Week14b—the ZCB (Zero Carbon Building), the first zero-carbon building of Hong Kong

A zero carbon building is a building with zero net energy consumption or zero net carbon emissions on an annual basis. In recent years, low/zero carbon buildings have attracted much attention in many countries because they are considered as an important strategy to achieve energy conservation and reduce greenhouse gases emissions. Located at the heart of Kowloon Bay, the upcoming vibrant premier business district in Hong Kong, ZCB is a green oasis in a densely populated urban area.

ZCB is the first Zero Carbon Building in Hong Kong. Developed by the Construction Industry Council in collaborating with the Hong Kong Government, it aims to showcase the state-of-the art eco-building design and technologies to the construction industry locally and internationally and to raise community awareness of low carbon living in Hong Kong. (HKCIC, 2012)

This ZCB generates on-site renewable energy from photovoltaic panels and a tri-generation system using biofuel made of waste cooking oil and achieves zero net carbon emissions on an annual basis. Beyond the common definition of a ‘zero carbon building’, ZCB exports surplus energy to offset embodied carbon of its construction process and major structural materials.

Ecological systems

The building has been designed passive as well as active systems to avoid emitting carbonaceous substances, here are some of the main systems:

Wind Catcher
Wind catcher is a device that ventilates a building by the use of wind. A small tower on the roof contains an opening that faces the prevailing wind, which is at a cooler temperature than the interior of the building. Because the wind velocity at this opening is greater than it is at the lower windows of the building, air in the shaft of the tower is forced down the shaft to cool the building.

Light Pipes
Light pipes are highly reflective tubes that capture light from domes on the roof. They help bring light to windowless areas inside the building.

High Performance glazing
The high performance glass wall system offers good thermal and optical performance to lower cooling load, reduces the reliance on artificial lighting and hence reduce energy consumption. The reflecting shade inside the glazing achieves this by reflecting heat and reducing heat again.

High-Volume-Low-Speed Fans
High-volume-low-speed fans can generate high volume of air flow at a low speed. The noise associated with the movement of the fan blades is low. These huge ceiling fans move large volumes of air effectively by using their patented blade design, which enhances evaporation for comfort. The fan can effectively reduce the necessary duration of air conditioning.

Active Skylight
The active skylight is a roof window frame set with inclined shading fins. The skylights can be shaded if necessary to optimize daylighting and solar control. The shading fins are controlled by computer software and sensors by adjusting their shading angles to cut out direct sunlight at different angles as the sun passes over the building. They diffuse daylight into the interior as needed, greatly reducing the heat gain from direct sunlight.

Renewable Energy

In the ZCB, renewable energy is generated on site from solar energy by photovoltaic (PV) panels and from biofuel (one kind of biomass) made of waste cooking oil.

Other Features

-Main facade facing south-east for higher potential to capture prevailing summer breeze

-Tapered built form to create larger pressure differences on different building facades to draw stronger air flow across the building

-High headroom for key spaces to enhance stack ventilation effect

-Natrually ventilated design at entrance to enhance ventilation effect

Based on the above designs and technologies, the ZCB consequently does not increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It does at times consume non-renewable energy and produce greenhouse gases, but at other times reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas production elsewhere by the same amount, that’s why it introduce all these systems to achieve the goal of zero-carbon emission.


ZCB Experience, viewed 30 May 2015, <http://zcb.hkcic.org/Eng/Features/map.aspx>

Tim Smedley, 2013, ‘Can zero-carbon buildings become a reality?’, The Guardian, viewed 30 May 2015, <http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/can-zero-carbon-buildings-become-reality>


Week 14a–Ecocapsule

Happened to see this little interesting device in an architecture website. It is called Ecocapsule. As a low-energy housing machine, it is packed into a compact form to minimize its volume as well as designed like an egg, which is an energy efficient shape. It has the capability to run without electricity due to its solar and wind power generation system. Meanwhile, with the luxury interior the users can sleep on a warm bed, work and study as well as cook a hot meal.

FIG. 1
The low energy consumption is packed into a compact form. (Nice Architect)

Each Ecocapsule is able to hold two adults, built-in kitchenette with running water, flushing toilet and hot shower are luxuries of a hotel room that are now also available in wilderness, accompanied with an internal and an external storage.

