building

The future of cities? Image: Paul Jones / Northumbria, Author provided.

How to embrace urban living, but avoid an apocalypse: Organicities are the future

Paul Jones
Northumbria University
| 31st May 2017
By shifting from globalisation to localisation, and creating smaller, self-sufficient communities within sustainable developments, cities could regain their equilibrium, writes Paul Jones. From where we stand today, the Organicity may sound like a Utopian dream. But if we're to avoid an urban apocalypse, we're going to need strong alternative visions, to change the way we imagine and plan for the cities of the future. Too good to be true? Or the way to human survival?

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Jeremy Corbyn at a political rally in North London, 15th August 2016. Photo: Steve Eason via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Corbyn's green vision wins: leaked manifesto promises huge environmental gains

Oliver Tickell
| 11th May 2017
A huge raft of environmental reforms is promised in the Labour Party's draft manifesto, writes Oliver Tickell. Among the highlights: a ban on fracking; a clean energy policy based on renewables and efficiency; no commitment to new nuclear power; to meet our Paris Agreement obligations on climate; to give companies a legal obligation to protect the environment; to retain all EU environment laws post-Brexit; and multilateral nuclear disarmament.

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Skyscrape of Dubai, seen from the beach. Photo: ZeNahla via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Concrete, or beaches? World's sand running out as global construction booms

Nick Meynen
| 9th May 2017
A crucial component of concrete, sand is vital to the global construction industry, writes Nick Meynen. China alone is importing a billion tonnes of sand a year, and its increasing scarcity is leading to large scale illegal mining and deadly conflicts. With ever more sand fetched from riverbeds, shorelines and sandbanks, roads and bridges are being undermined and beaches eroded. And the world's sand wars are only set to worsen.

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Demolition under way at the the Acorn Estate, built from 1957-1963 by F.O. Hayes, Peckham, South London, in 2007. Photo: Steve Cadman via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Don't bulldoze Britain's brutalist housing - it's culture you can live in!

Sebastian Messer
Northumbria University
| 12th February 2016
Britain's 20th century architecture is in danger of obliteration, writes Sebastian Messer, with a 'new brutalism' that holds that socially deprived council estates are fit only for demolition. But these buildings are an important part of our cultural heritage, and more than that, they provide affordable housing to millions of people.

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New building in Masdar City with an old twist. Photo: André Diogo Moecke via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Traditional architecture offers relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf

Amin Al-Habaibeh
Nottingham Trent University
| 8th November 2015
As temperatures soar in the Persian Gulf, modern buildings rely on energy-guzzling air-conditioning to maintain tolerable temperatures, writes Amin Al-Habaibeh. But traditional buildings stay cool passively using shade; wind and thermally driven ventilation; and naturally insulating, reflective materials. For a sustainable future, modern architects must revive the ancient knowledge.

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Roofscape: the 'BedZED' (Beddington Zero Energy Development), the UK's largest and first carbon-neutral eco-community, was completed in 2002. Photo: Tom Chance from Peckham via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Scrapping 'zero carbon' homes is policy vandalism

Gordon Walker
| 20th July 2015
The UK Government has ditched the requirement for new homes to be 'zero carbon' from April 2016, writes Gordon Walker. With builders already geared up to meet the challenge, this needless reversal will raise energy bills and carbon emissions for a century or more to come, and send out all the wrong signals for the Paris climate talks.

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Insulating homes is much less glamorous than building a nuclear power station - but a much better national investment for health, comfort, jobs, climate and a flourishing economy! Photo: Martin Pettitt via Flickr (CC BY).

Ten election ideas to bring on the 'green economy'

David Powell
Friends of the Earth
| 4th May 2015
Tired of politicians' platitudes, defensive pledges and blinkered vision? As the General Election approaches, we desperately need to expand our discussion of 'the economy' beyond its usual narrow confines, writes David Powell. And if they won't get the ball rolling, he will ...

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Destruction driven by the 20% VAT penalty on property refurbishment? Demolition of Wychwood House on the Woodberry Down Estate, London in June 2007. Photo:  Sarflondondunc via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Use VAT to reward 'green' refurbishment - not demolition

Duncan Baker-Brown
| 19th March 2015
Another budget, another missed opportunity: the VAT system charges the full 20% on home upgrades, but 'zero-rates' developers who demolish and rebuild, writes Duncan Baker-Brown. Instead we should target VAT to reward those who meet 'green' criteria for energy efficiency and sustainability. Chancellors in waiting, listen up!

