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Fred Astaire as Landscape Architecture

Imagine a mountain ex-urb of catching dams, deflection walls, earth sewers and mesh-bracketed hillside roads. Single-family deflection-dam houses with self-raking zen rock gardens. A fog of pulverized boulders billowing from the occasional rockslide giving the place a touch of the arcadian. Debris basins as community parks braceleted through a creeping city.

When the mountains have been denuded of vegetation and the torrents are on their way, everyone in this precarious city will go about their daily business as usual, sleep peacefully while boulders and mud flow around them. Should their homes topple when the ground beneath gives way, remember that all the buildings here were designed like earthbound space stations inhabited by floating astronauts, or Fred Astaire.

Drylands Competition
Sietch Nevada

This ideas competition hits many of our buttons.

Drylands Design seeks innovation in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, regional planning, and infrastructure design that addresses water supply, water quality, water access, water treatment, and the water/energy nexus. Drylands Design seeks integrative proposals from multidisciplinary design teams that anticipate science and policy perspectives as necessary dimensions of intelligent design response, and exploit beauty as an instrument of resilience and adaptation.

Registration ends 15 November 2011, and entries are due 15 December 2011.

It's worth noting, meanwhile, that one of the organizers, the Arid Land Institutes, recently hosted a series of lectures that showcased contemporary design strategies for managing water scarcity in arid landscapes.

At the institute's Vimeo account, you can watch Katherine Rinne's talk on the 3,000-year history of water infrastructure and urban development in Rome (Part 1 and 2); Morna Livingston on Indian stepwells (Part 1 and 2); and Aziza Chaouni and Liat Margolis on their Out of Water project (Part 1, 2 and 3), a traveling exhibition that included the above speculative project, Sietch Nevada by Matsys.

Nan Ellin's talk hasn't been uploaded yet, but you can still read about the canalscape of Phoenix, Arizona, online.


If you think that the designing-with-algae meme still has some mileage left in it and that algae as fuel isn't a disaster waiting to happen, then consider entering The 2011 International Algae Competition. There are three categories for which you can submit an entry.

Algae Landscape Design: How will algae production be integrated into future landscapes and eco-communities and what will they look like and how will they work?

Algae Production Systems: What are the best designs, engineering and systems for algae production to work effectively and economically on a community scale or distributed model?

Algae Food Development: What will be the next algae foods and recipes and the future uses of algae as food and feed ingredients that will transform our health and our diet?

Registration closes 11 September 2011, after which you have until 11 October 2011 to submit your entries.
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