jeudi 19 novembre 2009

# Balkis-Island

This piece is one of Yona friedman's most recent work created with the Photographer Jean-Baptiste Decavèle, It have been created as a memorial for Friedman's dog and it have been presented with some spacial installations at the great Art and Landscape center in Vassiviere (FR). Before that a smaller show took place at the gallerie Anne Barrault.

What is amazing in this series of drawing on pictures is how friedman can make dream about landscape and city with only few lines !

Memorial for a Dog

Balkis-Island started as a joke. A friend of mine who participated in an exploration trip to the North Pole gave the name of my late dog Balkis, known for her literary activities, to an island at 78° latitude and 11° longitude.

Slowly the joke was turning more serious: My friend got an idea, that of ‘art at the Poles’. He gave me a lot of photographs of the island, and I thought to make photomontages of a ‘ville spatiale’ at the polar region.

But photomontages show only what can be visualized. So I got to think over an explanation of those pictures: how would work a city in the polar region? It presents a socio-ecological problem.

I would think about a city inhabited only 6 months per year the time span of the polar day. Sociologically a ‘summer-city’ is not as absurd; many vacation cities are crowded the summer and practically abandoned the winter.

A half-year city has interesting ecological properties. In this case, 6 months there is daylight. No artificial light is necessary; photo batteries could furnish electricity: many short-lived crops can be grown; protected in hot-houses (summer temperature at the poles does not exceed that of early spring in our latitudes).

Tower buildings could be reasonable because of the heat circulation: hot air rising toward the top, the lowest floors keeping cool: Probably hot-houses could be as well multi-level.

There must be protected communication between towers, protected against storms. Communicating bridges have to form a net, for security (as any of them can be damaged, a multiplicity of passages would be necessary.

If the towers are interconnected by bridges, they serve as well as bracing, increasing the wind resistance of the towers.

Extended flat buildings are not suited to the conditions, as both the roof and the ground are the major heat-loss surfaces.

The towers themselves can act as captors of sunlight, better than roofs, as the incidence angle is near to horizontal.

Portable wind-motors can be used to generate electricity too, but they can be easily damaged in harsh conditions.

The economic role of Balkis Island can become important with global warming: through the melting the polar shipping route becomes practicable, at least in summer. This fact increases the logics of a 6 months city: it could become a naval hub.

I agree that the idea of a Balkis-Port is a playful one. But it shows the realizability of a form of periodically inhabited habitat. As a larger part of our energy consumption comes from temperature conditioning of inhabited volumes, the period transport of residence from climate regions to other ones, could become the source of the most important energy saving programs we can already imagine.

Form follows function was an architect's slogan in the 20th century. Towns follow seasons might be that of the 21st. It is a technique many animals (for example birds) practice. Why not humans?

Written the shortest day of 2007, in Paris.

Yona Friedman

Former posts about Yona Friedman: here, here and here.
More here & here

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