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1 November 2023

Roman Bolcek from FA BUT presents a BIOM vision of future cities in a book. Nothing terrible awaits us, he thinks

Roman Bolcek invents how to produce energy, capture water and grow crops right in cities | Autor: Václav Koníček
Roman Bolcek from the FA (Faculty of Architecture) BUT (Brno University of Technology) discusses what the great cities of the future could look like. Together with Petr Frantík and Zdeněk Vejpustek, they put together a book called BIOM, based on Bolcek's master's thesis. It outlines what homes that can produce water, energy and food for their inhabitants using modern technology could look like.

In the future, according to Roman Bolcek from the Faculty of Architecture at the BUT, large cities could grow in height rather than in width. “There's not enough space on the planet and we're still growing,” says Roman Bolcek, one of the authors of the BIOM project and book, which proposes how cities can be modernised to respond to the most pressing problems of their inhabitants. “Large agglomerations share similar problems. Lack of local food sources, lack of energy and water,” he says. In his master's thesis, he put forward a basic proposal of how such a problem could be solved.

Subsequently, together with Petr Frantík from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of the BUT and Zdeněk Vejpustek from the Faculty of Architecture of the BUT, they elaborated their master's thesis and this September their book was published. “You can't do major research that is publishable during the two years of a master's study. That's why we have followed up on the thesis, summarized my findings into basic research and written an introductory 150 pages in which we present arguments on what suitable structures in the city could look like,” says Roman Bolcek, adding: “If I had to sum it up in one sentence, then I would say that we solved the problems of today, which we then transformed into a vision of what our homes could look like in the future.” Interested parties can follow the project on their website or Instagram.

A vision of the future – growing crops at home

The proposed structure should provide enough water, food and energy for its residents. “In the book, we present a guide to how something like this could be done for a housing unit, a reconstruction, and a large urban structure,” the young architect explains, adding that readers will also learn why he suggests developing cities in height, not width. “One of our themes is moving traditional agriculture into the atmosphere of city centres. This solution could allow us to use verticals for water, energy, or we could use gravity to transport commodities to our agglomerations. Traditional farmland could then be transformed into a biodiverse landscape, with many benefits. For example, we can reduce CO2 production. Of course, we are aware that the natural transformation of such landscapes can take decades or even centuries,” Roman Bolcek, who also works with new materials, 3D printing and robotics, gives some examples. In the book, they presented designs for possible vertical structures ranging from one hundred to eight hundred meters.

Experts from other BUT faculties and universities are to participate in the design of the equipment in the future | Autor: Václav Koníček
He and his colleagues now want to test whether it will be possible to implement such a project. Their basic research should be followed by application research, in which they want to produce and test some of the proposed devices. They plan to join forces with experts from other faculties of the BUT and possibly also from foreign universities. “What one would have spent years researching on one's own, one learns immediately. Thanks to experts from other disciplines, we can find out, for example, whether some of the technologies we propose are already outdated and whether it would be better to use others. In addition, we also want to open up a broader discussion about whether our hypotheses are correct and whether an overall solution is possible,” says Roman Bolcek, adding that they have already tried to look at their ideas critically in their basic research. “We are aware that modern agriculture, for example, requires a lot of energy, so until there are new primary sources of electricity, we are not able to build such structures,” the architect points out.

A positive future through technology

According to Roman Bolcek, the BIOM book is intended for all those who think about the future of cities and housing. “We wrote it for both the professional and lay public. My master's thesis has already provoked a great response from teenagers, who are more interested in the topics of sustainability and ecology than my peers. I think anyone can read the book. It is an example of how architecture can look a little different than what we are used to today,” he adds.

In the follow-up application research, Roman Bolcek wants to produce and test the device | Autor: Václav Koníček
He himself became involved in the topic because of his concern about where people and cities are heading. However, he said he was surprisingly reassured by the immersion in the topic. “I think the future will be positive. As behaviour of society changes and technology advances, it will be easier to build healthier, cleaner and nicer cities. For example, with a minimum of transport in the centres. People will walk more, cycle more. I can't say exactly what our houses will look like, but I don't think anything terrible awaits us,” concludes Roman Bolcek.

(zeh)

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