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Shades of green see more open website in same window

This morning’s Background Briefing on RN examined the flaws in home energy rating systems. The show was unsurprising: they found many houses with low ratings and high performance, and vice versa. No prizes for guessing that architect-designed green homes suffered in the ratings department for not under-glazing, and not air-conditioning. The software wasn’t designed to be used like this and it encourages a conformity of design that suits standard project homes. From my experience, it is a bit of a lottery what the software will think of a custom-designed house.

Paraphrasing Adelaide architect John Maitland in the documentary, the system isn’t good but it’s better than nothing – at least it is pushing the industry along. Maitland designed a house in the early 2000s at Aldinga. An outer skin shields the building fabric from western sun, and a small in-line fan shunts hot air from the mezzanine back downstairs. Both of these are apparently too much for the software to handle. Despite not needing any active heating or cooling (which the software assumes you will have), the house has been rated 4.3, so would be unbuildable today. Its real performance, gauged from energy spend, is closer to 8.0.

This fitting of square pegs into round holes been something architects have grumbled about for years. But now the federal government is planning to extend the rating system to old houses, penalising houses like the one at Aldinga, and thousands more. News is just in that the government has backed off setting dates for the roll-out.

01.04.12 in sustainability 


page listing related:   in  Australia  

Urban Troppo in Weddell see more

Weddell plan

On Tuesday night an ABC article popped up announcing that Troppo and another unnamed firm have completed their new town design in the Northern Territory. To house 50,000, Weddell is to be built about 40 kilometres from Darwin.

The population of Greater Darwin and Palmerston is currently 133,000, and this is expected to increase to 171,000 by 2030. They intend for most of this growth to happen in Palmerston (built in the 1980s) and in the new city of Weddell. Due to the expansion of Southern satellite cities and suburbs, they calculate that the population centre of Greater Darwin will in fact be 12km out of Darwin by 2030. Weddell will be as close to this point as Darwin.

Weddell home by Troppo
A Troppo-designed house for Weddell

Weddell is being branded heavily by the Territory government as a Sustainable City. They have a document [ PDF ] explaining what they hope to achieve. Emphasis being on ‘hope’ as all the sustainability initiatives have question marks next to them. Given the sprawling nature of the new Greater Darwin, and the lack of commuter rail, you’d have to raise your eyebrows at the hope of having 20% of the population getting around on bicycles and public transport by 2030. Maybe they’ll all become triathletes. The long distance railway station is a 20km drive from the CBD – but at least it runs through Weddell.

In this document, they cite, “reducing car dependency by creating a compact city” as being the first in the list of trait that define a sustainable city. They have taken the liberty of applying this condition to Weddell itself, rather than to Greater Darwin.

“In Weddell, the following practices will be important to drive transport decisions: creating a self-contained, compact city that avoids the need for commuting to work and provides local services and facilities…”

Their hopes are that (with a question marks next to them): “80% of trips by Weddell residents are within Weddell by 2030… [and] a minimum of one person per household is employed locally in Weddell”. To get this rolling they are thinking of establishing a “hub of excellence for sustainability training”, local business clusters based on the horticultural industry, and a virtual office hub. And yet there are only eight small blocks labelled commercial along the “Village Square”.

Weddell apartments

It will be interesting to see the plans develop, if the government is serious about all its aspirations, and if Troppo really do get to design all the buildings. If it comes to pass that these aspirations vaporise once the town is built, and the project home builders have their way, then Weddell will be yet another dormitory suburb in eco city clothing.

Darwin’s Mayor Graeme Sawyer is pessimistic about the plans, saying in 2010 that, “Weddell is an absolute nightmare and shouldn’t happen… If you look at all of those criteria around public transport, around energy efficiency, around travel time, around all of those sorts of things, probably if you set up a matrix and ticked off those things against Weddell you probably wouldn’t build it.”

Just for interests sake, here are same-scaled Google maps of Greater Darwin (133,000), Melbourne (4M), and Auckland (1.5M). Despite being destined to sprawl, Darwin can at least take heart that it is Australia’s most Sustainable City, according to the ACF. This appears largely due to high rankings for air quality, employment, and biodiversity.

Weddell is on the lower right.