As for the energy, it is powered by a built-in wind turbine complemented with an array of solar cells. Dual power system and a high-capacity battery ensures that the users will have enough power during periods of reduced solar or wind activity.

FIG. 2
Environmental strategies. (Nice Architect)

Actually, the research into low energy mobile home has never been stopped. In the United States, this form of housing goes back to the early years of cars and motorized highway travel. It was derived from the travel trailer (often referred to during the early years as “house trailers” or “trailer coaches”), a small unit with wheels attached permanently, often used for camping or extended travel.

In my point of view, the Ecocapsule could be regarded as a variant or evolution of the traditional mobile home. As the diagram illustrates, it is easy to be transported and can be laid in various positions. With the internal water filter, the rain water can be collected and purified for the users. It is like a personal Noah’s Ark of the future in the reflective and solar cell covered outfit.

Mobile homes are front and centre in the new debate on affordable housing and smaller homes. As the country moves towards fiscal responsibility(Frank Rolfe, 2015), maybe the home of tomorrow will be a smaller one – like the Ecocapsule or even a mobile home in a mobile home park – that can be more sustainable and energy. Maybe the national fatal attraction for giant homes is over, and we can usher in a new era with the future popularization of mobile home.
FIG. 3
Compact interior but can house two adults. (Nice Architect)
FIG. 4
Adaptation to different geographical conditions (Nice Architect)
FIG. 5 Layout of the Ecocapsule (Nice Architect)


Nice Architect, 2015, ‘Ecocapsule: Dwelling with the spirit of freedom’, viewed 7 May 2015, <http://www.ecocapsule.sk/ecocapsule>

Frank Rolfe, 2015, ‘Is the Future McMansion a Mobile Home?’ viewed 7 May 2015, <http://www.nuwireinvestor.com/articles/is-the-future-mcmansion-a-mobile-home-62639.aspx>

Week 13b-Smart City studies—Songdo and Chicago’s strategies in traffic management

One of the very basic features the smart city has is to gather and utilize vast amounts of data from the network of various sensors, which can serve multiple functions ranging from detecting emission, noise, and weather to structural cracks, parking availability, traffic conditions and pedestrian behaviours. All that data from these sensors will be collected, analysed and monitored in real-time by the central monitoring hub to optimize every function of the city, which gives the potential to have a significant impact for traffic management. (Gooderham, Mary, 2012) For example, sensors lining a highway could detect obstacles, hazards and the level of traffic on the road and pass that information to road users.

In regards to traffic management and congestion, the cities of Chicago and Songdo in South Korea have been world leaders. These cities have demonstrated how the use of Smart City technology can be instrumental in mitigating traffic congestion.

The city of Chicago uses GPS within its public buses to not only provide information on the arrival time, but to also estimate traffic congestion throughout Chicago. The bike-sharing racks around the city provide data on where bikes are available at any time. 3D-printed sensors (Fig. 3) are deployed on traffic light poles around the downtown area of Chicago that post data such as sound and vibration around the city to the open data website.

With the sensors and networks, smart traffic management will enable car drivers to face less traffic jams, as data will tell which areas are busy. Traffic lights automatically adjust to reduce congestion. Smart parking sensors automatically alert drivers for free parking spaces (Fig.4)and street lights are only be turned on only if someone is approaching, saving a lot of energy.(Josh Taylor, 2014)

Fig.1 3D-printed sensors, image by City of Chicago
Fig.2 Sensors to detect parking lot, image by Libelium

Fig.3 Sensors to detect driving distance, image by Libelium

In Songdo, South Korea (Fig 6.), another noticeable case to build a smart city, every inch of the city has been wired up with fibre optic broadband keeping people connected. And almost any device, building or road in Songdo will be equipped with wireless sensors or RFID (radio frequency identification) microchips, sending a constant data stream to computer processors that keep the city operating. This will result in smart innovations such as streetlights that automatically adjust to the number of people out on the street or houses in equipped with sensors that can be managed via a large TV in the living room of each residency. Next to the homes, screens will be available in all offices, hospitals, schools and shopping centres.

