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Affordable Housing : I've been working on a research paper for the past two weeks, and away from Google plus for the most of this time. Its been quite interesting from the viewpoint of what has been imagined and how people view this topic. The funny thing is if done right, it costs a small fraction of the market price.

We are running out of space : We really are. But the way forward is sustainable, creative ways to do things which can get us good quality housing at low prices for everyone. Cities are now the powerhouses of the future. And most countries count on them to increase their GDP. It is estimated that over 60% of future economic growth is linked to cities.

What makes sense : We need to do better as far as recycling materials, creating housing in sea and land and keeping them sustainable. Zero carbon footprint houses are not only possible, but critical. From estimates from over 20 countries, only 20-30% of the cost of a house is related to construction. The rest is related to land, taxes, government delays, issues with planning and project management.

Container houses / floating residences : The world is changing. Much quicker than many of us expected. Today many houses are made from transport containers and floating construction has been attempted in a number of countries. We need some way of making this available to the poorest of the poor as well as the richest of the rich so that its not just the province of a small elite.

Affordable does not mean shanties : If it is done right, affordable housing has access to public utilities, water, electricity, schools and healthcare and reduces commutes to work. Spaces are smaller, more sustainable and green. It recycles, reuses and is an integral part of a city.

Economic schemes : Many countries have tried to address the problem using rental schemes, part ownership, private-public partnership, zoning, transport corridors and Real Estate Investment Trusts. Some have been very successful. The stories are not always told.

Earlier related posts
Sustainable buildings:

Floating schools:

Sustainable materials:

City Farms:

Underground cities:

Inside the World's most ambitious Eco-city:

Thinking breathing buildings:

Living cities:


Pic courtesy:, by Adrian Smith, Gordon Gill Architecture. (For illustration only).

#cities #affordable #sustainable  
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City Farms : This is an attractive concept for a number of reasons. If we can grow food in cities where its consumed, it would substantially bring down the carbon footprint. Japan and Singapore have famously already created 'vertical farms.' Scientists are taking notice. An integrated approach could have huge benefits, especially since new techniques including hydroponics, aquaponics etc. If one could harness solar energy through fibre optics, energy harvesting through renewable energy sources, the reduction in the carbon footprint would be exponential. Read on to see the other benefits that could accrue...

The MIT CityFarm project : Harper's system promises to change the economics of industrial agriculture and to lessen its burden on the environment. By measuring and controlling light, moisture and nutrients, Harper says he can cut water consumption by 98 per cent compared to conventional agriculture; quadruple the growth speed of vegetables; completely eliminate chemical fertilisers and pesticides; and double the nutrient density and flavour of his crops.

Energy and Yields : With grow racks rising 7.6 metres, Green Sense uses so-called hydronutrient film technology, allowing nutrient-rich water to trickle through pulverised coconut husk, rather than peat, because it's renewable. And as they are stacked vertically, not grown horizontally, Colangelo says the plants are at least ten times denser and can have 25 to 30 times more yield. "That's good for the Earth because there's no pesticide run-off and we have recycled water and recycled nutrients," says Colangelo, whose company has partnered with Philips to create what amounts to the biggest plant factory on the planet. "It uses a lot less energy."

Using our pollution : Their company, Zero Carbon Food (ZCF), will grow produce in vertical shelves, using an ebbandflood system: they will flood "benches" where the produce grows and let the nutrient-rich water ebb away. Plants will grow in a substrate of pulverised carpet, recycled from the Olympic Village in Stratford. To save energy and reduce the number of LED grow lights needed, ZCF will rotate them around the crops. And they will use electricity generated by small and portable microhydroelectric turbines - to run the lights. "We have a lot of rain in London," says Dring. "You put these turbines in water drains and they feed into the energy grid." Dring will also harness one of the most pernicious problems of Tube travel: heat that collects in stations. "We are looking at pulling the heat out of the Tube stations and converting it into energy, as well as transferring the heat and the carbon dioxide into our grow rooms," Dring says, "which is like steroids for plants."

Source :

Japan's vertical farms:

+Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) link :

NGC Future of food video:

ABC link to growing food in cities:

Vertical farming:

Pic detail (courtesy dailymail) : The farm (pictured) is nearly half the size of a football field (25,000 square feet). Located in Japan, it uses just 1% of the water used by traditional farming methods.

#food #environment #sustainability
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Lego for adults: At least for building houses : While the claims of green building seems a little over the top, the whole concept of the 'Smart Bricks' does bring out the geek in me. And getting a huge robot to build something for you is even cooler ;)

Article extract: Kite Bricks is currently developing a modular construction system that is so much like Lego, I’m not sure what’s harder to believe: the fact that this is serious proposal, that it doesn’t infringe the toymaker’s patent, or that no one has done it yet. The patent (pending) for their "Smart Bricks" reads like a legally binding contract for a particularly prescriptive playdate.

