deployable shelter. What is a Zome? Zome is a combination of the words zonohedron and dome. A Zome is somewhat similar to a geodesic dome. However the structure of a Zome is based upon a class of polyhedron known as zonohedra. While a dome will tend to resemble a sphere a Zome will resemble a jewel. While providing a strong and lightweight building pattern Zomes have a natural organic aesthetic which is evident in the natural world. Zomes suffer from none of these issues and are more intrinsically natural and beautiful than geodesic domes. The simplicity and sublime nature of Zome geometry becomes apparent and it is through this symbolism of form that Garden Zomes provide a practical demonstration of an emergence of a collective consciousness, reminding each of us of the necessity to align ourselves with nature. In the following photos we demonstrate the results of a zonohedral spaceframe manufacturing and assembly system in which the convergent plurality of strut members are conjoined at each vertex with a radially concentric double gusset. Once each of the diamond shaped frames has been completed the panel frames can be snapped into place. Materials can be modified by location. Any structural grade exterior sheet goods may be appropriate for the framing and paneling structure. Producing the requisite parts in any local CNC shop requires that the parts be of high quality while the process be simple, well defined and foolproof. Every panel, gusset and frame member is highly modular and can be used in different structures or even in different configurations or additions to the same structure. A small scale functional prototype has been produced. Great pains were taken in designing and testing the joinery and assembly system such that no tools be required to build the structure. Everything snaps together much like a giant toy and yet is as light and strong as any conventional structure. This creates opportunity for a communal Garden Zome raising event in which all community members are able to lend a hand and engender feelings of ownership with the garden. Design attention has also been paid to the collection of rain water. The structural form of the Zome creates an excellent opportunity to channel water down the entire structure to be collecting into solar heated containers within the Garden Zome. This water can be used for irrigation and also acts an a heat capacitor to reduce the amount of energy required to keep the Garden Zome warm through the night. The final illustrations represent one Garden Zome design in plan, elevation and orthogonal view. We’ve also composed illustrations of the structure in various urban locations.

What is your business plan for realizing your proposal?
The Garden Zome (GZ) is not only an innovative product but we see it as a first step towards a much larger society cultural shift in consciousness to achieve energy reduction through local food production; it also establish food justice by establishing food systems and economy, making healthy food accessible as a basic human right. It creates a space where experiences can happen. Since our model is based on sharing and building we will provide ready to fabricate GZ designs released with a creative commons license on open source design software and 3d model repositories such that any person can have access to download, customize and have locally manufactured GZ. Thru Creative Commons licensing GZ digital fabrication files will be made available to a community. Additionally design and build expertise will be given to help find local fabricators or to produce the kits. We have two target groups with different needs and solutions: i) Urban dwellers in densely populated areas Urban dwellers often feel disconnected from nature and desire to have a closer connection to their food production. Rooftops provide an excellent source of space to grow food. Green roofs offer other multiple benefits: they help clean the air, limit noise and dust, and greatly reduce heat-island effect. Our GZ also captures rain water, thus reducing run off into the city water systems. China has adopted green roofs as a strategy for greening the city; the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Parks has a 10.7 million square feet goal for 2009. Beijing has a total of 753 million sq ft rooftop space. ii) Post industrial inner-city low income neighborhoods Once thriving industrial center with plentiful blue-collar jobs, many communities now find themselves with high unemployment, deteriorating housing stock, disheartening crime statistics, high rates of heart disease and diabetes, and a lack of fresh, healthy food. While access to high-quality food may seem like a small problem in comparison to pervasive crime and major health disorders, it is in fact a quiet crisis on par with these other problems. Repairing the local food system is one step in the process to reinvigorate communities’ food culture and local economy. In this case our focus will be working with non-profits and government agencies to provide subsidies. Cities are becoming more and more interested in providing urban agriculture as a means of health for their communities one example is the City of Richmond, CA. which is currently writing their Master plan under an Environmental Health Element. City’s like Richmond and West Oakland have enormous latent potential in the form of vacant lots which can be transformed into urban farms thus providing training, jobs, activities and nutritiously rich local grown food to its residents. The garden zome may be manufactured locally with recycled materials thus providing more green jobs for green infrastructure

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