Technologies like driverless cars and smart heating systems could end up making cities dysfunctional according to Maarten Hajer, chief curator of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2016. Speaking at an opening event for the biennale, Hajer called for architects and designers to stop treating the advent of smart technologies as inevitable, and to question whether they will solve any problems at all.
“People with lots of media force pretend to know exactly what the future will look like, as if there is no choice,” he said. “I’m of course thinking about self-driving vehicles inevitably coming our way.” Discussions about the future of cities are at risk of being “mesmerised” by technology, he added. “We think about big data coming towards us, 3D printing demoting us, or the implication of robots in the sphere of health, as if they are inevitabilities. My call is for us to think about what we want from those technological advances.”
“I have nothing against good technology, it’s wonderful, but you always want social problems to be the priority. If it doesn’t help us get CO2 down, if it doesn’t help us make cities more socially inclusive, if it doesn’t help us make meaningful work, I’m not interested in smart technology. Sometimes I think: “if smart technology is the solution, then what was the problem again?”
To hear Ati Quigua tell it, New York City is a place where people who don’t know each other live stacked inside big buildings, gorging on the “foods of violence,” and where no one can any longer feel the Earth’s beating heart.
Quigua, an indigenous leader whose village in Colombia sits on an isolated mountain range rising 18,700 feet (5,700 meters) before plunging into the sea, is just one of over 1,000 delegates in town for the 15th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that ends Friday.
“On top of the temples of the goddess and Mother Earth, they are building castles, they are building cities and building churches, but our mother has the capacity to regenerate,” Quigua said. “We are fighting not to have roads or electricity — this vision of self-destruction that’s called development is what we’re trying to avoid.”
Read more: Indigenous grapple with NYC bedlam, bureaucracy at UN forum, AP.
The German-made Carla Cargo is a three-wheeled cycle trailer with an electric assist motor. It can be pulled by any type of bicycle (including a cargo cycle or an electric bike), and it allows you to carry heavy (up to 150 kg) and bulky cargo (a loading platform of 60 x 160 cm). Uncoupled from the bicycle, the Carla Cargo works as a hand cart for large or heavy loads. The vehicle weighs 40 kg including the battery, and has a range of 40 to 60 km.
The electric motor is built into the front wheel and can produce 250 watts as a trailer (up to 23 km/h), and 500 watts as a handtruck (up to 6 km/h). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11 or 15 Ah. The vehicle has two disk brakes and a parking brake, which are controlled via the handle or the bicycle handlebar.
The Carlo Cargo sells for about 4,000 euro. The construction manual is freely accessible online, but only in German for now. The trailer/handcart is present at the International Cargo Bike Festival, April 16-17, in Nijmegem, the Netherlands.
Previously: 8-wheeler cargo cycle.
Thirteen video interviews in a YouTube playlist and a research paper expound the value of indigenous knowledge, the knowledge gleaned from the world throughout millennia that is not formally enshrined in academia. Ignoring indigenous knowledge can cripple engineering projects, and learning from it can enhance them, says Khanjan Mehta, Director of Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program.
Carolyn Sachs tells a story of women tending maize fields in Swaziland who ignored the advice from visiting agricultural scientists. The consultants said the farmers should weed their fields, but what looked like weeds to the visitors were actually dietary staples and a source of Vitamin A that the visitors did not recognize.
Bruce Martin explains how Ojibwe fishermen in northern Minnesota read the water to predict the location of the catch and the day’s weather forecast, sometimes better than fish-finding sonar and the local weather channel.
In another video, Audrey Maretzki tells the story of a woman in a nutri-business cooperative in Kenya who described the nutritional values of two grains. Boys raised on maize are fat and boys raised on finger millet are wiry and will beat the maize-fed boys in a fight, the woman said.
“That hit me like an ‘aha’ moment, because I knew that wimby [finger millet] was a more nutritious grain than corn. And to have her tell that in her own way was a recognition on my part that in fact there was a lot of knowledge there that we needed to figure out ways to capture,” Maretzki says in her interview.
Mike Merrell writes us:
“I’ve really enjoyed reading articles on your site since I found the article on the Chinese Wheelbarrow. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for information on the wheelbarrow, and I was immediately hooked. It turned out to be some of my inspiration for our new product we’re calling the Honey Badger Wheel. Our Kickstarter project began March 10th and will run until April 30th.”
“Because you provide awesome content for all of us interested in simple technologies with big benefits, would you be interested in running an article on your site about the modern interpretation of the Chinese Wheelbarrow? My hope is that it would add value to your audience, especially since it’s in line with with new and exciting info for us techies. On a more personal note, I appreciate the boosts of small inspiration from your site that lead to big ideas.”
“An French illustration from 1870 shows us the unusual ways in which hand-driving lifting devices were used in the period. Push carts almost two metres long were lifted to 9.2 metres by hand cranks via an 11.5 metre long luffing lever, also operated by a worker, and then pushed further along a wooden path to a tipping point. This daring construction was almost 18 metres tall.”
Find the complete illustration here. Source: “Portefeuille économique des machines, de l’outillage et du matériel“, December 1870, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Text: “The History of Cranes (The Classic Construction Series)“, Oliver Bachmann,1997.
- No electricity or running parts to operate the filter
- Made with 100% locally available materials (unlike larger community based systems where foreign parts typically need to be imported)
- Labor intensive NOT capital intensive
- Very durable, can last more than 25 years if maintained properly
- Little maintenance required
- Very effective for removing bacteria, protozoa, helminths from water and reducing turbidity
The main problem with concrete biosand filters is they require a heavy, expensive steel mold to make. [Read more…]
“In response to a heart attack, Cindy experienced an adverse reaction to medication and multiple organ failure. These complications resulted in amputations involving all four limbs: both of her legs below the knees and varying amounts of each of her fingers. With time, though, Cindy regained her ability to walk and started to find a “new normal.” She got great care from occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians, and prosthetists.
But she found that the standard tools provided to her, even at a top-flight rehab hospital, didn’t facilitate some of the most important things she wanted to recover—how to write a thank you note, feed herself, put on makeup and jewelry, turn the pages in a picture book as she reads to her grandchildren. So Cindy started to design and build what she needed. From small hacks on her hand cream jar to repurposing cable ties for pulling out drawers and salad tongs for holding a sandwich, Cindy has embraced an everyday engineering ethic that she never thought possible. [Read more…]
“The Wintergartan Marble Machine, built by Swedish musician Martin Molin and filmed by Hannes Knutsson, is a hand-made music box that powers a kick drum, bass, vibraphone and other instruments using a hand crank and 2,000 marbles.”
Read more at Wired: Wintergatan’s ‘Marble Machine’ makes music with 2,000 marbles.