Engineering for the Ecological Age: Lessons from History

Lower Calyx dome under construction All three tile layers are visible photos Michael Ramage

Engineering for the ecological age: lessons from history” (video) by John Ochsendorf. Skip the extremely irritating introduction to the speaker and start at 10:50. Via Ecodemica. Related: Tiles as a substitute for steel: the art of the timbrel vault & Timbrel vaulting in South Africa. Photo: Michael Ramage.

Birch Bark Sauna


Birch bark piece Birch bark has been used in Finland for centuries as a construction material and as material for making small objects like baskets and shoes. One of birch bark’s features is good thermal insulation. The surface is water repellent and it can be gently washed with water. Some components of birch bark also protect it from decomposing.

Finnish architects Teija Losoi, Anne Varsamäki and Ilari Pirttilahti used the technique to build a lightweight sauna – basically a huge traditional birch bark basket turned upside down. The light walls are supported by a wooden structure that is hidden inside two layers of braided birch bark. More pictures: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4. Thank you, Zeltia !

Why Older Buildings are More Sustainable

why older buildings are more sustainable

“In the late 14th century, England’s King Richard II commissioned a new building, College Hall, at Oxford University. The carpenters who built College Hall knew that the massive oak beams spanning the great hall’s ceiling would probably need to be replaced in a few hundred years, so next to the building, they planted a row of oak seedlings from the trees they used for the beams. Sure enough, the beams needed to be replaced about 300 years later, and the new carpenters had mature oaks right there, ready to be milled and turned into new beams.”

Greening Main Street Buildings (more). The picture shows an example of a recessed entryway – a characteristic common to many traditional commercial buildings that helps prevent hot or cold air from rushing inside when a door is opened.

Once more, hat tip to Lloyd Alter.