The Machine and the Garden: Circular Production in Daegu
Epilogue turned Prologue
MIT professor, Leo Marx recently passed away in 2022 at the age of 102. During his centenarian lifespan he witnessed the transformative aftermath of the second-wave industrial revolution in the U.S. which triggered a total metamorphosis of the ‘pastoral’ landscape into that of a global industrialized superpower. In his seminal piece of literary criticism in 1964, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America,’ he measures this stark reality with the statistic that only 1 out of 10 Americans still labored on farms where that number was 9 out of 10 when the Republic was founded.
Rather than concluding with a definitive statement about the relationship between industrialism and the pastoral ideal, in the epilogue, ‘The Garden of Ashes,’ Leo Marx leaves us in a state of emergent and ambivalent tension: “For more than a century our most gifted writers have dwelt upon the contradiction between rural myth and technological fact.” Referencing Twain and Melville he goes on to state, “neither was able to imagine a satisfactory resolution of the conflict figured by the machine’s incursion into the garden.”
In this way, The Machine in the Garden closes with a central, unanswered question about industrialized society: Can there be a co-existence, even a mutually beneficial convergence of machine and nature? Speaking of the latter, throughout his treatise, Marx often puts the word ‘nature’ in quotes, continually presenting us with literary evidence that the pastoral idea is a thematic and ideological construction. If we are to fold Marx’s ideas onto the much-touted impending ‘4th industrial revolution,’ which promises to bring sustainable production methods closer to the city, we might finally have the technological means to create the Machine and the Garden.
In this hybrid scenario, instead of nature as a resource extracted by industry in an unsustainable state of diametrical opposition, we would need to expand the conceptual sphere of industry (and nature) to radically include each other. This would entail refining and re-tooling technology that is already in reach into new forms of renewable energy, new economic models based on circular practices, new material uses that inherently upcycle and pre-cycle, and new urban structures that support collaborative knowledge networks.
Furthermore, with the looming ecological crises on the horizon, now is the time to turn Marx’s epilogue into a prologue by folding industry and ecology into a mutually supportive operating system. The city of Daegu is the perfect place to explore this logic across micro and macro scales: Its historical evolution as an industrial center has equipped it well in terms of existing infrastructure, technology, and culture that can now be transformed into supporting next-generation urban industry that fuses with nature.
The Machine in the Garden, published 1967
A Machine in the Making
For centuries, Daegu has been a machine in the making. During the Joseon Dynasty, it was established as a major transportation hub due its central location along the Great Yoengnam Road between Seoul and Busan.  In more modern times, the Gyeongbu rail line, constructed in the beginning of the 20th century, continued to reinforce the status of Daegu as a major economic hub easily accessible from all parts of Korea. Today, the Gyeongbu expressways and high-speed KTX rail networks connect Daegu to major cities and international ports while at the local scale, branches of the expressways connect the periphery of the city to its core.
Daegu’s basic infrastructural layout shares similarities with global industrialized cities such as Berlin, London, and Paris. For instance, these cities developed in a radial fashion composed of concentric ring-roads: In Daegu as well, ring-roads have become critical infrastructures that link major international and national logistics and industry programs to local and regional networks.
Daegu’s nation-scale infrastructural connection
Can these infrastructural rings become the backbone of a circular economy? Already, Daegu’s current and planned industrial development is located along a regional Production Belt that wraps circumferentially from east to west along the ring roads. Future planned infrastructural connections such as the Exco subway line extension and the Geomdan connector road will further reinforce access between industries along this belt and the city core.
Therefore, we propose leveraging and re-tooling this infrastructure into a city-scale ‘machine’ that more cohesively networks large scale factories, diverse micro-industries, research facilities, distribution centers, and ecological zones. To this end the machine needs to provide efficient, intermodal transitions between local and regional roadways, high-speed rail, subways, pedestrian zones, as well as accommodate future transport and delivery systems including autonomous vehicles, drones, and UAM. The end-goal is to provide citizens with seamless access to the information, programs, and goods produced within this Production Belt so they can become creative collaborators in a new way of living where recycling and upcycling is an integral part of everyday life.
