Monday, November 24, 2008
Alvan Blanch is a British manufacturing and project
engineering company with a global outlook, specialising
in the design, production and supply of quality machines
and completely integrated systems for the primary and
secondary processing of agricultural produce and waste
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The greatest insight that I uncovered throughout our meetings is that Earth must remain a unified, integrated campus should they expand their past position as an agricultural university. As a reaction to this problem, three important things came up regularly in conversation: Inspiration, Innovation, and Active teaching. I would like us to move forward with the project by using these three things to define a developmental framework for all aspects of Earth. All participants at La Flor (be they businesses, students, teachers, etc), should find inspiration in the agricultural practices and environment specific to
Conservation through symbiosis can also serve as a commonality on campus. Earth’s resources, such as waste by-products, water, and knowledge must circulate continually from one place to another and become adapted to new uses. The surrounding community, too, must be viewed as an important part of this symbiosis. We must collaborate with the community to find an appropriate application of our knowledge as it applies to the culture of Guanacaste.
Our conversations also left me wondering how these commonalities might influence Earth’s development, both short term and long term. If the institution is going to develop as a money maker, potentially through tourism or product development, they should use Inspiration, Innovation and Active Teaching as the vehicles to get there. These short term goals should not prevent Earth’s long term development as an integrated campus for sustainable innovation.
The main insight that I came away with is that Earth La Flor is going through an identity crisis. They know loosely what they want but are unsure of how to get there. I think each of our projects rang true on some levels of what they wanted (curriculum, innovation, advocacy, etc.) but how the pieces fit in were fuzzy. Community engagement and advocacy seemed to be a large part of their commitment but they seemed to shy away from political and controversial issues (perhaps because they are still building enough political capital to approach these issues). This strengthens my belief for the need of innovation research and ethical advocacy should to be a part of that. I believe that through the development of research based solutions, they are capable of approaching these issues in an influential way.
The industrial park to the south will be an established, integrated entity of living, working and transportation. One remaining challenge is the integration of that independent entity with the academic and social components of EARTH’s program. Because education is about the people we may receive them through their cultural sensibilities. Our decisions could be inspired by the local historical architectural methods of sun doors, ventilation windows and floor boards, Boreque walls, compact calcium dirt roads and a community meeting under Guanacaste trees.
EARTH's willingness to apply their innovative practices and knowledge to existing systems and structures is laudable. They have begun a process of regeneration at La Flor. The vision we proposed to EARTH was a large scale integration and stewardship of the bordering riverine ecology. With the experience I gained, and the exercises carried out, I would begin designing from within by focusing on a strategy for roads and bridges, as well as water treatment and energy production from existing agricultural facilities.
From our very brief time at La Flor, I have found myself reconsidering, adjusting, and expanding on a few of our ideas and preconceptions. One aspect that I had been interested in pursuing, though we had not yet had the opportunity or the resources, was the local community. The health and success of a university is dependant upon numerous issues, however, the relationship with the local community is one that can sometimes go unnoticed.
Through discussions, I have come to understand that the demands from Guanacaste which would be attainable by Earth, would include jobs, the establishment of a main transportation corridor to increase land value as well as provide further opportunities for employment, and further educational facilities, whether it be technical training schools or local elementary and high schools. There are also further issues that the surrounding community will look to Earth for leadership with Land planning, waste management and resource management. These are three issues that are more complicated and potentially too political or too costly for the campus to take on independently, but it is something to be remembered and considered.
The easiest way for Earth to impact these more difficult demands would be to lead by example. In this way, they are removed from the political implications of a more active role as advocate or guardian, but are still working to improve the local conditions. If the focus continues to be an aim at replicable practices, then as Earth shows success of these practices and maintains an open door policy in terms of sharing that knowledge, it will become the people that are empowered. Therefore, as we move forward in our designs, we should continue to push and question every step and every facet of designs under the criteria of financial feasibility, material accessibility, local demand and application, educational benefit, and sustainability over both the long and the short term.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
A series of insights remain with me after visiting La Flor. One important notion is that a two-year curriculum is more applicable in the developing world in order to address the urgency of conditions. Specific local needs in Guanacaste include jobs, waste management, land planning, security and water. As designers we should be thinking in terms of rainy seasons in addition to quarterly seasons as cycles of importance to sustainable agriculture curriculum, and to all local systems.
Ultimately people must come first as our impetus for design. Local citizens should act as stewards of the land and buildings should be designed as vessels or tools to support people through active education. The campus in this regard becomes a demonstration ground for a paradigm shift to establish a new way of life, leading to innovation for passers-by. Global issues will be addressed through local application. The land, its people, and the University as a sustainable cultural institution should all be inextricably linked. Integration should be sought through a variety of systems, including curriculum (with a goal of disseminating knowledge), transportation (in terms of the proposed road and on-site public transportation), water (to address and manage wet and dry seasons), and materials (that are culturally and locally applicable).
In sum, the idea of replication comes to the forefront of how the Innovation Studio should approach the components of the master plan. Our proposals should be simple, work sufficiently, use appropriate technology, and ultimately have the ability to be replicated by the local community. We can achieve this by creatively responding to the local culture and conditions.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Ecovillages are intended to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable intentional communities. Some aim for a population of 50-150 individuals because this size is considered to be the maximum social network according to findings from sociology and anthropology. Larger ecovillages of up to 2,000 individuals exist as networks of smaller subcommunities to create an ecovillage model that allows for social networks within a broader foundation of support.