Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Building with Mud,Straw Bale and Timber can also help reduce our Carbon footprint

Those of us that have been in a mud or adobe built building on a hot day are sure to notice how cool (temperature) they are compared to a concrete block building. With global temperatures set to rise in the tropics we might see the need to promote such building construction especially for single storey dwelling's.

In an article blogged about in they write about using mud bricks, stone and Straw bale to build walls with good Thermal mass. Combined with over hanged roofs,trees, Natural ventilation and adequate orientation against intense sun rays, we could see a new generation of homes that require no air-conditioning during the hot days and nights.

However improved Thermal mass means improved Passive Solar Heating which would also help reduce the cost of heating if adopted in houses in temperate and desert climates.
Photos courtesy of Images scanned from Building construction Illustrated by Francis D.K Ching and Cassandra Adams who is the editor of the Green Home Guide.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Using indigenous paper for flexible wall partitions.

Eco-Africa is an environmentally friendly company that uses indigenous plants and African artisans to produce a diverse range of craft paper.

Maybe Eco-Africa paper or other similarly produced indigenous papers could be used to create movable and Flexible styled partition walls or furniture. By forming the paper into an accordion shaped structure the possibilities of this paper architectural interiors becomes endless as reported in this story in the Architectural weekly.

Such structures could significantly make urban and rural housing projects in Africa more affordable and sustainable. A Similar paper honey comb technique has been used to produce the expandable chair show in the video below.

Their website writes about how "...Paper-making is a relatively new craft in Southern Africa. It developed as a cottage industry to help impoverished villagers, mainly women with young families to get by and feed their loved ones. The raw materials were readily available in the form of wild plants and shrubs that grow free and plentifully around their villages and communities. Programs were set up to provide simple, basic equipment for grinding the fiber into pulp and then to form the resulting pulp into sheets. Drying of the sheets was (and often still is) carried out by hanging them out to dry, often alongside the family washing.

The artisans-to-be are taught to use as their raw materials fiber collected from indigenous plants such as river reed, elephant grass, sisal, wild fig, and sun hemp, that grow wild and plentifully near and around their homes. They are encouraged to use traditional African tools like the "duri" and the "guyo" as ecologically sound techniques. Additional paper styles are created using cotton waste as the fiber resource, which is collected from textile mills and bring bright and pastel shades to the growing line of paper styles..."

Photo courtesy of Architectural weekly

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Server Farms below Solar Chimneys could it work?

The chimney effect (stack effect) created by a Solar chimney tower of about 1000m high according to the Environ Mission website would be able to achieve wind speed of between 60-80Kph. With the aid of heat storing thermal ponds on the ground level around the pond this updraft effect could be sustained during the non-solar periods of the night.

I was wondering whether server farms could be incorporated in a subterranean level below these solar chimneys. Why because apart from the thermal pools and the foundation of the tower there is really nothing else that will be located at the underground level around the tower.

Well considering the fact computer server farms are such energy sapping infrastructure could it be possible to have them at a basement levels below the solar chimney? The cheap energy generated by this infrastructure could be used to efficiently run these server farms. Also probably the chimney effect air pressure difference could be used to naturally ventilate and cool the server farms.

Would it not be amazing to use of convection air currents to achieve a very sustainable and Eco-friendly way cooling server farms and at the same time generate clean energy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Are mud floors Cool?

While on an Architecture School visit in Nigeria in 1985 to the Town of Bida, Niger State Nigeria we went to the traditional home of a Nupe Family. One of the things that caught our attention was the beautiful mud and mosaic floor that had broken spiral clay tiles embedded in it.

Mud is a very eco-friendly and affordable material even though some might think it is floor finish associated with being primitive or poor. However I think mud is very beautiful flooring material as long as you can compact it properly, keep it from cracking and water proof its surface.

In an article ("Track That Mud In!" Earthen Floors Are Hot) featured in the Tree Hugger Blog Alex Pasternack writes "...Because the floors can sometimes prove troublesome (high heels and table legs can cause cracks) a slowly growing number of "natural builders" like Bill and Athena Steen, both of whom grew up in adobe houses in the southwest, are working on making the floors "crack-free, solid, and really serviceable." (Mr.Steen’s canonical guide, “Earthen Floors,” is out of print, but an updated version is to be posted to the couple’s Web site, Canelo Project, within a few months.)

As durable as can be, among the greatest appeals of rammed earth construction (as also evidenced by this recent Architectural Review "Emerging Architecture" nominee) is the ease of getting rid of it -- and re-sourcing it if need be. And then there are the thermal benefits.

The high density and low thermal conductivity of earthen materials makes them passive solar devices, easily capturing and retaining heat during the day and releasing it at night. But as warm as earthen floors are, there's no denying their cool factor.

“When people walk in, they don’t say, ‘Oh, nice floor,’" says one natural builder. "Everyone gets down on their hands and knees to admire it...”

Photo Courtesy of New York Times.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

J. S. Kalsi & Associates

According to their website "...J. S. Kalsi & Associates is a group of registered architects Kenya specializing in the field of Architecture, Design-Build, Interior Design, Project Management, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and property development..."

Based in Nairobi Kenya and also with regional branches in Mombassa and Bamburi J.S Kalsi has positioned itself to handle projects in the East African Reigon whhich include Uganda,Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritius and Seychelles.

Their portfolio includes numerous private, public and government in the East African sub-region.

Photos courtesy of J. S. Kalsi & Associates.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Design Union

Design Union is an indigenous Nigerian design outfit that specialises in Architecture, Engineering,Graphics, Interiors, and Project planning.

According to their website "...Design Union consulting LLC was incorporated in Nigeria in the year 2000 to provide the highest level of professional consulting services in architecture, interior design, planning, engineering and graphic design. Our firm's commitment to excellence stems from the belief that great
enterprises and cultures start with great planning and design.

From our humble start, the firm has grown into a powerful consortium of over 25 professionals in various disciplines serving a wide range of clients on diverse projects around the country. Our clients include blue-chip companies like Oando PLC, Guaranty Trust Bank PLC, Standard Trust Bank PLC, and International companies/brands like Standard
Chartered Bank Nig. Ltd., Starcomms Ltd. and Chicken Licken Restaurants.

Highlights in the firm's achievements over the past few years include the creation of a new modern look for Oando service station outlets nationwide, the
re-branding/re-positioning of Starcomms as well as winning a design competition for the new Head Office building for Standard Chartered Nig. Ltd. For Atlantic Hall School, the firm took a 10-year long construction project site, turned it around and successfully completed it in 1 year.

Photos courtesy of Design Union.