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H2PIA - The World's First Hydrogen City
Sarah Rich, 28 Apr 06

136168710_b85f07db07.jpg If the developers behind H2PIA have their way, a hydrogen future may not be as far off as some predict. It's hard to know if their projections hold true (or if the innovative project they've designed will come to fruition), but if ever there were an alluring vision of a green future, this is it.

H2PIA will be a fully self-sustaining, hydrogen powered "urban community," replete with several models of residential homes, a public center, plenty of open space, and enough commercial and office space to allow residents a commute-free lifestyle. One home even comes with a hybrid vehicle that generates power for other parts of the neighborhood when not in use.

"Outside the hydrogen city there are parks where solar power cells and wind turbines produce energy and hydrogen for the town. Electricity from the town’s solar and wind parks is distributed directly to the inhabitants. Any excess electricity is used to produce hydrogen for the town’s fuel storage. The stored hydrogen is used to produce electricity and heat in the H2-cogeneration plant during periods with no wind and sun."

The development will be in Denmark, and emerges from an extensive collaboration of various developers, engineers, architects, and community planners.
(via Inhabitat)

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Hmm... Why does this smell like another Arcosanti? Hopefully it's not. It'd be awesome to see this place actually get built.

Posted by: Jeremy Faludi on 29 Apr 06

shouldn't the solar panels face vaguely towards the sun?

Posted by: g on 29 Apr 06

Heh, G. That's funny.

But overall, I think that practicality aside, the vision itself has some real utility: the more of these sorts of futures we can put in front of people, the more people will begin to see that there are potential paths that lead away from the Collapse.

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 29 Apr 06

The solar panels ARE facing the sun. That's a nearby star going supernova.

* * *

You know, I'd really like to see a city of the future that doesn't look like its main industry will be hiring itself out as a set for Sci Fi Channel B-movies.

Folks, this place looks hideous! It's futurhoiddic. It's tacky.

I'm afraid that if I lived there I'd spend an awful lot of time scrubbing those gleaming white exterior walls.

And, dang, those endless green lawns . . .

OK. I'm having fun here reacting to the artist's conception. But I think some concern about acceptance is relevant.

I hope the designers crack open a copy of How Buildings Learn and take it to heart.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 29 Apr 06

Amen, Brother Stefan.

In Denmark's climate and latitude, they'd do much better learning from their friends in Germany, especially Dr. Wolfgang Feist and colleagues at the Passivhaus Institute. That's a vision of the future we can create from actual working examples of the present. Passivhaus homes, while not whiz-bang and hip, are so efficient that powering them entirely from renewable energy sources, using hydrogen as the energy carrier, might even be feasible.

Remember the magazine The Mother Earth News? It still exists, and still appeals to folks who love the sound of stories like "Earn Hundreds of Craft $$$ Making Wind Chimes Out of Old Soda Bottles!", or "Build Your Own Home In Your Spare Time for $150 Out of Recycled Shipping Pallets and Mud!" It's almost as much fun as The Onion.

We need those visions of the future, but we need to be careful not to make them future-tech versions of wishful thinking. Physics, friends, physics.

Posted by: David Foley on 29 Apr 06

"The solar panels ARE facing the sun. That's a nearby star going supernova.... You know, I'd really like to see a city of the future that doesn't look like its main industry will be hiring itself out as a set for Sci Fi Channel B-movies." - heh...

"We need those visions of the future, but we need to be careful not to make them future-tech versions of wishful thinking. Physics, friends, physics."

I agree, in many ways. But given how little work is being done out there presenting positive visions of sustainable living, I'll take 'em where I can find 'em, personally.

Though this does make me wonder -- why not some sort of competition to design the most attractive, innovative yet realistic-on-current-projections future bright green communities we can imagine? There's plenty of stuff that already exists, as David points out, that's practically science fiction compared to what we're still building conventionally, and there's plenty more on the way. Put that all together with some design moxy and you might have yourself a kick ass future. Get 1,000 people doing that and you might find yourself a revolutionary one.

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 29 Apr 06

What's powering the hot air balloon?

(See Flash movie)

Posted by: Richard on 29 Apr 06

I believe it's run entirely on a renewable resource: the hot air generated by Worldchanging editors... ;)

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 29 Apr 06

I was down in the Bay Area for the Maker Faire last weekend. I kind of burned through the exhibits on Saturday, and went downtown instead on Sunday.

One place I went was the newly renovated art museum (De Long?). They had a special exhibit in the basement about the Arts & Crafts movement. Decor, art, furniture, clothing and homes, all designed to be more homey and human than the squalid industrial stuff the movement's designers found so appalling.

The movement was amazingly succesful. Various countries, including Russia and Japan, did their own thing based on the basic premise.

Looking at the room layouts gave me a "Sheesh, where the F**K did we go wrong?" moment. If I won a lottery, an Arts & Crafts bungalow would be on the Get One list.

I see a green design movement as incorporating the local spin aspect of the A&C movement, plus its good taste. I see no reason whatsoever that green design has to be a recipe for uncomfortable hair shirt living, or for a gleaming Formica Gernsback Continuum lifestyle. (I'd look terrible in shorts and tunic with fins on the shoulders and short white cape.)


** You See?

Posted by: Stefan Jones on 29 Apr 06

Another existing, very inspiring place is Andellsamfundet, in Hjortshøj, about 25 minutes by train from Århus, Denmark's second largest city. It's an eco-village, passive solar, well-insulated with raw clay brick interior walls, built with a lot of owner participation. The houses are sometimes funky, sometimes well-crafted, but all have the kind of spirit that Stefan alludes to. Backup heat is a district-heat scheme, piping laid under the streets to each house, the hot water made by a wood chip boiler - the wood chips are from coppiced willows grown on the site, with the ashes returned to the willow stumps to help keep them fertilized. I was there about 10 years ago, and I'm sure it's even cooler by now.

If you speak Danish, or can pick your way through it (Jag kan en litte gran Svensk), look for a copy of the book Erindring Og Forandring by Kirsten Klein and Inger Klingenberg. It's about existing ecological architecture throughout Scandinavia.

Posted by: David Foley on 29 Apr 06

H2PIA is suburban sprawl minus the fossil fuels. It is anti-alluring.

Posted by: Laurence Aurbach on 29 Apr 06

i think its a great vision and i wonder why comments here a made so much about the architecture and design of the houses. dudes, these are sketches. just imagine villia hybrid with a color of your pleasure. sit down!

Posted by: k0ochy on 30 Apr 06

Only real problem I see here is the use of hydrogen.

Posted by: t on 30 Apr 06

Laurence beat me to it - Spawl-tastic!

Posted by: Rod Edwards on 1 May 06



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