Darryl Chen, 04 02 10
Urban heat islands? Sink estates? Windswept alleys? The Mobile Mountain solves all your urban problems… for a limited season only! Read on to explore TTT’s latest riff on microclimate infrastructures…
I. The Problem of Public Space
While electronic and social networking technologies threaten to totally dematerialize our experience of the ‘public’, the notion of physical public space remains a constant human requirement as more and more people live in closer proximities within cities.
Increased privatisation and demographic fragmentation more often than not render the city’s public spaces as locii of dysfunction as opposed to offering the liberties of urbanity.
II. The Problem of Climate Change
Personal choices in the city often hinge on local weather conditions. Will I go out today? What will I wear? Can I sit outdoors? Ways of manipulating microclimates will in the future be deployed to create a regime of public infrastructure responsive to climate at a local level. Mitigating changing climate patterns at a personal level will make individual choice more predictable whilst at the same time allowing public gatherings to form where they may have been excluded previously due to urban heat islands, wind downdrafts or microlocal weather shifts.
III. Mobile Mountain
MBL.MTN is a project for a small artificial mountain that regulates the temperature of its interior and thus provides a year-round indoor/outdoor venue for public gatherings.
The MBL.MTN is portable, able to be towed from location to location. It can be deployed for a variety of uses and locations including: a hub for local interest groups, a stage for community events, a growing platform for seasonal edibles, and a marketplace to sell them! It becomes an attractive place in the city making otherwise uncomfortable or unsafe areas habitable again. It provides relief to a summer urban heat island; a warm hearth at an evening outdoor festival; or shelter in the rainy season.
Not being tied to any one location, it is free of the associations that might have built up over a period of time that render some some spaces dysfunctional and unsafe. Whilst at the same time it is innately adaptable in its appearance and character.
We propose that a whole series of structures based on the MBL.MTN template would together create an infrastructure of mobile public spaces - nothing short of a wholesale reinvigoration of the way we use outdoor spaces in the city!
IV. Building Community
MBL.MTN exploits the emerging technology of phase-change materials (PCMs) as a way of effectively storing heat within less dense construction materials. A modular system of blocks filled with wax-based PCMs allows the structure to store solar heat efficiently without the means of any active energy input. The MBL.MTN stays cool during summer and warm in winter.
A modular approach allows assembly with low specialist constructional knowledge. This has the benefit of allowing local communities to participate in building together MBL.MTN incrementally over a period of days, months or years, and to whatever shape is appropriate for the local culture.