In comparison to standard bricks or concrete blocks, the Smart Brick claims to offer greater thermal energy control, lower construction costs and greater versatility. The specially formulated concrete blocks  are designed to be easily connected and include an internal space for the building’s insulation, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. Removable panels make it easy to install and access the building’s infrastructure. They can be easily assembled with just a little industrial double-sided tape and fit with custom finishing, so, like Lego, there’s “no additional need to paint, hang wallpaper or otherwise treat the outer and inner walls of the final structure."

Article Link:

Company website:

Additional link :

#lego #construction #smartbricks  
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Sustainable buildings : And the winner is...... wood. I'm not surprised. I did post about this earlier ( and +Arturo Gutierrez asked me about sustainability. Around a month later, and I have some answers. Though this is still a work in progress, we are getting to know much more as we go along...

Article Extract: The World's cities will need to accommodate an additional 2.4 billion people by 2050, according to the World Health Organization, and a growing number of architects think those residents could live in wooden skyscrapers. Every cubic meter of wood sequesters 1 ton of carbon from the atmosphere. Compared with concrete and steel, building with lumber would reduce emissions by up to 81 percent, says architect Michael Green, who will complete construction on British Columbia's Wood Innovation and Design Centre in September. The finished structure is expected to be 96.7 feet, which will make it the world's tallest wooden building.

Wooden architecture is reaching these new heights thanks to mass timber. Composed of thin layers of wood from young or low-grade trees glued together into giant panels up to 16 inches thick, mass timber is stronger than a regular 2 x 4, allowing architects to build towers as high as 42 stories.

Green is currently building a 30-story skyscraper in Vancouver, but instead of steel and concrete, appropriately named Green is crafting his structure from sustainable wood. He says that other architects would be wise to follow his lead — if they care about the environment, that is. The modern wood materials that Green mentions are laminated strand lumber (a composite of wood strands glued together) and cross-laminated timber (layers of wood fused together at right angles to each other). Since the newly developed materials use wood fibers, they eliminate the need for cutting down large trees. Sourcing wood from sustainably managed forests also creates a more environmentally sensitive process.

Article Link:

Additional Source:

Sustainable tree growing on Wikipedia:

Sustainable forestry :

A Sustainable forest in Norway :

Pic detail ( From main Article in Popular Mechanics) : Västerbroplan, Location: Stockholm, Height: 34 stories, to be completed by 2023, Architect: C.F. Møller and Dinell Johansson.

#wood #sustainability #forestry #buildings #design  
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The World's Most Advanced Building Material Is... Wood : And it's also the most sustainable. While reading about how wood gets its strength by using the structural design of it's components, I was quite taken aback at how much of difference it makes. CLT is not new, but the recent applications are prompting architects and designers to call it "Wood on Steroids." Read on to know more!

Article Extract: The Stadthaus tower’s strength and mass rely on a highly engineered material called cross-laminated timber (CLT). The enormous panels are up to half a foot thick. They’re made by placing layers of parallel beams atop one another perpendicularly, then gluing them together to create material with steel-like strength. “This construction has more in common with precast concrete than traditional timber frame design,” Thistleton says. Many engineers like to call it “plywood on steroids.”

Why the sudden interest in wood? Compared with steel or concrete, CLT, also known as mass timber, is cheaper, easier to assemble, and more fire resistant, thanks to the way wood chars. It’s also more sustainable. Wood is renewable like any crop, and it’s a carbon sink, sequestering the carbon dioxide it absorbed during growth even after it’s been turned into lumber. Waugh Thistleton estimates that the wood in Stadthaus stores 186 tons of carbon while the steel and concrete for a similar, conventionally built tower would have generated 137 tons of carbon dioxide during production. Wood nets a savings of 323 tons.

Matthew Linegar, the project director for Techniker, and the project engineer on Stadthaus, says 25-storey CLT buildings are achievable – and introducing a concrete core would enable one to go higher still, perhaps up to 50 stories. The sky, it appears, is the limit for CLT structures.

Article Link (PopSci):

Additional Link (NYT):

(Research Paper) Use of CLT and analysis under fire:

Guardian Link:

Springer Research link on Cyclic loads:

Video link (timelapse) : Bridport House - timelapse of the construction

Link on warping (researchgate) :

Wiley link:

Pic link and detail:

#wood #clt #science #strength #construction  
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Concept Underground Cities : It does capture the imagination, especially since we live in times where we are less and less certain about how the species will fare over the next century, especially with the backdrop of shrinking area for new development. From the Russian concept city shown here to the Mexican experiment, we now have the technology to 'pipe' sunlight by solar collectors using fiber optic cables and power the city purely by the temperature differential between the surface and subterranean depths.

Article Extract: Twenty feet under Delancey Street in Manhattan is a trolley terminal that hasn’t been used in 65 years—a ghostly space of cobblestones, abandoned tracks and columns supporting vaulted ceilings. An ideal place for the city to store, say, old filing cabinets. Yet when the architect James Ramsey saw it, he imagined a park with paths, benches and trees. A park that could be used in any weather, because it gets no rain. That it also gets no sunlight is a handicap, but not one he couldn’t overcome. If the 20th century belonged to the skyscraper, argues Daniel Barasch, who is working with Ramsey to build New York’s—and possibly the world’s—first underground park, then the frontier of architecture in the 21st is in the basement.