To deal with traffic, Songdo uses RFID tags on cars to send geo-location data to a central hub identifying black spots and congested areas, which helps in tweaking signals to ease congestion. (Fig. 5) Also the public transportation is completely wired and all locations are always known.

In other words, Songdo is like a living organism. The city’s infrastructure contains sensors that monitor and regulate everything from temperature to energy consumption and traffic. (Rita Lobo, 2014)

“Sensors are the central nervous system of the technologies deployed throughout Songdo, whether it is fire and safety monitoring for the 8,500 residents of our First World Towers or the flow monitors controlling how the Central Park saltwater canal is fed and refreshed. It is being studied by many countries, many mayors, many governors as an example of a smart and connected community and a more efficient way of organizing urban living. We hope we contribute to the global footprint in a positive way.”

–Stan Gale, chairman of Gale International

Fig.4 Bird’s view rendering of Songdo IBD, image by Gale International

Collaborating with ITS (Intelligent Transport System) technology, smart cities allow high-speed communication among vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructures. As a result, tomorrow’s driving assistance systems can go far beyond their present capabilities by implementing co-operation and information exchange in order to collectively perceive the context. (Gooderham, Mary, 2012)


Gooderham, Mary. ‘Smart Cars, Smart Roads.’ The Globe and Mail, Feb 18, 2012. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/922028199?accountid=12763>

Josh Taylor. ‘Chicago’s smart city: From open data to rat control’, viewed 31 May 2015, <http://www.zdnet.com/article/chicagos-smart-city-from-open-data-to-rat-control/


James Day. ‘Songdo in South Korea leading charge to become city of the future’, viewed 31 May 2015, <http://metro.co.uk/2012/01/09/songdo-in-south-korea-leading-charge-to-become-city-of-the-future-279407/>

John Edit. “Songdo, South Korea: Utopian City of Big Data and Urban ‘Sustainability’”, viewed 31 May 2015, <http://www.wilderutopia.com/sustainability/land/songdo-south-korea-utopian-city-of-big-data-and-urban-sustainability/>

Week13a–Promising innovations that could be applied in the ITS in future Sydney

Today’s cars already have hundreds of sensors and microprocessors, with advanced functionality like crash avoidance systems that can turn off cruise control and initiate “active breaking.” If cars with that sort of functionality could talk to each other, one car slowing down could prompt the one behind it to do the same. This kind of intelligence, which is the basis of the ITS (Intelligent Transportation System) could extend to an entire highway or apply to just one lane, where all of the cars drive on autopilot. (Aldirdge, 2012) Such an application could have huge potential to alleviate congestion. Another safety feature of the highway sensors would be its ability to tell how fast cars are driving, and could even relay information about speeders to the local police.

Connected Vehicles (by USDOT)

Connected Vehicles is a wireless communications network—a system   among vehicles, infrastructure and personal communication devices. In this future network, vehicles can talk to each other and critical infrastructures. It can enhance safety by preventing crashes in advance, improve mobility thus ease the congestion as well as bring environmental benefits, and provide continuous real-time connectivity to all system users. Main features are as follows:

-Forward collision warning
-Intersection movement assist
-Emergency electronic backlight warning
-Blind spot warning
-Road weather motorist warning/ Real-time route-specific weather info
-Transportation management system
-Eco-speed harmonization
-Incident zone warning
-Dynamic ridesharing
-Cooperative adaptive cruise control
-Dynamic parking availability system

11 12 13 14

Land Airbus–Straddling Bus (by China TBS)

TBS China has unveiled the Land Airbus – a giant car-swallowing bus that could actually hit the streets of China. The vehicle can bend around corners, and it travels along rails to enable smaller vehicles to pass underneath.


This innovative urban transportation solution has a high-tech interior that is entered via a glass elevator that drops down at air lift stations. While passengers are getting on and off the vehicle, there is no hold up in traffic – cars just keep going under the Land Airbus.

