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Archive for January, 2012

Thriving Neighbourhoods 2012: Call for papers

Posted in Models, Research, seeking by Kate Archdeacon on January 26th, 2012

Thriving Neighbourhoods is a conference on emerging approaches to the planning, design and management of local neighbourhoods that are set to radically improve health, social engagement, environmental quality and productivity in communities. Thriving communities have the resilience needed to adapt creatively to unexpected challenges such as climate change, population change, rapid technological change, social upheaval and economic crises.

The complexity of the systems involved in creating thriving communities poses difficult and challenging issues for planners, developers, managers and researchers. But the potential returns on the invested effort and resources are massive. Capturing these returns requires professional collaboration across policy sectors including health, planning, design, infrastructure, IT and the built and natural environments. Communities must also be engaged from the outset, recognising diverse cultural and individual needs.

We invite papers and presentations on research and practice related to the challenge of creating and supporting thriving neighbourhoods and communities. Work to be presented may be related to the areas represented in the diagram below, on: the challenges; the processes of change and development; the specifics of place; the measurement of outcomes.

2 April 2012: Deadline for Abstracts (400 words)

28 May 2012: Abstracts acceptance notice

Find out more about submitting a paper.


Breathing Architecture: Exhibition

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on January 24th, 2012

WOHA – BUILDING FOR VERTICAL GARDEN CITIES

Some of their structures remind us of bold visions of the future, in which plants reclaim nature for themselves. WOHA realize the permeation of buildings and landscape, of interiors and exteriors in projects such as the Singapore School of the Arts and the seminal residential high-rise The Met in Bangkok, which received the International Highrise Award 2010.

WOHA is represented by Mun Summ Wong and Richard Hassell as directors of the architectural office based in Singapore. They made their name in Asia in the late 1990s with open, single-family dwellings suitable for the tropics. Today they mainly design high-rises and large structures: a mega residential park in India, office and hotel towers in Singapore that lend a new, vertical dimension to green landscapes. Air-conditioning is merely an additional feature for these open structures, because the building structure itself provides the cooling. Natural lighting is standard, solar modules harvest energy for use in the buildings; water for domestic purposes and rainwater are reused.

Topics such as creating value added through communal areas and permeability for climate and nature will be presented in WOHA’s first monographic exhibition using examples of open tropical family homes, green high-rises and projects still in the completion phase.

The exhibition, split in the four chapters Permeable Houses, Open School and Community Buildings, Porous Towers and Perforated Hotels and Resorts, showcases 19 of WOHA’s most important projects in large-format photos and plans, project texts, digital images and models.

WOHA’s permeable architecture is influenced by South-East Asian culture and the location of their office in the city state of Singapore; 130 kilo metres north of the Equator, where temperatures all the year round are about 32°c, falling at night to 23°c, and where particularly heavy rain falls during the monsoon months.

Exhibition Details:

2 December 2011 – 29 April 2012
Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM
Schaumaninkai 43, Frankfurt am Main

If, like me, you can’t get there, check out some of the images on the DAM site.

 

 


Sugar Palms for Biofuel and Ongoing Community Benefit

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on January 18th, 2012


(L) Masarang’s ‘Village Hub': a modular processing plant for sugar palm fuel.

Climate Spectator have posted a great article from china dialogue about the work of Willie Smits on the potential of sugar palms for the biofuel industry. The growing environment of the sugar palm means that its cultivation can provide regular local work and that production can stay in the control of small co-operatives. The sugar palm is a highly regarded plant in Indonesia and other areas of South-East Asia, with multiple benefits during its growing cycle and after harvest:

“We met in Hong Kong, where Smits had been talking to potential investors. He opened up his laptop to run one of many PowerPoint presentations that chart a 30-year voyage of discovery. When he married his Indonesian wife in 1980, Smits was surprised to learn that the expected dowry in North Sulawesi was six sugar palms. “I wondered why,” he told chinadialogue, “and I discovered that just six sugar palms could support a young family.”

