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<nettime> Project for a New Atlantis [pt 1&2]
Paul D. Miller on Mon, 5 Sep 2005 11:46:39 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Project for a New Atlantis [pt 1&2]

Table of Contents:

   Project for a New Atlantis                                                      
     "Paul D. Miller" <anansi1 {AT} earthlink.net>                                        

   Project for a New Atlantis pt 2: On Flooded Cities                              
     "Paul D. Miller" <anansi1 {AT} earthlink.net>                                        


Date: Sun, 4 Sep 2005 10:14:10 -0400
From: "Paul D. Miller" <anansi1 {AT} earthlink.net>
Subject: Project for a New Atlantis

Between this and Kanye West's apt observation that "George Bush 
Doesn't Care about Black People" on the Aid Marathon for Katrina 
victims, I can only say - like that old Led Zeppelin song "when the 
levee breaks" it's all about reconstruction.

Katrina 3: Two Anti-Hurricane Projects (on landscape climatology)
Project 1: "How do you slow down a hurricane?"
In the June 2005 edition of The Economist Technology Quarterly 
(subscription required), we read about Moshe Alamaro, "a scientist at 
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, [who] has a plan. Just as 
setting small, controlled fires can stop forest fires by robbing them 
of fuel, he proposes the creation of small, man-made tropical 
cyclones to cool the ocean and rob big, natural hurricanes of their 
source of energy. His scheme, devised with German and Russian weather 
scientists and presented at a weather-modification conference in 
April, involves a chain of offshore barges adorned with upward-facing 
jet engines."

"Each barge creates an updraft, causing water to evaporate from the 
ocean's surface and reducing its temperature. The resulting tropical 
storms travel towards the shore but dissipate harmlessly. Dr Alamaro 
reckons that protecting Central America and the southern United 
States from hurricanes would cost less than $1 billion a year. Most 
of the cost would be fuel: large jet engines, he observes, are 
abundant in the graveyards of American and Soviet long-range bombers."
The creation of manmade tropical micro-storms, using heavy, 
greenhouse gas-burning jet engines towed through the waters of the 
equatorial Atlantic on what are, for all intents, artificial 
islands... is really a pretty ridiculous idea.
Yet it reminds me of a long-standing BLDGBLOG project that has 
otherwise gone unpublished. Till now:

Project 2: The Aeolian Reef
In Virgil's * Aeneid *, translated by Robert Fitzgerald, we read 
about "Aeolia, the weather-breeding isle":

"Here in a vast cavern King Aeolus
Rules the contending winds and moaning gales
As warden of their prison. Round the walls
They chafe and bluster underground. The din
Makes a great mountain murmur overhead.
High on a citadel enthroned,
Scepter in hand, he molifies their fury,
Else they might flay the sea and sweep away
Land masses and deep sky through empty air.
In fear of this, Jupiter hid them away
In caverns of black night. He set above them
Granite of high mountains - and a king
Empowered at command to rein them in
Or let them go." (Book 1, Lines 75-89)

Thus: BLDGBLOG's Aeolian Reef .
To be fair, this all began as nothing more than an idea for a new, 
artificial island that would be added to the Cyclades archipelago in 
Greece. It would be somewhere between Constant's Babylonic mid-sea 
pavilion -

- - an oil derrick -

- - the Maunsell Towers -

- - and a kind of massive, off-shore, geotechnical saxophone.
Full of vaulted tubes and curved ampitheaters - and complex twists 
through a hollow, polished core - this modern Aeolus, an artificial 
island, would produce storms (and even, possibly, negate them).
A modern Aeolus, in other words, would be a "weather-breeding isle" - 
or a "weather-cancelling isle," as the case may be: because then 
there was Katrina.
What would happen, I thought, if you built a manmade, 
weather-cancelling isle that could *stop hurricanes from forming*? I 
realized, of course, immediately, that you would actually need 
hundreds of these saxophone-like, anti-hurricane islands - even an 
entire manmade archipelago of them - because the atmospheric paths of 
storms are far too unpredictable.
You would need, that is, an Aeolian Reef.
The Aeolian Reef - and the current author, who cannot draw, 
hint-hint, would *love* to collaborate with any BLDGBLOG readers who 
want to illustrate some of these things - would consist of oil 
derrick-like platform-islands built in climatologically influential 
patterns throughout both the Gulf of Mexico and the larger, 
equatorial Atlantic.
The Aeolian Reef would: 1) trap and redirect high-speed winds from 
any burgeoning tropical storms and hurricanes , thus preventing them 
from actually forming; 2) provide incredibly exciting 
meteorological/atmospheric observation platforms far out at sea; and 
3) be readily exportable to other countries and other climates, for 
other purposes - land-based anti-tornado clusters, for instance.
This would therefore take the subject of an earlier BLDGBLOG post a 
few steps further: it would use architecture, or landscape 
architecture, as a way to directly influence, change, or redirect the 
It would, in short, be *landscape climatology*.



