An Invisible Building

Environmental Architecture

Having gotten through season 1 of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, I have been inspired by the concept of an ‘invisible building.’  In other words, I love the idea of a closed system underground structure.  Granted, such systems also exist in such games as Fallout 3, but Dollhouse coined the phrase ‘invisible building’ and made it seem more like a paradise than a containment facility (okay, so it showed both sides of the coin…)

This inspiration led to my recent wiki-pedition about closed systems and renewable energy, i.e. solar, geothermal, wind, biomass, biofuels, nuclear power, and others.  What I find fascinating about these various systems is the concept of a 0- energy space (or a space that gains rather than spends energy, as exhibited by Team Germany in the Solar Decathlon).  I think that, by combining these energy resources with an underground structure and clever architectural planning (building or converting abandoned spaces) one could make some amazing ‘invisible’ buildings that pay for their own energy, and perhaps, in time, for their own construction costs.

What this led to think about more, however, was the idea of a vehicle as a closed system.  What if cars, motorbikes, planes, trains, what have you- could use some of the above systems for their own energy refueling?  I mean, ideas of biofuel and solar power being used in cars are not new, but what about wind and hydro electric power?  I suppose my query is one of scale: that is, what if the systems currently used to harness wind and hydroelectric power were scaled down to be used in a moving closed system instead of a stationary one?  What if a car’s movement helped fuel a car?

Fish, for example, move about, generating oxygen by passing water through their gills.  Why can’t cars do the same thing with fuel (or at least electricity)?  Why not have a moving system that feeds not only on solar energy and biomass but also on micro-windfarms and micro-dams?  I mean, granted the systems in question would provide very little energy, but the constant motion of a vehicle would reduce the variability of water intake/wind intake that often plagues the stationary systems.  On that kind of note, could not the very act of falling be used to provide some sort of energy?

What got me to wondering about vehicles on an energy saving level was the idea of transport.  Right now, building in spaces with resources that one orders still requires a lot of energy, a lot of carbon.  It also deals those darned shipping costs.  But what if travelling did not cost so much?  Wouldn’t that reduce the price of construction?  Would that also reduce the price of fuel, and of the vehicle itself (over time)?

To answer my last question, water intake systems come with a cost.  The passage of material through a ‘pipe’ system leaves residue, and overtime, even the energy saving systems of a vehicle would lose their functionality.

Still, having a world (or even a place in the world) where building and travelling actually paid for themselves, would be incredible – and could help direct money into more leisurely areas.

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