After years of research, Smits today is a sugar palm evangelist, eager to list the tree’s virtues. “It doesn’t need pesticides or fertiliser, and once it starts producing, it has to be tapped twice a day, which gives employment to local people,” he explained, “so it creates 20 times more permanent jobs per hectare than oil palm. It is highly efficient in converting sunlight to energy and, because it cannot thrive in monoculture, it preserves biodiversity. It has very deep roots, so it never dries out, and it improves the soil by bringing nutrients up. It stores carbon very deep, and it only needs half the water of similar trees because of its waxy leaves. And, it produces 60 useful products, including a wood that is harder than oak.”

As if that were not enough, he continued, it survives fire and volcanic eruption, flood and salt water, can prevent landslides by stabilising slopes, and improves conditions for agriculture downstream. Perhaps most importantly for the global climate: one tree can produce enough ethanol each day to keep a car running year round.”

Read the full article by Isabel Hilton to find out more and check out Willie Smits’ website.


Community Renewable Energy Projects: UK

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on January 13th, 2012

Source: guardian.co.uk


River Bain Hydro photo © wonky knee

From “The communities taking renewable energy into their own hands” by Ed Mayo:

“Late last year we – Co-operatives UK and The Co-operative Group – published a new report which reveals the growing number of people who are choosing to start renewable energy co-operatives in their communities, against all the odds. What is exciting about the report is that it is the first and most comprehensive guide to what amounts to a new movement of communities who are taking action for greener energy into their own hands.
In a time of doom – when all talk is of cuts, unemployment and rising prices – this report highlights a different story. Despite, or maybe even because, of the wider economic woes, people across the UK are creating a co-operative movement for green energy.  There are now 43 communities who are in the process of or already producing renewable energy through co-operative structures. They are set up and run by everyday people – local residents mostly – who are investing their time and money and together installing solar panels, large wind turbines or hydro-electric power for their local communities.
The report highlights a series of examples. Like Ouse Valley Energy Service Company, which is owned by 250 people who have installed solar panels on a local brewery. Or River Bain Hydro, which installed a hydro electric power generator in its local river with investment of £200,000 from around 200 people.”

[…]

Read the full article by Ed Mayo on the Guardian.


Smart Low-Tech Designs: Improving harvest yield and storage

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on January 11th, 2012

This week Nourishing the Planet TV showcases some of the work that Compatible Technology International is doing to help farmers preserve or process their crops to reduce loss:

“In its effort to alleviate poverty and hunger in the developing world, Compatible Technology International (CTI) designs, builds, and distributes affordable post-harvest tools—such as a cool storage shed and food processing grinder—for rural farmers in the developing world. CTI’s devices can help farmers process, store, and sell their crops.

While many organizations are focused on improved seeds, access to fertilizers, and irrigation to improve crop yields, relatively few are focused on post-harvest improvements. But many poor farmers live on yields from a hectare or less of land and getting the maximum benefit from those yields can make up the difference between abject poverty and a livable income.

CTI’s technologies are scaled to fit the needs of small villages, families, coops, and micro-businesses. Extra attention is paid to developing safe, affordable, environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, and culturally compatible devices in the hope that they will be more widely adopted and facilitate lasting change in poor farming communities. CTI encourages craftsmen and entrepreneurs in and around these communities to build and sell their devices, reducing dependence on outside assistance once the technology has been adopted.” Matt Styslinger

The episode is essentially taken from an article published by Matt Styslinger for NtP in June last year, so you can choose between reading the full article or watching the synopsis.


The Rough Guide to Community Energy: Free book

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on January 9th, 2012

What can we do to create sustainability in our own communities? How can local people work together to save or generate energy and tackle climate change?

The Rough Guide to Community Energy has the answers. Packed full of practical advice and inspiring case studies, it covers:

  • Local energy groups – how to set one up and keep its momentum going
  • Types of project including solar, wind, hydro, biomass, CHP and energy efficiency
  • Getting a project off the ground, from fundraising and planning to construction
  • Real-world advice from successful groups all over the UK

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or you already have a local energy group, The Rough Guide to Community Energy will help you make your project happen.

>> Get your free copy.

Check out the Resources section at the back of the book for websites and further reading.  KA