infrastructure – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: infrastructure

glitch jam

[The Placer County Courthouse, in Auburn, California — imagine it swarmed by a glitch jam.] NPR reported this morning on a traffic jam in California caused by an algorithmic glitch “accidentally summon[ing] 1,200 people to jury duty on the same morning”. An excellent reminder of the tendency of algorithmic dysfunction to manifest as physical dysfunction, […]

expiration dates

[Chart showing the typical lifespans of a wide variety of infrastructures (and components of infrastructures), from treated wood ties to deep geological repositories for high-level radioactive waste. The descriptive text reads: “This chart visualizes the lifespans of equipment associated with waste, water, energy, and transportation systems across North America. As we approach — and pass […]

nambe falls dam

[The strangely geometric edge of Nambe Falls Dam in New Mexico; Nambe Falls Dam is a component of the San Juan-Chama Project, which delivers water from the San Juan River Basin through 26 miles of tunnels under the Continental Divide into the basins of the Rio Grande and Rio Chama, providing drinking water for Albuquerque; […]

“the last remaining organic components of a city-wide cybernetic system”

Writing at Fast Company, Tim Maly ties recent interest in autonomous cars and related intersection-managing algorithms back to the guest post he wrote for mammoth during our reading of The Infrastructural City: What’s interesting about the skepticism towards automated driving is that it reveals how invisible the current systems of automation already are. Traffic control […]

giant tube to supply water for ten millions

The wonder of inter-basin transfer, in the August 1937 issue of Popular Mechanics: (The cover of that same issue, which wonders at the electrical power produced by and transmitted from Lake Mead, is also worth a look.)

delaware dredge

[A pressurized pipe carries dredge along Bethany Beach, Delaware; photography by Chris Mizes.] On his blog space within lines, Chris Mizes writes about one of the more common ways that the landscapes of dredge intrude on everyday life: beach nourishment. As Mizes explains, this commonplace instance of landscape prosthesis is — like many of the […]

metro international trade services

[Warehouse at 1200 E McNichols Road, Highland Park, Michigan. The small red sign at the bottom right corner of the second image says “Metro”.] The warehouse above — and a network of others like it, scattered around the industrial abandonia of Detroit — is a crucial bottleneck in the global aluminium trade. Before I explain how this […]

everyday structures

Recommended reading: Alan Wiig’s “everyday structures”, a blog “explor[ing] the place of infrastructure in the urban landscape”, with a particular focus on “Hertzian space” and digital communications infrastructure. Wiig is studying geography at Temple University, so his blog most typically deals with landscapes in Philadelphia or its surrounds. Like many of mammoth‘s favorite things at […]

the network as industry

[“Interior components of the cooling system” at a Facebook data center in Palo Alto; image via Alexis Madrigal’s report for Domus on Facebook’s Open Computer Project, which “describes in detail how to construct an energy-efficient data centre”.] “Secret Servers”, an article by James Bridle originally published in issue 099 of Icon magazine, looks at the […]

cellular confinement

[Cellular confinement systems were originally developed by the Army Corps of Engineers to facilitate the quick construction of temporary roads for heavy military vehicles; photograph from a Neoloy brochure.] In a remote polar region, there is a small country that is rarely visited by outsiders.  On the advice of a rogue Army Corps of Engineers […]

“bundled, buried, and behind closed doors”

[“Bundled, Buried, and Behind Closed Doors”, a documentary short by Ben Mendelsohn and Alex Chohlas-Wood, looks at one of our favorite things — the physical infrastructure of the internet — and, in particular, the telco hotel at 60 Hudson Street. It’s particularly fascinating to see how 60 Hudson Street exhibits the “tendency of communications infrastructure […]

road ecologies

A nice slideshow by Laura Tepper on Places looks at the intersection of “wildlife habitat and highway design”, from “the six massive wildlife overpasses lining the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park” to HNTB and Michael Van Valkenburgh’s winning entry to the recent ARC competition for Vail Pass, “Hypar-nature” (pictured above) and across the Atlantic […]

unconventional intersections

At Slate, Tom Vanderbilt writes about the design of intersections to eliminate left-turns, which historically produced such oddities as the Jersey jughandle and the Michigan left, as well as more recent innovations like the diverging diamond interchange and continuous flow intersection.


We recently wrote a brief piece, “Appeal”, for the excellent architecture journal Quaderns in response to their most recent issue, “Parainfrastructures”. We used this response as an opportunity to consider why we are so drawn to infrastructural landscapes like Blue Plains — not just as sites of logistical and technological operations, but aesthetically as well: […]

psyttaleia island

[Psyttaleia Island, Alcatraz of wastewater treatment plants. Via the awesomely-named tumblr The Value of Garbage. Aerial photos from this slideshow of Psyttaleia construction images. For more, see this description of the island (in Greek).]

blue plains

Last spring, Mammoth visited the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant. This massive facility — which claims to be the largest plant of its particular kind in the world — exists to remove the solids that the 2 million residents of Washington, D.C. and surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia introduce into wastewater from their parking […]

residue treatment center

[Residue Treatment Center (or CTRV) in Vacarisses, designed by Batlle i Roig. While the CTRV is a municipal solid waste treatment facility, not a wastewater treatment facility (where flushed feces usually go), the two kinds of facilities are commonly linked by the need to dispose of solid materials separated out of water at wastewater treatment […]

egg digesters

[After Pruned’s unfortunately lost egg digester Flickr set, satellite photography of egg digesters heating and breaking down sludge on Deer Island, just outside Boston.] [More egg digesters, this time at New York’s Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. A New York City press release describes the eggs: “The digesters will process up to 1.5 million gallons […]

fecal politics

The following piece is a guest post from Peter Nunns. Peter is a recent graduate of the University of Auckland, with a MA in Political Science; mammoth readers may be familiar with him from his contributions to last summer’s discussion of the Infrastructural City. His current research interests include shelter and urban development challenges in developing-world cities, the […]

border box

The following piece is a part of Border Town’s supplementary online discussion, which is collated at the Border Town website.  Border Town is a “10-week, multi-participant collaborative design studio that investigated the conditions that surround life in cities situated on borders, divided by borders, or located in conflict zones” this summer, led by Tim Maly and […]