Zone for Cloud

[Image: Detail of a zoning map for New York City].

Earlier this month, mammoth – just two months old, but already one of the more interesting architecture blogs out there – cited climatological research that certain land use patterns can dramatically affect the formation of clouds above.

In other words, pastures, forests, suburbs, cities, farms, and so on, all affect the skies in very particular spatial ways. Deforestation, for instance, has “substantially altered cloud patterns” in the Amazon; specifically, we read that “patches of trees behave as ‘green oceans’ while cleared pastures act like ‘continents’,” generating a new marbling of the local atmosphere.

The same thing can be found to happen above cities, of course. Instead of “being zoned ‘R-3 Residential Low Density’,” mammoth continued, “a block might be zoned ‘Cumulus H-2’.” Or Mammatus H-3. In this tongue-in-cheek vision of sky-centric urban development, all new buildings would have to be cleared with a Meteorological Bureau to ensure that they produce the right types of cloud. Atmospheric retrofitting comes to mean attaching bizarre cantilevers, ramps, and platforms to the roofs and walls of existing houses till the clouds above look just right.

Sky vandals are people who deliberately misengineer the weather through the use of inappropriate roof ornamentation.

Over generations, you and your friends and the descendants of your friends sculpt vast, urban-scale volumes of air, guiding seasonal rain events toward certain building types – where, as mammoth‘s own earlier paper about fog farming suggests, “fog nets” might capture a new water source for the city.

(Incidentally, there is a short vignette in The BLDGBLOG Book about bespoke, privatized, and extremely local weather control).

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