Industrial zones along infrastructural lines
Ring-roads and major logistics centers
Daegu’s City-scale infrastructural connections
The Garden in the Machine
The other important feature common to the radial cities mentioned above are that their historical cores are adjacent to a natural waterway. Similarly in Daegu, urban manufacturing and its inner ring-road system stretches along the Geumho-gang (‘gang’ means ‘river’). The Geumho-gang then feeds directly into the Nakdong-gang – the longest river in South Korea which passes through major cities before terminating in Busan. Unfortunately, like other industrial cities, Daegu has utilized its waterways as the backdoor to its industries making the Geumho-gang one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Worse still, the Geumho-gang empties directly into the Nakdong-gang threatening the most important ecological watershed in Korea: Over 40% of the pollutants found within the Nakdong-gang are from the industrial and sewage activities along the Geumho-gang.
If we are to expand the conceptual sphere of ‘nature,’ the restoration and integration of the Geumho-gang’s ecologies must happen in conjunction with developing industries. Previous industrial revolutions have fallen into an ideology of progress that Paul Kingsworth calls a “technological rapture that sees time in a linear fashion rather than in a cyclical fashion.”
Next generation ingenuity in Daegu therefore, must think cyclically and bring the garden into the machine and vice-versa. First, the new industrial model should follow the 3 R’s of circular economies: Recycling, Reusing and Repairing. The convenient proximity of industry within Daegu’s city limits can minimize consumer practices that rely on single-use products while maximizing personalized customization of re/upcycled goods through the myriad of evolved industrial businesses. The existential recognition that resources are finite would form an umbrella concept for the mandatory preservation of the ‘garden’ including the ecology of the Geumho-gang.
Secondly, the activities along the Geumho-gang can become a source of energy production. For example, the Dulsuhcheon sewage plant can become a waste-to-energy facility that in turn powers the factories around it (more details on this later). Thirdly, coupled with Industry 4.0’s cleaner production methods, restorative landscapes along the Geumho-gang can have a trifold benefit of filtering and cleaning the polluted waterway, intertwining pedestrian leisure space and mixed-use production, and creating resilient landscaped flood barriers to offset the increasing flood events caused by climate change. In essence, instead of a pastoral landscape separated from urban factories, the garden should be conceived as completely integrated with it so that ecological systems, diverse factories, and cultural/educational institutions provide a mixed-use tapestry that supports the way technology-driven production can be integrated into society.
Daegu’s industrial and ecological belts coincide creating environmental issues. What if factories and nature could become mutually beneficial to each other?
Phase 1: Connect existing industries with small industries in the core and research institutions
Phase 2: Create infrastructural connections to new industrial areas and logistics cores
Phase 3: Reinforce collaboration along an industrial belt to bring cyclical production of recycling, reusing, and repairing
Within not Without the City
Retooling Daegu’s existing production belt should also posit the question of how to expand our cities. In current models, satellite cities are built outside of the city periphery causing redundancy in services and cultural programs that eventually lead to an abandonment of the original city core. In Daegu, a more compact, interdependent urban development model should be explored that more fully targets the development of large regions and small-scale existing areas. For the former, two key areas within the city limits include the soon-to-be decommissioned K2 Airport toward the east and the Dulsuhcheon sewage plant on the northwest near the recently opened high-speed rail station. For the latter, rather than depleting the original historical core, developing ‘acupuncture’ programs such as R&D labs, educational spaces, retail, and even housing where appropriate, alongside the existing industry within the production belt can create the diversity essential for urban life. Through these macro and micro scale efforts, the making, distributing, using, and reprocessing of goods can become a city-wide connected flow where once economic sector of the city enhances the activities of another.
Of course, there are many challenges to re-tooling Daegu’s existing production belt to meet the needs of the 4th industrial revolution. Some of these include income instability for small businesses, lack of education for new innovative R&D methods, and limited access to marketing and branding. But as international examples such as the’ Made in NYC’ initiative demonstrate, urban production ecosystems depend on a varied tapestry of makers, manufacturers, educators, and marketing companies working as a community. In short, a circular economy thrives on mixed-use urban density.
Instead of looking to outward regions and in essence starting development anew, The City of Daegu should strengthen multi-modal infrastructural access across the vital existing small industry zones while initiating knowledge channels with local universities and research institutes. The goal would be to intensify new types of collaborations that produce innovative products and services that are both locally and regionally responsive. Combined with emerging smart city technologies and access to real-time data, production methods centered around circular economies of recycling, re-using, and re-tooling can also allow Daegu to become a leading international example of how current obsolete product-to-user-to-landfill lifecycles can be disrupted and made more sustainable.
