Friday, October 26, 2007
Cement and Pollution From Making It: "As cement plants emit 5 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming, making cement means making pollution."
How can we reconcile the potential negative effects of certain material manufacturing and production processes with the desirable ecological effects that all of you are expecting from your systems? If some properties of concrete whether plasticity or weight or some other factor are identified as desirable for performative reasons for instance, we must not only consider the use of other materials and the effect of that selection on the geometry and performance of the system, but we would also have to evaluate a proposed alternate material and its ecological effects as well.
Regardless, this fact about concrete is interesting and certainly demands a finer and more intricate set of geometries when developing the prototype systems into more robust material formations. Surely this speaks to the need for all of you to declare how you will define and evaluate the issue of sustainability within the work.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Definitely worth looking at. There are some interesting mapping and computational techniques, intriguing material issues and prototype structures ranging from inflatable pneumatic enclosures to cellular/modular gradient structures to circle packing patterns with local hierarchies.
+ Philips Electronics carries out a lot of research into design that will eventually be significant to mainstream living and business by way of Design Probes that look into specific areas. One such project that will be highlighted during Dutch Design Week is Off The Grid: Sustainable Habitat 2020. This project explores the integration of electronics and biochemical functionalities into building, in order to deal with cities that will continue to grow unchecked. The goal here is to outfit buildings with “skins” that act to harness air, water and light.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
As wind power gains popularity, the synchronized movements of windmills dotting large expanses are a pretty awe-inspiring sight. Artist Christoph Ernst takes the visual display a step further by installing colored LEDs in the wind turbine blades.
The innovative public art project he calls Windmove began last night, 22 October, and will light up fields outside of Berlin through the end of the year, 31 December 2007.
Spinning at speeds of up to 220 km/h, the lights transform into kinetic strips of color. Ambient, industrial music by Andre Unruh of Einstuerzende Neubauten, an experimental band out of Berlin, accompanies the installation, making it an audio-visual show.
For you cynics, there's no reason to fret about the effects on sustainable energy as extensive studies showed no decrease in efficiency of the wind turbines.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
"Indications of changes in the earth’s future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states."
It may seem too simple to be true, but to combat the spread of so-called “erosion escarpments” or rofabards (see above) Icelandic farmers have turned to spreading cut-up hay to halt the slow creep of desertification on the island. And so far, it seems to be working.
This sustainable practice has developed from what seems to be a happy accident during the seventies, when originally farmers wanted to get rid of unusable hay bales, which were then wrapped in plastic. Birds, attracted to a chemical component in the plastic, pecked holes in the plastic, allowing the hay to dampen and become unusable.
The farmers took the useless hay up to the highland pastures, chopped it up and left it at the foot of the escarpments. The wind blew and soil anchored around the hay amidst the escarpments and encouraging vegetation to take root – and hay also gradually transforms into soil and becomes another rebuilding constituent. (Parallels to no-tillage champion Masanobu Fukuoka’s documented usage of randomly-spread hay, done after harvesting to further enrich the soil, is something that certainly comes to mind.)More at Treehugger.com
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The plan will protect Libya’s fantastic Greek and Roman ruins from haphazard developments as it protects the coastal ecosystem, one of the last remaining natural areas of the Mediterranean. Waters off Libya are the last remaining breeding grounds for a number of Mediterranean species, environmentalists say. The idea is that as Libya opens to the outside world it will not become “like the Spanish coast,” said the project’s financial adviser, Mahmoud A. Khosman. (It will also be a good investment.)But the intention is clearly broader than that. “They want to show the world that Libya has turned a corner, that they can fit into the modern world,” said George Joffe, a research fellow at Cambridge who specializes in the region. "
Monday, October 15, 2007
At this link is a 9-page conceptual design paper outlining a prospective hydrogen economy: one based primarily on solar and wind power. The paper's authors are Greg Blencoe of Hydrogen Discoveries, Inc. and Dr. James G. Blencoe of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The technical underpinnings of the paper are: 1.) a valveless fueling system that uses magnesium hydride to safely store hydrogen inside fuel cell-powered vehicles; and, 2.) Hydrogen Discoveries' piping system, which was designed to overcome the problem of embrittlement and leakage problems that ordinary steel pipes face. The intention is to overcome the "last mile" problems of safely distributing and dispensing hydrogen fuel, and, in this case, of reclaiming and recycling the Magnesium carrier media for continuous re-use.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
First is a graphic published to describe the distribution of the 1,000,000 trees that are planned to be planted in New York in the next several decades. NYT
Second is the latest article in a series on environemental issues in China - an interesting profile on a Chinese environmental advocate and the issue of water pollution on one of the most famous of Chinese lakes. NYT
Friday, October 12, 2007
LONDON (Reuters) - The world moved into 'ecological overdraft' on Saturday, the point at which human consumption exceeds the ability of the earth to sustain it in any year and goes into the red, the New Economics Foundation think-tank said.
Just an interesting tidbit.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Snøhetta’s architects were acquainted with Tensairity, but had envisioned Tubaloon as entirely inflatable. “At this point, we thought of many more cable stays and support masts than we ultimately ended up with,” Teas notes, adding that achieving their desire for effortless buoyancy frustrated them: “It was going to be tough to get a big, saggy balloon to ‘poing’ up the way we wanted it.” Pedretti, who then came to Oslo, promised that Tensairity would eliminate any need for masts.
Michael, check out who the project architect is from Snøhetta.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Read more at:
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
China's Bubbly Aquatics Center is scheduled to be completed this month. The building's ETFE cladding allows more light and heat penetration than glass, translating into a 30% decrease in energy costs. The structure itself is based on unique, lightweight construction, which makes it eco- and earthquake-friendly.
WIDE ANGLE travels to the royal headquarters of the United Arab Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah as HH Sheikh Saud solicits top European architects (Snøhetta and OMA) to carry out his grandiose dream of a new capital city in the middle of his desert kingdom. The documentary follows a Norwegian architectural firm as it makes its bid to design the capital's master plan, immersing viewers inside an unfolding drama in which agents of East and West struggle to arrive at an architectural vision both worlds can embrace -- and one that will ultimately fulfill a Sheikh's bold dreams.