Friday, February 18, 2011

Walt Disney's Utopian city design ideas

A little known factoid is that the EPCOT Center at Disney World was intended by Walt Disney to be a model of modern city design. He had a grand Utopian vision of a perfect city, where most of the perfection would be in its transportation system. It relied on an electrified transportation system (the Disney Monorail) running between homes and work areas, allowing for most commuting to be with that transit system.

His design was one of those utopian designs where the visionary designs the perfect city from a blank slate, rather than having to place that perfect city into an existing city. This non-organic process probably won't result in the perfection the visionary believes will result. Further the times where blank slate city construction can occur are few and far between.

The Disney World area is, however, one of those times. The Disney Development Corporation bought up a huge chunk of the middle of Florida, enough for a blank-slate-city, with the vision of developing Disney World. The design however was left on the drawing board with Walt Disney's death in the mid 1960's and the project morphed into a straight up amusement park.

This video is Walt Disney's pitch trying to sell the project to the Florida Legislature (and others). It is also available in a two-DVD set: Walt Disney Treasures - Tomorrow Land: Disney in Space and Beyond

In the 1990's the Disney Development Corporation did develop Celebration, Fl, as a kind of utopian city. "Disney CEO Michael Eisner took an especially keen interest in the development of the new town in the early days, encouraging the executives at Disney Development Company to "make history" and develop a town worthy of the Disney brand and legacy that extended to Walt Disney's vision of an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). DDC executives collaborated extensively with leaders in education, health and technology in addition to planners and architects to create the vision and operating policies for the town.",_Florida

Monday, February 7, 2011

Passive House US


"The Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) is a consulting and research firm working to further the implementation of Passive House standards and techniques" in the U.S. Works to establish standards in the U.S., training and certification, design guidelines, etc.

"The Passive House concept represents today's highest energy standard with the promise of slashing the heating energy consumption of buildings by an amazing 90%. Widespread application of the Passive House design would have a dramatic impact on energy conservation."

"A Passive House is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc. Energy losses are minimized."

"A Passive House is a comprehensive system. "Passive" describes well this system's underlying receptivity and retention capacity. Working with natural resources, free solar energy is captured and applied efficiently, instead of relying predominantly on ‘active’ systems to bring a building to ‘zero’ energy."

EcoNest Homes


Architecture and home design company that specializes in homes built using natural techniques like timber frame, clay, and plaster. The goal is to create "healthy homes" and "deep ecology".

They offer workshops for builders who want to learn the techniques. They envision a network of EcoNest builders across the country.