An exhibition of the proposed design is currently on at the Art Gallery, Chancellery Building, Charles Darwin University, Brinkin until December 16th (10am to 3pm).

More at ABC Darwin
Weddell home page

01.12.11 in urban-planning sustainability


Sustainability - Your laws do not apply to me see more

readings sale table
Readings sale table, 2011

The Fifth Estate reported in late August that the AIA Sustainability Awards were on their way out, having done their dash. A photo caption summed it up: “It’s over: green bling gongs all gone.” Unable to verify the article, and unable to tell whether it only applied to New South Wales, I didn’t post about it. The AIA was quick to clarify the changes.

The Institute issued a media release on August 31st, penned by CEO David Parken. A similar post by Parken appeared around the same time on The Fifth Estate and EDG websites. Awards criteria are now being amended to adopt the following recommendations:

  • That the Sustainable Architecture award should be elevated to a Named Award at a National, Chapter and, where relevant, regional level.
  • That the award should be discontinued as a separate entry category, and be selected by the jury from all awards entries (this may need to be by the chairs of juries for those Chapters with multiple juries).
  • That the award criteria should be open ended and recognise exemplary contribution to sustainable architecture through design.
  • That a preamble should be provided to guide entrants and the jury outlining the intent of the award.
  • That all award entries in all categories should be required to include a brief description of the value the project has generated in each of the environmental, social and economic domains. While no detailed performance data would be required the jury could call for additional information from entrants, if required.
  • That consideration should be given to changing the composition of juries to ensure one member has detailed understanding of or experience with sustainable design.

This is consistent with its Environmental Policy, which states that the AIA will, “maintain ESD and Energy awards as separate categories until sustainable criteria become a prerequisite of all awards” [ PDF ]. This policy has its roots in the UIA policy of 1993, and has as its main commitment that we, “place sustainability at the core of our practices and professional responsibilities.”

If the sustainability category was a stepping stone to achieving this aim, presumably there is some sort of milestone at which we can step on past it. Have we reached that point yet? The action to remove the category sounds more as if it was motivated by problems within the category, than with us reaching a point that we don’t need it any more.

The participants… were keen to ensure a shift from a preoccupation with technical performance “green bling” to one emphasising the value of creative and intelligent thinking to deliver enduring and meaningful environments through design. [ AIA press release ]

We appear to be losing the category because of its reliance on star ratings and applied “bling”, and to be replacing it with something a lot fuzzier and qualitative.

American architects KieranTimberlake admit to having coined the phrase “green bling” in an architectural context about five ago.

“KieranTimberlake coined the term “green bling” to describe the current trend of applying elements to a building just to meet LEED requirements. Instead KieranTimberlake is working on a comprehensive approach to meeting environmental
challenges: full system integration. This continued exploration allows for the connected process of design, technology, and research to coexist as a way of doing business for the firm.” James Timberlake 2006 [ PDF ]

green bling

KieranTimberlake reinvests 3% of its gross revenues back into research, with the help of tax incentives not commonly taken up by our discipline. Timberlake admitted in a 2009 interview that this integrated approach, connecting design, technology, and research, was not available to low-profit firms, especially during a recession. Still he was forceful about the need for research within other practices: “With only half a brain, they’ll go for low-cost, low-tech; if they’re smart, they’ll do the research.”

KieranTimberlake Cellophane house integrated approach
KieranTimberlake Cellophane house

Despite KieranTimberlake’s talk about setting off on their own tack via their research, they still see a role for institutionalised measuring sticks, in their case LEED. Richard Maimon told Metropolis after their work in New Orleans that, “LEED, for all its pros and cons, is widely recognised as a measure, which is important – having that credibility helped give the project mileage in terms of sustainability and replicability.”

At the same time as Parken issued his press release, Tone Wheeler’s article “Wither the Green Awards?” was published at ADR. Wheeler wrote that the changes picked up on a 2006 review, with some modifications…

…much of the emphasis on metrics and formulaic criteria has been replaced with an appeal to, “broader measures of long-term value, including adaptability, endurance and the significance of beauty … the need to ensure an understanding of sustainability more holistically, including environmental, social and cultural dimensions … the need to recognise the importance of integrated thinking not only at the individual building scale, but at the locality … and urban scale.”

