Covers environment, transportation, urban and regional planning, economic and social issues with a focus on Finland and Portugal.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Al Gore to climate conference in the Faroe Islands

Tórshavn, the capital of Faroe Islands by

Al Gore, Nobel prize winner and former Vice-President of the USA, will be the main speaker at the TransAtlantic Climate Conference 08 in the Faroe Islands, on 7 and 8 April, an event focusing on climate change in the North Atlantic and on the new challenges faced by countries in the region. It is hoped that the conference will provide a boost to trans-Atlantic co-operation on climate change in the marine environment.

The conference venue will be The Nordic House ("an enchanting hill of elves" ) in Tórshavn. The Nordic House is built on a Nordic tradition with designs form all the Nordic countries.

The conference aims particularly at researchers, business people, civil society representatives and politicians in the North Atlantic region and the Nordic countries.

NORA (Nordic Atlantic Cooperation), a Nordic Council of Ministers' cross-border committee on regional policy, is one of the organisers of the event. Climate change is high on the Nordic co-operation agenda, especially within the framework of the new initiative designed to help the Region face up to the challenges posed by globalisation.
"The conference is a result of the recognised need for coordination between Europe and North America regarding the marine environment – both with regard to marine climate research and innovation in sustainable technological solutions. Research institutions and industry need easier access to each other. Industry requires sustainable technologies that reduce both energy consumption and the negative impact on the marine environment. Research institutions need capital and feedback from industry to undertake the necessary research."
Goals of TACC2008:
  • Focus on Climate Changes and Challenges in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Challenges in relation to a Sustainable Marine Environment
  • TransAtlantic Climate Institute (TACIT) as a Knowledge Hub (*)
(*) The conference will showcase opportunities for a “TransAtlantic Climate Institute” (TACIT) based in the Faroe Islands, collaborating with universities, R&D institutions, and industry in Europe and North America.

Links: [] [] []


Monday, March 17, 2008

February 2008 OviMagazine [Download the free PDF ]

Download the free monthly PDF magazine from here, which contains original articles and other material:

And that was February 2008...
Published: 2008-02-29 (8.06MB)

How many months have 29 days? Yes, all of them! However, this Leap Year the extra day in February means you lucky readers have gained an extra cover story for the month.

Ovi Online Magazine


"Regiões, Sim!" vai realizar sondagem

Segundo o diário "Região Sul", o Movimento Cívico “Regiões, Sim!” pretende realizar uma sondagem a nível nacional sobre a questão da Regionalização. Segundo o diário, para tal, o movimento necessita de verbas, tendo iniciado uma campanha de angariação de fundos que financiará igualmente a campanha nacional de subscrição de assinaturas.

Em Fevereiro último, em Assembleia Geral, o movimento decidiu avançar com a campanha de assinaturas para uma petição a entregar na Assembleia da República, e realizar uma sondagem sobre o tema.

Também segundo o "Região Sul", as duas acções carecem de meios financeiros pelo que o movimento acaba de lançar a campanha de angariação de fundos.

Pode ler o artigo completo através deste link.

Decidimos fazer aqui uma mini-sondagem, acerca da questão da Regionalização. A pergunta colocada é a seguinte:
Concorda com a instituição das regiões administrativas? (segundo o modelo das 5 "regiões-plano")
[Pode votar na coluna do lado esquerdo do blog. Participe!]


Friday, March 14, 2008

Manufactured Landscape - Landscape as Architecture

Photo by Edward Burtynsky /

Who are the users of an industrial structure like a factory , a mine, a quarry or an industrial village? Obviously they are the workers. In fact, who defines the requirements of those structures are the investors or the capital owners.

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However, it should be the governments and the populations to have the power to decide the projects’ viability, both engaged in a formal process of EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) that is also an educational process, because it involves professionals and users.

On the other hand, who defines the indirect environmental impacts of the material and human resources exploitation, in remote areas? Maybe nobody does it. In fact, the resources “developers” of those areas leave them abandoned after the contractual period of exploitation. Perhaps they aren’t aware of the profound scars that their action causes in the environment.

In the conception of industrial structures, the “function prevails on the human factor. These are true examples of a brutal anti-aesthetic, on a inhumane scale - the abysmal geotechnical excavation; the corporation of thousands of enslaved human beings, ; the dormitory building, where the workforce is massively accumulated.

