New Geographies 4 – Scales of the Earth. Ryan Neiheiser and Julien de Smedt

“Sustainable” architecture is everywhere and nowhere. Plagued by the promise of endless technological add-ons, co-opted by the precise ambiguity of corporate advertising campaigns, and commodified by the prescribed checklists and codes that masquerade as design philosophy, “sustainable” design has been rendered impotent, unable to effect the kind of dramatic change necessary to confront the realities of a coordinated energy and climate crisis. However, by combining the best ambitions of architecture (inhabitation, use, and beauty)with the best ambitions of infrastructure (efficiency, scale, and systemization) there might exist the potential for a reconceived and re-empowered form of sustainable design. Two recent projects by JDS Architects, an 1100-meter tower in Shenzhen, China, and a 44-square kilometer zero-energy island zoo off the coast of South Korea, suggest the possibility of an architecture performing at a new scale of perception and influence. One is vertical, one horizontal, and both are big and conceived as infrastructural architecture that simultaneously instigates systemic efficiencies and enables social inhabitation and use.