China's beautiful hypothetical(?) pebble towers

io9 has an article up about the result of a commission for a proposal to do with the city of Shenzhen -- the proposal is a set of six towers that resemble stacked glass pebbles, which would contain agricultural space all the way up.

One of the frustrating things about io9, eco-cities, and China is that it's really hard to tell which things are serious proposals, which things are already in production, and which things are cool concept sketches that aren't really anywhere near happening.

io9 writes,

The Chinese city of Shenzhen recently commissioned the French firm Vincent Callebaut Architects to come up with an innovative and sustainable building solution for the growing metropolis. The result is this: The Shenzhen Asian Cairn Farmscraper project, an initiative consisting of six mix-used towers structured like a pile of rocks. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, the buildings will provide space for residents, offices, shops, recreation — and as the name would imply, its own food.

See what I mean? The picture up there looks like a sci fi illustration.  But the text says it will provide space... the result is... they've come up with a solution...

And I, personally, have no idea how to separate (a.) my belief in the plausibility and value of vertical farming and integrating nature with the cityscape, (b.) my awareness that China is pushing ahead in the cutting edge in a lot of ways America isn't, (c.) my awareness that China is big on censorship and propaganda, and this could all just be puffery, and (d.) my lifelong indoctrination into the implicit belief that all new buildings built from now until forever will be ugly concrete or glass modernist rectangles and everything else is just a silly joke.

Bridges for wild animals

Mental_Floss has an awesome short article about Wildlife crossings, which doesn't just mean those signs that warn you that deer like to jump out around that part of the road.  Wildlife crossings are these often incredibly beautiful pieces of architecture over highways that save wildlife the trouble of getting hit by a truck:


That and more pictures are available at The World Geography.

Mental_Floss writes,

Wildlife crossings help all kinds of animals get around, including salamanders, panthers, bears, and badgers. These pieces of infrastructure save not just wildlife, but also money: Drivers in the U.S. spend $8 billion annually on wildlife-related damage to cars.

Wikipedia points out that these projects are trivial in cost, especially when compared to the gains, both environmentally and in property damage to people's cars:

The benefits derived from constructing wildlife crossings to extend wildlife migration corridors over and under major roads appear to outweigh the costs of construction and maintenance. One study estimates that adding wildlife crossings to a road project is only a 7-8% increase in the total cost of the project (Bank et al. 2002). Theoretically, the monetary costs associated with constructing and maintaining wildlife crossings in ecologically important areas are trumped by the benefits associated with protecting wildlife populations, reducing property damage to vehicles, and saving the lives of drivers and passengers by reducing the number of collisions caused by wildlife.

I talk a lot about liking the urban world more than the rural, but I'm not sure it always comes across that this is a big part of that -- finding ways to cooperate with, and share our spaces with, animals native to the sites of our development is hugely important.

And, it just generally makes the world a more pleasant place.  Seeing a deer on the highway during a drive can go two ways:  it can either be terrifying, because you're afraid it's going to jump out at you and you'll get into a horrible accident, or it can be pleasant, seeing a cute animal safely away from your car.  Among everything else, these crossings sound like one of the millions of ways we can make lots of peoples' lives a little bit less shitty, which is how you make the world a nice place to live.