4 3

Tran-z: Individual tram/underground systems (by Saketranz in India)

5 6

Tran-z is an automated underground transportation system, which runs on overheard track inside a small tunnel approx. 3 Fits radius (Like a big water supply pipe) powered by electric engine. These tunnels are laid few fits down the road. Tran-z runs into single track in circular way so it does not require track change as well.

Tran-z is collection of bogies/trolley, which could be many in numbers like 200+ or as per need of any city. Each bogie accommodates single person. Since Tran-z runs into a tunnel it is easy to construct and also does not interrupt ongoing traffic. Multiple Tran-z tracks can be constructed in small area/lane.

The technologies above have pointed out the value of co-operation among vehicles and between vehicles and the infrastructure, which is very likely to become the theme of the ITS in the future. Tomorrow’s driving assistance systems can go far beyond their present capabilities by implementing co-operation and information exchange in order to collectively perceive the context. The value of collaboration must not be underestimated and the need for making decisions dependent on the context is beyond doubt. (Gooderham, Mary, 2012) Designers of present-day driving assistance systems already have adopted some of the mechanisms of collaboration and context awareness, but it is still a long way to go until a fully collaborative context sensing system will be available to drivers.


Fuchs et al., “Context-awareness and collaborative driving for intelligent vehicles and smart roads”. In: Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on ITS for an Ubiquitous ROADS; 2007. p. 1–6.<http://vi.uni-klu.ac.at/publications/papers/2007-14.pdf>

Gooderham, Mary. “Smart Cars, Smart Roads.” The Globe and Mail, Feb 18, 2012. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/922028199?accountid=12763>

Bettina Wassener and Andrea Deng, “‘Straddling Bus’ Offered as a Traffic Fix in China”, New York Times, Aug. 17, 2010 <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/18/business/global/18bus.html?_r=0>

USDOT, ‘Connected Vehicle Research in the United States’ May 28, 2014 <http://www.its.dot.gov/connected_vehicle/connected_vehicle_research.htm>

SakeTranz Co. Ltd., ‘Tranz-Future Transportation Technology -India Innovation’, viewed April 25,2015, <http://www.saketranz.com>

Week 12b—Brilliant ideas to use a peper towel!

13 billion pounds of paper towels are used by Americans every year. If we could reduce the usage of paper towels, one paper towel per person per day, 571,230,000 pounds of paper will be saved. Now there are all kinds of paper towel dispensers. There’s the tri-fold. People typically take two or three. There’s the one that cuts it, that you have to tear off. People go one, two, three, four, tear. There’s the one that cuts itself. People normally take as much as four. Or there’s the same thing, but recycled paper, you have to get five of those because they’re not as absorbent, of course.

A paper towel (milajake)

A paper towel dispenser failed and dispensed the whole role of paper at once (Louis Wing, 2014)

You use paper towels to dry your hands every day, but chances are, you’re doing it wrong. The fact is, you can do it all with one towel. The key, is to shake your hands before you take the paper towel and fold before you use the towel to increase its suction ability.

Shake before using the paper towel (Joe Smith, 2012)

Fold the towel to increase its suction ability (Joe Smith, 2012)

Of course, people use paper towels for more than just drying their hands. I was guilty of using them as napkins at home until I finally cut up an old towel into napkin-sized rags a few years ago. And there have been plenty of times when I spilled something messy in my kitchen and decided grabbing a paper towel was just faster and easier than dirtying and rinsing a rag. But I have not used a paper towel in my house in over six months now, because of one ridiculously simple tip that I will now share with you. Are you ready? This is pretty earth-shattering. I merely have not refilled my dispenser!


Joe Smith, 2012, ‘How to use a paper towel’, viewed 6 June 2015, <http://www.ted.com/talks/joe_smith_how_to_use_a_paper_towel>

Stefanie, 2012, ‘Throwing in the [Paper] Towel’, viewed 6 June 2015, <http://thegreenists.com/going-green/throwing-in-the-paper-towel/10467>

Week 12a—“Vertical Forest”

Facade of the Vertical Forest (Daniele Zacchi)

Every time passing UTS via Broadway, I could resist staring at the tallest vertical garden building designed by Jean Nouvel. It happens that there is a similar case, a pair of skyscrapers by Milan office Boeri Studio are nearing completion in the Italian city, featuring as many trees as could be planted in a hectare of forest.

