Architecture student Damien Assini proposes masterplan for a carbon-free urban landscape

Zero-carbon towns: science fiction or urban future?

Published in City & Climate Action by

From super-efficient tiny homes to 3D printed dwellings: modular architecture seems to be having a moment. With his latest project, Bartlett School of Architecture graduate Damien Assini took things several steps further: proposing an ambitious masterplan to transform the British countryside into a sprawling network of mobile, pre-fab cities and carbon-neutral businesses.

Assini’s project is speculative; but is based on the very real economic and social problems facing post-Brexit Britain today. Specifically, the proposal is a reaction towards the government’s plans for the construction of a high-speed railway between London with the Midlands; a costly infastructure project which Assini feels could result in “gentrification, displacement and loss of existing city heritage.”

Reimagining city life 

Instead, Assini suggests an alternative: reallocate the funds and land to transform the route into a new kind of urban landscape which promotes nature, sustainability and inclusive wealth. Titled Reimagination of the HS2, his illustrated masterplan challenges the status quo both practically and philosophically; and extends several decades into the future. The first 25 years of the project would see a vast green corridor extend along the route, made of plantations and wetlands that would allow wildlife to spread across the country.

Towns featuring carbon-free modular houses would be constructed in stages along the route, mobile enough to adapt to local needs. A tree-management programme would provide timber for building; and a system of anaerobic digesters would generate green energy from waste. Everything would be focused on a framework of social inclusivity and environmental and economic sustainability.

A blueprint for change

Speaking of his grand proposal, Assini explained that his aim was “to suggest an alternative construction of ‘a country that works for everyone’ – a blueprint for change in the context of ongoing national uncertainty.” Ultimately, whether they inspire us or repel us, design fictions like these are valuable tools which help us explore our future possibilities. Want to see more speculative projects? Dive into the work of the recent crop of graduates from Bartlett School of Architecture here.

Top image: Detail, illustration, Reimagination of the HS2
All images by Damien Assini


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