Tag archives for architecture

High rise greenhouse for more urban food

The house will look something like this (here it's placed in a fictitious city, much bigger than Linköping). Illustration: Plantagon.

Earlier I wrote here on the blog about the Swedish company Plantagon’s plans to construct a giant sphere-shaped greenhouse in Botkyrka, Stockholm. Now their vision seems to have come one step closer to reality, in the city of Linköping [map]. Recently representatives from Plantagon and the city of Linköping made the symbolic first cut of the spade, starting the construction of a 54-meter tall combined office and greenhouse.

Ground breaking ceremony in Linköping. Photo: Tommy Hvitfeldt.

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A family on the verge of 1 tonne CO2


The Lindell family in front of the project house. Their weekly carbon budget has been 80 kilos of CO2 emissions, while an “average” family’s weekly emissions are 540 kilos. Photo: One Tonne Life.

How close to a carbon neutral life can an ordinary Swedish family get? This has been the big question for the Lindells during the last six months, when they have been participating in the project One Tonne Life.

In January the family of four moved into a new house equipped with the latest technology to keep CO2 emissions down. Solar panels on the roof provides the electric car with energy and the family members get coaching from energy and food experts.  The total life-cycle emissions of every part of the family’s life is calculated by scientists from Chalmers. The goal is to find out if it’s possible to reach down to emission levels of 1 tonne CO2 per family member and year, while maintaining a “normal” way of life.

The family started out with annual emissions at 7,3 tonnes per person and year. After three months they were down at 2,6 tonnes, using the electric car and public transport instead of their old gas-guzzler, eating vegetarian lunches and cutting down on their shopping.

Now the project is coming to an end, and one thing that the famile has come to realize is that technology can help you, but only to a certain point. Lifestyle is an extremely important part too. In this last finish the family has lived what they call a “Robinson life” to see if that can get them closer to their goals. They eat strictly vegetarian food, excluding the CO2-emitting meat and dairy products.
They have closed off areas of the house to simulate a smaller living area, they carpool more and bring lunches from home instead of eating in restaurants. This way they managed to get down to 1,5 tonnes per person and year.

Another emission source not counted for here though, is everyone’s part in public consumption like hospitals and roads. That’s about 2 tonnes per person and year in Sweden, which means we have to make quite radical changes in those areas to reach the 1 tonne goal.

In this film the family describes how their “Robinson life” turned out. Also watch the well known architect Gert Wingårdh show how he designs a smaller living for the family in order to save CO2 emissions. His predictions are that we’ll live on much fewer square feet per person in the future.


Greening a small town


The architect students' own image of a sustainable Alingsås.

Earlier I’ve written about the 25 architect students from Chalmers University of Technology who have been concentrating on how to turn the ordinary small town Alingsås into a place that will work and prosper without fossil fuels.
Now the time has come for the students to present their ideas, and yesterday they met local politicians, the Transition Alingsås group and “ordinary” inhabitants in a crowded assembly hall.

All their projects are presented on their website (some of them in English) and several of them focus on the importance of producing food locally in a world where greenhouse gas emissions must decrease and energy will be a more expensive resource.

One of the studies that I like particularly is made by Elin Erlansson, who has sketched the first steps of how to make Alingsås more self-sufficient on food. Her idea is to engage the inhabitants to start growing more food themselves, individually and collectively, and to create a food centre in the middle of town just by the train station. In this centre the locally and regionally produced food would be gathered and then further distributed to consumers coming to the grocery shop by bike or by foot, or transported to people’s home areas with public buses that will anyway make their way through town.The centre also houses a restaurant serving locally produced dishes and Elin discusses the possibility of using a local currency to facilitate these local supply chains.

Another project work written by the students Hajir Latifi, Virginie Ducournau & Daniela Farias (in English) target on how the city centre has been flooded with cars and how this could be changed, making Alingsås a town for pedestrians and cyclists.

It all sounds very nice and when you think about it, it’s easy to start wondering why these aren’t ideas always applied: After all, having towns made for the people living there, making sure they will have food, clean water and encouraging their engagement in the local environment sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

Warming Swedes with body heat

This winter has so far been one of the coldest in Sweden in a long time. In December, when temperatures were the lowest for about 150 years and Sweden at the same time had a standstill in some of our nuclear reactors, electricity prises rushed up to record levels.

This was of course not a very happy situation for those who heat their houses with electricity. On the other hand, there are plenty of more efficient ways to do it. One is to use the excess body heat of people in motion. This is done in the Kungsbrohuset building in central Stockholm, which is partly heated by the excess body heat from the 250 000 persons flowing through the central station building every day.

Now the BBC has made a feature  about how this works. It’s fascinating that something most people don’t even think about like body heat can be harvested like this, but as every person generates about 100 watt it does add up…

Living in a bird’s nest


Just like all the other bird's nest... just a bit bigger. Photo: Treehotel.


The mirror cube. Photo: Treehotel.

It’s often called the world’s lungs, providing us with oxygen, wood, fuel, food and recreation. We have a lot to thank the forest for, and that’s probably why 2011 has been declared as the International Year of Forests by the United Nations.

This will no doubt be highlighted in various ways this coming year, but one place where it’s already done in a very special way is the Treehotel in Harads, just about 60 kilometers south of the Arctic circle [map]. Here you can sleep four meters over the ground in a house looking like a giant bird’s nest or why not in a mirror cube, reflecting the other trees and the sky on its walls. Much of the material used comes from the surrounding forest and the huts have incinerating toilets.

The idea for this very special hotel was born when Britta and Kent Lindvall-Jonsson saw the film The Tree Lover. It’s the story about three disillusioned city guys who decide to go back to their roots in the North of Sweden to build a tree house. The project leads to philosophical thoughts about what “the tree” means to us humans, both historically and culturally.

With this in mind Britta and Kent teamed up with a group of wellknown architects and designers and started building different tree houses that each one represents human’s relation to the forest and the trees in a different ways. So far there are four houses and two more being constructed, but the final plan includes as many as 24 houses.

“It is important that we find another way to value the forest, rather than to cut the trees for industrial use. This Boreal forest is one of the Earth’s lungs. We need to look after it.”, I read on the hotel’s home page.

The Treehotel has attracted a lot of attention, not least from outside of Sweden. Here’s a feature by British BBC, showing all the different houses and telling the story behind the hotel.