Prix André Arfvidson de l'Académie des Beaux-Arts de l'Institut de France 2007

l'Académie des Beaux-Arts de l'Institut de France

The Green Desert Mine

Faced with overexploitation of inner and exterior regions of megacities we witness two forms of desertification: destruction of fertile land and subsequent migration of populations suffering from it. More than two billion people live in arid regions of the globe.

The Green Desert Mine envisions the transformation of hostile desert areas into fertile lands, rich with biodiversity and adapted to modern lifestyles by “fighting the green house effect with similar weapons” !

The project proposes a series of thermal chimneys capable of recycling heat generated by our machines, bodies and environment. The chimney bases suggest a new economical and urban landscape by concentrating 1,600 citizens around the towers’ superstructures and by elevating the compact city’s functions and properties above the ground. The total impact on the proposed 4 hectares area is thus limited to a 1,000 m2 footprint. We are left with 3.9 hectares of land to combat desertification: a GARDEN.

The “garden” is sheltered by a double membrane capable of collecting solar energy on the one hand and transmitting thermal energy to the chimneys’ turbines on the other. The gray water produced by the city is filtered over an extensive portion of the “garden” using biological and mineral filtration systems. The evaporating water of the vegetation and the lakes is collected at the top of the greenhouse, condensed and channeled into the cisterns located at the base of each tower. An extensive biodiversity is introduced to intensify the oases. To this effect colonies of birds and aquatic animals are given a fertile salt-water based habitat to invite other species adapted to this landscape. By planting dates, palm trees, lavender and roses, etc… we set the stage for insect populations such as bees and butterflies to flourish. A drip irrigation system brings water from the surrounding hills, providing excellent water management and higher crop yields.

We thereby obtain an AUTONOMOUS system in the form of a GREEN MINE where the precious minerals are known as: BIODIVERSITY.

As for the city’s infrastructure, the facilities necessary for education, work, leisure and consumption are placed in the economic zones of the structure. This implies working in proximity to one’s home. Such a system may suggest an urban university, a biotechnological research facility, etc. The system’s autonomy could export energy, water, agriculture and financial/technical services. A near surface Maglev system ensures rapid connections between regional and urban centers.

It appears that geography, water supplies, population growth and climate change will play a major role in the near future. Globalization will most likely produce massive migratory fluxes between poorer and wealthier nations which could lead to new social and political tensions. We must act now to prevent these events. It is therefore essential to offer and implement new sustainable solutions to global partners by stimulating new intellectual and economic movements within their regional populations while protecting their environments.