This broader definition of sustainability is trying to cover an awful lot of ground. Incorporating triple bottom line economic and social aspects, it may be more than a single award can cope with. And it may be more than your typical architect, operating within tight client constraints, is able to address – at least without guidance.

Guidance is available all over the place. The AIA and RIBA both have literature freely available online, and The AIA has a subscriber only service (EDG), but these focus on environmental sustainability and rarely extend into economic and social aspects. And according to Wheeler, they are not getting read.

The 2007 ESD design guide of public buildings { PDF ] does touch on how social sustainability might be designed in, suggesting that its key attributes might be accessibility, usability, and street context. The justification for addressing social sustainability within the document is that without it the building will, “either be removed or significantly renovated, which is not sustainable.” So social sustainability is desirable in its own right, but more importantly it is an indirect way to address global warming.

Cameron Tonkinwise, writes in the current issue of Design Philosophy Papers (available for a wee while) that this switch in perception of sustainability is the way to go. Citing cognitive psychology, he says desirable things are more motivating than necessary things. Wants win out over needs. Sustainability needs to be made desirable and affirmative, rather than than negative and necessary.

“The way in which sustainability places strictures on what designers can do, limiting their sovereignty, seems repellant. Without wanting to concede to anachronistic reassertions of the free spirits of designer geniuses, it is worth noting that if sustainability is not a necessity, then sustainable design becomes an affirmation rather than a constraint on the designer’s liberty.” [DPP]

Sustainability – Your laws do not apply to me
Sustainability – Don’t threaten me with misery
[ with apologies to Billy Bragg ]

Whichever way we become more motivated, it sounds reasonable that an award-winning sustainable building be beautiful, but will it apply the other way – can the knock out building of the year win an award if it exhibits only tick box sustainability? Can it still be beautiful?

Ecological sustainability and award-winning design have been uncomfortable bedfellows for years. Officially merging the former into the latter sounds good but the tension will remain. Sometimes it may boil over… looks like ARM have designed an eco-desal plant [ PDF ].

Wheeler writes that the switch is a return to a more subjective view of architecture, an escape from the limitations of the star rating system, and might cause some people to say, “how very architectural”, a return to “internal values”. Or are we prematurely redefining sustainability into something so ‘holistic’ and integral to design that it will lose any distinct meaning for bulk of the profession, and its clients? As was evident from last year’s Sustainable Futures: New Modes of Practice forum, we are still some time from figuring out how our professional values and roles should adapt.

I hope that removing the category and the stars will force the issue rather than sideline it. Can’t wait for the jury presentations.

08.11.11 in sustainability awards


page listing related:   in  Australia  

Stirling ideas see more

This year’s Stirling shortlist is of buildings most modest. The Guardian calls it “austerity architecture”. I have read here and there that the GFC has apparently made exclamatory buildings a little bitter on the palate up on the topside, though Zaha did get a listing for the speedlining Evelyn Grace academy in Lambeth, which the Guardian calls, “one of the most expensive city academy schools ever built”. Two of the shortlisted buildings are extensive renovations to existing buildings, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Angel Centre in Islington, London. The Angel Centre was not even 30 years old when it was considered outmoded. Rather than a bowl’n‘build, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris stripped the building, threw out the mirror glass, and gave it a jolly good £72m white-washing. That’s 15% less than a complete rebuild, with 30% less carbon dioxide emitted.

Shrouded during its nip and tuck:
angel centre demolition

angel centre islington

Stirling gallery
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

21.07.11 in sustainability 


page listing related:   in  United Kingdom  

green maths see more

Extracts from an HIA Press Release 2011 dutifully relayed by many news services in late May.

Constructing the average new home and land package involves the emission of about 240 tonnes of carbon dioxide. These emissions are largely unavoidable and inherent in the development, manufacturing and construction process. At a carbon price of $20 a tonne that amounts to $6000 in additional construction costs, on top of which are imposed State Stamp Duties and GST. The final cost will exceed $7000.

Compensation cannot effectively offset these large increases in the cost of construction, and future planned increases in the carbon price will only add to this cost. Nor will future increases in any carbon price reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a new home and land package. New homes are already subject to the stringent 6-star energy ratings.

