Post-tsunami housing for kirinda, Sri Lanka by Shigeru Ban

It seems that whenever disaster strikes, Shigeru Ban is summoned to the scene to help – and now he is one of 20 designers nominated for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Although Ban could have been recognized for a whole host of humanitarian projects, this year the architect was recognized for designing 100 small homes for Sri Lankan villagers who were displaced after the 2004 tsunami leveled the village of Kirinda.

After consulting with locals about the preferred layout of their new micro homes, Ban designed the 31 square meter homes with a bathroom and kitchen that is separated by the living area. This last stipulation was government driven. In order to help boost the local economy after the tsunami’s wholesale destruction, Ban made use of local labor and materials.

Each of the 100 homes has walls made with earth bricks, while partitions and finishings are comprised of local rubber tree wood. A shared entertainment space is covered, allowing for community activities. The homes are specifically attuned to the local climate and the entire complex has an area of 3,195 square meters.

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Plaszowski Institute of Sustainable Recovery – (University of Westminster) M.Arch 2012

The project propose to integrate an electronic waste recycling process, an algae
based biofuel production facility and a biofuel R&D institute into one,
but developing a strategy to allow the general public to interact with the
centre in a safe manor will be a major obstacle that must be overcome. Furthermore,
what would appear to be separate programmes have to merge into
one which would allow collaborative piece of architecture. In addition, the
complexity of the technical applications required for the towers to be constructed
of a lightweight modular system that can be expanded to accommodate
future development and expansion if needed. All of this challenges
doesn’t dissolve the standard challenges associated with industrial projects.

View from Catwalk

Other challenges such as the acoustic and lighting strategy applied to the
spaces inhabited within the structure must be addressed as natural sunlight
must be permitted through to the interior as it is a basic requirement for
the growth of the algae cultures. The site and its adjacent Staw Plaszowski
lake possess the largest challenges for the project, as the site will become a
local public park. The lake with its high levels of pollution, will be used
within the project to provide a local resource in the growth cycle of the algae.

View from Highway

Conceptual Form ModelTransport Approach

World first bio-reactive façade debuts in Hamburg

After that, the integrated algae-based system will be put into full operational mode at an inauguration event for the media on 25 April.


The BIQ house will become the world’s first pilot project to showcase a bioreactive façade at the International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg on 23 March. With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this passive-energy house generates biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. At the same time, the system integrates additional functionality such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.

The microalgae used in the façades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors measuring 2.5m x 0.7m. In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-storey residential building. The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water.


The innovative façade system is the result of three years of research and development by Colt International based on a bio-reactor concept developed by SSC Ltd and design work led by Arup. Funding support came from the German Government’s “ZukunftBau” research initiative.


“Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept. It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario.”
—Jan Wurm, Arup’s Europe Research Leader

The system will be officially presented to the media on 25 April 2013 when the biofaçade system goes into operation for the first time.

Alternative Housing / Cargo Container Architecture

Hakan Dahlstrom

With the green premise growing in popularity across the globe, more and more people are turning to cargo container structures for green alternatives. There are countless numbers of empty, unused shipping containers around the world just sitting on shipping docks taking up space. The reason for this is that it’s too expensive for a country to ship empty containers back to their origin. In most cases, it’s just cheaper to buy new containers from Asia. The result is an extremely high surplus of empty shipping containers that are just waiting to become a home, office, apartment, school, dormitory, studio, emergency shelter, and everything else. More information after the break.

Low Budget Container Housing

There are copious benefits to the so-called shipping container architecture model. A few of these advantages include: strength, durability, availability, and cost. The abundance and relative cheapness (some sell for as little as $900) of these containers during the last decade comes from the deficit in manufactured goods coming from North America. These manufactured goods come to North America, from Asia and Europe, in containers that often have to be shipped back empty at a considerable expense. Therefore, new applications are sought for the used containers that have reached their final destination.

Low Budget Container House

On November 23, 1987, Phillip C. Clark file for a United States patent describe as a “Method for converting one or more steel shipping containers into a habitable building at a building site and the product thereof.” This patent was granted on August 8, 1989 as patent 4854094. The diagrams and information contained within the documentation of the patent appear to lay the groundwork for many current shipping container architectural ideas.

Shoreditch Boxpark 01

In 2006, Southern California architect Peter DeMaria, designed the first two-story shipping container home in the U.S. as an approved structural system under the strict guidelines of the nationally recognized Uniform Building Code. Even more impressive is Lot-Tek’s Puma City, which was built with abundant material at a low price, without substituting design quality. As such, there are many great examples of shipping container architecture in the world.


Renewed Space…

The unusual landscape architecture design has covered the entire facade with a rebar mesh and snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata), a nod to Brazilian popular culture. Its leafs are used in the rituals of the African-Brazilian religions as a symbol of power. It is believed to have protective and healing properties.


Over six thousand seedlings have been arranged in hanging vases, working as an origami made of aluminum sheets, including an efficient draining system making the water flow from one vase to the next until eventually reaching the ground – a design created by SuperLimão Studio. Landscape designer Maria Helena Cruz took care of handling the plants.