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Yes, this new luxury apartment development really is built of straw bales - the new high-precision, pre-fabricated variety, made by Modcell in one of its 'flying factories'. Photo: modcell.com.

Straw homes are a cheap and green fix for the housing crisis

Pete Walker
| 10th February 2015
Straw is cheap, plentiful, eco-friendly and an excellent insulator, writes Pete Walker - and officially certified prefabricated straw bale building systems are challenging traditional brick construction. So why aren't straw bale houses mushrooming on building sites across the country? Maybe they are ...

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Tiny houses at Hatteras, North Carolina. Photo: Bill Dickinson via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Sick to death of consumerism and debt? Find freedom in a tiny house

Samuel Alexander
| 10th January 2015
There is a simple solution to the problems of rampant consumerism, debt and a lifetime of servitude, writes Samuel Alexander - radical down-sizing to a truly tiny house. For a start, it's only big enough for the things you really need. And it's so cheap to build, that it's paid for from a month or two's salary. Just one question - what will you do with your freedom?

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Green and pleasant - GPT head office, Sydney. Photo: Woods Bagot.

Putting people at the heart of climate-friendly buildings

John Alker
| 24th September 2014
Energy efficiency in office buildings struggles to gain the attention of top management, writes John Alker - because energy is too cheap to really matter. But with 90% of operating costs spent on staff, show that green building design makes employees happier and more productive, and you're really onto something ...

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How did we miss that one? Destruction in Gaza, July 2014. Photo: Oxfam International via Flickr.

$6 billion Gaza reconstruction aid will be ‘made in Israel’

EuroActiv
| 15th September 2014
As the world gears up to finance Gaza's $6bn reconstruction after Operation Protective Edge, an EU source has revealed that Israel will earn billions of euros by making sure that all the steel, concrete and other materials and other aid are sourced in Israel and benefit Israeli companies.

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Copenhagen Harbour Bath designed by JDS Architects. Photo: Lucy Reynell.

Urban Plunge - open swimming in the heart of the city

Jane Withers
| 13th September 2014
With the growing trend for natural swimming in cities new opportunities are opening for architects and designers to create dramatic, inspiring, enjoyable new public spaces in urban waterways, writes Jane Withers. And it's the subject of a new exhibition at London's Roca London Gallery ...

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A forest of giant bamboo near Kyoto, Japan. Photo: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr.

Steel and concrete, give over to the new kid - bamboo

Dirk Hebel
| 4th September 2014
The global construction industry is dominated by steel and concrete, writes Dirk Hebel - but it doesn't have to be that way. There's a strong, fast-growing, climate-friendly, sustainable material ready and waiting. Bamboo could be the basis of a whole new 'green' building industry, that also provides abundant rural livelihoods.

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The kitchen / dining room of Brickfields, a green development in London. Photo: Living in Space.

Breaking the mould for eco homes

Ryan Kohn
| 16th August 2014
There is no better time to put the 'green' into building than at the outset of the design phase, writes Ryan Kohn. And to get it there we need to raise awareness of sustainable technologies, and offer incentives, rather than loop-holes, for developers. Buyers too must learn to appreciate the long term value of green ... and demand the highest standards.

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Hauling sweet chestnut roundwood up the steep include. Photo: Moulsecoomb Forest Garden.

A green building in a green forest shade

Jan Goodey
| 28th June 2014
A Sussex-based forest gardening project has overcome adversity to celebrate its 20th anniversary, writes Jan Goodey. And now it features one of the most eco of eco-builds in Britain, using all local timber, clay, straw ... and wine bottles.

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Horse chestnut leaves and fruits in autumn. A drawing for The New Sylva by Sarah Simblet.

The New Sylva - a celebration of Britain's trees

Colin Tudge
| 30th May 2014
The New Sylva is a worthy successor to John Evelyn's original of 1644, writes Colin Tudge, with superb line drawings and a text that looks more to the future of Britain's trees, than their past. A book for ladies, gentlemen, 'meer woodsmen' and 'ordinary rusticks' alike.

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