Student invents computer program to help Bedouin villages build better homes

April 11, 2017 by  
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Architecture student Nof Nathansohn is on a mission to provide decent living solutions for the marginalized Bedouin communities scattered throughout Israel’s Negev desert region. For her thesis project, Nathansohn created a computer program called Home Made that lets communities design affordable, environmentally-friendly housing without the need for an architect. The Bedouin villages are unrecognized by the Israeli government, so the shanty-like structures are under constant threat of demolition. Nathansohn’s Home Made software would allow the communities to build homes that are not only affordable and green , but easily assembled and disassembled. Related: Smart architecture app lets you turn almost anything into a digital stencil A major feature of the home-design application is that it is extremely user friendly. The software is designed to guide the user at every stage of the design process, from the initial design to the final construction. Users can choose from four different designs platforms with a variety of layouts. Each platform is designed according to different parameters such as sun direction, size and height, available materials, local topography, cost, etc. Although created for the Bedouin communities, the program enables the design and construction of low cost, green energy temporary housing easy for any location, under almost any circumstance. The flexibility offered by the application not only lets families construct a personalized living space, but can be used to create thriving villages as well. In fact, Nathansohn tested the application on the unrecognized village of Al-Sara, near the town Arad. She designed multiple structures for the village based on their current size as well as growth expectancy. She even designed a community center for the local children. + Nof Nathansohn

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Student invents computer program to help Bedouin villages build better homes

Solar-powered ‘ecotopia’ proposed as alternative to Trump’s border wall

April 7, 2017 by  
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In response to Trump’s maddening determination to build a wall along the US and Mexico border , one group of fed-up designers has proposed an entire new territory, called Otra Nation , that would be open to citizens of both Mexico and the United States. The high-tech ecotopia designed by Made Collective (Mexican & American Designers & Engineers) is a new country that spans 1,200 miles across the border, powered by massive solar farms and connected with a hyperloop transportation system. The ambitious proposal is being called a “shared co-nation.” The territory would stretch for over 1,200 miles and encompass 12 miles on each side of the border, effectively joining Tijuana, El Paso, and San Diego. The land would be considered unincorporated territory, with an independent local government and non-voting representatives. Otra Nation residents would retain their natural-born citizenship, but would be granted a new ID microchip for identification purposes, giving them access to the independent health care and education systems . Related: Donald Trump would probably hate this crossable border wall The plan also depicts Otra Nation as a sustainable community , generating energy from 90,000 square kilometers of solar panels that would meet the demands of the new territory and then some. Watersheds and local ecosystems on both side of the current border would also be restored. Under the plan, an intercity hyperloop would be used for clean transportation. As far as the economic structure, companies built on “sharing principles” would be encouraged, but any company or service looking to “minimize human employment with autonomous vehicles and drone technologies” would be prohibited. According to Made Collective, the project would be focused on bringing communities together versus creating divisions, “The 19th century brought us boundaries, the 20th century we built walls, the next we will bridge nations by creating communities based on shared principles of economic resiliency, energy independence and a trust based social contract.” In an interview with The Verge , members from the Made Collection admit that, although they have formally applied for a US government contract, there’s little possibility that the US and Mexican governments will take their proposal seriously. Although, they are still holding out hope that their idea might make it to a popular referendum so that, as collective member Marina Muñoz puts it, “We can really make the complete American continent great again.” + Otra Nation Via The Verge Images via Otra Nation  

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Solar-powered ‘ecotopia’ proposed as alternative to Trump’s border wall

Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

March 20, 2017 by  
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The far reaches of northern Vietnam are beautiful but heartbreakingly poor. Children of the Hmong ethnic minority who live in the villages routinely suffer from lack of access to healthcare and education. Vietnamese architecture firm 1+1> 2 has provided a ray of hope for those in Lung Luong village in the remote Thai Nguyen Province with the construction of a beautiful new school made from local materials including rammed earth and bamboo. The school’s beautiful swooping and colorful form is an inspiration to the village and serves as a welcoming haven protected from the harsh elements. The Lung Luong elementary school is sited on a mountain peak and constructed to replace a poorly insulated structure that was piercingly cold in days of heavy rain and draught. Under the leadership of architect Hoang Thuc Hao, the villagers excavated part of the peak to create an even foundation. The excavated soil was recycled into rammed earth bricks used to build the school’s structure. The soil bricks’ thermal properties help maintain a temperate indoor climate year round. Locally sourced timber and bamboo were also used in construction and existing trees were protected during the building process. The elementary school is spread out across the mountaintop, covering an area of over 1,400 square meters. The orientation and placement of the buildings and the swooping colorful bamboo canopy above optimize natural lighting, ventilation, and sound insulation. The school comprises classrooms, playgrounds, gardens, multipurpose rooms, a medical room, library, kitchen, toilets, and dormitory. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier “The goal of this project is to create a school with conveniences striving against the harsh nature,” write the architects. “The classrooms are compatible with the mountain, spaces between them are slots which makes everything appears like an architectural picture pasted on the terrain. The corridor connects all functional areas. The foundation of the buildings respects the natural terrain which means that they wind up and down as the mountain path.” + 1+1> 2 Via ArchDaily Images © Son Vu

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Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

March 20, 2017 by  
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A waste-management company has developed a new, patented process that turns sanitary products, baby diapers, incontinence pads, and other so-called “absorbent hygiene products” into power. PHS Group , which serves 90,000 households, schools, offices, and retirement homes across the United Kingdom and Ireland, says that it handles about 45,000 tons of the stuff a year. A plant in the Midlands is currently converting 15 percent of that waste into compressed bales that can be burned to provide fuel for power stations. Refuse-derived fuel is neither an untested concept in Europe, where the practice is par for the course, nor in the U.K., where it’s gaining ground. But diapers, tampons, and their ilk have proved trickier because their dampness makes incineration most costly. But neither is dumping them in the landfill, where they’ll take decades to degrade, a sustainable solution. “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue,” Justin Tydeman, CEO of the PHS Group, told Guardian . PHS Group’s system, which is being evaluated by the University of Birmingham for its effectiveness, not to mention its impact on the environment, sounds simple in principle. Related: How Sweden diverts 99 percent of its waste from the landfill The company begins by shredding and squeezing the material, then disposing of any waste liquid as sewage. The remaining dry material is packed into bales, ripe for tossing into the fire. “Whether or not it turns out to be a major source of energy in itself, the key thing is we find a good way to handle what is a complex and growing waste stream,” Tydeman said. “We don’t want this stuff just going into the ground.” An aging population makes PHS Group’s tack even more vital than ever, Tydeman added. “The great thing about life today is people are living longer, but what comes with that is often incontinence issues,” he said. We want this to be a growing issue, because we want people to live longer.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash , Pixabay

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Tiny Toronto lighthouse serves multiple functions at once

March 2, 2017 by  
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This minimalist wooden lighthouse installed at Woodbine beach in Toronto doubles as a temporary drop-off location for local charity donations. Portuguese design firm João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura wrapped The Beacon in aged wood to make it look as if it has been part of the beach for a long time. The Beacon, which shoots a vertical beam of light into the night sky, captures the essence of traditional lighthouses, while translating their archetypal conical shape into a single spatial gesture. Beside its role as a lighthouse, the structure also functions as a place where people can leave non-perishable foods and clothes for charities. Related: The government is giving away free lighthouses to the right owners The lower part of the structure acts as a repository for such items and features openings at different heights through which they can be easily inserted. While the architects hope the Beacon will become part of a larger, permanent network of donation hotspots in Toronto , this small structure can also be repurposed as a wildlife observation tower , a wilderness shelter or a fire lookout tower . + João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura Photos by Steven Evans

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High school students are building tiny homes to give to flood survivors

February 20, 2017 by  
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In West Virginia, students that would normally be constructing birdhouses or bookshelves are instead contributing their labor and newly acquired skills to help give those who lost everything a new start. Last year, historic floods devastated the state, destroying over 5000 homes and killing over 20 people. So students from across the state have gathered together to build compact, energy efficient tiny homes for victims of the flooding. West Virginia has struggled to provide adequate housing for those thousands made homeless by the storm. So high school students attending 12 vocational schools throughout the state are demonstrating that they may have a promising solution. The participating vocational schools, such as Carver Career and Technical Education Center in Charleston, traditionally teach practices such as carpentry and plumbing.  A new, first of-its-kind partnership between the West Virginia Department of Education and the Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment initiative enables students to access hands-on learning to design and build homes for local flood survivors from concept to completion. Each unique  tiny house i s just 500 square feet. Related: Studio H launches Kickstarter Campaign to Build a Shipping Container Classroom at Berkeley’s REALM Charter school 15 homes have been built so far, thanks to funding from the state’s Board of Education and regional community supporters. All of the homes are unique and some are designed to be portable.  Unlike trailers that are supplied by FEMA in post-disaster zones , each of the tiny homes will have individual design accents. Each home includes a bathroom, kitchen, living room and laundry room.  The ground-breaking program has potential to be scaled to serve communities in other post-disaster zones. + WV Public Broadcasting Via NPR Photos Courtesy of West Virginia Department of Education  

