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Part 2 Project 2009
Alastair Parvin
University of Sheffield, UK
Plan for an Autonomous Motorway

Although to most of us they are invisible, we are all dependent on a few highly-complex, energy-intensive systems which ensure the continuous supply of food to cities. The increasing concentration of those systems and the first effects of global peak oil production will mean we can no longer afford to take them for granted.

Rather than settle for the price-hikes inherent in the ‘local production’ solution, Server speculates upon whether we can redefine what is actually meant by the term ‘local’.
The project takes a section of the M1 motorway in the Midlands and investigates its redesign as a self-sufficient farming system; a belt of knowledge-intensive agriculture, producing no waste and consuming minimal external resources. Based on existing processes, prices and capacities, it begins with the production of biodiesel from algae, and the residual biomass which is used as a cattle feedstock. These become the generators for a more complex choreography of mutually-supportive programmes.

The result constitutes a challenge to some of the narrow political dichotomies which currently dominate green politics, and hints at a profound shift in the way that we, as citizens and consumers, relate to the rural landscapes, communities and infrastructures upon which we depend.

Alastair Parvin

Alastair Parvin’s project SERVER, proposes an Experimental Agricultural Belt (EAB) along an 8 mile stretch of the M1. Alastair developed his brief as a provocative re-examination of the role of architectural design in the context of global environmental change, resource depletion and financial crisis. The project proposes a radically different approach to sustainability issues from that usually offered by contemporary design culture. It suggests farming as a ‘world-view’ and architecture as the business of farming resources. Server architecture is usually ‘the architecture of stuff before it arrives’. In this project SERVER is acutely aware of the interdependencies of the UK built environment. It therefore engages with the wisdom of farmers and the skills of agricultural workers allowing a particularly resilient point of departure from which to explore our relationship with resources, technology, economics and the processes and people that nourish our cities. Alastair’s proposal investigates the entire UK in terms of a possible Industrial Evolution. He has developed an extraordinary and precise taxonomy of species as well as an innovative approach to field structures, fuel farming and knowledge intensive agriculture. The project harnesses inventiveness and design at both strategic and local scales, transforming the M1 and inspiring a new kind of motorway citizenship. Starting with just 8 miles, it anticipates an ongoing industrial experiment in self-sufficiency in the infrastructures and economies that cities depend on.

Dr Renata Tyszczuk

Dr Renata Tyszczuk
Mr Satwinder Samra
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