Jorge Chapa

Andrew Maynard's Suburb Eating Robot

by , 04/15/08
filed under: Architecture, Urban design

andrew maynard, robots, suburb eating robot, solution to urban sprawl, urban sprawl, cv08, critical visions, australia, sydney, raia,

If the current US trends of foreclosures and suburban flight continue, one might expect that the suburbs of the future will be desolate, abandoned places. How will we ever recover those large swaths of land and put them back into good use? Enter the CV08, a suburb crushing, land restoring robot designed by Australian architect, and Inhabitat favorite, Andrew Maynard. Its mission is to bring Mother Nature back into the areas left unoccupied thanks to the rising costs of fuel and energy. A provocative, polemical and impossible solution? Sure. But, absolutely awesome at the same time.


As part of Critical Visions 08, a conference organized by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in Sydney, Andrew Maynard and six other young up-and-coming architects presented a vision of what the future holds for architects and designers, and the challenges that we will have to face. The visions proposed everything from clearing large swaths of Sydney for creating green spaces, to radically conceptualizing what a city would look like if it only had public transportation, and all points were no more than 30 minutes away from each other.

Andrew Maynard’s caught our eye, because, well, they are effectively giant robots consuming suburbs. Obviously an outlandish vision, and certainly not something that will occur anytime soon. However, just as with any other concept, it is the idea behind it that just makes it pretty darn cool.

When oil ends, and energy is no longer cheap, it’s no longer feasible to have people living in the suburbs. After all, if you cannot get to it, or it is too expensive, no one will want to live there. So the suburbs will essentially become empty, abandoned, and the houses left behind will just be wasted resources left there unexploited and unresolved. A provocative vision, and one that may actually be closer to reality than what we would like to think.

The robot itself is pretty cool. The two front legs crush and process the suburban houses, and turn them into materials ready for recycling (naturally, being giant robots, the compacted materials are fired off in missiles to the recycling plants). The middle and rear-legs slowly but surely terraform the earth left behind. Flora and fauna are brought to the site via these behemoths, and Mother Nature is restored.

Andrew and his team have always impressed us with their design solutions and aesthetics. Now we can certainly add imagination, big ideas, and a good sense of humor to their already impressive list of qualities. For those of you who are living in Sydney, the exhibition is currently running at Customs House. Be sure to visit.

+ CV08 @ Andrew Maynard

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8 Comments

  1. zack October 15, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    hi my name is matthew perez i like your robot thanks.

  2. greennetizen greennetizen May 23, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    ted with this post. When I went to Andrew’s website and read about it, it sounded quite juvenile. Maybe this would make a good cartoon for Saturday morning. Peak oil does not mean that overnight everything will decay and lay in ruin. People will conserve, carpool and look for other solutions. Biofules will substitute for a while before it becomes unsustainable. Yes, there will be hard times and we may in deed be on a decline of human civilization, but the end is not here yet and there is much we can do in the meantime.

    The robot idea is just a bit too pessimistic for me.

  3. Post.Domesticated April 21, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    This post is ridiculous. The suburbs may be the best place to live for the majority of the populace should our resources become tight. Outside of small towns, where else are the populations dense enough for easy camaraderie while each family still has enough land to feed themselves?

    Has anyone on this site ever heard of permaculture? The idea is to use design to link the currently isolated and divided parts of life (architecture, landscapes, interiors, eating, pissing, shitting, showering, enjoying nature/community) to maximize resource regeneration and fun while minimizing effort – in a beautiful way.

    An example: link up your roof to a water catchment system, link that to a simple sand filtration system (maybe with a little UV filter action), link that to your kitchen sink, link the drain in your sink to a wood-chip basin filter to take out & compost the oils & veggie bits & biodegradable soap, link the bottom of the basin to a hose that leads to your fruit tree guilds, link their fruit & veggies to your stomach & your kitchen (starts loop again), link your stomach to a dry composting toilet, link the 6 month-to-1 year old finished humanure compost to your fruit tree guild (starts loop again).

    This doesn’t even include the plethora of links that actually comprise the whole interconnectedness of a site. It would take volumes of text to just add the local flora & fauna that will also be munching on your fruits & veggies and making their home in your yard and enriching your life with song, color, movement, and wonder.

    With the suburbs, the problem is the solution.

    For visuals and a detailed blog on suburban permaculture, please visit: http://www.suburbanpermaculture.org/

  4. laszlo April 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Is there poster of this available? If, so how can obtain one?

  5. davidd April 17, 2008 at 3:32 am

    This is like a trendy, green Archigram.

  6. roboticon April 16, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Cool-looking robot, but obnoxious premise. The solution to the oil problem will not be “make energy more expensive so people move closer to the city”. The solution will be cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy and water in abundance. This will make suburban and rural living more popular than ever before. Instead of forcing people to live like enlightened urbanites in some odd attempt to validate our own lifestyle choice, we should find real solutions to allow for and improve as many lifestyle choices as possible… including the suburban and rural ones. Cheap solar and wind solutions, alternative fuel sources, and sustainable development practices can be applied on any scale, from urban to rural.

    This attitude reminds me of the new housing project in China that is supposedly a \”solution\” for housing displaced farmers in the newly industrialized areas… a modernist housing tower! What nature-loving, land-tending farmer do you suppose will be happy living there?

  7. bobbie April 16, 2008 at 5:55 am

    I think it’s an awesome idea, these suburb eating and land restoring robots. But are there other people having a hard time reading the manual ;-) Can these robots also plant trees? Cause if not I saw another good way to do this. It’s on the website http://www.floraqueen.com and during May they plant 5 trees for every gift you buy to celebrate mother’s day. This way you make not only your own mother happy, but also Mother Nature.

  8. hambargarz April 15, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Glad to see a fellow Australian making a contribution. I like how the robot fuels itself by performing liposuction on obese people, something Australia definitely needs!

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