Architecture is in need of an alternative remedy. In the rapidly developing world dominated by the automobile, man is in conflict with nature. To provide the necessary framework for urban circulation, traditional civil engineering has blocked the natural process of evolution that has been millions of years in the making. Specifically, the universal, default impervious parking lot is contributing to our Earth’s ill health and it is in our best interest to explore, diagnose, and find a cure. By taking cues from the way acupuncture heals humans, we can apply concepts to cure some harmful side effects being caused by our love affair with the automobile and limit our impact to restore our connection to the natural world. Currently 600,000 sq. km of Earth is covered by impervious surface, increasing exponentially annually (Zhifeng 2014). This one-type fit all prescription is creating both long and short-term social and environmental problems rather than enhancing the quality of human existence.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, average temperatures in urban areas fluctuate 22°F warmer than rural areas. This increase not only contributes to urban and global temperatures but also a higher energy demand for air conditioning, and results in more heat related illnesses. Other environmental impacts consist of increased water runoff that carries unfiltered pollutants to local streams damaging aquatic life (EPA 2016) Although, these surfaces are vital to the framework for urban circulation and transportation, these monotonous impervious sites are often an epicenter of stress for environments and people that interact with these spaces. These sites, originally created to make life easier, are contributing to water and air pollution, increased urban temperatures and a disconnect from social and environmental factors unique to these urban environments.
Can we adapt this urban typology to interact with the people and land in a harmonious way that eliminates stress from both the environment, and the user? Why is it so challenging to integrate natural and manmade environments? If half of all parking lots in the United States were covered with vegetation, these lots could manage 2 billion cubic meters of storm-water runoff, produce 822,264 tons of oxygen, and remove 1 million tons of C02 annually (Green 2013). Can we incorporate and adapt alternative medicine practices as a way to heal our environment?
Acupuncture improves functions of the body and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites. By applying these principles to the urban scale, Urban Acupuncture seeks to react to specific sites in a way that, “relieves” points of stress, and evolves parking lots into spaces that bring people together and promotes healthier environments. Urban Acupuncture begins to merge the boundaries of nature and urban form in a way that provides a new framework to allow for harmonious and healthy architecture.
Green, By Jared. “500 Million Reasons to Rethink the Parking Lot.”
Grist. GRIST, 09 July 2013. Web. 26 Oct. 2016
Environmental Protection Agency. “Heat Island Effect.” EPA.
Environmental Protection Agency, 2 Sept. 2016. Web. 25 Oct. 2016.
Liu, Zhifeng, Chunyang He, Yuyu Zhou, and Jianguo Wu. “How Much of the World’s Land Has Been Urbanized, Really? A Hierarchial Framework for Avoiding Confusion.” Landscape Ecology Landscape Ecol 29.5 (2014): 763-71. Web. 10 Oct. 2016