It’s evident the lack of creativity and appeal to the senses in the architectonic conception of these spaces. But the photographer is able to transform the ugly and astonishing reality of the current times (“function”) into an artistic imagery (aesthetics).

In absence of architectonic art, the landscape itself could be architecture. Landscape as architecture is the “synthesis”. Functional structures (formerly designed mainly to minimize the production costs) became art landscape, by intervention of the artistic “expression”.

While observing these powerful images, we can also revisit the past - the same historic ingredients of the industrialized countries are perceptible on it. Like when we visit abandoned places feeling the “atmosphere” of the past times.

Today, there is a massive industrial revolution in China, which is responsible for 19% of the world’s aluminium consumption, 20% of copper, 27% of steel, 31% of coal and 47% of cement. 30% of the US goods come from China and 20% of the products imported into the USA are American products manufactured abroad by US firms. The present global competitiveness model is based on the cheap workforce (manual and intellectual) of the developing countries.

Photo by Edward Burtynsky /

"The concept of the landscape as architecture has become, for me, an act of imagination. I remember looking at buildings made of stone, and thinking, there has to be an interesting landscape somewhere out there, because these stones had to have been taken out of the quarry one block at a time. I had never seen a dimensional quarry, but I envisioned an inverted cubed architecture on the side of a hill. I went in search of it, and when I had it on my ground glass I knew that I had arrived."

"MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES is a feature length documentary on the world and work of renowned artist Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky makes large-scale photographs of ‘manufactured landscapes’ – quarries, recycling yards, factories, mines, dams. He photographs civilization’s materials and debris, but in a way people describe as “stunning” or “beautiful,” and so raises all kinds of questions about ethics and aesthetics without trying to easily answer them.
The film follows Burtynsky to China as he travels the country photographing the evidence and effects of that country’s massive industrial revolution. Sites such as the Three Gorges Dam, which is bigger by 50% than any other dam in the world and displaced over a million people, factory floors over a kilometre long, and the breathtaking scale of Shanghai’s urban renewal are subjects for his lens and our motion picture camera.(...)"

Part 1 of this article: Function and Aesthetics


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Function and Aesthetics


The functional requirements of buildings and other physical structures are defined by the requisites that the users make for the realization of their activities.

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Photo by Edward Burtynsky /

Actually, the term "function" covers all criteria, not only practical (such as structural security, habitability and economy) but also aesthetic, physiologic, psychological, socio-economic and cultural.

Besides being a design process, architecture is also an experimental and sensory process. If we are moving in a 3D environment, in a temporal sequence we can see, touch, smell and have good or bad “vibrations”. There are thus two different channels: one is the design process, the other one is the sensory experience.

To satisfy the new concept of sustainability, any structure should be constructed in an environmentally friendly way. The materials, the environmental impact on the evolving area and the external demands on energy sources (needed for the required habitability) should be integrated in a sustainable project.


Aesthetics judgments, sensory and emotional values are based on multiple and complex factors, which are variable spatially, temporally, and from individual to individual. In the same circumstances, something that may be beautiful for some people, can be awful to others. Many times these judgments are subconscious reactions, which can be manifested physically in each person.

We could ask if the concept of beauty has disappeared, replaced with the concept of “expression” - the communication of our convictions or truths, often opposite to the so called “status-quo”.

But after all, what might be considered as art? An unique aesthetic object or an undistinguishable succession of cultural ways?

And who recognizes the art? The institutions of the artistic world, art events and artistic communities, or there should be rules and formal definitions to assess it? Is art a product of class and high level education?

Is it the process of creation that makes an art object? Or is it the intrinsic feature of an object that makes it art?

If an artist intends a piece to be an art object, will it be even if another artist doesn’t acknowledge it? Is it the intention of the creator that makes something to be art? Or is it the form how the art object is experienced by its audience?

Is it the function of the art object in a particular context or environment, the determining artistic factor?

The next part will help us to find answers to some of these questions…

Part 2 of this article: Manufactured Landscape - Landscape as Architecture


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Stumbler Interviews by Michael

Michael created a new blog strictly about StumbleUpon and decided to conduct a serie of interviews with some members of this social networking service (including me). Enjoy!

Stumbler Interviews by Michael W. Jones: