Tag Archives: Categories

Open Source Architecture

Open Source Architecture is a growing approach for designing buildings, where the design tools, plans and other materials are freely available, so that anyone can use them, rather than protected as copyrighted intellectual property.

Generally viewed as the architectural version of open source computing, and as analogous to hardware and software designed to be openly accessible and can be used by anyone. Cooking is often used as an example of one of the earliest forms of open source activities, a menu which anyone can cook from, share and change ingredients with anyone across space and time.

Like open source computing anyone, can add, adapt and rework designs which, again, can be used by anyone else. Open Source Architecture is being driven by a current, younger generation of designers, who see it as a part of a wider technologically informed tool-kit, enabling customised designs to happen on or close to a site. The new generation of tools include CNC routers, FABlabs and the internet of things. Some believe it is a part of a new ‘emerging paradigm.’ Of course, the arrival of the computer didn’t inaugurate openly accessible architectural design. Vernacular architecture is cited as the original open source architecture, with menus for designing buildings passed on from generation to generation, adapted, improved and updated as types are tried and worked on.

A good example of an architect developing a design and detailing system and making it available to all is what’s called the Segal Self-Build Method, named after Walter Segal, the community architect. Here are a few examples of how Open Source architecture is growing through the Internet.

Materials Reuse & Reuse Centres

Building Materials Reuse

“The British construction industry is the largest single sector consumer of resources and producer of waste, annually consuming 400 million tonnes and producing 86.7 million tonnes of waste, almost 40% of the country’s total. This is equivalent of 7 tonnes of material per person; enough for 40, 000 new homes. In addition the industry comprises 19% of our ecological footprint, 23% of our GHG emissions and 30% of all road freight in the UK, whilst the total spend on product and materials is estimated around £30 billion a year.”

From An investigation into the viability of Building Materials Reuse Centres – MSC by Andrew Edwards, Oxford Brookes University.

As the above quote notes the building sector single-handedly creates the largest amount of waste in the country. While figures vary in different countries, these sorts of numbers are not exceptional. In terms of carbon the industry accounts for about 10% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions. The potential to reuse materials in multiple ways is however beginning to be acknowledged and there are a variety of approaches across the mainstream of the industry as well as its forward looking edges, which look as if they are beginning to be taken more seriously.

Building Materials Reuse Centres

Building Materials Reuse Centres (BMRC’s) are a North American import. The centres aim is to reduce the environmental impact of buildings by reusing materials and building products. When buildings are renovated, rebuilt or demolished the place to take the now redundant materials are BMRC’s, so they can continue to be reused rather than head for the tip. Reuse is the other end for materials of a journey that begins with extraction or the first processes of being turned into products/buildings.They continue and extend the lives of these materials and products a number of times.

The Centres (BMRC’s) come in various shapes and sizes but the core idea is common to all, a central hub for building materials, which can be re-used in other buildings. The community version is more established than exemplars for the construction industry; there is indeed much to be learnt from what examples are in place across the community sector in various different countries.

Beyond the simple adaptation of the second hand store, there is the potential of developing integrated networks, which could refine the ecology of building material needs. Even if well developed in the imagination of some BMRC’s theorists, this doesn’t appear to be quite beginning as yet.

Follow these links for examples of Building Materials Reuse and Building Materials Reuse Centres.

Eco-Communities & Community Self Build

This section of Making Lewes highlights a variety of different ways in which parts of towns, cities and urban fabric are given over to environmental and sustainably focused living, in ways which go beyond the individual home.

Eco-Districts and Eco-Housing are an approach to urban design, which integrate green elements right through the design of the site, including energy sources, transport, and food growing schemes. Although the number Eco-Districts remain small they continue to grow in different and diverse forms. Some of which are initiated by Government (mainstream), while others are more grass roots in organisation and origin.

The examples presented are both mainstream and non-mainstream, and come from Britain and continental Europe.

There are also several examples of Co-Housing, which are communities initiated and organised by their residents. Households are generally individual and self-contained while various aspects of the community are shared and managed together. Co-Housing is still small scale in Britain, while on some parts of the continent – such as Denmark – it has been a major part of the way people live.

Community Self-Build differs from Co-Housing, in that the buildings are built by those wanting to live in the completed homes. And although once completed communities of self-build can follow similar strategies for community organisation, this is not necessarily the case.

Click on the bellow tabs for examples of Eco-Communities, Eco-Districts & Co-Housing and Community Self-Build

Eco-Industrial Parks & Industrial Ecology

Eco-Industrious: One person’s waste is another’s raw materials

The idea of eco-industrial parks, zones, or districts has been around for quite a while, at least from the 1990’s. Based on industrial ecology, with the idea of designing industrial systems to behave like an ecological system.

Industrial Ecology is “principally concerned with the flows of materials and energy through systems at different scales, from products to factories and up to national and global levels.”

Industrial Symbiosis “focuses on these flows through networks of businesses and other organizations in local and regional economies as a means of approaching ecologically sustainable industrial development.”

Prof Marion Chertow 2004

Eco-Industrial Parks 

An Eco-Industrial Park “is a community of manufacturing and service businesses seeking enhanced environmental and economic performances through collaboration in managing environmental and resource issues including energy, water, materials …the community of businesses seeks a collective benefit that is greater that the sum of the individual benefits each company would realise if it optimized its individual performances.”

Lowe & Warren 1996

If Industrial Ecology is designed around optimising materials and energy flows, in Eco-Industrial Parks the flows of waste and energy are co-designed with a group or cluster of eco-industry businesses, working together to harness their optimum use, the industrial equivalent of an ecological system. At their most basic Eco-Industrial Parks involve exchanges between firms of their excess energy and materials. Waste from one firm becomes the raw material for another.

Four principles of Eco-Industrial Parks       

  • Industrial processes are linked systematically to reduce consumption of raw materials, water and energy.
  • Industrial waste can become raw material for linked businesses.
  • Businesses can be clustered in eco-industrial parks to reduce waste and transport costs while simplifying logistics
  • Expertise can be applied on a case-by-case basis

Daniel Wahl

There are various different ways in which Eco-Industrial Parks can be organised. Generally they comprise these three core elements:

  • Recycling businesses
  • Environmental technology companies
  • Businesses based around a single environmental theme (i.e. solar energy)

“Co-location is a key to optimising the synergistic and symbiotic whole systems design!”  Daniel Wahl

Types of Eco-Industrial Parks 

There are different types of Eco-Industrial Parks but all share various aspects including:

  • Co-location or proximity: A variety of companies which are clustered near to resource recovery and recycling facilities.
  • Shared byproducts:  Companies use waste energy and material from others as inputs in their own processes.
  • Cleaner production: An emphasis on cleaner production throughout the production process.

Source

Eco-Industrial Parks are also distinguished in the following ways:

  1. Eco-Industrial and Resource Recovery Parks
  2. Resource Recovery Park – A group of reuse, recycling, and composting processing, manufacturing, and retail businesses receiving and selling materials and products in one location.
  3. Zero-Emission Park – A group of co-located businesses working together to reduce or eliminate emissions and wastes.
  4. Virtual Eco-Park – A group of businesses that are geographically separate, but still working together to minimize their impact on the environment.

Eco-Industrial Parks Examples

 Although the “first and canonical example” of an Eco-Industrial Park originated in Europe – Kalundborg on Denmark’s Western coast – as an approach Eco-Industrial Parks have been more popular in the USA, and also in recent years have begun being developed in China. For examples of Eco-Industrial Parks from different parts of the planet click here.