The current mode of production extracts resources and then places obsolete products in landfills
Through collaborations between diverse production facilities, the future mode of production for Daegu is based on a circular model of repair, recycling and reuse, that can be innovatively developed into new types of products
To zoom into the northern linear circumferential Production Belt of Daegu, the industries within it intertwine along the Sincheon highway, Gyeongbu expressway, and Geumho-gang. This region is essential to the livelihood of the city because of its existing industries, natural ecologies, and access to the historical core. Like the interrelated and integrated parts of a living organism, this Production Belt can unlock Daegu’s potential to innovate, create, and regenerate the products and services that constitute everyday life: The specialized know-how of diverse micro-industries, when materially and informationally networked across Daegu and its surrounding regions, can function as a large manufacturing ‘field’ where creators can collaboratively fabricate and re/uprecycle the necessary components of the next generation of devices, vehicles, and smart materials.
Anchoring the eastern end of the Production Belt, the soon-to-be decommissioned K2 Airport can be reimagined as a mixed-use research and fabrication zone. The abandoned streams in this area feeding into the Geumho-gang can be revitalized as linear green zones where urban life and natural ecologies meet. Restoring the barren airport landscape as a continuum of the Dunsan mountain directly north of it allows it to be an ideal location for new housing directly accessible to the industry and research zone.
Continuing westward, the existing Geomdan industrial zone can become another important node as the planned Exco subway line and connector road will streamline access to the area. To reinvigorate the struggling small businesses in the area and create synergy with the Exco convention center and hotels, we propose pedestrianizing the area while reinforcing the movement of goods for production: A tartan grid of north-south running ‘last mile’ autonomous vehicle delivery routes intermixed with east-west exhibition showrooms will provide a tapestry-like fabric where visitors and small-scale manufacturing can co-exist.
While the above examples can act as concentrated nodes of production, strengthening the diverse ‘sinew’ of older existing businesses can allow for reciprocal relationships with the renewed zones to complete circular production logics. For instance, the injection of marketing, law offices, restaurants, distribution nodes, retail shops, and even housing can cooperatively function with existing industrial activities. The goal is to create mixed-use city fabric integrated into the everyday pattern of life of local citizens.
Next-generation last-mile logistics in Daegu leverages the proximity of diverse industries
On the eastern end of the industry belt, the now decommissioned K2 airport can become a new mixed-use micro-city with research, fabrication, housing, retail, and cultural facilities
The Geomdan industrial zone with its convention centers and exhibiting industries can become a new tapestry of small and large scale production areas
‘Greenwashing,’ first coined by environmentalist jay Westerveld in 1986, is the disingenuous marketing ploy to make a practice or product seem environmentally friendly when its core principles are the opposite. In the case of Daegu’s industrial future however, we propose reclaiming this negative term as the most important rule-set that guides the environmental principles of creating the Garden and the Machine. And at the same time, it can be used transparently (and blatantly) as a marketing tool. At the most basic level, to wash a city in green is in fact positive: The ULI calls for urban forests with at least 30% canopy cover to offset the effects of urban heat island, to encourage pedestrian activity over of cars, and to absorb C02 in the atmosphere. In this way green-washing can also function as an environmental ‘machine.’
As the clearest demonstration of greenwashing, we propose an ambitious eco-industrial project at the Dulsuhcheon Sewer Plant, located at the western side of the Production Belt. Here, factory and nature can converge into a state-of-the-art 4th-industry production center. In this proposed vision, the sewer treatment equipment is upgraded to a waste-to-energy factory with its major components half submerged. Sludge is broken down with bacteria and the resultant methane gas used to produce energy in the form of heat and electricity.
Unknown to many consumers, today’s products, especially cars, share the same chassis even though the models themselves vary in price
Next-generation technology can utilize the chassis/modular system to create products that can be continually updated and repaired instead of single-use products that go obsolete when one component is outdated
Directly above the sewage power plant, a thickened ground houses 4th generation factories that sequester energy directly from the sewage plant below. The ceiling of the factory is supported by a grid of trusses and gantry cranes that organize and transports components for production, reproduction, and renewal. Because of this Dulsuhcheon Sewer Plant’s many potential connections to adjacent street-level existing factories, its new capabilities would amplify existing activities by bringing in modular assembly logics to recycle, re-use, and renew products in a circular loop. By utilizing a ‘chassis’ component system where components are ‘hot-swapped’ without discarding the entire item, production within this entire region would respond directly to the daily needs of the citizens by delivering always up-to-date products and services without adding to waste streams.
