ShamsArd: With Dirt And A Vision

ShamsArd is a young Palestinian architecture firm that has designed several buildings constructed of dirt that respond to both the environmental climate (keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter), and the political and economic climate. An Israeli company that exports the vast majority of cement used in the occupied Palestinian territories, suddenly stopped the supply for almost a month because of cement shortages in the Israeli market. A few months later, the price of cement sold to the Palestinians also increased, making alternative construction techniques, a beautiful design solution. It also responds to history as Jericho, the location of their most recent design, is home to the oldest earth building traditions in the world. Hear and read more about ShamsArd on National Public Radio and in an Al Jazeera article.

Afghan Refugee Housing

Rai Studio and Architecture for Humanity Tehran, in collaboration with the Norwegian Refugee Council, have recently completed an adobe construction prototype intended for Afghan refugees living in Kerman, close to the centre of Iran.

Built in an Afghan Refugee Camp in Kerman, Iran, the 100 meter square meter domed shelter is comprised of approximately 6,000 mud bricks.

Pouya Khazaeli, principal of Rai Studio and architecture professor at Azad University, Tehran and Ghazvin, notes: “Social sustainability in design is our main focus area here. It means to study how these refugees live, communicate, the meaning of privacy in their live, which materials they prefer and use for construction, which kind of construction techniques they use themselves, how much they spend normally to construct their own shelters….”

Read more at Domus

The Mountain

The Mountain, a film written by Fathy Ghanem, tells the story of building the village of New Gourna by architect Hassan Fathy. Filmed in the village of New Gourna itself in 1965, it is incredibly important from an architectural perspective, however, Hassan Fathy never mentioned the film in any of his writings or speeches. More information at www.hassanfathy.webs.com

Solar Sinter Project

In a world increasingly concerned with questions of energy production and raw material shortages, this project by Markus Kayser explores the potential of desert manufacturing, where energy and material occur in abundance.

In this experiment sunlight and sand are used as raw energy and material to produce glass objects using a 3D printing process, that combines natural energy and material with high-tech production technology. Solar-sintering aims to raise questions about the future of manufacturing and triggers dreams of the full utilisation of the production potential of the world’s most efficient energy resource – the sun. Whilst not providing definitive answers, this experiment aims to provide a point of departure for fresh thinking.

Afghan Earth Works

Afghan Earth Works is a non-profit organization working at a variety of sites around Afghanistan. Their goals are simple. They are to create valued, decently paid jobs; to show how earth, the most readily available material, may be used to create comfortable buildings which their occupants will cherish and that they can repair themselves; and to teach updated construction methods so that the buildings are both durable in Afghanistan’s harsh climate, and safe in the earthquakes which periodically devastate parts of the country.

Earth Architecture | Mud, Stone & Shale Conference

THE UNIVERSITY OF HADRAMUT FOR SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY | MUKALLA & DA‘WAN MUD BRICK ARCHITECTURE FOUNDATION Are pleased to announce the Second Conference on Mud Brick Architecture to be held in Hadramut in 2011 under the title: Earth Architecture | Mud, Stone & Shale

The conference will provide a platform to discuss and exchange information amongst international architects, academics, participants and foundations on the condition of past and future cities with innovative and creative projects in construction and design including a wide spectrum from Chile to India. This intends to create an important link and exchange between North and South, east and west, where the technology architectural language and environment of earth architecture requires to be more seriously and effectively implemented. The fact that it is being held in the heart of the kingdom of mud brick architecture, Valley of Hadramut, serves a significant case in point.

Venue: Say’un, Wadi Hadramut | Republic of Yemen

Dates: 28 February – 4 March 2011

Official Language English & Arabic for presentation- (Papers in French will be accepted for publication in the Conference proceedings).

Conference Themes:

1. Architectural Rehabilitation and Development
2. Modern & Contemporary Buildings: Innovation, Construction and Design (Case Studies and Projects)
3. Yemeni Cities & Vernacular Architecture at Risk: Dilapidation, Destruction & Flood Damage
4. Future Use of Restored Residential Clusters & Heritage Landmarks
5. Environmental Issues: Sustainable Planning Methods & Guidelines

Attending international participants include leading specialists, academics and architects from India, Chile, Portugal, Italy, UK, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and France. Queries please contact Salma Samar Damluji at: salmasamar@damluji.org

Hassan Fathy is The Middle East’s Father of Sustainable Architecture

Green Prophet has railed against projects like Dubai Burj Tower. They have pounded our chests at the audacity of Masdar City’s “zero” footprint claim, and have decried the potential consequences of unsustainable approaches to building and planning. “USD22 billion” for a building project and “sustainable” simply don’t belong in the same sentence.

Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy died in 1989 but left behind a legacy of 160 building projects ranging from small projects to large-scale communities complete with mosques and schools. His impact can still be felt from Egypt to Greece and even New Mexico, where in 1981 he designed the Dar Ar-Salam community. Fathy received several awards for his work, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1980, and founded The International Institute for Appropriate Technology in 1977.

Bio-Engineered Sand Brick

The winner of the 2010 Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition proposes a radical alternative to the common brick: don’t bake the brick; grow it. In a lab at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, Ginger Krieg Dosier, an assistant architecture professor, sprouts building blocks from sand, common bacteria, calcium chloride, and urea (yes, the stuff in your pee). The process, known as microbial-induced calcite precipitation, or MICP, uses the microbes on sand to bind the grains together like glue with a chain of chemical reactions. The resulting mass resembles sandstone but, depending on how it’s made, can reproduce the strength of fired-clay brick or even marble. If Dosier’s biomanufactured masonry replaced each new brick on the planet, it would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by at least 800 million tons a year. “We’re running out of all of our energy sources,” she said in March in a phone interview from the United Arab Emirates. “Four hundred trees are burned to make 25,000 bricks. It’s a consumption issue, and honestly, it’s starting to scare me.” Read more…