National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), UK – Enflo Wind-Tunnel
Between 2006 and 2009, a series of scientific experiments were conducted within the atmosphere of London under the “Strategy for Countering Chimical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism” implemented by the UK government after the terrorist attacks of 07/07 in 2005. The objective of those scientific trials was to infer about potential effects of hazardous materials released in the atmosphere of risky-prone urban zones. Some questions remain difficult to answer: how much material would be released? And what material specifically? But it is possible to “simulate” an event through a series of complex spatial-scientific exercises, and try to understand how any material released would behave inside the urban fabric. The difficulties of identifying gas-dispersion patterns are directly related to the inconstant nature of the atmosphere itself, and also to the complicated interactions of the airflows with the urban design. Traditionally, information about air conditions and climate variations are obtained at geographical scales, though meteorological instruments usually situated in airports control towers or scientific stations. The problem is that the data recorded at this scale does not allow knowing what happens at street level. The city generates a type of “microclimate” of its own, constituting itself a coherent ecological entity, and therefore, it is necessary to conceive a model in which urban variables and airflows are part of an extended spatial field. Those scientific experiments advance an epistemic-technical construction according to which space is conceptualized as a hybrid milieu, an assemblage of natural rhythms and social designs. Inside this model, air becomes a turbulent urban agent, virtually incontrollable and hard to police.