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The rise of the forest city

Here’s a nice update on a previous building of the week – Bosco Verticale, the residential tower blocks in Milan that were designed to create a ‘vertical forest’. After the success of that project, architect Stefano Boeri has had a lot of interest in the idea and a number of other projects have been suggested. Unsurprising, […]

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The 9 foundations of a healthy building

This week I was talking to a family member about ‘sick building syndrome‘, a vague but nonetheless real phenomenon where a building makes people feel uncomfortable or unwell. There was a famous example in Stoke-on-Trent when I lived there. Unity House was built in 1973 as a new home for the council, but from the […]

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Building of the week: St Sidwell’s Point

Exeter City Council have high standards for their buildings. In 2011 they built their first PassivHaus, learned all they could, and formally adopted the idea. All new council buildings now need to meet PassivHaus standards. If you’re not familiar with PassivHaus, it’s a design framework for low energy buildings. One of the main principles is […]

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Building of the week: Princess Elizabeth Antarctica

Heating is the biggest use of energy in a house. That means that generally speaking, the colder the climate, the harder it is going to be to build a zero carbon home. But it should always be possible, and in an age of climate change and rising energy prices, a cold climate is no reason […]

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Building of the week: Tayebat Workers Village

Here’s a project that brings together several aspects of progressive architecture: integrated renewable energy, local and natural materials, and design for the poor. This is Tayebat Workers Village in Egypt, designed to blend in with its desert surroundings and unobtrusively house 300 people. I like the way it combines modern technology with traditional techniques to […]

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How to bring a tower block into the 21st century

Buildings last a long time. A good one will be enjoyed for generations to come, sometimes for centuries into the future. Build a bad one, and it will be disliked and resented for a couple of decades and torn down as soon as it makes economic sense – but that’s often far longer than people […]

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Solve your own housing crisis with the ZedPod

A few weeks ago I was at a conference where Bill Dunster of ZEDFactory was speaking. All sorts of fascinating ideas popped up in his presentation, but one of them was this: the ZedPod. It’s a cheap and low carbon solution to Britain’s current housing shortage. Perhaps most intriguing of all , it requires no […]

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The architecture of dirt

Growing things, right? That’s what soil does. In fact, it does it whether you like it or not – life will spring from the smallest sliver of exposed dirt. It’s what dirt does best. But it’s not all that dirt can do. Soil also stores rainwater, soaking it into the ground gradually and preventing floods. […]

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Title: Zero Carbon House
Architect: John Christophers

Building of the week: Zero Carbon House Birmingham

Yesterday I was at the Energy Saving Convention in Birmingham, and I wanted to mention a couple of local buildings in my talk. I only featured one in the end, but it’s a good one. It’s just a couple of miles away from the venue, and it’s a private house that is notable enough to […]

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What is biophilic design?

Consider a modern big box store: fluorescent strip lights hang from the ceiling on wires, casting a stark white light over the serried ranks of shelves. Air conditioning vents jut from a featureless grey metal roof, maintaining a constant temperature and a largely odourless environment. Beyond the first aisle, there are no windows, no views […]

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