The roof of the proposed Dulsuhcheon factory is envisioned as a cultural playground that demonstrates the potential for recycling in its many forms – the scenario features museums, cafés, leisure gardens, and collaboration labs, all converging into an accessible public realm. The only code that governs the architecture and landscape on this expansive roof is that everything must be ‘greenwashed’: green roofs and walls must be everywhere to absorb water and offset heat-island effect and energy consumption must be net-zero. The new city/nature hybrid factory becomes a symbolic and functional urban scale zone that prods at the question of machine in the garden – it is both garden and a machine.
The Dulsuhcheon waste treatment facility is converted into a waste-t0-energy facility that powers adjacent industry
The new Dulsuhcheon repair and recycle factory beneath the green roof
Finally, our proposal for Dulsuhcheon factory is not a standalone ‘building,’ but more akin to a giant green micro/macro-chip that ‘plugs into’ the existing city. For instance, a new pedestrian bridge connects the rooftop park-scape to the high-speed rail station, spanning over the current barrier of expressways. High-density R&D offices intersect the existing factory zone with this new high-tech facility to foster mutual collaboration. Tentacles of green reach out to adjacent streets, small urban streams, and left-over open spaces to not only promote pedestrian circulation but also expand the sphere of what we understand as ‘functional’ industrial space to include the function of social occupation.
Most importantly, we envision the edge along the Geumho-gang as a new sports and leisure park with a cultural dome at its major attractor to host large scale cultural events and concerts. In this scenario, pedestrian bridges make connections across the river to housing and vertical farms. Under these bridges at the water level, oyster farms clean the river while between the bridges, a protected urban beach celebrates the unthinkable potential for the Geumho-gang to be clean enough to swim in. An important detail is that ‘greenwashing’ the river’s edge protects it from increasing flood risk caused by climate change. While recent climate events have added to the pollution in the river and the degradation of the waterfront ecologies, new landscapes would become ecological machines that absorb and clean stormwater. In this way, the site should play a central role in improving the water quality, protecting the downstream connection to the Nakdong-gang and its associated wetlands.
A new stadium anchors the industrial park
Pedestrian bridges span the Geumho-gang to a new cultural village across the way – oyster farms beneath the bridges help clean the river
Leo Marx closes out his epilogue in Machine and the Garden, with a rumination about the 1930 painting by Charles Sheeler, American Landscape: “This American Landscape is the industrial landscape pastoralized. By superimposing order, peace, and harmony upon our modem chaos, Sheeler represents the anomalous blend of illusion and reality…”
Using the techniques of landscape painting, Sheeler in a way utilizes the technique of ‘greenwashing,’ to paint the industrial landscape. His new hybrid image invites a shift in our perception so that both industry and the pastoral ‘infect’ each other and are forever changed. By destabilizing our assumptions on what a factory is, Marx through Sheeler reemphasizes that our understanding of ‘nature’ is also bound (and limited) by ideological preconceptions involving the idyllic.
In terms of Daegu’s Production Belt, we can use this philosophical stance to rethink the machine: Instead of the garden as a resource for the machine to devour, or the garden that is always invaded by the maching, both can coexist in a space of ‘anomalous illusion and reality.’ The extended sphere of the ‘garden’ is that it produces energy, invites the role of human social interaction, and works symbolically. The extended sphere of the ‘factory’ is that is recycles the garden’s resources, produces innovation, and promotes diverse mixed-use urban fabric.
The final monumental reference dropped into the Greenwashed Dulsuhcheon Sewer Plant is a towering smokestack similar to what is seen in Charles Sheeler’s painting. Rather than spewing out the toxic byproducts of coal-fired energy, in our factory emits purified water in the form of steam – a byproduct of the waste-to-energy cycle. It stands a metaphor of the past and present of industrial production and marks our responsibility and role as custodians of the environment.
American Landscape, by Charles Sheeler, 1930
Daegu Landscape, by Project : Architecture 2023
 Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Idea in America, Oxford University Press, 1964, p. 354.
 Leo Marx, p. 355.
 대구광역시- 한국민족문화대백과사전 (https://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Article/E0014064)
 오세창. (1997). 금호강 오염이 낙동강 수질에 미치는 영향. Journal of Social Science Research, 3.2, 383-404, p.9-11
 Paul Kingsworth, ‘The Myth of Progress: An Interview with Paul Kingsworth,’ Emergence Magazine, 2020.
 Charles Sheeler, American Landscape, oil on canvas, collection at the Museum of Modern Art, 1930
 Leo Marx, p. 356.
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