Controversial artist Damien Hirst has turned his focus from diamond skulls to green building, announcing plans to design an eco-friendly town near Ilfracombe north of Devon, England. Hirst’s Southern Extension includes plans for 750 sustainable and energy-efficient homes, and it’s envisioned as a model for other parts of the United Kingdom. The town also features a school, playground, offices, retail space, and a health center – and it will be powered largely by wind turbines and photovoltaic solar panels.
Hirst made a splash worldwide with his over-the-top art pieces that sell for obscene figures – including a real tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde, a diamond-encrusted skull and a series of paintings made up of large colored dots and real butterflies. His foray into urban planning comes as a surprise to many, and it has been met with much criticism.
Hirst envisions the Southern Extension project as an eco-friendly development complete with wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and homes built to last the “test of time.” But critics disagree – although the town may be eco-friendly, plunking down a town in the middle of nowhere does not ensure longevity. The proposed office complexes and school do not guarantee enough jobs to sustain the inhabitants of the new venture. Although Hirst’s intentions are good, a sustainable town requires more than just green buildings to ensure the success and happiness of its inhabitants.