Many Australian producers and manufacturers of building products and materials are “trade exposed”. A carbon tax will mean that Australian businesses will cease to manufacture here, with imported goods being substituted, made overseas by manufacturers who would be free of any carbon tax and free to emit carbon dioxide.

“At $20 per tonne, a carbon tax will add an extra $6,000 or more to the cost of building an average new residence, placing additional affordability pressure on new housing activity, and adding $43 extra per month to family mortgage repayments… That adds a further $12,800 in repayments over a 25 year loan.”


No one else seems to have had much of a look at these numbers, so I thought I would. It turned into a lengthy look into much crystal-gazing commentary, with very little appearing that could be classed as hard numbers.

240 tonnes!
I tried to verify the 240 tonnes figure, and couldn’t find any Australian figures to directly back up the HIA – but adding it up, it sounds about right. Overseas equivalents ranged from 17 to 80 tonnes of CO2 per house (taking into account much smaller average house sizes and different energy sources).

Who pays?
Only the 1000 biggest polluters will pay it. These are electricity producers, steel manufacturers, and miners. BHP/Bluescope and Rio Tinto are in the top 20 list of polluters, which is dominated by energy suppliers. Sure electricity is an important part of the supply chain, but not every tonne of carbon dioxide is to be taxed. You cannot simply multiply $20 by 240 tonnes and round it up a bit to the widely reported $6,000. This assumes no compensation to anyone. In a later article buried in a Domain blog, HIA CEO Graham Wolfe admitted this: “If there is a compensation for [manufacturers] … then the cost increases won’t be as significant. So the $6000 might be a little less.”

How much of an increase?
$6,000 is about 1.2% of the cost of a new house and land package in South Morang – $500,000 for 240 square metres. And remember that’s an overestimate of the amount, and excludes compensation. As a comparison, the housing industry CPI for the December Quarter was 1.3%. So the increased cost of housing, after compensation, is likely to be equal to one to two months of inflation.

The HIA’s estimate is quite cheery compared to the Master Builders , who recently stated that construction prices would jump 5%, figures I that they have apparently extrapolated from a 2009 report on the Rudd CPRS commissioned by the Liberal Party, a report that mentions no percentages.

Who gets compensated?
The compensation for heavy polluters is being negotiated at the moment. It was 95% under the CPRS, but some expect it to be lower now. Intense lobbying and media campaigns are trying to minimise the impact on industry. The intent at the moment is for households earning under $120,000 to be fully compensated.

pile of bricks

What’s the point?
The point of this carbon tax scheme is to make dirtier industries relatively more expensive than clean industries. Everything dirty gets slightly more expensive so that cleaner industries become more competitive. Dirty industries get compensated, but are still meant to lose market share to clean ones in the long term – so (it is hoped) they spend their compensation dollars cleaning up or diversifying. Lower income families get compensated too, but only if they buy products from a dirty industry… hmm. That’s where all the tax money goes – in a “revenue neutral” loop that tries to shift demand to cleaner products. A simple strategy used in many countries, but amazingly complex in the detail – of which there is none.

The current state of confusion is not helped by the Australian Government’s complete lack of information on what this carbon tax might be. Most commentators assume it will be very similar to Rudd’s CPRS, even more so after the carbon tax system converts to a credits system in a few years time.

So what?
The nett effect on the economy is intended to be zero – as this is a “revenue-neutral” tax. The government passes all the money back to industry and the consumer. Zooming in on particular houses though, only some owners will be eligible for compensation, and some materials will attract a higher tax than others (e.g. steel versus timber).

The big industries supplying the housing market are currently feeling more exposed in their international trade than they were under the Rudd CPRS. They don’t want their exports taxed and they want as much compensation as they can get – preferably 94.5% as it was under the CPRS.

The HIA and Master Builders press releases received very little criticism until last week, when the AIA took them to task. CEO David Parkin said, “My question to Master Builders Australia and the HIA is: what is the alternative?”

The spokesperson for the Minister for Climate Change has also reacted, criticising the HIA’s use of figures that don’t take into account compensation. According to them, the HIA has since revised their figures down 15%, which even then is questionable. “With more than half the embodied energy in a house shielded from 94.5 per cent of the cost of a carbon price their arithmetic still doesn’t stack up either.”

