Mitchell Joachim: Visionary in ecological design, architecture and urbanism
Joachim's mission is to expand the definition of possible, to demonstrate that architecture, urban planning and sustainable design can lead to a better cities — but only if people take a leap of faith.
Mon, May 07 2012 at 1:04 AM
MIND-STRETCHING IDEAS: Mitchell Joachim, co-founder of Terreform ONE, uses 'provocation and propaganda' to get people 'curious' about green living alternatives. (Photo courtesy of Mitchell Joachim)
You may not want to live in a meat house – but you could. The technology exists – or very nearly so – to grow tissue in vitro and shape it.
So, living in a house made of meat may not be desirable, but it is possible. And the mission of Mitchell Joachim is to expand the definition of possible, to demonstrate that the world of the Jetsons can exist beyond Saturday morning cartoons, to show how the fantastic can become ho-hum.
His plans for soft cars, blimp mass transit and, yes, meat houses, are purposefully provocative.
“Provocation and propaganda are two types of tools we use on a regular basis,” says Joachim, a visionary leader in ecological design, architecture and urbanism as partner at Planetary ONE and co-founder of Terreform ONE.
One standard of success for a project, Joachim says, is “does it get more people curious.”
While the plans of Joachim and his team are grounded in current technology, they seem more like the stuff of science fiction. But science fiction plays an important role in the development of science fact, Joachim says, noting that French novelist Jules Verne wrote about travel to the moon a half-century before the Wright brothers sputtered across the dunes of Kitty Hawk.
“If we didn’t have Mr. Spock walking around with a tri-corder, it would be hard to explain to someone what a smart phone is,” Joachim says.
If Joachim’s projects stretch the imagination, they sometimes strain credulity. Blimps towing people up and down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue?
“It’s not supposed to be practical – it’s research,” says Joachim, a clinical associate professor of architecture, urban planning and sustainable design at the New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study & Environmental Studies Program.
But some research goes into production. Joachim earned a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was part of the team that developed the CityCar, an electric car designed for congested cities. The CityCar – now named the Hiriko – recently went into production in Spain.
“The podlike electric vehicle, whose battery pack would be leased, is a two-seater with 4-wheel drive and a range in excess of 100 kilometer, or about 60 miles,” reported The New York Times. “Because its wheelbase can collapse, a single parking space can accommodate three vehicles. Driver and passenger enter through a windshield that swings upward.”
Wired magazine noted Joachim’s offbeat vision, naming him to "The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To" and Rolling Stone magazine honored him in "The 100 People Who Are Changing America." Popular Science magazine has featured his work as a visionary for "The Future of the Environment" in 2010.
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