FIG.2 the Vertical Forest from street view (Daniele Zacchi)

The Vertical Forest has at its heart a concept of architecture which demineralises urban areas and uses the changing shape and form of leaves for its facades, and thus which hands over to vegetation itself the task of absorbing the dust in the air, and of creating an adequate micro-climate in order to filter out the sunlight. This is a kind of biological architecture which refuses to adopt a strictly technological and mechanical approach to environmental sustainability.

The building increases biodiversity. It helps to set up an urban ecosystem where different kinds of vegetation create a vertical environment which can also be colonised by birds and insects, and thus becomes both a magnet for and a symbol of the spontaneous recolonization of the city by vegetation and by animal life. The creation of a number of vertical forests in the city will be able to create a network of environmental corridors which will give life to the main parks in the city, bringing the green space of avenues and gardens and connecting various spaces of spontaneous vegetation growth.


FIG.4 Concept Sections

Such kind of vertical greening, or green wall, has a similar but more comprehensive benefit than the rooftop garden that I wrote in the previous posts. Green walls are found most often in urban environments where the plants reduce overall temperatures of the building. “The primary cause of heat build-up in cities is insolation, the absorption of solar radiation by roads and buildings in the city and the storage of this heat in the building material and its subsequent re-radiation. Plant surfaces however, as a result of transpiration, do not rise more than 4–5 °C above the ambient and are sometimes cooler.”

Living walls may also be a means for water reuse. The plants may purify slightly polluted water (such as greywater) by absorbing the dissolved nutrients. Bacteria mineralize the organic components to make them available to the plants.

To wrap up, the green walls could also function for urban agriculture, urban gardening, or for its beauty as art.


Dezeen Magazine, 2014, “Stefano Boeri’s ‘vertical forest’”, viewed 4 June 2015, <http://www.dezeen.com/2014/05/15/stefano-boeri-bosco-verticale-vertical-forest-milan-skyscrapers/>

Ong, B. (2003). Green plot ratio: an ecological measure for architecture and urban planning. Landscape and Urban Planning, 63 (4). Retrieved June 6, 2015, from ScienceDirect database.

Week 11b—Frei Otto and his philosophy

Frei Paul Otto (31 May 1925 – 9 March 2015) was a German architect and structural engineer noted for his use of lightweight structures, in particular tensile and membrane structures, including the roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich for the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Otto won the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2006 and it is so sad for him to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2015, shortly before his death.

FIG. 1
frei otto sketching in his studio circa 1970 (atelier frei otto warmbronn)

FIG. 2
Roofing for main sports facilities in the Munich Olympic Park for the 1972 Summer Olympics (Dezeen Magazine)

To learn more about Otto’s multidisciplinary approach to architecture as well as his emphasis on experimentation, we turned to an interview he did with Juan María Songel in 2004, published in the book A Conversation with Frei Otto. In the interview, Otto discusses numerous topics of interest and relevance to architecture in the 21st century, and in particular the importance of experimentation and research, declaring: “Productive research must be brave!”

Otto begins the interview by sharing his thoughts on the idea that there are “infinite discoveries to make”:

“The ability to build assumes the knowledge of all architecture and construction forms, as well as their development. To build means to advance this process, to investigate, and to make. The development of buildings began over ten thousand years ago and has reached an extremely high level, but is in no way a closed process. There are still an infinite number of open possibilities, infinite discoveries to make.”

The influence of his work can be seen in projects like Norman Foster’s glass ceiling for the Great Court at the British Museum in London, Nicholas Grimshaw’s transparent geodesic domes at the Eden Project in Cornwall and Richard Rogers’ Millennium Dome.But despite what this legacy of statement architecture might suggest, Otto gave the impression that he was more interested in ideals than shapes.

