Building the WikiHouse of the Future

housing
Affordable housing is a problem for every country and over the years there have been initiatives to lower the cost of being a home, today some of those are efforts in digitization. The WikiHouse project is all about lowering the cost to design a house by providing people the files needed to plan and build their new home. The cost of construction is obviously up to where the house is built. The goal is to lower the capital costs through the digitization of knowledge.

Their mission:

  1. To put the design solutions for building low-cost, low-energy, high-performance homes into the hands of every citizen and business on earth.
  2. To use digitisation to make it easier for existing industries to design, invest-in, manufacture and assemble better, more sustainable, more affordable homes for more people.
  3. To grow a new, distributed housing industry, comprising many citizens, communities and small businesses developing homes and neighbourhoods for themselves, reducing our dependence on top-down, debt-heavy mass housing systems.

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Building a City From Mushrooms

forest and river

Climate change is destroying many parts of the world, which increases pressure on cities and farms to make more use of less space. Building flood walls will only buy so much time and the use of energy-intensive building materials contributes to faster climate change. This might sound like a catch-22, but it isn’t. We have other options for building our cities and using land: biomaterials.

Over at coDesign they look at the quickly growing biomaterials industry and what some companies are up to. It’s not inconceivable that in the near future we’ll be able to send robots into the desert to grow a city using mushrooms.

According to Bayer, this mycelium-based material is as structurally sound as—and priced similarly to—the materials they replace. He says the production can easily scale, as verified by the several partnerships they have with manufacturers, and he is confident that we will start seeing biomaterials replacing traditional building materials. But the process of actually getting these materials produced into the hands of construction companies—and convincing them to use them over the materials we’ve been using for centuries—remains challenging.

For Bayer, the largest and most prescient problem biomaterial makers face is getting the material out of the lab and into the factories of manufacturers who will incorporate it into existing product lines. “If we create bio products that are safe and healthy and get them out there so people can see what it is, that will create market pull,” he says. “We have to take it out from the lab and demonstrate [the science] to consumers with consumer-facing applications.”

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Celebrating Resiliency

The Rockefeller Foundation has produced a new documentary celebrating areas humans live in that are designed to be resilient to climate change. By building our cities and countries around the concept of resiliency we can better prepare for what’s ahead when it comes to unpredictable and extreme weather. It’s design thinking applied on a ecosystem level that allows human civilization to continue while supporting existing natural systems.

The clip above is focussed on Louisiana post hurricane Katrina, the movie explores other places around the world that have also rejuvenated their loyal ecosystems to thrive once again.

Resilience is also a key theme at Rockefeller, which believes national, even global change can start at a city level. In a way, municipalities are the perfect ecosystems to try transformational projects that other cities can tweak or adopt. To that end, the group has invested over a half billion dollars in various resilience initiatives including the National Disaster Resilience Competitionand 100 Resilient Cities.

According to Carter, the film’s concept began with the idea of chronicling several success stories that others could learn from. The group quickly realized that had they enough material for a movie about the broader global movement. Resilience test cases include New Orleans, which has rebuilt better, greener and stronger in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

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Watch the full movie here.

Incremental Design to Address Housing Inequality

Basically every nation has basic housing problems that need to be addressed. Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena won this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize because of his work on community housing. It wasn’t just the buildings that got him the prize, it’s the fact that he and his team worked with locals to bring change to the community in a new way. Instead of centralized planning, they went with talking to the the people who lived in the community housing and brought positive change to the structures incrementally.

Thailand’s Baan Mankong Program also offers lessons in incremental housing through a decentralized, community-led process. Launched in 2003 by the Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI), the program directs small but flexible government subsidies and loans to community-level lending and savings groups, with a strong emphasis on an inclusive, collective process. Receiving input from all members of the community, these resident-led groups decide how they’d like to invest the money—from reconstructing or upgrading individual homes to reblocking or relocating entire neighborhoods. Additionally, the Baan Mankong Program provides technical and financial support from government staff, community architects and planners where needed, enabling residents to address complex tenure security needs, land redistribution, housing improvements, service delivery and more.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Timber Towers

Skyscrapers have been made out of concrete, glass, and steel since the first skyscraper was built. Before these building materials were used it was impossible to build that high – wood wouldn’t cut it. Wood wasn’t strong enough so steel had to be used for the core support structure.

Thanks to new techniques, that we’ve looked at before, skyscrapers can be built using wood. Wooden towers create less of a carbon footprint because cement and steel require a lot of energy to become useful whereas wood just grows on trees. In Amsterdam a 240-foot residential tower has been proposed and this is just one of many wooden tower projects being built around the world.

What developers hope will be the world’s tallest timber tower is currently under construction in Vancouver, and a growing tall timber building trend popular in Europe continues to gain momentum, with recent proposals for timber skyscrapers from cities such as London, Stockholm, and Bordeaux (France’s fifth-largest city). Now Amsterdam—whose skyline is not defined by high-rise buildings—has thrown its hat in the ring with Haut, a 240-foot-tall timber residential tower designed by Dutch firm Team V Architecture. Set to begin construction in the second half of 2017, Haut will be the tallest timber tower in the Netherlands and possibly the world (depending on how quickly construction schedules go).

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