Stubborn Mule
The biggest polluters

Facts and figures:
1066 kg EPA figure for CO2 per sqm for a new Victorian house
227 sqm average Australian new house size 2002-2003

58 tonnes CO2 – UK 85 sqm house
80 tonnes CO2e – UK 2BR house CO2e includes an extra mount to cover other greenhouse gases.
50 tonnes CO2 – UK
16.8 tonnes CO2 – Scottish 3BR house

18.06.11 in sustainability housing


It goes on, HIA holds to its numbers. age property blog

by peter on 14 July 11 ·#

page listing related:   in  Australia  

First Light house see more open website in same window

Firstlight house

The entirely solar-powered Meridian First Light house has just been packed up into containers at Frank Kitts Park in Wellington. This is the first entry ever from downunder in the US Solar Decathlon. The house was built by students at Victoria University. Check the site for a good overview of the last couple of months.

“The Meridian First Light house channels the essence of the iconic “Kiwi bach” – a focus on recreation, socialisation, and outdoor living.”

10.06.11 in buildings sustainability


page listing related:   in  New Zealand   Wellington   Wellington  

Rating the ratings see more open website in same window

The Fifth Estate today looks into recent claims by the HIA and The Australian that the NatHERS sustainability rating scheme is inconsistent and that there is a, “lack of correlation between actual energy performance of houses and their star ratings”. The CSIRO, developer of NatHERS-accredited Accurate software, says that they weren’t rating the ratings software correctly – “apart from a few minor glitches with the way the software was running, the main issue was due to errors made by assessors and incorrect interpretation of the results.”.

Alan Pears, Adjunct Professor at RMIT, comments:
“The software could be better but it is nothing short of miraculous that it works as well as it does given the complete lack of funding for research and development in this area. It is appalling that the government has spent so little developing and improving these rating tools.”

Read the 5th Estate article here .

28.10.10 in sustainability computing


page listing related:   in  Australia  

How green is your six pack? see more open website in same window

wood marsh apartment tower

Adding active and passive sustainability features to a house, an architect with supportive clients can be lulled into thinking that everything is rolling the right way. But there is a great gap in the market not being catered to – those living in apartments.

Whether they are renting or own, apartment dwellers face insurmountable hurdles trying to get anything changed legally. I wrote an editorial about this last year, concerning the situation with owners’ corporations blocking any attempts to upgrade flats, and the state of the law in Victoria (it isn’t helping things).

The Fifth Estate follows up today with an article about how things are travelling in New South Wales. It paints a picture of flat owners not being very aware of what owners’ corporations do, and owners’ corporations being unskilled and hamstrung. Sustainability incentives in NSW work for stand alone houses, but don’t apply to multiresidential buildings where utility usage is measured collectively, and a consensus agreement is hard to get. 5th Estate reports on a couple of positive initiatives by Willoughby Council and Sydney Water, but overall these efforts are piddly considering what is needed – legislation, incentives, and education.

04.06.10 in sustainability 


Clothes heaps in New York see more open website in same window

Piles of clothes tend to broadcast to me the concept that I should wash them. But not always. Here’s a pic from a show now on at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. That’s up the road a bit from The State Armory where that chap R.Mutt submitted a urinal for a show in 1917.

2010: Park Avenue Armory – Christian Boltanski No Mans Land
[ C-M ]

2006: Brooklyn clothes pile after huge fire at the Old Greenpoint Terminal Market
[Peter Johns 2006]

I like the second one more, but they are connected. The burnt clothes were (I think) being stockpiled at the old market building. C-Monster reports that the clothes for the Boltanski exhibition come from a warehouse in New Jersey that has to “deal with” 70 tonnes of incoming second hand clothes a day. They are sent all over the planet, but the warehouse can’t keep up with the influx.

Another New York artist working with old clothes is Derek Melander, who prefers building walls and columns with neatly folded and colour-coded clothes waste.


Architects in the States have been able to make a dent in the clothes mountain too, specifying insulation batts made from recycled cotton and denim. I can’t find anyone selling denim insulation in these parts – maybe we don’t like throwing our old jeans away.

