Retreat to Autonomy

Authors’ description:
In recent year, the unchallenged process of growth and development has led China to an excessively overbuilt environment without any consideration of the cultural and environmental impact. While the developed countries have been riddled with urban decay for decades, China seems to be destined to repeat the same mistake as the Western countries in its urban development on its current trajectory. The industrial modernization has reorganized the urban fabric and large swaths of everyday life in the name of maximizing efficiency and profitability. In our globalized world, the circle of decay and renewal appears to be unbreakable when the image of a spectacle-obsessed society become the only model to follow. This project explores an alternative development model to the rapid urbanization, allowing the nomadic people in Inner Mongolia to enjoy modern amenities offered by the urban environment without being tied to a fixed location.

I would like to propose that, in order to defeat the seemly unstoppable progress of the spectacle, there needs to be an alternative image of modern life. One that is conscious of the needs of people to have a living standard comparable to what you would find in a developed country, but devoted of either the obsession over surface appearances of celebrity, glamour and sex appeal or the blind nostalgia of the vernacular. In the case of Inner Mongolia, this image would be a tribe of nomadic herdsmen that incorporates modern technologies such as automation, robotics and sustainable energy without giving up their traditional lifestyle and culture that lasted hundreds of years. The mobile units is an all-terrain robotic transportation that is designed to carry the equipment needed to support the nomadic population. Each mobile unit has an assigned municipal function and community it serves. The mobile units will follow the migration of the nomadic population. The mobile units will move between the 40 locations identified in the previous chapter as the seasonal migration takes place and deploy in the base stations.

A pavilion is to be constructed at locations where herdsmen usually concentrate. The pavilions have solar panels and rain collector to collect electricity and water all year round. The electricity and water will be stored in the battery stack and water tanks under the pavilion. When a base station is occupied by mobile units, an inflatable wind turbine generator will be released into the air to increase the power output of the base station to better support the occupying mobile units. The LED lights on the tethering cable of the wind turbine will also notify nearby residents that the base station is now functional and ready to serve.

The base stations offer services in three different categories: convenience, sustainability and autonomy. Convenience services include community clinic, delivery drone routing, and community service. Sustainability services include repair shops and waste management, whereas autonomy services provide community exchange, recycling and long-range wifi. Therefore each base station will provide modern municipal services to the nomadic community.

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