FIG. 3 Working model of a membrane roof building (Usuario u2toyou 浅田)

FIG. 4 Munich’s olympic stadium (cornelia hellstern)


Designboom, 2015, ‘Frei Otto: a life of research, construction and inspiration’, viewed June 5 2015, <http://www.designboom.com/architecture/frei-otto-a-life-of-research-construction-and-inspiration-detail-book-report-06-02-2015/>

Archdaily, ‘Frei Otto and the Importance of Experimentation in Architecture’, viewed June 5 2015, <http://www.archdaily.com/610531/frei-otto-and-the-importance-of-experimentation-in-architecture/>

Dezeen Magazine, 2015, ‘Frei Otto: a life in projects’, viewed June 5 2015, <http://www.dezeen.com/2015/03/11/frei-otto-a-life-in-projects/>

Week 11a—Concerns about the grocery bag crisis

FIG. 1
Piled up discarded plastic bags waiting to be recycled.

I don’t know if you are aware of the fact that we are surrounded by products that are made out of recycled plastic bags. Things like shoes, plastic chairs, pipes, pens and a lot more are made out of reused plastic bags. 854 million plastic bags have been recycled last year and 20 million Australians still use over 3.9 billion plastic checkout bags a year. That’s 10 million a day! Guess what, A person’s use of a plastic checkout bag can be counted in minutes – however long it takes to get from the shops to their homes. However, plastic bags can take between 15 and 1,000 years to break down in the environment. Further, many marine and terrestrial animals are killed by plastic bags that escape from landfill. The best solution to this problem is to use reusable bags that prevent you using plastic bags in the first place.

In fact, in the recycling industry, the type of plastic is what determines whether it is recyclable or not. Researches explain that there are two good rules of thumb when it comes to recycling plastic bags and wrapping. One is that the plastic should stretch a little bit (by using your thumb) and the other is that it should be clear or light/translucent. However, some plastic film, such as Saran Wrap and Cling Wrap, are actually made from PVC and are not recyclable.

So should we put in any surcharge for the plastic bags since so far it is free to use it in Australia? In one corner are the environmentalists, who say the abundance of plastic bags in the trash has created a “great garbage patch,” a huge chunk of non-biodegradable plastic that is swirling around the Pacific Ocean. Plenty of people keep bags in their cars but forget to bring them in the store with them, but faced with the possibility of paying extra for groceries, people would be much more likely to remember. In the other corner is the plastics industry, who see this more as a 20-cent “tax” on plastic bags. There’s also the added concern of which government bureaucracy would oversee the surcharge and, if none are able, if a new agency would have to be created. Besides, says the plastics industry, these bags only make up less than 1 percent of the city’s garbage, so our efforts would be better used in other matters.

FIG. 2 Schematic diagram of plastic bag recycling.

Here is the advice for those who don’t have time to reinterpret artistically plastic materials, return your bags back to the grocery store for recycling. Most stores have a container to take these bags back and recycle them for you! Consider no longer accepting plastic bags. The more that you continue to use the bags, the more stores assume you want them. By bringing your own bags with you, and by refusing plastic bags, you send a message that they’re no longer wanted. For those who is saving and have a confidence in his craft, you can consider transforming them into useful as well as creative stuffs with your imagination.

FIG. 3 Examples of reusing plastic bags


Architecture art design, ‘25 ideas of how to recycle plastic bags’, viewed 3 June 2015, <http://www.diyprojectsworld.com/25-creative-ideas-for-recycling-plastic-bags.html>

Kara DiCamillo, 2013, ‘Recycling (the Other) Plastic Bags’, viewed 3 June 2015, <http://recyclenation.com/2013/10/recycling-plastic-bags>

Courtney, 2009, ‘Would You Support a Grocery Bag Surcharge?’ , viewed 3 June 2015, <http://thegreenists.com/its-complicated/would-you-support-a-grocery-bag-surcharge/4281>

Week 10b–Ideas about the Urban Climate change and how can we deal with it?

Having living in Chinse cities for two decades, I have been used to the urban heat island since when I did not even realize it. Cities are warmer than the surrounding countryside. When you live in the city, you probably don’t even realize that just a few miles away, the temperature is probably 5 degrees or so cooler.