16.05.10 in sustainability insulation


Frank on green see more open website in same window

I hope this was taken out of context. Chicago Trib reporting on a talk by Frank. O. Gehry, 81:

“The costs of making a green building are “enormous,” he said, and “they don’t pay back in your lifetime.”

Chicago Tribune via Archinect and Inhabitat

14.05.10 in sustainability 


proves wot everyone knew – franks buildings are cheap even the expensive ones.

by hairdresser on 14 May 10 ·#

page listing related:   in  United States  

Bark vs. bite see more open website in same window

From the Landcorp (Western Australia) website :

  • “LandCorp is the Western Australian Government’s land and property developer.”
  • Services include “Optimising triple bottom line outcomes from government-owned land.”
  • “Sustainable development requires a different way of thinking about neighbourhoods in our cities and regions and involves identifying ways to demonstrate environmental leadership, community wellbeing, design excellence and economic health to produce integrated and holistic development concepts.”
  • “We apply our sustainability vision to our work to bring a balance of social, environmental and economic outcomes for West Australians.”

From a tenders website:
Landcorp: “We’re looking for someone to develop a huge piece of land in Karratha. Within the Nickol West estate in Karratha sits approximately 24 hectares of land ready to be developed for up to 250 residential lots.
And for the first time, we’re asking private developers to take on a project of this size. There are no design guidelines, home density requirements or limitations on methods of lot sales, so you can hit the ground running and create a residential development exactly how you envisage it.”

Lucky Karratha. Context:
karratha subdivisions

10.02.10 in urban-planning sustainability


Chilling effects see more

open sesame

While wandering through the 34 degree heat today down Lygon Street, I was cooled every six paces or so by a stream of refigerated air escaping from every shop I passed. Readings, The Witchery, Donatis meats, et al had their doors wide open and cold air cooling footpath.

Their must be some weird retail logic at work here – an open door signals an open shop? Or does the chilliness entice sweaty punters in off the street? If the butcher’ door was closed, would people prefer to go to a butchery in another suburb rather than turn the handle and push? Is that too grubby for us to do these days? Are customers conditioned by shopping centres into expecting open doors?

Bakers Delight and Lygon Court and the vege shop lift things another notch, by having most of their frontage open to the street, I guess factoring the extra energy costs into the coffee scrolls and eggplants. Or they’re expecting more customers.

“JS air curtains help keep shop doors open, increasing sales and profitability by enticing 25% extra custom.” LINK

Air curtains market themselves as the energy efficient way to keep the doors open. They push air from inside downwards quickly creating an “invisible door”. Not really the case in a retail environment as the fan force is too low, they can’t be blowing peoples toupees off. They also get upset by any negative pressure within the store.

air curtain

The other slight problem with air curtains is that they encourage the retailer to open the entire shopfront to the sweltering outdoors. Most of the stores I saw had no trace of air curtains, though a few had airconditioning units immediately above the door, which can’t be good.

New York has recently banned stores from having their doors open, subject to a number of escape clauses. Though they would save up to 25% of their electricity bills, the $200 fine isn’t scaring all of them them, but the New York Times hope consumer pressure will do the trick.

Then there are the open fridges in supermarkets, but that’s another rant.


08.01.10 in buildings sustainability


thats what power windows are for….common sense really….

by cabbie on 9 January 10 ·#

smart meters and peak tariff pricing.
watch the doors start appearing like power windows then.

by hairdresser on 15 January 10 ·#

page listing related:   in  Australia  

NOx eating facade see more open website in same window

I don’t usually put product info in the news, but this looks interesting – a titanium dioxide coated decorative facade that fights pollution. It can be seen installed at enex100, a retail complex in Perth.


17.11.09 in facades sustainability


page listing related:   in  Germany  

Greenhouse in Perth see more open website in same window


It’s a planted building. Greenhouse hits Perth, this time buried in a corporate undercroft – and it’s permanent.

17.11.09 in sustainability 


because god forbid that it be the A word!

by kmcf on 18 November 09 ·#

China's highs and lows see more open website in same window

Nice at the top, but not down on the ground.



