January 13, 2011
by Canadian Architect
Broad(er)acre City is on display at the LWR Gallery at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto until January 15, 2011. The exhibition is the result of a research project made possible through the Howarth-Wright Fellowship that University of Toronto Master of Architecture student Matthew Spremulli was awarded in May 2009, which enabled him and Fei-Ling Tseng to travel to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesins as well as engage in a cross-country tour through the Great Plains in the United States
The project was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s urban ambitions to radically reconsider status quo cities in a time of crisis. Like Broadacre City, Spremulli and Tseng have considered future urban potential by projecting the spatial impacts of fundamental social changes. However, human-induced crises stretch beyond the borders of our local ecologies, and in our current time of broader crises one cannot afford to think about solutions based on socio/political rights alone. If we are to continue developing our civilizations around cities, we need to design them with agendas broader than commerce, transportation and property in mind. Broad(er)acre City begins exploring those broader issues by challenging the traditional anthropocentric bias of urban design and takes the position that cities can be designed to achieve eco-system symbiosis.
For the team, the concept of ecosystem symbiosis entails the development of both a productive (ecological surplus) and interactive relationship within a given ecoregion. Their design objective was to test their concept of ecosystem symbiosis over three separate ecoregions, providing the organization/urban foundation for a 2,500-person settlement. Viability of this settlement required both nutritional sustenance and the establishment of a primary local economy. Meeting these viability requirements could only be done by tapping into existing ecological processes and enhancing them in order to benefit from a net surplus.
As their test ground they chose the Great Plains (temperate grasslands) of North America. The temperate grasslands being the most human-converted ecoregion in the world, simultaneously as the Great Plains are experiencing property rights changes, it was an ideal location to experiment on. City speciation emerges as each project demanded unique technological, social and logistic solutions to a design works with the ecology in order to achieve interactive viability.
Also involved in the exhibition project were Luca Spremulli, Paul Tseng and Greg Everett.