Schematic Diagram of UHI (Georgia Tech)

Cities absorb more of the heat of the sun than the surrounding areas and, as a result, retain that heat for longer. Of course this starts a nasty loop of a warmer city requiring more air conditioning, which is more inefficient because the city itself is just so hot. Asphalt is a double-edged sword on the best of days. It’s not good for the environment to begin with, and once it’s there, it stabs us again by absorbing too much heat from the sun. So most of us are all in the same sinking boat of oil dependence together on one front. Basically we are trapped in an oven, which is our own homes. So how do we get out of it?

Solutions to the problems are relatively simple. Asphalt is naturally a very dark colour, giving it a very low Albedo (reflection coefficient) so instead of reflecting light (which includes energy in the infrared spectrum) it absorbs it instead. In an ideal world, you’d have a patch of grass on your roof instead of asphalt, and we call that choice the green roof movement. With this, people create an ecosystem on their roof so they can avoid the heat caused by the darker surface area, which also allows them to absorb water more efficiently to avoid some of the toxic runoff from their asphalt roof systems. It’s a good choice and usually it’s done with large roof systems on bigger buildings. At the more practical level for most of us is the move to much lighter coloured roofs or replacing asphalt altogether and going to recycled aluminium roof systems instead.

Aluminium Roof (A-line Co., Ltd.)

Light coloured Roof (Debra Miller, 2011)


Urban Climate Lab, Georgia Institute of Technology, viewed 28 May 2015, <http://www.urbanclimate.gatech.edu/>

Jamison, 2012, ‘Urban Heat Islands: What Are They, and What Can You Do About Them?’, viewed 28 May 2015, <http://thegreenists.com/its-complicated/urban-heat-islands-what-are-they-and-what-can-you-do-about-them-2/10771>

Debra Miller, 2011, ‘Crazy In Alabama…But Reaping the Energy Savings of A Light Colored Roof’, viewed 28 May 2015, <http://www.greenspirationhome.com/crazy-in-alabama-but-reaping-the-energy-savings-of-a-light-colored-roof/>

Week 10a–Creative placemaking helps to improve the city recilience

The bridge, Bethelehem, PA (Paul Warchol)

Facing different levels of industrial decay in the urban area, many developed cities need to find new ways to renew their community. And creative placemaking can help them to rebuild the social resilience, which is aiming at engaging the arts in community activities and placemakings. (Jason Schupbach, 2015)

The science of how to do the technical parts of community development is well understood – how to build water infrastructure, housing units, transportation systems – but we as community development officials have forgotten about the ‘people’ part of the equation. (Ben Hecht, 2015)

West Dance JAM (Los Angeles County Arts Commission)

What is creative placemaking? Creative placemaking seeks to help communities develop a stronger sense of identity, building on native cultural assets to create more cohesive, healthy, and resilient places. The deliberate integration of arts and culture into community development work brings arts organizations and artists to the table, helping to design land-use, transportation, economic development, education, housing, infrastructure, and public safety strategies. There are typically 5 ways to engage the arts in resilience:

  1. Engage artists to rethink infrastructure.
  2. Use public art, public space, and cultural facilities to build community cohesion.
  3. Use graphic design as a community visioning tool.
  4. Map cultural assets to truly understand your community before planning starts.
  5. Urban gardening + Folk arts = new entrepreneurial activities

Successful use of creative placemaking requires making the people part of the resilience equation work. To do this, cities have to treat creatives with the same gravity afforded other community development assets and colleagues. We have seen that cities that that pay more attention to creative placemaking find their interventions have a more balanced, holistic approach that brings the projects to the very stakeholders they seek to benefit, truly promoting city resilience.

FIG.3 LA Mural (Los Angeles County Arts Commission)

FIG.4 People enjoying new art (Mark Demko)


Jason Schupbach, 2015, ‘Five Ways to Engage the Arts in Resilience’, viewed 26 May 2015, <http://www.100resilientcities.org/blog/entry/five-ways-to-engage-the-arts-in-resilience#/-_Yz5jJmg%2FMSd1PWI%3D/>

Jason Schupbach, 2015, ‘Putting the Arts to Work for City Resilience: Creative Placemaking’, viewed 26 May 2015, <http://www.100resilientcities.org/blog/entry/putting-the-arts-to-work-for-city-resilience-creative-placemaking#/-_/&gt;