26.10.09 in sustainability 


page listing related:   in  China  

Tall in timber see more open website in same window



British architect Andrew Waugh is doing the rounds for the Australian Timber Awards, spruiking his spruce solution to a local London planning requirement that requires a “10 per cent reduction in carbon through on-site renewable energy generation”. His recently erected 9 storey apartment building is built without concrete or steel, just cross-laminated panels of PEFC-certified Austrian Spruce. The ‘Stadthaus’ structure was assembled by a team of five in nine weeks. You can hear Andrew speak in Brisbane tonight (Thursday) or just imagine what he is saying as you view the slides online (PDF).

According to the Australian Timber Development Association , the consultant team, “calculated that the 9 storey residential building could store 181 tonnes of carbon when completed and by not using traditional concrete methods could save a further 125 tonnes from entering the atmosphere during the construction process.” Engineers Techniker note that, “130 tonnes of whitewood, delivered to London in eight lorry loads from Austria has offset 50 tonnes of carbon.”



Although the cross-laminated panels can function as both structure and lining, the junctions are a little raw at the mooment, and this project has been lined off in the usual way, losing all that wooden goodness. The facade has been wrapped in a digital image generated from shadows falling on the vacant lot – with a nod of head to Gerhard Richter and Marcus Harvey.


KLH UK director Karl Heinz Weiss says that the cross-laminated timber panel isn’t, “a frame which is stablised with two cover plates; it has all the structural properties within the panel. It’s actually acting in two directions structurally, like precast concrete. That’s why you can work with it as you can precast concrete, creating large spans, cantilevers or overhangs.” He believes that this method of construction will work up to 15 storeys.

So the next step would be to see where this new product can go? Perhaps here:

termite mound at pestival

termite mound at pestival

This is the Termite Pavilion at London’s recent Pestival .
Termites are pretty clever at building things, and this pavilion is based on a 3d scan of a mound in Namibia.

See it bigger at Youtube .

They’ve been playing with cross-lam for a while in Japan too, where cross-laminated timber buildings did quite well in a 2007 shake table test. Here’s a seven storey test building used as a guinea pig. [ PDF ]

seven storey

No, you can’t get these panels in Australia or New Zealand yet, but soon…

21.10.09 in sustainability timber

Architect / protaganist: Waugh Thistleton Architects


These are very interesting. Despite going out of fashion in recent centuries, timber has seen something of a revival in modern times despite advances in other forms of building techniques, demonstrating the enduring popularity of timber frame houses. Timber frame buildings are beautiful in their simplicity, with each tenoned joint oozing character and strength.

by Laminated Timber Frames on 17 July 12 ·#

World Green Building Day see more open website in same window

Hey, happy inaugural World Green Building Day! What can you do to mark this event in Melbourne… um, you could take the opportunity to network with GBCs . Other than that, not sure. Maybe knock off early and have a Green Beer.

24.09.09 in sustainability 


page listing related:   in  Australia  

Ben Elton wired to the sun see more open website in same window

Comic Strip comedian and author, Ben Elton, gets to keep the photovoltaic panels he put on his heritage registered North Fremantle home after a stoush with the council. But he does have to remove them within 25 years, if Freemantle is still above water then. He will move into the house with his “Perth wife” in December, and will probably have enough material for a new novel with this.

06.09.09 in sustainability 


Earthships don't fit the plan see more open website in same window

Garbage warrior Michael Reynolds is in town and spoke to The Age . “What the planet needs right now is a billion Earthships . But right now, conventional junk housing is the easiest thing to get a permit for, while the right thing to do – green, sustainable, zero-carbon-emission housing – causes someone to have to fight for years to get permission.”

01.09.09 in sustainability video-clips


page listing related:  

Designing trees see more open website in same window

Three initiatives to capture carbon dioxide.

1. Build articificial trees. Dr Tim Fox from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says,“Artificial trees are already at the prototype stage and are very advanced in their design in terms of their automation and in the components that would be used.” BBC NEWS

2. Algae-based photobioreactors. From the same report by the IME, “transparent containers containing algae which would remove carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis” and are suggested for new and old building facades.

3. Why stop at the facade. Studio Baubotanik is building something near Stuttgart that looks very… alive.



via Archinect and Landscape Design News

29.08.09 in sustainability 


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