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1973: Sorry, Out of Gas
Exploration of the architectural response to the 1973 oil crisis
Steffen Böddeker, October 1, 2007
Düsseldorf-Wuppertal interchange during a driving ban, Germany, 15 November 1973_KPA/dpa
Düsseldorf-Wuppertal interchange during a driving ban, Germany, 15 November 1973_KPA/dpa
 
These autonomous projects in often remote locations were indicative of counter-culture attitudes that drove much of the innovation of the time. Yet many parallel explorations addressed the question of energy independence in urban environments. Among the most influential is a 1979 design by Oswald Mathias Ungers created in response to a government-sponsored competition for a 400-home community in West Germany. Another, more independent urban project is the 519 East 11th Street cooperative in New York City whose tenant-owners installed solar panels and a wind turbine on the rooftop to provide energy for public spaces in the building. This successful effort to gain independence from the urban power grid led to a legal battle with the local supplier and prompted a lively public debate still relevant today.

Turbines_Malone
Turbines_Malone
 
In addition to individual architects and engineers, academic institutions were some of the most active centres to develop new initiatives. Among the most ambitious and enduring is a research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has been studying the mechanical, chemical, and electrical applications of solar energy since 1938. The shorter-lived Underground Space Center at the University of Minnesota (1978-1995) presented its research through several influential publications including Earth Sheltered Residential Design Manual.

Line-up at a Los Angeles gas station in anticipation of rationing, 11 May 1979_KPA/dpa
Line-up at a Los Angeles gas station in anticipation of rationing, 11 May 1979_KPA/dpa
 
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