Franken-Darmstadt: An Unworldly Machine System

THE FRANKENCITIES PROJECT SEEKS TO PREDICT AND GRAPHICLY PRESENT THE WORST-CASE SCENARIOS FOR OUR GLOBAL URBAN FUTURE; DETAILING THE ONCOMING HORROR STORIES FOR 100 REAL WORLD CITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE. THIS WEEK, WE FOCUS ON THE GERMAN CITY OF DARMSTADT..

 

Legend has it that Shelley's 'Frankenstein' was given this name because of a creepy old castle called 'The Frankenstein Castle' located just outside of the city of Darmstadt. 

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Nowadays, Darmstadt prides itself as the ‘City of Science’; notable especially for its large chemical industry.This association with -- and glamorization of -- science and industry shines through brightly into the near-future, as seen below, when Franken-Darmstadt comes to life.

 

 

Franken-Darmstadt’s creators boast that ‘we are not a city like others’ but instead ‘we are an industrialized ecosystem’. In Franken-Darmstadt, all the industrial elements of the city are integrated into an intricate whole so that the waste that comes from one factory is used as a resource for another. In fact, Franken-Darmstadt has done this so very well that there are very few wasted materials. Each by-product, be it solid, liquid, or gas, is recycled by other factories over and over again using minimal energy and producing almost zero emissions.

 

However, there’s nothing natural about it. And every person in Franken-Darmstadt seems to be a cog within a vast machine landscape. Here, the ecosystem is artificial; water, oxygen, carbon, silicon, methane, and ethane are all cycled and recycled with elegant energy efficiency and little garbage, but there’s nothing much alive down there save for a few human technicians.

 

For industrialists, the idea of industrial ecology is attractive, since it pretends that our vast industrial civilization can be converted into an eco-friendly state if we just find technical solutions to the problem of recycling materials and energy. However, the ‘ecosystem concept’ is a machine metaphor applied to natural settings, a vision of nature more loved by engineers than ecologists. So, if you start off with the idea that you want to turn the city into an ‘ecosystem’, what you’ll end up getting is not a living community but a machine community.

 

Also, some products cannot be made without producing waste materials that are so toxic that can never be used by another industrial process. Chemical products, which are a mainstay of the Franken-Darmstadt economy, may very well belong to this category

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