Date: Sun, 4 Sep 2005 10:14:08 -0400
From: "Paul D. Miller" <anansi1 {AT} earthlink.net>
Subject: Project for a New Atlantis pt 2: On Flooded Cities

Katrina 2: New Atlantis (on flooded cities)
New Orleans is not the only city to be faced with a future of 
indefinite flooding - nor is it the only city in the world below 
The entire nation of the Netherlands, for instance, provides perhaps 
the most famous example of urbanized land reclaimed from the Atlantic 
seafloor. " Polders " is the Dutch name for such rigorously 
flood-controlled territory, and an exhibition literally even now 
being held at the Rotterdam-based Netherlands Architecture Institute 
explores the polders' geotechnical creation.
The polders' "rationally organized landscape is unique, but also 
vulnerable," the NAI explains. Vulnerable to overdevelopment - as 
well as to catastrophic flooding.
The 2005 Rotterdam International Architecture Biennale, in fact, 
takes nothing less than " The Flood " as its central, organizing 
theme - with one particular sub-focus being * Water City *.

[Image: The metropolis, the flood, the boundaries of architectural design.]
In April and May, 2005, *The New Yorker* ran a three-part article by 
Elizabeth Kolbert, called "The Climate of Man," on the subject of 
human-induced climate change. The third part , published on 9 May 
2005, ends with a description of how "one of the Netherlands' largest 
construction firms, Dura Vermeer, [has] received permission to turn a 
former R.V. park into a development of 'amphibious homes'" - a 
floating city. ( The Guardian also has an article about this.)
"The amphibious homes all look alike," Kolbert says. Floating on the 
River Meuse in Maasbommel, "they resemble a row of toasters. Each one 
is moored to a metal pole and sits on a set of hollow concrete 
pontoons. Assuming that all goes according to plan, when the Meuse 
floods the homes will bob up and then, when the water recedes, they 
will gently be deposited back on land. Dura Vermeer is also working 
to construct buoyant roads and floating greenhouses" - the entire 
human race gone hydroponic.
As Dura Vermeer's environmental director says: "There is a flood 
market emerging."

[Image: A floating house, moored to the earth, in Maasbommel.]
Further afield, the year 2005 has seen major flooding in Europe, 
India, and Bangladesh, to name but a few sites of major hydrological 
In Mumbai , India, *The Economist* explains, the 2005 floods 
"uncovered long-term failures. Not enough had been done to maintain 
Mumbai's ageing infrastructure, such as storm-drains and sewers. 
Worse, new building had weakened the city's defences. Large areas of 
protective mangrove had been razed - in one notorious example, to 
make way for a golf course. Developers have built on wetlands, 
clogging natural drainage channels. River banks have been reclaimed 
and become slums."

And then there is Bangladesh. "From the air," we read, also in The 
Economist (most of their articles are for subscribers only, it's 
really irritating), "Bangladesh looks less like a country than one 
vast lake, dotted with thousands of tiny islets, clumps of trees and 
houses. Few boats ruffle the placid floodwaters: there is nowhere to 
go." And yet "[t]he great lake of Bangladesh is in reality a network 
of nearly 250 rivers."
New Orleans, Rotterdam, Bangladesh, Mumbai: 2005 will be the year of 
flooded infrastructure and overwhelmed cities.
And so if Atlantis sets the gold standard for civilizations lost to 
floods - forget Noah - then it's interesting that Atlantis, even 
before Katrina occurred, was back in the news this year (though I 
suppose it is every year). As already explored elsewhere on BLDGBLOG 
, Atlantis's island home may (or may not) be in the Straits of 
The real issue, however, that the infrastructural possibility of 
Atlantis brings to the fore - or, rather, that Katrina brings to the 
fore, through the hydrological destruction of New Orleans - is 
revealed quite clearly in the following artist's representations of 
what Atlantis might have looked like:

Atlantis, city of dikes and levees, city of canals and inland seas, 
city of water-smart urban design and hydrological planning - it, too, 
was swallowed by the oceans, and destroyed.

This thread continues in Katrina 1: Levee City (on military 
hydrology) ; and Katrina 3: Two anti-hurricane p

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