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Posts Tagged ‘materials’

Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit (SUDU)

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on February 8th, 2012

From “The Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit (SUDU)” on No Tech Magazine:

The ‘Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit’ (SUDU) in Ethiopia demonstrates that it is possible to construct multi-storey buildings using only soil and stone. By combining timbrel vaults and compressed earth blocks, there is no need for steel, reinforced concrete or even wood to support floors, ceilings and roofs. The SUDU could be a game-changer for African cities, where population grows fast and building materials are scarce.

In “Tiles as a substitute for steel“, we highlighted the medieval art of the medieval timbrel vault, which allowed for structures that today no architect would dare to build without steel reinforcements. The technique is cheap, fast, ecological and durable. Shortly after the article was published in 2008, the timbrel vault made a comeback with two rather spectacular buildings: Richard Hawkes’ Crossway Passive House in England, and Peter Rich’s Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre in South Africa.

The cardboard formwork technique described last week promises to bring even more dramatic architecture, but at least as interesting is the news that the catalan vault is now also applied to a much more modest form of housing: the Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit (SUDU), a low-cost family dwelling built in Ethiopia.

Though less spectacular at first sight, it could form the proof that even megacities can be constructed without the use of steel, concrete or wood.

The double-story building, which was completed in last summer, is entirely made from soil and presents an economical and ecological solution to many of Africa’s most urgent problems. The SUDU stands in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a country with a population of more than 80 million (growing at an average 7 percent per year). The building is a joint project of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC).

The SUDU combines past technologies from different continents, resulting in a new approach to low-tech construction adapted to specific local conditions. In the Mediterranean region, where the timbrel vault originated, the tiles have traditionally been made from fired clay. In the SUDU, the construction technique is united with the African tradition of cement-stabilized, soil-pressed bricks, which use locally available soil. This technique is called compressed earth block (CEB) construction. The SUDU has been built largely following the same techniques used for the Mapungubwe Centre in South Africa.

Read the full article to find out more about resource pressures and engineering details.


Diverting waste to make durable products: Replas on Kangaroo Island

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on December 19th, 2011

From the Re-Plas blog:

Not only was Kangaroo Island, in South Australia, one of the first locations in Australia to ban the use of plastic bags, but now the KI Council has gone a step further in helping the planet by installing 27 outdoor settings, 900 bollards and a staircase, all made from recycled plastic.

Ian Woolard, Co-ordinator Civil Works, Kangaroo Island Council, said, ‘We were looking for a product that would stand up the elements experienced on the South coast of Kangaroo Island and one that would incur the minimum ongoing maintenance cost to Council’.   As a result of choosing to use recycled plastic KI council has diverted approx. 22,000 kg of plastic waste from landfill in 2010-11 alone.

Six years ago Kangaroo Island started the trend by purchasing recycled plastic seats for their school. More recently the local Landcare Group built a staircase out of garden panels and the Kingscote Jetty was also refurbished with Enduroplank™ decking as part of a trail by the South Australian government to see if recycled plastic proves more durable and cost effective than timber.  All of this adds up to an estimated 35 000 kg of plastic waste which has been diverted from landfill and made into Replas recycled-plastic products for use throughout Kangaroo Island. Not bad for an island with a population of 4500!


“Green Demolition”: Localised Redistribution of Materials

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on March 21st, 2011

Source: Change Observer

From D-Build: A sustainable model for the second life of buildings by Maria Popova:

Materials science has been one of the fastest-growing frontiers of innovation, particularly in the realm of sustainable design. Yet there seems to be an odd disconnect between our desire to reinvent tomorrow’s materials and our failure to intelligently address the life-cycle of today’s. This is precisely what Syracuse-based project D-Build is trying to change through a new model for materials reuse and upcycling in building deconstruction, using principles of design thinking to change the afterlife of architecture. An alternative to both traditional demolition, which can be costly and dangerous, and traditional deconstruction, which is time-consuming and requires a large workforce, D-Build uses a hybrid process called “green demolition.” A building is cut into pieces of manageable size and processed on the ground by a tight, efficient local crew. The site then serves as a hub for connecting buildings, people and businesses, offering a peer-to-peer marketplace for users to exchange materials salvaged from deconstructed buildings and sell industrial design products made with these upcycled materials.

This time-lapse footage captures D-Build’s fascinating, nearly ant-like deconstruction process.

Read the full article by Maria Popova on Change Observer.