Scientists Suspect Sprawl Destroyed Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Temple Model

The implications of this research are unbelievable.  Seriously.  I’ve written about the ten common problems associated with sprawl previously, but this story opens up the discussion again.  Angkor Wat is the home of a magnificent temple in Cambodia and was the center to one of the largest cities in the pre-industrialized world.  Recently, NASA used ground-sensing radar to study the extent of the city and found that it took up approximately 400 square miles.  In comparison, Phoenix sprawls across about 500 square miles, not including the suburbs.  The research revealed a complex network of canals, 1,000 man-made ponds, and roughly 70 long-lost temples.  The canals carried and distributed water towards the temple and through the south of Angkor.  Interestingly, the study also revealed evidence of breaches in dykes and areas where they attempted to fix the canals. 

What’s most interesting is the idea that Angkor’s increasingly intricate and complex system of canals might have been too expensive and difficult to maintain.  So, there was an elaborate infrastructure that might have run into disrepair … which possibly contributed to the downfall of Angkor?  This is very interesting research.  Apply that to our situation and query whether the issues we have with the levees in New Orleans or the bridge in Minnesota parallel the situation in Angkor.  Do we have an infrastructure, fueled by sprawl and fractional planning, that is too expensive to maintain? 

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By |August 14th, 2007|Land Use, News, Vegetation|0 Comments

Green Sky Tower to be Tallest in Abu Dhabi (S2)

The Gate & Sky Tower

This development on Reem Island called The Gate is currently under construction in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  We’re talking about a total of 11,300,000 sf of development space.  One building is the Sky Tower.  Sky Tower will be the tallest tower in Abu Dhabi and (only) the fifth largest tower in UAE.  Topping out at 83 stories and 300 meters, it is anticipated that Sky Tower will be the first building in the UAE to receive LEED certification.  The Gate Development will also include five 62-story towers and two 31-story buildings.  Designed and planned by Arquitectonica, The Gate is supposed to become the gateway to a new city. 

It’s a pretty incredible looking development.  By all means, check the images below and let me know if you think it has a slight resemblance to Stonehenge.  Anyone agree?  When completed, The Gate will have a total of 4,600 residential units, 344,488 sf of office space, and 44,291 sf of retail space. 

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By |August 12th, 2007|LEED, Modern architecture, News, Skyscraper|0 Comments

$16 B to Clean Energy, Thin Film Solar, Home Efficiency Tips + the Economics of Homes Sizes (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Housing slowdown offers a chance to get real about HOME SIZES … good design and quality construction ultimately will prove more worthwhile than square footage. 
  2. Nine ways to make your home more energy efficient.
  3. Thin Film PV market could top $7 billion by 2015 … low cost, low weight, ease of manufacturing, and success on roof, wall, and window applications is driving the growth (see also Nanosolar). 
  4. U.S. House of Representatives passed a Democratic rewrite of U.S. energy policy that strips $16 billion in tax incentives away from Big Oil and puts it toward renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

[Video] Nanosolar Causing Disruptions at 1/3 Cost

Nanosolar wants to create paper-thin, flexible solar panels that can be made at 1/3 the cost of heavy, silicon-made solar panels.  It’s important to keep an eye on tech like this because Nanosolar is currently building the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the U.S.  If successful, this stuff is going to be on every building and structure starting in 2008.  It’s going to change the way the game is played in a major way. 

To give you an idea of how compelling, how enormous this is, check this:  the Google founders are investing in Nanosolar, an IBM manufacturing executive just joined Nanosolar, and the U.S. Department of Energy just awarded them $20 million. 

By |August 8th, 2007|Energy Efficiency, Materials, News, Solar|3 Comments

Pursuing a Ken Yeang Built World

Chongqing Tower

There's an excellent interview by CNN with Ken Yeang, principle of the UK firm Llweleyn Davis Yeang.  Almost a year ago, I wrote about Yeang's fascinating Menara Mesiniaga building, and that article has been a popular one in terms of visitors.  Yeang is an ecological, architectural visionary designing in a way that blurs the boundary between the natural and human-built environments.  With eco-logical design, the goal is to build a structure with no pollution or waste.  And we're getting there, too.  To quote Yeang, "we'll see green buildings long before 2020 — I think the movement is intensifying. Within the next 5-10 years we'll see a lot more green buildings being built. Not just buildings but green cities, green environment, green master plans, green products, green lifestyles, green transportation. I'm very optimistic."  The green buildings pictured in this post are only a fraction of those designed by Ken Yeang.  If you're looking for more information, feel free to pick up his latest book: ECODESIGN: A Manual for Ecological Design

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By |August 5th, 2007|Gadgets, Land Use, News, Skyscraper, Water Efficiency|0 Comments

Eco-Cities, 1 Hotel & Residences, Consumer Perception of Green Business + Variety in Green Homes (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Eco-cities, centers that showcase the cutting-edge of land use and urban planning, are being planned for the UK and China but do they have what it takes to solve environmental challenges?
  2. Atlanta’s The Streets of Buckhead will be one of the first cities in the southeast to gain a luxury, eco-friendly hotel in the new Starwood Capital Group brand, 1 Hotel & Residences. 
  3. An increasing number of businesses are making a commitment to the environment, but it seems that consumer perception of "going green" businesses could be mixed. 
  4. The Tale of Two Green Homes – one is efficient and thrifty, and the other is stylish and opulent.  They both help the environment, right?
By |August 4th, 2007|Hotel, News, Week in Review|0 Comments