The great American architect Daniel Burnham once said, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood." The Venus Project is no little plan — it's a proposal for a total redesign of the world. From cities on the sea to mass transit, mega sky scrapers, and even colonies in outer space, it covers every angle. Furthermore, it proposes to achieve all of this by switching to a resource-based economy and adopting radical lifestyle changes. The plan is large, thoroughly documented, and beautifully rendered. The architecture even comes with plans to build the machines needed to build these massive structures. Here's a look at just a couple of the many concepts …
With the threat of global warming ever looming, perhaps its time we took a curious look into cities on the sea. "To fully utilize this bountiful wellspring of resources, we must develop large marine structures to explore the relatively untapped riches of the worldâ€™s oceans. They will provide improved mariculture, fresh water production, power, and mining, which will offset land-based mining shortages. The oceans can provide almost unlimited riches in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fertilizers, minerals, oil, natural gas, sweet water, and tidal and wind power, to name a few. " On this point I have to agree. The oceans are definitely an under utilized resource, teeming with endless potential. Because infinity seems to be a reoccurring theme in these concepts, the next idea also seems appropriate to discuss.
If you've ever wondered about the current demographic of the African swallow, then this idea might be right up your alley. "The cybernated complex uses advanced imaging technology to project 3D 'virtual' image of the earth in real time. It utilizes satellite communication systems to provide information on worldwide weather conditions, ocean currents, resource inventories, population, agricultural conditions and fish and animal migration patterns. The interconnected cybernated complexes represents the brain and nervous system of the entire world civilization. All information is available on demand to anyone via the internet. This single site manages our common heritage of resources and monitors the carrying capacity and health of earth." The sheer amount of data necessary to realize something like this is completely mind blowing, but let's just imagine the results! We could predict extinctions and plan for floods or droughts, or perhaps even predict volcanic eruptions. The unintended results and mountains of meta-data produced by the experiment would likely end up being the silver lining of this high-tech tapestry.
Robots Building Robots
Sooner or later, its bound to happen. It only takes one person who happens to be half robot to create a system that can eventually design other machines like itself. It's all 0's and 1's right? "These 'multi access industrial robots' utilize vast information resources, which enables them to receive commands via satellite up-link. They are also designed to take appropriate actions in the absence of human directives by combining micro Electric Mechanical Systems(MEMS), sensors, and receivers with sophisticated decision-making circuits and artificial intelligence programs."
Prefabricated Modular Homes
Some of the sustainable concepts presented are already beginning to be built, but the proposed materials and methods are what make these ideas so riveting. "Their structural elements are flexible and coherently arranged to best suit individual preference. These prefabricated modular homes, embodying a high degree of flexibility, can be built in any place one might imagine, amid forests, atop mountains, or on remote islands." Here's where it gets really interesting: "homes are prefabricated from a new type of pre-stressed reinforced concrete with a flexible ceramic external coating; they are relatively maintenance-free, fireproof, and impervious to weather. Their thin shell construction is mass-produced in a matter of hours. With this type of construction, there is minimal damage from earthquakes and hurricanes." Unfortunately while there is no indication of how these materials and homes will actually be built, a weatherproof house that doesn't resemble a bank vault might be a welcomed idea.
A Utopian Dream?
It's always bittersweet looking at Utopian ideas. They propose a way of life that is simply not possible but that still carries the power to captivate the mind, time and time again. It's fun to dream about our days ahead and where we'll be in a couple hundred years, yet its also important to work towards realistic solutions. If not anything else, The Venus Project can serve as an inspiration to designers working to redesign the world.
Designs and quotes credit: Jacque Fresco.
Models and photos credit: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows.
3D Renderings credit: Doug Drexler.