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Building of the week: the plastic bottle house

An engineer in Algeria has developed an ingenious new house building technique on a desert refugee camp. He wanted to build a home for his grandmother that would beat the heat and sandstorms, and plastic bottles were readily available. Filled with sand and straw and encased into the walls, the bottles make a sturdy and […]

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Waste tyres as a building material

I recently wrote a pair of posts on the global waste tyre problem, and how we can reduce, reuse and recycle the billion plus tyres discarded every year. There’s one further use that I’ve been saving for a Friday, when I like to write about sustainable buildings. Because if you’ve a vast stock of heavy, […]

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Locking up carbon in building materials

A few months ago I looked at negative emission technologies, and the various ways to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere. Lots of work is going into machines that can absorb CO2 from the air, but we are surrounded by natural negative emission devices already: trees. One of the most straightforward carbon storage strategies is […]

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Building of the week: International Space Station

On Fridays I generally write about sustainable buildings and architecture. Does the International Space Station count as architecture? Or a building for that matter? I’m not sure, but I do know that there’s a good reason for including it: it’s a neat example of circular principles and closed loops. It’s hugely expensive to get things […]

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Building of the week: the Koda house

Britain has a shortage of affordable homes and doesn’t build nearly enough new houses every year. Here’s a useful way to accelerate the provision of new homes – the Koda house. It’s made in a factory and delivered on site, where it can be assembled in just 7 hours. Foundations aren’t required. It’s lightweight enough […]

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The Japanese House

Japan was devastated by the Second World War. Over four million houses were destroyed, and after the war there was a major rebuilding effort. With so many homes needed as quickly as possible, there was a lot of experimentation with modular buildings, prefabrication, and new materials. There was also a revolution in style. Traditional Japanese […]

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Open Source approaches in architecture

Last week I wrote about how open source approaches are being used in the automotive industry, helping to accelerate innovation. Today I wanted to mention that a handful of people are trying something similar in architecture. Generally speaking architecture is bespoke, expensive, and often elitist. Most of us live in fairly standard boxes. Really good […]

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Building of the week: the circular building

No, not circular like the Colosseum or the Albert Hall. Circular as in the circular economy, something I’ve written a fair bit about over the past few years, but not so much in the construction sector. In a circular economy, materials are reused in a closed loop, rather than being thrown away. The only stuff […]

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Building of the week: Chototel

By 2025, an estimated 1.6 billion people will be in substandard and overcrowded housing. That’s an extraordinary number to provide houses for, and it’s hard to know where the funds or materials will come from to deliver them. The existing housing industry, whether private or public, doesn’t look equipped to build that many homes. That […]

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Building of the week: house of sand

The foolish man built his house upon the sand, goes Jesus’ parable. But if he’d built it out of sand, that would have been a different story altogether. Assuming he was using Mike Tremeer’s sandbag building techniques, that is. Developed in South Africa, sandbag buildings are an affordable do-it-yourself approach to sustainable housing. The House […]

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