Zone for Cloud

[Image: Detail of a zoning map for New York City].

Earlier this month, mammoth – just two months old, but already one of the more interesting architecture blogs out there – cited climatological research that certain land use patterns can dramatically affect the formation of clouds above.
In other words, pastures, forests, suburbs, cities, farms, and so on, all affect the skies in very particular spatial ways. Deforestation, for instance, has "substantially altered cloud patterns” in the Amazon; specifically, we read that "patches of trees behave as 'green oceans' while cleared pastures act like 'continents'," generating a new marbling of the local atmosphere.
The same thing can be found to happen above cities, of course.
In fact, possibly sarcastically, mammoth then predicted that BLDGBLOG would use this very research to "suggest a city built with the aim of controlling the cloud patterns above" – and I hate to be so predictable, but I think it's a great idea.
Instead of "being zoned 'R-3 Residential Low Density'," mammoth continued, "a block might be zoned 'Cumulus H-2'." Or Mammatus H-3.
All new buildings have to be cleared with a Meteorological Bureau to ensure that they produce the right types of cloud. Atmospheric retrofitting comes to mean attaching bizarre cantilevers, ramps, and platforms to the roofs and walls of existing houses till the clouds above look just right.
Sky vandals are people who deliberately misengineer the weather through the use of inappropriate roof ornamentation. George Orwell would call it skycrime.
Over generations, you thus sculpt vast, urban-scale volumes of air, guiding seasonal rain events toward certain building types – where, as mammoth's own earlier paper about fog farming suggests, "fog nets" might capture a new water source for the city.

(Incidentally, there is a short vignette in The BLDGBLOG Book about bespoke, privatized, and extremely local climate change – definitely check it out).

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Anonymous rob said...

No sarcasm, we're all love for BLDGBLOG (who isn't?).

And how did I miss the pun potential of mammatus?

May 26, 2009 9:35 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Rob, I can think of a lot of people who don't love BLDGBLOG! But no worries - and great blog, I'm really enjoying what you two are up to there. Keep it up.

May 26, 2009 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Geoff.

I've got a Blogger Card that's being passed on from esteemed blogger to esteemd blogger, and it's sort struggling to get moving at my end.

So, I wondered if you were interested. Apply etc. at


May 26, 2009 7:03 PM  
Anonymous rob said...

Thanks, Geoff. Do appreciate the kind words.

May 29, 2009 5:29 PM  
Anonymous BenB said...

The comment on Mammoth did seem very snide, as though imaginative conjecture is something to be frowned upon. Personally, BLDGBLOG has to me often come across as reams of design briefs for films.

Have you ever thought about writing a work of fiction, Geoff?

May 31, 2009 8:56 PM  

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