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Self-assembling shelters that could revolutionize emergency housing

February 16, 2017 by  
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Emergency shelter design is becoming increasingly important due to the various refugee situations occurring around the world. Although some designs have already been awarded for their crucial role in providing emergency housing, other forward-thinking designers such as Haresh Lalvani are actively working to create a biomimicry-based system where shelter structures would be able to assemble themselves. As cofounder of the Pratt Institute Center for Experimental Structures , Lalvani is employing a “wildly interdisciplinary range of tools” to create a type of generative geometry that would be able to assemble and repair, grow, and evolve all on its own. The designer is using concepts found in biology, mathematics, computer science and art to create systems where matter would start encoding information, a similar process to that of stem cells and genes in the human body. Lalvani explains that these biological systems are “the only place where software and hardware are the same thing.” Related: ASU’s new Biomimicry Center offers first-ever master’s degree in biomimicry https://youtu.be/fh-fMUo0Kjk Using biomimicry as inspiration, Lalvani is testing the potential of giving physical objects the power to assemble through a similar system of genomic instructions encoded into the raw material. His prototypes stem from a concrete and humanitarian approach that could potentially create, for example, rapidly deployable disaster housing . Creating an “inherently ephemeral building type”, however, is no easy task, and one that requires a futuristic level of technology. Working with metal fabricator, Milgo/Bufkin, Lalvani has managed to convert 2D sheets of perforated metals into rigid 3D structures using a computer controlled laser cutter that perforates “variable openings” into the sheets. Using a force such as gravity for instance, the spaces can be pulled apart or stretched, therefore creating another, more flexible form that is completely distinct from the original material. This type of installation could be a potential game changer for shelter design considering some of Lalvani’s installations take less than one minute to bend into shape. Additionally exciting is the fact that the raw material is just one thin sheet of metal, and can be easily transported and requires no tools for assembly, making it especially useful for emergency situations. + Haresh Lalvani + Pratt Institute Center for Experimental Structures Via Archdaily Images via Haresh Lalvani

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Haiti renovation project boosts community using local labor and materials

January 27, 2017 by  
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Nothing warms our design-loving hearts like a project built by and for communities, and with local resources to boot. Working pro bono, Thrive Architecture teamed with nonprofit organization Building Goodness Foundation and local workers to expand an existing Center of Hope Haiti school and orphanage just outside of Hinche. Not only is the project socially meaningful, but environmentally-conscious as well. The project, which was completed in October, 2016, included a series of new facilities for an existing school and orphanage run by The Center of Hope Haiti (COHH). As the funding allowed, the construction team was able to build four new buildings to create much-needed space for the educational complex. Related: Earthquake-resistant orphanage is a welcoming ray of hope in Haiti The entire project followed BGF’s construction scheme, which includes using a team of skilled craftsmen and trade professionals along with local unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. The entire group works on the project from start to finish, from site planning and concept design to construction, allowing the communities to create a capable, self-sustaining labor force. The layout for the school included a new “sheltering landscape” built on the highest elevation possible in order to offer additional protection during the storm seasons . The team was also careful to protect two existing Mango trees that offer shade from the tropical heat. Related: Architectural Association School of Architecture bamboo workshops in Haiti teach post-disaster construction techniques From the beginning of the project, the construction plan consisted of using conventional Haitian construction techniques, including the use of traditional Haitian “parging”, which was left unpainted. Locally-sourced materials made up a good part of the project, including quarried stone that wraps around each of the buildings’ exteriors. Additionally, locally-sourced steel pipes were used as the tie-downs for the roofs, offering solid protection from strong winds. To reduce the school’s energy usage and costs, the buildings mainly depend on natural daylight, but LED lighting is installed throughout the buildings. All of the buildings were constructed with an extended roof, which double as shade and shelter from the harsh summers. As for the project’s energy conservation strategy , the exterior walls have low operable windows on the courtyard side of the buildings designed to optimize natural air ventilation. For insulation, the walls were built with lightweight Ubuntublox made from repurposed Styrofoam trays that were cleaned, shredded and sewn into rice bags by women in Port-au-Prince. + Thrive Architecture + Building Goodness Foundation + Center of Hope Haiti Images via Thrive Architecture and Tom Cogill

