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Downtown Dallas Block to be Built from Sustainable Crowdsourcing

About two months ago, we read about a sustainable design competition called Re:Vision Dallas.

Re:Vision asks the question: "What if one entire city block served as the model for sustainable design for the world?" The bigger question: "How would you create this building block?"

Re:Vision Dallas is an opportunity to transform one "Big D" city block into an instrument of inspiration for the future. This is not a concept; this development is happening. Dallas, Texas has been selected as the city where this fully sustainable city block will live. With the land secured and supporting organizations ready and waiting, the next step is harvesting those ideas churning in that juicy brain of yours.

Between December 2008 and May 2009, a mix of architects, urban planners, college students, and others representing 26 nations submitted 176 proposals.

The three finalists were announced yesterday.

John Greenan, the executive director of the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation, wrote this in the press release:

Dallas--like most sunbelt cities--has more to gain than any other area of the United States from sustainable technology. Our period of greatest energy usage coincides with the best period to produce solar energy, the summer when we need air conditioning, so we have the possibility of vastly reducing the needs for new power plants by employing renewable energy sources. Peak power and peak loads come at the same time. Texas already leads the nation in wind production.

It's possible that Re:Vision Dallas, along with other initiatives already in place, will help make Texas a leader in solar power as well, and maybe even geothermal energy. That's just part of what the project will do.

The winning designs are so striking--both beautiful and unusual--that we think the project will be a must see destination. The urban farming incorporated in the designs will bring attention to the Slow Food movement and help accelerate the growth of Dallas' Farmer's Market, which is only a short distance away. In the end, I think the project will have more impact than we can even imagine now.

Perusing through the winning designs, I'm curious how Dallas will rediscover itself.

The first proposal-- named Forwarding Dallas by a Portuguese design firm--is canyonesque.

It calls for solar and wind power, and a water collection system that stores rainwater underground and reuses it for greywater and irrigation. The plan also includes housing for 854 residents, using locally-sourced building materials including straw bales for insulation. I like the idea of a Venetian Blind-like design, built into the hillside, for seasonal solar gain.

You can see the three winning designs here.