Siberian Concept : An interesting project is proposed by a russian architect, Ab Elise, that has designed a city to be constructed 550-meters deep in an abandoned Siberian mine. It will be able to house about 100,000 people, and according to the project, the city will be ready for 2020. It will be divided in three levels containing vertical farms, residential areas and recreational spaces. It needs a protective glass, with the aim to guard it’s residents from Siberia’s weather.

Smithsonian Link:

New York looks underground: (Video Link enclosed) :

Linked article about Tokyo's underground water discharge facility (The Parthenon of Saitama) :

Siberian concept:

Pics detail: Russian Eco city ( Mexican concept from Smithsonianmag (Since laws limit the height of new structures in Mexico City, an architect has proposed building a 65-story Earthscraper). The Parthenon of Saitama, courtesy

#city #underground #sustainability  
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Water generative design : The AA school of Architecture students have used the behavior of fluids to generate a structure which meets the conditions of water flow (water collection), temperature regulation, structural soundness and aesthetic. Fascinating indeed...

Article extract: 'thinktank and the life aquatech' project by students at the architectural association school of architecture in london, shifts from a regular air-based building system to a water-based one. A fiberglass shell stores the moving fluids in a soft and expandable silicone membrane, resulting in a direct fusion between the building's aesthetic and its performance.

Advancements in climate control systems have not only enabled the disconnection of architecture from the environment but have also caused detachment of those technological systems from the architecture itself. The modernist presented architecture of hermetically sealed environments in which human life and environment failed to show a sense of porosity that pre-Machine Age architecture adhered to.

Main article:

Video Link:

AA School of Architecture website:

Project link:

#architecture #fluid #design #sustainability  
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Floating Islands : With the sea levels set to rise substantially and cause flooding in a number of areas, people are looking at alternatives. From the fully recycled bottle island to the Dutch Docklands Greenstar, these islands capture the spirit of adventure and survival. h/t: +Brigitte Wooten for putting me on this path!

Environmentalist Builds Floating Island with 100,000 Plastic Bottles : With the help of volunteers, Rishi Sowa gathered around 100,000 plastic bottles and hand-built his second recycled island, in a lagoon that offers protection from bad weather. The new island features a house, beaches, 2 ponds and a solar-powered waterfall, but its creator says Spiral Island II is and always will be a work in progress. Although smaller than its predecessor (only 20 meters in diameter), you can expect the new Spiral Island to increase in size, significantly. While some believe it a perfect environmental design, built entirely of recycled materials, there is some controversy surrounding Spiral Island. There are those who believe the plastic from the bottles will litter the Ocean.

Maldives looks to floating island to survive sea levels rising: With an elevation of just 5 feet above sea level, the Maldives is the lowest country in the world. In the past, engineers have used sand and rubble to create islands elsewhere, but these structures can disturb the sea and seafloor ecosystems. The Maldivian government has started a joint venture with Dutch Docklands International to build the world’s largest artificial floating-island project, which will stay above water no matter how many glaciers melt. In the Netherlands, the company has already built floating islands for prisons and housing from slabs of concrete and polystyrene foam. For the Maldives, it will anchor similar structures to the seabed using cables or telescopic mooring piles, making landforms that are stable even in storms. Although the company is starting to build an island for 200 luxury residences and another for a floating golf course this year, it is working on plans to construct islands for more affordable housing next.

Source Article:

Additional link:

Popsci Source Article:

Dutch Docklands website:

Wikipedia Link:

#sealevel #island #sustainability #survival  
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Is this the future? : The City in the Sea : This design concept by Bulgarian firm Morphocode predicts a future in which gigantic offshore wind turbines come equipped with fancy, futuristic housing for workers. Part of the inspiration for these lofts was a European Wind Energy Association report estimating that by 2030, there will be 300,000 jobs in offshore wind power. Since commuting to the middle of the ocean everyday isn't exactly possible, maintenance crews and experts would live onboard the turbines, splitting their time between contemplating the vastness of the sea and keeping the generators running.

The concept draws from modern attempts to rehabilitate abandoned industrial buildings by turning them into loft residences. Skipping the "abandoned" stage, these lofts would make mechanical function and luxury living synonymous.

Article link:

Morphcode website:

#wind #greenliving #greenenergy #windpower #windenergy #windmill #turbine  
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Ambitious building plans: A Chinese construction company has built this building in the video in 15 days. What next? Broad Sustainable Building plans to build the world's tallest skyscraper in the city of Changsha , a 220-story, 2,750-foot skyscraper, the largest in the world. Even crazier, the Chinese firm is trying to build it in just three months.

The current record-holder, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, was constructed in five years, and even that took some impressive engineering. BSB wants to make Sky City possible by spending four months prefabricating the materials off-site, then erecting it all over the course of three months, starting this month. (The original plan was to start construction in December, but the project has apparently tied up in red tape for months.)

When complete, the building will be almost a city: 30,000 people will be able to take 104 elevators or a single six-mile ramp that curls through the interior toward a school, hospital, and housing.

Article source:

#science #scienceeveryday #construction #china #timelapse #building #ambition  
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