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Oregon man donates tiny homes to Standing Rock water protectors

November 24, 2016 by  
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The Standing Rock protest began in April when members from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe began to protest against the $3.7 billion oil pipeline that would cross over native burial grounds and most likely contaminate their primary source of drinking water. Related: US veteran group forms unarmed militia to defend Standing Rock protestors Along with most of the world, Musselwhite and his neighbors in rural Oregon were appalled after seeing authorities attack the DAPL protestors with rubber bullets, tear gas, concussion grenades, and water cannons. In response, the close-knit Yale Creek community organized a fund-raising event, Shelter for the Storm , to build three wooden cabins with stand-alone solar systems to deliver to a few of the protestors. With temperatures already below freezing, Musselwhite and his team worked quickly to build the shelters. Good samaritans donated and milled five trees, which were either already dead or dying, for the lumber, and local businesses donated additional materials. In just three weeks, the team built three 144-square-foot modular homes . Musselwhite hit the road with a volunteer Teamster trucker, who drove the materials on a 35-foot flatbed truck. Three days and 1,500 miles later, the duo arrived in Cannon Ball, North Dakota with the shelters, along with three donated woodstoves, a stand-alone solar energy system donated by True South Solar , and a variety of food donations. Once they arrived, onsite volunteers began to assemble the structures while others passed out food and coffee. The first shelter has already been designated for Mni Wiconi, the first baby born at the protest site. Her name is the Lakota phrase for “Water is Life”. Via Yes Magazine Images via Matt Musselwhite, Shelter for the Storm and True South Solar Facebook pages

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Oregon man donates tiny homes to Standing Rock water protectors

LA architecture students design innovative houses for the homeless

November 4, 2016 by  
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Like many major cities, Los Angeles is currently in the middle of a housing crisis. Homeless populations are exploding, with encampments appearing on sidewalks, in parks, near overpasses, and along bridges through the city. While city officials are working on a ballot initiative to build 8,000 to 10,000 units to bring the homeless in off the streets, it could take years for those units to become available even if the measure passes. In response to the situation, students from University of Southern California’s School of Architecture have stepped up to create innovative new structures to shelter the homeless. The project is called the Homeless Studio , and it’s made up of 11 fourth year architecture students. Their solutions run the gamut from temporary shelters to expandable modular buildings. When the structures are complete, the students will deliver them to homeless people around the city, and an agency that supports the homeless in the San Fernando Valley will use their final project as a prototype shelter. Related: Brilliant sleeping bag transforms into a tent to provide shelter for homeless Rather than simply attending lectures by experts, the students have also done some intense on the ground research by meeting and talking to homeless people throughout the city. Organizations like Midnight Mission and Skid Row Housing Trust helped connect the students to real people, so they could better understand the day-to-day challenges their shelters would have to overcome. Some of the students used solutions they saw in practice on the streets – using reclaimed materials to create temporary shelters. Students Alexxa Soloman, Maria Ceja, and Belinda Park used scavenged shipping palettes, Ikea shelves, and pieces of plywood in their construction. Their classmates Jeremy Carman and Jayson Champlain took a different approach, creating a blue, rectangular box coated in fiberglass that expands outward to create sleeping and storage space. The designs are more than just a way for their occupants to stay warm and dry: they’re also a way to restore dignity to a population that too often has gone without it. Related: Homeless folks help feed their entire shelter with this flourishing rooftop garden For their final, the students are collaborating on the design for a temporary housing development for Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission . The agency plans to take the class’s plans, renderings, and full-scale prototype to help fundraise the final project. While a site hasn’t yet been selected, the plan complies with requirements for any commercial or industrial zoning. + The Homeless Studio Via Wired  

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