Focus 2019: Sustainability – Meet Will
Will and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
My name is Will, I’m 24 and originally from Lincolnshire, UK, and it was during my final year at the University of Bath that I became fascinated by how sustainable architecture could offer solutions to environmental issues. In 2050, there will be almost 10 billion mouths to feed while global warming is simultaneously erasing bio-productive land, this challenge inspired me to design a deployable vertical farm that could ease a food crisis. I quickly realised that architects have a huge responsibility in determining how cities function environmentally, and they should use this voice to promote a sustainable future as the only future.
Currently, my master’s research at the University of Cambridge is continuing this exploration into off-grid design and climate-change challenges by investigating how 1 billion people around the world will soon need to adapt to rising sea levels. As, 68% of us will live in cities by 2050, I’ve focused on a self-sufficient, flood-resilient masterplan for New York city, the most vulnerable city in the US. So, for the past 6 months, I’ve been conducting fieldwork in New York by working at Bjarke Ingels Group on the BIG-U project. Being part of this team has taught me about the realities of defending a city, including the importance of community engagement and political support.
The ambition for my thesis is to show how flood-resilient masterplans could catalyse a drive for sustainability in a city, in order to progress cities towards the targets of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. A prototype of one of the masterplan’s houses, called Orchard House, is currently under-construction, and is designed it to use as little carbon as possible without sacrificing the quality of space. This experiment is helping to prove that the luxury of sustainable design isn’t expensive.