I love the idea of the Blood Railway by Aimee O’Carroll, a student at the AA, which has just won the new award from Foster and Partners for sustainability and infrastructure.The idea is to link the London hospitals by infrastructure including the old railway that was used to transport the post, and transfer medical supplies, including blood, in that way.
O’Carroll doesn’t shy away from the obvious puns, such as ‘Whitechapel’s urban artery’ and there are obviously parallels between the circulation of the blood and the transport links in a city – London seems on the edge of a massive cardiac infarction most days. She’d have to sort out issues such as refrigeration, but it is a massively appealing conceit.
It was an eye-opener to see a presentation from Foster at the World Architecture Festival and realise just how far on the construction of Masdar, the sustainable city in Abu Dhabi, is. They showed construction shots which show a real city taking place, and the first buildings will be occupied by the end of this year.
They also made it clear how much of a laboratory the city will be – essential to deal with the question of whether it would have been greener not to build at all. There are lots of sensible reasons for raising the building on a podium, with transport underneath, but it will be interesting to see how they manage to avoid it becoming the world´s largest, and most sordid, undercroft.
Construction is all lightweight. Apparently in deserts thermal mass is only effective if buildings are shaded all day. Otherwise there is not a long enough period of night cooling to dissipate the heat that has built up during the day.