When The Storm Hits, The Parks Sink

A part of the Big U, on an ordinary day.

The “Big U” is a proposed 10-mile-long horseshoe-shaped (social) infrastructure that will guard the southern half of Manhattan from storm surges and rising sea level.

When the East River swells, the urban space next to it turns into a lake.

The barrier—which will extend from West 57th Street, wrapping around the southern tip of the island and run back up the other side to East 42nd Street—will, during ordinary times, masquerade as a combination of parks, promenades, recreational zones and cultural spaces. The Lower East Side would be protected by a “bridging berm” –a level space separating two areas—at the East River Park. Both the berm and bridge will be wide and planted with salt-tolerant fauna.

The bridge (foreground) and the berm (background.)
The Big U can absorb a storm surge.

This is a project is by Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels.

A Hole In The Wall

A little “wine window” in Florence.

If you strolled through the cobbled lanes of Florence, you’re likely to see little apertures in old buildings that are about the size of an airplane window.

Well, they are windows.

In the mid-16th century, when the grand duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de’ Medici, decreed that wine could be sold out of people’s cellars—bypassing the taverns and innkeepers—Florentine nobles built these buchette del vino (Italian for “holes for wine”) into the walls of their palatial residences. By selling directly to the consumers, they evaded taxes in the process.

In the early 1630s, when an outbreak of the plague swept through this town and elsewhere in northern Italy, these dainty architectural features allowed sellers to pass a flask of wine into the hand of a buyer, without coming into contact with him or her.

In the era of the coronavirus, they’re are enjoying something of a Renaissance.

Windmills Of The Sea

The Haliade-X wind turbine is nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower.

GE is planning to roll out a series of giant offshore wind turbines in the Netherlands. These enormous whirling machines will be deployed at sea as the winds are stronger and steadier there than on land.

Towering 853 feet over the ocean and having blades, 350 feet long, one Haliade-X, is capable of producing as much thrust as the four engines of a Boeing 747 jet. It’ll be able to turn out 13 megawatts of power, enough to power a town of some 12,000 homes. When assembled in arrays, the “windmills” will have the potential to illuminate an entire metropolis.

Offshore turbines now account for only about five percent of the generating capacity of the overall wind industry.